They were teen stars from a village near Magdeburg. As megastars they fled to LA. And today?
Bill kisses. Easy to say, but the action itself is difficult. “I’ve never kissed someone on camera before”, says Bill, “I’m shy.”
The first scene while filming in LA for the video of the new single of Tokio Hotel: Bill Kaulitz sits in the middle of the couch, on his right a brunette, on his left a blonde, behind him a redhead and around that young, good looking, half naked people, close together, kissing.
Second scene: Bill joins the gang, imposes himself inbetween two women who are making out, takes one; around them young, good looking, half naked people, close together, all kissing.
Third scene: the same.
In the fourth scene Bill sits on a directors chair and explains how awkward the start was and he tells about this shock: he immediately got a kiss with a lot of tongue and got a bit tongue-raped. Now he’s used to it though: “No holding back anymore.”.
Bill wears pants and suspenders, his upperbody is naked. He stands in front of an old hotel pool, without water, the stones are crumbling, the paint is coming off, once the olympic games were held here, 1932. Now, for the fourth scene, the good looking, half naked women have gathered at te bottom of the pool, close together, Bill looks at it and says: a bit more skin would’ve been better, you’ll have to see some breasts.
“Love Who Loves You Back” is the name of the song, which this video belongs to, and “Love Who Loves You Back” is the video with which they show they’re still around. Next week their new album “Kings of Suburbia” gets released.
They’re now, being mid-twenties, basically veterans. The press announcement of the record label makes Tokio Hotel out to be brave heroes, that know very well that people in this business can’t just disappear for 5 months, let alone 5 years. For Tokio Hotel other rules apply. They already took over the world once. Now they’ll try again. With music, thats 100% Tokio Hotel, most of it is even produced by them.
What’s clear so far: Tokio Hotel doesn’t sound like Tokio Hotel. Tokio Hotel has always been German Poprock, now it’s mostly just pop, only in English, one ballad, Tom on the piano and Bill with an unusual high voice.
Besides that it’s more electronic, perfectly styled, international club culture.
This song, “Love Who Loves You Back”, Bill says during a break while filming, doesn’t take love too seriously: “Sometimes you have to take what you need, it’s not always about true love. No one likes to be alone: Just take someone who loves you back. Nevertheless, I believe in true love!”
Tokio Hotel are Germans big stars. They sold seven million albums worldwide, in 68 countries they got Platinum, there were 500.000 people at their concert by the Eiffeltower in 2007. It’s not that they’re being hated on in Germany, but it does seem as they’re being hated just as much as they’re loved. 4 years ago Bill and his twinbrother Tom moved to Los Angeles. “Run away,” Bill calls it, “We simply ran away.” They lived in a villa in Hamburg back then, a “beautiful prison”. 24 hours security, fences you couldn’t see through, people standing in front of the door. When they went out they mostly sat behind a barrier, “like in a zoo”, surrounded by people, who looked and took photos. They came back home for their birthday, the 21st : Their underwear was rummaged through, photos were looked through. “I felt violated”, Bill says. “The house was so unfamiliar to me, I even ashed on the floor,” Says Tom. After the burglary they didn’t sleep a night in their villa, for four weeks they stayed at Grand Hotel Heiligendamm, they flew to LA with a private jet.
They wanted a break, away from the media. Reporters write about Bill: “His cheeks are sunken, Gold Jewelery hangs around his neck. His tattoed spider-arms are sticking from his leder jacket, he wears his cap deep over his pierced face.” And: “Tom barely smiles happily in his baggy clothes – and has clearly more muscles.”
It’s always been about looks, no article about Tokio Hotel without it. “Aliens”, “Ousiders”, “Androgynous”, “Mangas”. And always: Is Bill gay already? Anorexic? Often looks make a star a superstar. Lady Gaga and Madonna look neat on their childhood photos, wearing a headband and a sweet, innoncent look. Later they turned into art people. That wan’t the case with Tokio Hotel. They already looked like stars, living in Loitsche, with 700 residents, near Magdeburg.
When he was 9 years old, Bill dyed his hair and wore black eye make-up, Tom had dreadlocks, classmates turned their heads, teachers scolded: that’s not the way you come to school. It would’ve been more difficult if people didn’t talk about them, says Bill a few years ago in a documentary.
In primary school the brothers write their first songs, perform at village festivals, called themselves Black Question Mark. Then Gustav came along, the drummer, and Georg, the bassist. They called themselves Devilish. A local newspaper praised their devilish good gitarsounds. Bill tried at the castingshow “Star Search”, didn’t make it far, but a producer paid them a visit when they were performing in Gröninger Bad. Two years later they sign a record deal at Universal, Bravo makes them big, New York Times writes about them. Their first single is called “Durch Den Monsun”. Starting off with success in Europe, then North-America. First they get compared to Nena, then the Beatles. They win award after award, and if they cheer they say “On me,” as you can still see today on their Youtube channel.
