Kettcar – Sommer '89


“It was in the summer of ‘89, the 12th of August” – and with these spoken words by Marcus Wiebusch, the singer of the band Kettcar, so begins the song Summer ’89 (He cuts holes in the fence). What follows is about 1 minute and 12 seconds of narration accompanied by a continuous drumbeat, before the first lines are sung. The question that arises when you listen to it is: Is Summer ’89 a song or more of a short story set to music? That is not easy to answer. What is clear, however, is that Kettcar tells a very detailed and in-depth story about an escape from the GDR (German Democratic Republic) into the Federal Republic of Germany – shortly before the wall fell in the famous summer of 1989. It is told from the view of an agent who helps with escapes and serves as a timely commentary on the refugee crisis in Europe in the year 2017.

With this song, Kettcar continues a tradition, as this band from Hamburg has always been political. This is definitely shown through their countless song lyrics, in which Kettcar regularly takes a musical approach to dealing with German societal affairs. An example of other activities includes appearing on a Move-against-G8 sampler together with other artists as a protest against the G8 summit in Heiligendamm in 2007. Even before Kettcar was founded, singer Marcus Wiebusch and former drummer Frank Tirado-Rosales were members of the band „…But Alive“ since 1991, a group that made punk music with political lyrics.

Summer ’89 (He cuts holes in the fence) is the first song on Kettcar’s fifth studio album I vs. We from the year 2017. The band itself has been together since 2001 and consists of the singers and guitarists Marcus Wiebusch and Erik Langer, the bassist Reimer Bustorff, the keyboarder Lars Wiebusch and the drummer Christian Hake, who replaced Frank Tirado-Rosales in 2010. Because the band couldn’t initially find a record label, Marcus and Reimer established - together with Tomte’s singer Thees Ulmann – their own label, Grand Hotel von Cleef (GHvC), that celebrated its 15th birthday in summer 2017. In 2002, Kettcar’s debut album appeared on the GHvC label, You and how many of your friends, followed by Of sparrows and pigeon, housetops and hands in 2005, Sylt in 2008 and Between Rounds in 2012.

In spring 2013 Kettcar announced they were taking a creative break. In a retrospective, Marcus Wiebusch explained the decision this way: “Between Rounds was embodied with extremes, the band was never in such a bad spot as we were then. Looking back on it today you can even hear that in the music. We were lost. My brother was on his last leg because he had an actual ‘real’ job on the side, and Reimer and I weren’t getting along anymore. We had to do something.” The bandmembers dedicated themselves to their own projects for almost the next four years, before in July 2017 they announced the end of their break and Kettcar returned with quite the drumbeat: their song Summer ’89. Why with this song? Wiebusch sums it up in a nutshell: “to remind everyone in this country in 2017 that helping someone through a fence is a deeply humane act.”