For ‘Daily Terror part 1 – the punk years’ click here
In 1984, German punk was on its last legs. The third annual ‘chaos days’ meeting in Hanover amounted to another weekend of violent clashes: the washed-out remains of a drug-ridden gutter punk counterculture were confronted by a large mob of rightwing skins and football casuals, who this time around had travelled into Hanover for the expressed purpose of punk bashing.
Daily Terror’s second longplayer Aufrecht, recorded with a somewhat different line-up, was one of the few deutschpunk albums still released in that year. A late classic of the genre, Aufrecht stood heads and shoulders above the debut: in this case, the band interview cliché ‘harder and faster, yet also more melodic’ was actually true. Still, some of the sentiments contained in its grooves now seemed strangely out of place. In Zusammen zuschlagen (strike as one), the band pleads for punk and skinhead unity, wrapping its message in leftish rhetoric: punks and skins must “build a united front” against the state forces that aim to “divide the masses”:
There’s so many of us, we have power
But when you’re alone they just laugh at you
So forget all your squabbling
And be ready to strike as one
It was far too late for that: all the ‘chaos days’ had achieved was unity among skinheads – against punks.
The title track Aufrecht is imbued with the same ‘us against the world’ romanticism. Der Countdown läuft rails against “Nazi judges” and wishes for the demise of the German state, Bundeswehr is anti-militaristic and Armes Schwein anti-careerist. Elsewhere, though, ‘skinhead interest’ creeps in: the Cockney Rejects influenced Schluckspechte – a tune named after Pedder’s local football hooligan firm – celebrates the joys of terrace violence: “We’re going on a total football rampage, we like it real, we are Schluckspechte”.
On the front cover, Pedder is seen sporting a number four crop, Specials t-shirt, FC Braunschweig football scarf, black trucker jacket, black jeans with turnups, and black 11-eye Dr Martens – clearly veering towards skinhead, although of a monochrome punkish variety.
Particularly interesting is the track Hinterlist, which could be seen as heralding an ideological shift. A haunting punk reggae tune, perhaps Daily Terror’s greatest, it condemns the 1982 Sabra and Shatila massacre of Palestinian men, women and children in a Lebanese refugee camp, all posthumously labelled “terrorists” by the Israeli government. So far, so on point – but then the third verse kicks in:
They’ve gambled away their holocaust credit long ago
They’ve counted on our pity for too long
If mass murder is their politics
Then explosive revenge is only fair
It will cause an uproar, but that’s just the way it is
It’s the PLO settling an outstanding score
Now, wherever one stands of the Palestine-Israel issue, the notion that the Israeli regime is somehow equatable with the victims of the Nazi holocaust is stupid. While one shouldn’t expect too much nuance from punk songs, Pedder seems to slip into dubious territory here: they’ve gambled away their holocaust ‘credit’? They can no longer count on our ‘pity’? Who exactly is they – and who is us?
While the song didn’t raise many eyebrows in the punk camp – crude lyrics were the order of the day, after all – it did hit a special nerve elsewhere. Two years later, the nationalist German skinzine Force of Hate, for instance, still admired Pedder’s “courage”, lauding specifically “the fact that he wasn’t afraid to say ‘they’ve gambled away their holocaust credit long ago” (FoH #4, 1986).
Chilling detail: while uncredited and unbeknownst to most listeners, the main melodic theme of Hinterlist had been lifted from Walter Kubiczek’s soundtrack for the 1972 East German TV series Das Licht der schwarzen Kerze. Based on a novel by Wolfgang Held, the storyline involved a Communist spy infiltrating a German military division during the Spanish Civil War in 1937. The protagonist gets hold of a secret nerve gas formula developed by IG Farben – the corporation that would later provide Zyclon B to death camps. One hopes this musical choice was coincidence rather than some kind of hidden message.
Word about Pedder’s transformation got out. Not ‘Hinterlist’, but the fact that he was now a skinhead and went to football with other skins, including rightwing ones, was the bone of contention. Says Ebbi Hild, guitarist with Daily Terror until the end of 1984: “I suppose punk just wasn’t provocative enough for him anymore. Skinheads shocked more”. Still, the back cover of that year’s album Aufrecht read: “Greetings to all punks and skins – except the fash”.
In interviews with Force of Hate Pedder would later comment: “My relations with the punk scene had changed by that point. Having always been friendly with skinheads because of my commitment to football and the numerous Daily Terror gigs they attended, my switch from punk to skinhead was already becoming apparent”.
And furthermore, “our problems began … when certain circles learned that I had cut my hair off. It got to the point where promoters received anonymous threats and cancelled our gigs last minute” (FoH #6, 1986). Eventually, Pedder’s bandmates got fed up with it all. At the end of 1984 – ironically, just after a sold-out show at Braunschweig’s spacious Jolly Joker club – they called it quits. Pedder was on his own.
Click here for Daily Terror part 3: Emotion, toughness and alcohol