When he’s 18 Bill doesn’t know anymore how it works in a supermarket, as you can see in a video. He went their during a trip to America with his team and they filmed how he walked through the aisles, looking for toilet paper and toilet blocks, bought sweets and couldn’t figure out how to scan the groceries yourself at the checkout. “Hey people, thats revolutonary! No casier, that gets in your business? How cool is that!”
As teens they became stars, but they weren’t typical teenstars. They were little puppets, not like Britney Spears that shaved her head off to show: I’m independent! They had their own sound. Their image, their lyrics: always rebelious – we’re breaking free. Clear profile (outsiders), clear fanbase (only kids like pop), clear massage (be yourself, live every second, live your dream) – Billion success.
And now, how have they developed, so far away from Germany? Did they grow up? Two days after filming the video they give an interview, the first time in a while with all four of them. Meeting point: SoHo House, a exclusive club at Sunset Boulevard, West Hollywood. Bill and Tom are members of all SoHo Houses, worldwide, costs a year: 1400 dollar. For people older than 27: 2800 dollar.
“I like clubs with memberships a lot, you’re not getting interrupted there,” Tom says.
“I like that you’re not allowed to take photo’s here: You drive into the underground parking lot, go upstairs and you don’t have to walk on the street. You’re well entertained here,” Bill says.
That it all starts again with Tokio Hotel is awesome, says Gustav. It feels as yesterday was the last time, says Georg. They drink ice tea.
The looks, you can’t avoid it, still noticeable. Georg (black pants, white shirt), Gustav (jeans shorts), Tom (baggy jeans, white sweatshirt), Bill (completely in beige: plateau shoes, fold pants, see through shirt and suspenders).
Tom and Bill speak mostly as the words come, somewhere in between Tom does his speech, a bit immature, the others laugh: “If I could, I could think of something else thats creative: Pornstar, where you can paint, though with a different ‘brush’.”
When they fled to LA, they couldn’t hear the name Tokio Hotel anymore. “We lost the fun, we were so drained, we didn’t had anything to tell anymore. I knew, if we don’t take action, the next album will be shit.”
Would the band be over then?
“I think it would’ve gone bad. I don’t want an album that’s just ‘ok’. Better take a break and then something awesome. Most people discourage it, saying it’s career suicide. We didn’t care.”
They just wanted to live: Decorated their house, bought pans, filled their fridge, went to the beach, walked their dog, got coffee at Starbucks, went to the cinema. In Germany the cinema worked as well, Bill exlains: “I called my assistents, they called the security and then it was planned. When we wanted to see a movie, we had to rent the cinema. The smallest things turned into the biggest hassle.”
For their 20th birthday they rented the Heide Park in Soltau and drove with the car from rollercoaster to rollercoaster. Now for their 25th birthday, begin september, they went 1.5 days with friends to Palm Springs: Bill found the hotel online, 5 stars, spa and booked it in his name.
This ‘new life’ was also weird: When Bill needed a Social Security Number there was a long line at the government. “Do I have to wait with everyone else now? Can’t I let my assistant do it?”
They first got some connections, said Tom. They have acquaintances now who they go out with at night, have a drink, they didn’t have that before.
Around people it’s a bit awkward though, says Tom. He and Bill simply couldn’t have small talk. They never learned that, cause of always being protected. When new people come up to them they’re just staying there, saying nothing. “And what do you do?” – “Music.” And the rest they have to guess, says Bill. “Everyone thinks we’re super weird.”
In this ‘new life’ they finally find music. It’s not the music of a German band that moved to LA anymore. It’s the music of musicians that live in LA. The inspiration was the night life, says Bill, life overall, freedom, what’s important and has a meaning and what not, the feeling: “we’re doing what we want to.”
They party a lot, maybe too much, cause they finally can for the first time. “No one recognized me,” Says Bill. “I could go to clubs and get lose, get hammered, without fear that someone took photos.”
Their studio sessions were half parties: A house in Hollywood Hills, that’s where they partied and makde some music, often exhausted, sometimes drunk, till the sun comes up.”
As free as in LA, he never felt before, says Bill: “This is the max, even more free is barely possible, only when I go to India.” Tom: “Yes, we still wanna do that.” Bil: “Just with a backpack.” Tom: “I would sell everything I own beforehand.” Bill: “That would be a true adventure.” Tom: “That will be something completely different, something I’ve never experienced before. I also don’t wanna have too much money with me, I know myself, I’ll book a hotel and miss out on the actual experience.”
But there’s no real plan to do so yet. Begin Oktober they go back to Germany for a performance at “Wetten, dass…?”. The Question is, what do they still want there.