Sportfreunde Stiller will always have a special place in my heart. During my first visit to Germany in 2009, their version of Udo Jürgens’ “Ich war noch niemals in New York” was everywhere we turned in Berlin. Everywhere. The track was in constant circulation. At the time the band had only recently released an MTV Unplugged in New York album and the track was in heavy rotation to promote it. Jürgens even guests on the track during a later live performance of the song. It was the soundtrack of our vacation and it always makes me a little sentimental.
Which brings me to this month’s featured German language music recommendation: Sportfreunde Stiller!
If you are not already familiar with Sportfreunde Stiller than either you are new to German language music or you have been living under a rock for the better part of nearly twenty years. Sportfreunde Stiller are Peter Brugger (guitar and vocals), Flo Weber (drums) and Rüde Linhof (bass). Founded in 1996, the trio have released six studio albums, two live albums (including the MTV Unplugged one I previously mentioned above), not to mention countless awards. Sportfreunde Stiller participated in last year’s German version of “Do They Know It’s Christmas (2014)” for Band Aid Thirty, admittedly a somewhat controversial project that includes other German Music features including Campino from Die Toten Hosen and Max Raabe. The band’s most recent full-length release, 2013’s New York, Rio, Rosenheim, has been their most commercially successful album.
There is nothing rough or ragged about Sportfreunde Stiller’s music. While there is a bit of youthful silliness in their special formula, their brand of indie rock is poppy, smooth and seemingly custom made for being easy to sing along to.
The Bavarian trio also aren’t shy about their love of football (or soccer, if you prefer). Their track “’54, ’74, ’90, 2006,” released in the lead up to the 2006 World Cup hosted in Germany, went to the top of the German singles charts. It’s a fun, upbeat anthem off their album You Have to Win Zweikampf. Meanwhile “Applaus, Applaus” off the most recent release, New York, Rio, Rosenheim, is bordering on an uplifting power ballad. It is a more serious, genuine side of the band that continues throughout the album.
If you are digging Sportfreunde Stiller, I recommend following the band on social media. For the last few months, they have been posting photos here and there of the trio in the studio. It seems a new album is in the works! If you are hoping to catch the band live, you are still in luck. They have a couple of dates scheduled for later in 2015.
Photo of Sportfreunde Stiller from the band’s website.