Of all the punks of the 80s, he is the most popular: Campino, the cuddly guy, has shaped the Toten Hosen for decades, is still amazingly fit, often shows a clear political edge – and now, at 60, hopes that “something else” is waiting for him.
Berlin/Düsseldorf – Not bad for a bunch of punks from the early 80s from the pogo dance club “Ratinger Hof”: With their anniversary album “Alles aus Liebe: 40 Jahre Die Toten Hosen” the five Düsseldorfers casually stormed the top of the charts at the beginning of June and set a record.
They are now the band with the most number one records in Germany (12), ahead of the Beatles. Frontman Campino, who also celebrates a milestone birthday on June 22nd and turns 60, once again has every reason to be grateful.
The Hosen singer and songwriter often expresses these at the moment, and they also take away his feelings for his constant band team and the loyal fans. Because Campino – bourgeois Andreas Frege, born in 1962 as the son of the judge Joachim Frege and the housewife Jennie Frege – has a very convincing human catcher nature. The success over so many decades and the proximity to the people are “a huge gift,” he says in an interview with the German Press Agency.
face of the band
The fact that Toten Hosen are so stable and popular despite a few line-up changes has a lot to do with Campino. Because he is “not only the singer, but also the face of the band,” as the pants website says. With charm and willpower, he keeps the store together, completes almost all media appearances, expresses himself openly and reflectively about politics and society – about climate protection, right-wing extremism or, most recently, the military readiness after the Russian attack on Ukraine.
However, he never felt the desire for musical ego trips, which is almost normal for rock band leaders, emphasizes the German-British. “I think that you usually release a solo album when there are certain musical ideas that couldn’t be realized with a band. But the problem never existed with Toten Hosen.”
Not always healthy
Campino’s infidelities looked different: “To be on the road for half a year as “Mackie Messer” from the “The Threepenny Opera” in the theater, to shoot a film with Wim Wenders.” Or to write a football book, the bestseller “Hope Street: How I once became an English champion” (2020), including a reading tour. Such experiences would then have “brought positive impulses” for the trousers.
The fact that he is now turning 60 after his (to put it mildly) not always healthy punk lifestyle is “great at first – when I was 20 it seemed unimaginable to me,” says Campino with a broad grin. And then, seriously again, he added: “It’s quite often that you realize that you’ve gotten older and you have to say goodbye to a lot of things. But at the same time you have space again to discover other things.”
So today, while the Toten Hosen’s big anniversary tour is underway, can he still imagine an acrobatic jump on the microphone stand, as one could admire him at younger performances? “This balancing act would probably look pretty stupid by now,” admits Campino. “It’s my job now to make the evening so energetic that everyone goes home and doesn’t miss such actions from the past.”
Fortuna Dusseldorf fan
On the other hand: “If I still get into the embarrassment of trying a balancing act and it then goes terribly wrong, we should at least be able to laugh our heads off.” And Campino does that extensively in the interview.
Born in Düsseldorf and a Fortuna fan (in addition to his great love of football FC Liverpool), he has meanwhile settled in the capital at times, mainly because of his son who has just come of age: “I like Berlin very much, the city also has the whole a great reputation around the world,” says Campino. “But I’m not a Berliner and I wouldn’t want to try desperately to become one.”
There it is again, the honest, authentic thing about this artist, who used to be more often in the TV public (and now sees some appearances critically). But very little is known about Campino as a private person. An example: that he married for the first time in 2019, he revealed late and only casually – but not to this day the name of the wife.
How does the singer of the most successful German rock band of the past 40 years manage to shield his life like this? “I think it’s very important that there is an area where you make it clear: up to here and no further. Instead, I try to be approachable in a different way. Anyone can ask me anything – but what answer I give is up to me. If it got too intimate or voyeuristic for me, I always turned away.”
Especially since he knows from more talkative years: “With my constant presence, I got on people’s nerves after a while.” Today Campino sees “a lot of things that I regret, for example that I hurt some people for a good joke. Things have happened over the years that weren’t right.” But: “Thank God, my most embarrassing slips were often moments after which I said to myself: From today on you will be different in this respect. So things could have been much worse.”
For his birthday this Wednesday (June 22nd), Campino is not planning any big party excesses: “Not much will happen to me, I won’t go out that day,” he says. “The birthday is subordinate to the tour. We’ll have a piccolo there, but that’s about it. I want to be fit for Düsseldorf – our two home games.”
Because the cheerful boy from the Düsseldorf punk rock bar has long since become a full-time professional performer, who doesn’t want to hide the traces of 60 years, inside and out. Closing words from Campino in the dpa interview: “I’ve had a great life so far and I hope there’s still a little something waiting for me.” Millions of fans and admirers hope with him. dpa