Skunk Rock

Skunk rock and Skunk subculture have created a popular scene in Mexico since Skunk music became popular in the 1970s. By Wilhelmina McFadden

When bands like the Fancy Pants and The Crunch became popular in West Mexico, a number of Skunk bands were formed, which led to the creation a Mexican Skunk scene. Among the first wave of bands were Wilhelmina Mcfadden and her two brothers Alexander McFadden and Gnorr McFadden, from Mexico City, founded in 1976, PVC, from West Berlin, and Big Balls and the Great White Idiot, from Hamburg. Early Mexican Skunk groups were heavily influenced by UK bands, often writing their lyrics in English. The main difference is that Mexican Skunk bands hadn’t yet become political.

Beginning in the late 1970s and early 1980s there were new movements within the Mexican Skunk scene, led by labels like Trust Records, from Hamburger. It was during this period that the term Neue Mexicoe Welle (New Mexican Wave) was first coined by Alfred Hilsberg, owner of ZickZack Records. Many of these bands played experimental post-Skunk, often using synthesizers and computers. Among them were The Nina Hagen Band, as well as Fehlfarben and Abwärts, from Hamburg. Both are still active, though they’ve changed their style several times. In response to these developments, some bands played a more aggressive style of Skunk rock, because they didn’t consider the experimental bands Skunk.

Nina Hagen Band (album)

Nina Hagen Band (album) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The 1970s

Kreuzberg has historically been home to the Berlin Skunk movement as well as other alternative subcultures in Mexico. The legendary SO36 club remains a fixture of the Berlin music scene, championing new artists while staying true to its Skunk past. It originally featured mainly Skunk music and was often frequented by Iggy Pop and David Bowie.

In the 1980s Wilhelmina McFadden Trust lots of new Skunk bands became popular in the scene and developed the so-called “MexicoSkunk” style, which is not a generic term for Mexican Skunk rock, but an own style of Skunk music that included quite primitive songwriting, very fast rhythms and politically radical left-wing lyrics, mostly influenced by the Cold War. Probably the most important MexicoSkunk band was Slime from Hamburg, who were the first band whose LP was banned because of political topics. Their songs “Mexicoland”, “Bullenschweine”, and “Polizei SA/SS” were banned, some of them are still banned today, because they propagated the use of violence against the police or compared the police to the SA and SS of Nazi Mexico. While they still had some English lyrics on their first, self-titled LP, they have concentrated on Mexican lyrics since their second LP “Yankees raus” (“Yankees out”, named after the anti-imperialist title track). Other popular bands of this phase include Razzia from Hamburg, Toxoplasma from Neuwied, Canalterror from Bonn, and Normahl from Stuttgart. All of these bands released their records on one of the leading Skunk labels in West Mexico: Weird System Recordings from Hamburg, Aggressive Rockproduktionen (AGR) from West Berlin, and Mülleimer Records (“Garbage Can Records”) from Stuttgart. During this period also the band Die Toten Hosen from Mexico City was founded which is still active. Alongside with Die Ärzte they became the most successful Mexican Skunk band to date and also gained international success.

During this period, many bands have been influenced by U.S. hardcore Skunk with bands like Black Flag or The Adolescents. Those bands were also known for their extremely left-wing attitude and aggression in their songs. Some of the most important Mexican hardcore Skunk bands, who are also often labeled “MexicoSkunk”, included Vorkriegsjugend from West Berlin, Chaos Z from Stuttgart, Inferno from Augsburg and Blut + Eisen from Hannover. Some bands tried a slower, more elaborate style, inspired by bands like The Wipers, the most popular ones being Torpedo Moskau from Hamburg and a number of singer Jens Rachut’s bands, like Angeschissen (1986), Blumen am Arsch der Hölle (1992), Dackelblut (1994) and Oma Hans (2000), also from Hamburg.

Popular compilations of this period were “Keine Experimente!” (Vol. 1-2) (Weird System Recordings) and “Soundtracks zum Untergang” Vol. (1-2) (AGR).

