Berlin's Toxpack Sets The Standard For Streetcore

Toxpack drummer, Hinrich Schmidt, second from left, says anti-fascist peers have labeled the band "grey zone," referring to bands sympathetic to right-wing politics.

hide captionToxpack drummer, Hinrich Schmidt, second from left, says anti-fascist peers have labeled the band "grey zone," referring to bands sympathetic to right-wing politics.

Steffen Wegner

"People call us Germany's streetcore band number one."

Hinrich Schmidt is sitting in his kitchen in Kreuzberg drinking tea. The drummer for the Berlin band Toxpack says his band was was really the first to invent the label "streetcore" in Germany.

Schmidt describes streetcore as a cross-over mix of hardcore punk, "Oi!" punk, an apolitical off-shoot of punk, and rock.

Toxpack has just released their sixth album, "Bastarde Von Morgen," and Schmidt says it is one of their best. It shows a clear development in their songwriting, and he says their lyrics have evolved beyond traditional punk themes such as questioning authority and describing harsh realities of working-class street life.

"We still have this street view of lyrics about living on the streets and stuff like that, but we had more personal lyrics about things that happened to us like becoming a father, becoming unemployed, losing girlfriends. Stuff like that. And lyrics became more critical about social things in Germany or political things in Germany," Schmidt says.

Some of his favorite lyrics on the new album come from the songs "An All Die Dämonen" and "Das Problem Sind Wir Selbst."

"'All Die Dämonen'- it's about your inner demons. You have to realize your inner demons, and then if you accept them as a part of you, then they can't hurt you anymore. The third song is 'We Are The Problem.' Mankind is the biggest problem. It was written after Fukushima, so it is about environment, pollution, social dramas, hungry children and very poor people, so it is a political song."

Streetcore may be rooted in the underground scene, but Schmidt says it's for anyone who likes the music.

He did feel frustrated, though, after some anti-fascist peers erroneously labeled the band "grey zone," referring to bands who are tolerant of right-wing sympathies.

"Definitely we are not grey zone. We would never play with Nazi bands. We have clear political statements, and if you listen to our lyrics you can see we are not a political band, but every single member has an anti-fascistic point of view."

Toxpack has achieved their success through hard work, and Schmidt says the music business is tough enough without such misunderstandings.

"It's really hard to be professional musicians- to live from the music. We give so much time and love and money and power, resources, and what we get back is too little," Schmidt says.

No matter where they play, Schmidt says they plan to keep it real.

"If the people have the feeling that we are not authentic anymore, we could quit. The day we are not honest, we will quit."

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