So next up, Nice by Kleenex. (Who later had to rename themselves Liliput after pressure from the tissue company). Infectious early 80s Swiss post-punk.

Switzerland is a very strange place. It’s rich, socially conservative in many ways, obsessed with regulating everything (and you need a permit to do anything), yet they had a huge heroin problem in the 80s in Zürich, to the extent that they just herded people into a park to shoot up out of everyone else’s way, and there are actually quite a lot of weird conceptual artists around. The mountains are so tall in the German-speaking half that people on different sides of the mountain speak such radically different dialects it’s practically a different language. I can usually follow people from the Austrian border or Zürich, but I’m lost listening to people from Graubünden.

I’m a regular in the canton of Saint Gallen (I often teach summer workshops in Feldkirch or Dornbirn just over the border in Austria). This often means passing through Appenzell, a fairly unremarkable small town in Eastern Switzerland which only gave women the vote in local elections in 1991. 1991. It’s also a place where rules are rules. We open for lunch between 11.30 and 1.30. A respectable person would not eat lunch after that, so I don’t know what you are doing in my restaurant wanting to eat at 1.45. No, you may not have potatoes instead, the menu specifies rice.

Here’s a great interview with Marlene from the band. And a more recent one from She Shreds.

Here are the lyrics, and my translation. I usually interpret them as dealing with conformity, materialism and social expectations of how women should behave. Nice neat little pet poodles who do as they’re told.

Oh sie sind so hübsch Oh they’re so pretty
Oh sie sind so nett Oh they’re so nice
Rosarot das mögen sie Pinky pink, that’s what they like
Hellblau das tragen sie Pale blue, that’s what they wear
Die kleinen weissen Pudel The little white poodle
Oh, so naiv im Rudel So naive in the pack (I don’t think Rudel has quite such a strong association with carnivores/fierceness in German as pack does in English- you can have a Rudel of deer. You’d want Meute for savageness)

Sie brauchen dich nicht They don’t need you
Sie können alles kaufen They can buy everything
Rosarot das mögen sie
Hellblau das tragen sie
Die kleinen schwarzen Pudel The little black poodle
Oh, so naiv im Rudel

Sie denken was du denkst They think what you think
Sie sagen was du sagst They say what you say
Sie können alles kaufen They can buy everything
Sie können nicht träumen They can’t dream
Rosarot das mögen sie
Hellblau das tragen sie

Oh sie sind so hübsch
Oh sie sind so nett
Rosarot das mögen sie
Hellblau das tragen sie
Die kleinen schwarzen Pudel
Oh, so naiv im Rudel
Sie müssen nicht denken They don’t have to think
Sie sind so gleich They’re the same

Here’s an interview of them being extremely Swiss. Yes, this is German.