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Die Unbekannten

Profile:

Mark Reeder (synths, bass, guitars, percussion, tapes & FX, occasional vox & programming)
Alistair Gray (vox, bass, synths, programming)
Roland Sixosix (drum patterns)

Additional members:
Thomas Wydler (drums & percussion)
Danny Briotett (percussion & kettles)
Michael Schaeumer (synths and cigarettes)
Jeppe Eckholm (synths & violin).

Die Unbekannten (The Unknown) were formed in June 1981 by 2 ex-pat Brits living in Berlin, Mark Reeder and Alistair Gray, for the legendary Konzert Zur Einheit Der Nation (concert for the unity of Germany) held in the SO36 club in Kreuzberg on 17th June 1981. Their set was hastily thrown together a few days before and the song lyrics were written in the pub opposite the club, while awaiting their soundcheck. They actually had no name when they appeared at the SO36 and so a local journalist Andre Schwerdt dubbed them "the two unknown Englishmen" in a local magazine review, after which the name Die Unbekannten stuck. One song from their legendary first performance, Radio War, appeared as by The Unknown on the v/a album Licht Und Schatten on Wild Youth Records.

Later in 1981 they recorded their first successful 12" Die Unbekannten shortly afterwards for Elisabeth Recker's Monogam label. This controversial three track EP also featured their friend Thomas Wydler on drums. It was a collection of gloomy and politically themed tracks, such as the cold-war classics Radio War, Casualties and Poseidon (a bi-lingual song in English and German about the sinking of a Poseidon nuclear submarine). The cover artwork for this first single was a photo of 3 East German border patrol guards (VOPOS), which had been obtained especially for the EP's artwork. However, it transpired that the photographer hadn't given his permission to also use the picture for other marketing purposes and when he saw the city covered in posters promoting Die Unbekannten, he filed a suit against the label and withdrew his permission for his picture. After selling a few thousand copies the single was culled from the shelves.

As Reeder also worked as co-manager and sound engineer for avant-garde all-girl group Malaria!, Die Unbekannten were provided with the ideal opportunity to tour extensively throughout Europe, as Malaria!'s support act. In spring 1982, Mark and Alistair were given an early prototype of a Roland 606 drum computer, by a member of The Human League. After a few days' trial (writing songs), they immediately went into Harris Johns recording studio in Kreuzberg and recorded Don't Tell Me Stories (featuring Renegade Soundwave's Danny Briotett on cooking pot percussion), and Perfect Love for their next EP Dangerous Moonlight on Monogam. Two more tracks soon followed: The Game and Against The Wall (which again featured Thomas Wydler on drums and percussion). This melancholic single was a huge success for the band and was probably one of the earliest examples of electronic "darkwave" music.

During the following two years, the line-up changed. Wydler left the band to play with Die Haut and the drum machine and electronics completely changed their sound and songwriting style. P1/E founder member Michael Schauemer and Swedish musician Jeppe Eckholm joined the band. Using Reeder's extensive eastern European dissident contacts, Die Unbekannten also performed at secret illegal gigs deep inside communist bloc in places like Hungary and Czechoslovakia. In early 1983 they undertook an adventurous tour of Germany, Austria and Hungary, together with Die Toten Hosen.

In 1984 the line up changed again. Jeppe had gone back home to Sweden to recover and Schaumer left to form his own band, Tennis Boy Blues with Yuji Kimura and Monika Dietl. Two new members were added: Leo Walter and Helmut Wittler, formally of Soif De La Vie. The band were asked to play as the support act for a huge New Order tour of Europe and so Mark and Alistair agreed a complete image change was really required, to go along with the new line up, sound and songs and thus Die Unbekannten were transformed into Shark Vegas.

Sites:Bandcamp , MySpace , Soundcloud , bear-family.de , electricityclub.co.uk , newwavephotos.com
Aliases:Nekropolis (Die Unbekannten), Shark Vegas, The Unknown (9)
Members:Alistair Gray, Mark Reeder, Thomas Wydler
Variations:
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