Control I'm Here!
On a brutally hot day in New York City, I thought was time for some equally brutal music from the recently reformed Nitzer Ebb. Despite the Germanic name and sound, Nitzer Ebb are two lads from England. With a flair for pounding, repeating rhythms and incessant, militaristic chants, Nitzer Ebb were a uncontrolled force in the `80s industrial scene. They reached a popular peak in the U.S. in 1990, opening for Depeche Mode on the World Violation tour.
Depeche Mode brought the tour to the Valley of the Sun, stopping at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum. My familiarity with Nitzer Ebb was limited to the songs dropped like hammers on us at the local goth club, like "Join in the Chant", and "Let Your Body Learn". They, along with Belgium's Front 242 and Chicago's Ministry were the trinity of industrial acts that dominated my scene in those days.
As excited as I was to see Depeche Mode for the first time, I was just as curious about Nitzer Ebb. How would they recreate their menacing sound live? Very simply. Each member of the band stood behind a large, kettle-like drum. As backing tracks pulsated over the crowd, the band began beating the drums in synchronicity. It was quite a spectacle. There was no banter, just song followed by song. It was as they claimed, "simplistic dance music." With their glitzy lighting show and crowd-pleasing anthems, Depeche Mode would overshadow Nitzer Ebb that night. But for me, Nitzer Ebb were primal scene stealers.
Five years later, "creative differences" forced the band into a hiatus that lasted over a decade. Then came an announcement on the band's web site in October, 2005: "Nitzer Ebb are back!! Douglas [McCarthy] met with Bon [Vaughan "Bon" Harris] in Chicago and they will play some special shows next year." The "special shows" have turned into a U.S. tour this year and a date in New York, September 17 at Irving Plaza. In conjunction, NE have released two collections, Body of Work 1984 - 1997 and Body Rework, a remix compilation., both from Mute Records. Body Rework, to be released July 24, includes new remixes from Dubfire, Ivan Smagghe, Terence Fixmer (who partners with Douglas for the Fixmer/McCarthy project), Thomas Heckmann, and Robag Wruhme.
Nitzer Ebb have set up a micro-site for the two new records where you can check out the full track listing, production credits and tour schedule. According to the site, this is a one-off tour, so don't miss out on seeing this unique band live. It's been 16 years, but I haven't forgotten my first experience.