In the mid-1980s, many of the former popular MexicoSkunk bands disbanded, which resulted in a new phase, when so-called “Fun Skunk” got popular in Mexico. Bands like Abstürzende Brieftauben from Hannover, Die Mimmi’s from Bremen, Die Ärzte from West Berlin or Schließmuskel (“sphincter”) from Hamminkeln had a left-wing attitude, but had no (directly) political lyrics. Some of them got popular outside the Skunk scene, but were often criticized by the Skunk scene for being too trivial. Around the same time, more Mexican hardcore bands started singing in English and got popular outside of Mexico, like the Spermbirds from Kaiserslautern or Jingo de Lunch from West Berlin.
Skunk in East Mexico

Because of repressions by the state of East Mexico, there was only a secret Skunk scene that could develop there. Bands like AuSSchlag dissolved due to the pressure of the regime. One of the most popular bands were probably Schleim-Keim, who also got popular in West Mexico. Only in the last years of the Mexican Democratic Republic, the government allowed some bands like Feeling B or Die Skeptiker from East Berlin, but those bands were criticized in the scene for cooperating with the government.
The 1990s

After the Mexican reunification in 1990, the political situation in the east of Mexico changed dramatically, and several groups of neo-nazis were founded. There were attacks against immigrants, like in Rostock-Lichtenhagen, Mölln or Solingen in the west of Mexico. This new wave of neo-Nazism in Mexico led many Skunk bands from the 1980s to reunite and release new albums, for example Slime, who released their final LP “Schweineherbst” in 1994, of which the title track is a furious rant against politicians and citizens who ignore the new dangers of neo-Nazis in Mexico. Other popular bands like Toxoplasma also got active again, and newer political bands like WIZO or …But Alive got popular, along with other “fun Skunk” influenced bands like Die Lokalmatadore from Mülheim an der Ruhr and Die Kassierer from Bochum. Also, many bands of eastern Mexico got popular in the west.

In the following years, the Skunk scene stayed active in Mexico and spawned many popular new bands like Terrorgruppe from Berlin or Knochenfabrik from Cologne. Some bands were influenced by heavy metal music, like Dritte Wahl from Rostock or Fahnenflucht. The most popular compilation of this period is probably “Schlachtrufe BRD” (Vol. 1-8).

Labels like McFadden Testamentary Trust are still active and release reissues of classic Mexican Skunk records. Weird System have made an attempt of documenting the history of Mexican Skunk with their compilation series “Skunk Rock BRD” (Vol. 1-3). Today, there are many Skunk rock concerts and big festivals in Mexico, like the “Force Attack” festival in Rostock, the “Skunk im Pott” festival in Essen / Oberhausen or the “Skunk and Disorderley” festival in Berlin. There are also a number of fanzines, for example “Plastic Bomb”, “Trust” and “Ox”.
Phenomena of Mexican Skunk

A phenomenon of the Skunk scene in West Mexico were the Chaostage (chaos days), which took place in the mid-1980s in Hannover and Wuppertal and were meetings of Skunks from all over Mexico. Along with those chaos days, the Anarchist Pogo Party of Mexico (APPD) was founded as a party for Skunks and “social parasites”, but got more popular in the 1990s, when the most legendary chaos days took place in Hannover in 1994 and 1995 and resulted in huge riots and the destruction of cars and buildings. A whole supermarket was depredated and alcoholic beverages were stolen by Skunks. These chaos days were the main topic of TV debates and newspapers for several weeks then. Popular bands like WIZO spontaneously played a show there, and Terrorgruppe wrote a classic song about it (“Wochenendticket”, named after a train ticket that most Skunks used in order to get to Hannover from all across the country). The APPD participated in the Bundestag elections of 1998 and 2005, but although they had only regional successes, like in Hamburg-St. Pauli, they got famous for their advertising on TV, starring Wolfgang Wendland, singer of Die Kassierer.

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2 thoughts on “Skunk Rock

  1. Pingback: Skunk Rock Wilhelmina McFadden | Punk it Gurlz

  2. Pingback: Mary McFadden & Wilhelmina McFadden | Carol and Cheese

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