DAILY TERROR PART 1: THE PUNK YEARS 1979-83

Born in the mid-sized town of Braunschweig in north west Germany, Pedder Teumer grew up in what one might call a solid working class household: his father was a trade unionist and card-carrying Social Democrat. According to at least one source, he was born on 10th March 1956 – although that is highly doubtful, given that he was a teenage exchange student in London for a few months in 1977, where he watched Chelsea FC at Stamford Bridge and heard punk music for the first time.

Having previously grown up on glam rock from Bowie to Slade, Pedder returned to Hanover as one of Germany’s first real prole punks – all leather and spiky hair, as distinct from the Düsseldorf art students who had initially adopted the punk tag. In early 1979, he fronted his first band, the short-lived Bombed Bodies. Their now rare cassette tape contained rudimentary trash punk. Released posthumously in 1982, it would remain the group’s only recording.

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Pedder (first left) with early local punks in Braunschweig, circa 1978/79

The history of Pedder’s second band, Daily Terror, began in 1980. A compilation EP, Andere Zeiten, captures this early phase with Pedder Teumer on vocals, Ebbi Hild on guitar, Heiko Schünemann on bass and Frank Dernbach on drums. The title track, first released on the ‘Hannover Fun Fun Fun’ various artists compilation in April 1980, was a reggae punk number. In the immediate aftermath of The Ruts and Two Tone, it was obligatory for every punk band to have at least one song in this style in its repertoire.

The track had been recorded live in 1980, presumably in one of the many radical left squats which offered spaces for punk gigs, such as Braunschweig’s own Bambule. As was the case with many German punk bands, this political atmosphere left an imprint on Daily Terror’s lyrics:

If you look different you are next
If you think differently you can forget it
We better not take any more
From now on we’re biting back

Whether against leftists, gays, hippies or punks
They take brutal measures
They won’t tolerate any filth in their state
They exercise terror

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Daily Terror live in 1980

With similar anarchoid gusto, their track ‘Führer’, driven by a Joy Division-like bassline and published on the Soundtracks zum Untergang compilation in 1981, proclaimed: “we want no leaders, for us there’s no superman”. And on their second single, the hard-driving and anthemic ‘Klartext, they declared: “Anarchy is not for sale, ‘no power for no-one’ is more than just a slogan – boycott the state”.

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In 1981, Daily Terror signed a deal with Germany’s biggest independent punk label, Aggressive Rockproduktionen (AGR) of Berlin, which was run by a shrewd ex-anarchist named Karl Walterbach. Their first album Schmutzige Zeiten (1982) offered basic but melodic street punk somewhere between the 4-Skins and The Ruts, with German-language lyrics railing against society, police and the state.

Recorded at a time when punk was a lifestyle rather than hairstyle choice for thousands of youths, the record is one of the classics of ‘deutschpunk’. Despite some filler, Daily Terror knew how to craft a memorable tune better than most, and thanks to the AGR deal, Schmutzige Zeiten was recorded under decent conditions. ‘Todesschwadron’, a dub reggae track about the death squads of Brazil, featured some top-notch basslines and rivalled the best comparable efforts by The Clash and The Ruts. ‘Kleine Biere’ only half-jokingly celebrated alcoholism – a demon that would remain with Pedder for the rest of his life.

Unlike most German punk bands of the era, Daily Terror were skinhead-friendly, and the influence of Oi was just as present on Schmutzige Zeiten as was crudely anarchist sloganeering. Skinheads had only appeared in Germany a couple of years prior. Largely right-wing in cities such as Berlin, Hamburg and Frankfurt – although ‘nazis’ only in the same sense as punks were ‘anarchists’ – their relationship with punks was tense and often violent. Not so in Braunschweig and neighbouring Hanover, where for the time being at least, skinheads remained apolitical and the two youth cults got on rather well. The photographic collage on the back of Schmutzige Zeiten contained a picture captioned “some friends”: a group sporting what might be diplomatically described as an early local interpretation of ‘skinhead’ gear.

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In 1983, two new Daily Terror tracks appeared on the Keine Experimente compilation album: the poppy ‘Leichenberg’ and fast but mediocre ‘Ein Kessel buntes’. The same year saw the highlight of their career thus far, a live performance at the second ‘chaos days’ meetup in Hanover.

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‘Chaos days’ leaflet: “From now on we stick together”

Organised by the local punk/skin scene as a nationwide ‘unity’ get-together of punks and skinheads – the leaflets demanded  “Oi Oi Oi not Sieg Heil” – the event attracted over 1000 visitors, but soon descended into punk vs skinhead violence on a mass scale.

Depending on whose account you read, the reasons for matters escalating vary. For one, the presence of ‘nazi skin’ contingents from Berlin and Hamburg didn’t help matters. Secondly, the mass meeting brought the full degeneration of a once-energetic German street punk subculture to the fore: heroin had become rampant, and many ‘hardcore punks’ now more closely resembled vagrants begging for spare change when not passing out in their own vomit.

Arguably, the differences were aesthetical more than they were political: most of the moderate skins sided with the ‘boneheads’ in the ensuing battles. For many long-standing punks, too, the mass gathering of drug-addled zombies was the final straw: some – especially those from middle class backgrounds – abandoned punk and followed the lure of skateboards, bermuda shorts and hardcore. Others became skinheads – including Pedder of Daily Terror.

Click here for ‘Daily Terror part 2: transformation’

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