BOXER SHORTS AND DOWN-TO-EARTH MUSIC: THE “SCHLAGERPINZ” AND HIS BAND ARE BECOMING INCREASINGLY POPULAR IN GERMANY
Almost two years ago, the “Schlagerprinz” made his very first appearance in Würzburg. A lot has happened since then. A conversation about unusual autograph sessions, amazing encounters, flying boxer shorts and great gratitude. The wind whistles over the Laurentiusberg in Tauberbischofsheim on this frosty January evening, when the FN meet up with the “Schlagerprinz” for the second time since the band was founded.
In the cold neon light of the rehearsal room, there is no sign of the brightly colored sequin glamour that usually surrounds the band. Everyone wears warm anoraks. Band boss Sven Schwab turns up the heat first. We quickly arrive at the topic. Sebastian Kelhetter has one thing particularly close to his heart: “Please write in the text that we are incredibly grateful to the people who attend our concerts. Without them, none of this would be possible.” The band can hardly believe what has happened in the meantime, where they have performed and who they have met.
DER SCHLAGERPRINZ & BAND
Almost 3000 people at the “XXLSchlagerparty” in Streutal near Mellrichstadt, 2000 at the brewery festival in Bayreuth, always 600 at the gigs in the “home base”, the Posthalle in Würzburg. The musicians rave about “eye-to-eye encounters” with stars such as Michael Holm, Ross Anthony, Beatrice Egli and Guildo Horn. Reality TV actor Hubert Fella has admitted to being an absolute fan of the band on his social networks. On Instagram, he wrote down five reasons why you should definitely watch “Schlagerprinz”. Among other things, he writes: “The band offers a unique stage show with great attention to detail. Their performance is simply captivating.”
The most important man in the band just listens to our conversation in the studio. “That’s typical of Manu,” say the others. As always, frontman and singer Manuel “Manu” Both keeps a low profile, lets the others talk and nods when they talk about humility and gratitude. Sven Schwab remembers how his dream of forming a sophisticated pop band intensified during the coronavirus period: “I always had Manu in mind as the singer. I suspected that this could be exactly his thing.” When Sebastian Kelhetter says today that the band works so well mainly because of Manu, that he takes people with him from the very first song, he is rather embarrassed: “I find it very difficult to cope with praise. I do my thing, but it’s nothing special. Every band member is just as important as me.” All nine participants have probably not yet fully realized their success. But it did not fall into their laps. After all, they don’t want to be labeled as a gossip group and do everything they can to ensure this never happens. Steve says: “In terms of the quality of our performances, we are at a level that none of us have been at before. Everyone has played in other bands, but this is something very different and very demanding.” Sebastian Kelhetter adds: “When something looks easy, there’s often a lot behind it. We have songs with seven or eight key changes in our repertoire. That’s not without its difficulties. Nevertheless, we never want to lose our lightness.”
The band’s program includes hits such as “Eine neue Liebe ist wie ein neues Leben” and “Ein Bett im Kornfeld” as well as “Am Tag, als Conny Kramer starb” and “Über sieben Brücken”, which was especially celebrated in the Baltic seaside resort of Boltenhagen at the end of December. They traveled there in a nightliner because the “Schlagerprinz” had played in Würzburg the night before. Touring the country in a tour bus was also a completely new experience for the nine friends. And a few other unprecedented experiences were added in 2023. For example, Manuel Both is now recognized on the street: “Before our show in Düsseldorf, I was walking through the city. Suddenly a group of girls came up to me and one of them said: ‘You’re the ‘Schlagerprinz’. At first I thought they were pulling my leg. When they then added that they were from Hamburg, I was really gobsmacked, because we’d never played there before.” “Extreme” experiences The experience in Mellrichstadt, where the band were allowed to sign the town’s Golden Book in the presence of Mayor Michael Kraus, was just as extreme: “After the show, security people came and asked us to come along to the autograph session. They made our way through the crowd. There were lots of people at our fan store waiting for us. It was so unbelievable for all of us.”
Sven Schwab adds: “We’ve never had people wanting pictures with us before. And it was so funny how people pushed past Burkard Schäffner and me to get a photo with Manuel, one of the most modest, reserved and therefore most atypical singers of all. The stage character and the private Manuel are two people, says Sebastian Kelhetter. Manu Both, who thinks Michael Holm’s “Mendocino” is just as great as his father, laughs and says: “When I sing ‘And it was summer’, it can happen that I look deep into a woman’s eyes. That’s just part of it. On stage, I’m the ‘Schlagerprinz’, I’m there for everyone.” In an interview with FN, he also reveals his recipe if he forgets the lyrics. “It’s only now that it happened to me again in Boltenhagen with ‘Ein Bett im Kornfeld’. I must have sung it a thousand times, but suddenly a verse was gone.” And what does he do then? “The keyboard player always has the lyrics. I then dance to the back with him. The band already knows and makes room for me.”
Flying bras are nothing new for the band, but the black boxer shorts that landed on stage in the Würzburg Posthalle in December were yet another experience. “I picked them up, twirled them around a bit and we hung them up on the bus on the way to Boltenhagen,” says Manu Both and everyone laughs. “When we’re on stage, we forget everything else around us. And that’s how people feel too,” says André Ditzenbach. Stephan “Steve” Hohnerlein says: “We all, the band and the audience as the ‘tenth man’, break out of reality. We slip into other roles and are someone else. But when we wear normal clothes again after the show, nobody is interested in us anymore. Only Manuel is still recognized even then.” “Decent and nice” It is important for the band to be “decent and nice”. “We don’t behave like idiots, for example, we clean up after ourselves or bring security a coffee. They told us that no artist had ever brought the security staff a coffee before,” says Steve and, after a short pause, adds: “We’re not artists either. We’re just from Tauber.” Of course, the friends could tour with the Nightliner even more often, but everyone has a job and a family. “Besides,” says Gabriel Bauer, “when we put the band together, we didn’t intend to play 120 times a year. We’re just friends who make music and have fun doing what we do.” Steve says: “Last year went better than we ever dreamed it would. But just because we’ve been driving around in a tour bus doesn’t mean we’ve lost our grip. After our huge success in Mellrichstadt, we all had to go back to work on Monday. That grounds us immensely.”
By Sabine Holroyd Fränkische Nachrichten Tauberbischofsheim.
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