by Wyndham Wallace, TheQuietus.com
Virtually unknown in Britain, Herbert Grönemeyer is a huge star in his native Germany, having sold 18 million albums. Now his sights are set on the country he called home for over a decade. Wyndham Wallace meets him at Berlin’s Hansa Studios…
The man opposite and I have little obvious in common. Herbert Grönemeyer is the most successful pop star Germany has ever sired: in 1982 he kept Thriller off the top of the country’s charts with an album, Bochum, that’s now the country’s third biggest selling record of all time, and he also lays claim to its biggest – 2002’s Mensch – with well over three million sales to its name.
Having first come to prominence as an actor in Das Boot, the epic film / TV series that captured an international audience in the early 1980s, he now hangs out with Bono, calls Anton Corbijn a best friend, and that’s not to mention his humanitarian work: amongst other things, he assembled Band Für Afrika, Germany’s equivalent of Band Aid, in 1985, and helped establish Deine Stimme Gegen Armut, the country’s own Make Poverty History campaign, earning the title ‘European Hero’ from Time Magazine in 2005. Then there’s Groenland, the record label he owns – which has delivered releases as contrasting as Neu’s back catalogue, The Earlies, Roedelius, Psapp, Gang Of Four and Metric – and his role as co-financer of the Corbijn-directed Control (in which he also made a cameo appearance) andThe American (for which he also wrote the score).
As for me? Well, let’s not go there… But it turns out we do, in an unusual way, share something after all.