This one is about Tokio Hotel. A love letter from a former teenager. It’s not the hysteria that brings these together. It’s something that transcends it.
Bosnia and Herzegovina in the early 2000’s was getting better. We had our own version of N’Sync, a pop female duo who published a strawberry-scented CD (that lasts until today), dawn of the first large fashion outlets, we had punks, feminists, gay clubs. It was all overshadowed by the grim ruling of irresponsible political elites, but things were happening. There was a post-war revival of the spirit among those who never felt nationalist. We were going back to being Amsterdam’s little cousin, just like we were in the 80s.
This was a good time to grow up. I shared the room with my brother who at the age of 5 knew Michael Jackson’s biggest hits by heart. He was too little to understand the value of Bravo posters and the importance of a carefully selected playlist but he was cool enough to roll with whatever my teen years brought with them.
This is why he managed to peacefully cohabitate with at least 10 Gustavs, Georgs, Toms, and cca. 30 Bills on my wall.
No shits given. Mildly functional but sassy outfit. Completely different sound. Same weird moves on the stage. Audience ten times smaller than in 2006. Absolutely no feeling of decadence. They just got better and remained as professional as ever.
I first heard about Tokio Hotel in a maths class, when my best friend took out a photo of them. I was instantly enchanted by Bill. A couple of months in, I mobilized my mother, father (big fan), and gastarbeiter uncles from Germany to get me an original Schrei album. Didn’t smell like strawberries, but I remember the scent very well.
This girl hysteria that reappears each decade when a group of cute boys with weird hairstyles launch into stardom is a symptom of a patriarchal society. It is mysogeny towards boys and girls alike. I keep wondering over and over again how must it feel for a 17 year old boy to be surrounded by so many female teenagers. I believe it can have severe psychological consequences, but we are still far away from acknowledging female attention as a violator of boys’ private space. We are also very far away from understanding where does this kind of attention come from and we do not want to pose questions that would explain to us why society approves of these hysteric models of fandom in the first place.
However, dropping all that dark talk aside, what I had with my Tokio Hotel posters (and later on, a beach towel) was my last zone of childhood imagination and the first zone towards my taste in men. It all came down together with these Anime-like real life characters from a not-so-far-away Germany. Many things made Tokio Hotel my favorite band: I can’t exactly remember if it was Bill’s young voice, or his orange Adidas hoodie, or Georg’s face of a high-school metalhead all cheerleaders secretly admire, if it was the German language, the texts… but looking back at it now, there was an underlying reason why “Schrei” kept spinning on my record player.
“Schrei” was boyhood, explained. I never wanted to be a boy, but I always knew that my affections, beliefs, feelings and perceptions do not differ from those of boys. I wanted both boyhood and girlhood because I wanted them to be the same thing.This is why I felt affectionate towards Bill, as well. Boys in my class were so angry that a man from a magazine who “looks like a girl” has the attention of all the real-life girls sitting around them. But Bill did not see me as The Other, he sang to me things I would have sang to him, too. There was no identity barrier between us, I lived in my own world where I didn’t have to be anything and Tokio Hotel didn’t ask from me to be anything, either. Here is how I understood Schrei: They had their own problems, Bill hated that his parents are getting divorced (, he hated the guy who comes in to replace the adult male figure, he looked at his peers with a bit of ironic deflection, and when he was going through shitstorms, he was intensively acknowledging it. Schrei acknowledged what I was going through. They weren’t a boy band that sang about girls with different names. They were the avant-garde of boy bands. They were also people, not dancing machines and hit-makers.
I still believe “Schrei” is one of the best punk albums ever. Punk is not four guitar riffs and a leather jacket, punk is when you are a fucking kid from a German village and you write a bunch of songs about your feelings and you don’t give three shits that you are a kid from a village, rather you go in your little outfit and make a platinum album.
With Tokio Hotel, I didn’t even have those oh they understand me pathetic moments. They meant a lot to me, but they were background music to my life. They weren’t potential romances, although I pretty much wanted to be friends with them.
This is why a couple of days ago in Berlin, when I finally got to see them (alone- a couple of friends bought me the ticket as a bday present), it felt like meeting an old friend who you share a lot of history with. I teared up when Bill told the audience that all of his pants keep falling off. It was the first human thing I heard from my teenage idol — I’ve only seen him answer interview questions and sing so far. He still had all those things I liked about him. No shits given. Mildly functional but sassy outfit. Completely different sound. Same weird moves on the stage. Audience ten times smaller than in 2006. Absolutely no feeling of decadence. They just got better and remained as professional as ever.
I actually stopped listening to Tokio Hotel around the time when I turned to my own band projects. I was seventeen. Bosnia wasn’t so enthusiastic anymore. Her feminists moved to other cities. Her gay clubs went more and more silent. Punks, I guess, decided not to be punks anymore. But there we were, 5 of us girls, playing Pennywise and Suicidal Tendencies to our moms in a 100-people audience somewhere on the periphery of Europe. Inspired by TH.