They already knew it then: “Everything will change when we grow up…”
Five boys from Flensburg with a school band became the idols of German teenagers in the late 1990s. His name said it all. They were “real”.
Not cast, real friends. They played their own instruments and sang in German, which was well received. Their songs “Everything Will Change” and “We Did It” made them pop stars. The fans followed them, the shouted alarm was guaranteed. Until they broke up after six years…
In the three-part documentary “Real – Our Youth” (from 23 November in the ARD media library) the band shows previously unreleased videos. Today’s adult men look at yesterday’s boys and talk about secret relationships, sex, drugs and mental problems.
This is how the five boys became real
Kim Frank (41), Kai Fischer (43), Andreas “Smurfs” Puffpaff (42), Gunnar Astrup (41) and Florian Sump (42) met at school. They have been making music since 1994 and in 1996 they became “Echt”.
A friend managed her and her breakthrough came in 1998. The videos of her songs ended up on the music channel Viva. The kids decided to drop out of school. Success came quickly. Their second album “Freischwimmer” reached number one in the charts in 1999.
Chic hotel, good food, screaming fans. Suddenly they were leading a life of intoxication, recording everything with their “real” camera. For the documentary, Kim Frank viewed 250 hours of material and edited the trilogy.
BILD summarizes the most interesting parts. “True” about…
Frontman Kim Frank recalls, “Kai struggled with uncontrollable sadness. He found it difficult to talk about. He often disappeared. (…) Mental health was certainly not an issue at that time. Mental health problems used to be a stigma. Anyone who needed a psychologist didn’t have himself under control. (…) That’s why Kai’s depression was never a public issue. At the beginning it was said three times that Kai was out. Which is over with the real.
Since she was a child, Kim suffered from panic attacks and was afraid of dying soon. At a festival in April 1999 in Recklinghausen, the band was pelted with eggs by hooligans. Suddenly a beer bottle crashed onto Kim’s head. The show was canceled and she received stitches on the spot. She was left with a scar and the fear of further attacks. Her mother received threatening phone calls and death threats circulated online. To ease her anxiety, Kim began smoking weed almost every day. “I think I just wanted to lay low, not think about my fears. (…) I was afraid.”
Everyone except Gunnar had just had their first when they talked about it on Bravo TV. Kim on her first time: “It was the little man on top, about two minutes. And I didn’t come.” Kim also shares, “The one pop star cliché I left out was that, with a few exceptions, I didn’t sleep with fans. Women played an important role, but especially those I met backstage.” She once admitted to BILD in an interview that she had slept with “hundreds of women”.
They had a golden rule. Alcohol and drugs were only available after their concerts. Kim is shown smoking weed in the documentary when she is just 16 years old. In the background someone asks, “Should we shoot something like this now?” Hey, he’s totally exhausted.” Kim hums, “I just want a kiss.”
While fans hoped the boys were single, they experienced their first great loves during their time at the zenith of music. Kai has developed a crush on Franziska, a management employee. Kim Frank says, “What we all didn’t know: Kai and Franziska had fallen for each other over the past few months, had secretly held hands on the Nightliner (their tour bus, editor), and were now a couple. And it was incredibly good for Kai.
Flo and Smurfs also had steady girlfriends. Gunnar also fell in love with a management employee. Kim fell in love with presenter Enie van de Meiklokjes (49) – a thrill at the time.
The end of the gang
After six years spent together almost every day, the strength is gone. In 2002 they actually wanted to record new songs, but they kept clashing over the music. Kim withdrew more and more, he says in the documentary: “I felt a distance, almost a hostility, which in turn distanced me greatly from others.” He flew to Tokyo and asked for a conversation when he returned. Kim today: “I told them I needed a break. Now. Long. At least a year. And then Kai said the decisive sentence: ‘Then I’m in favor of us breaking up’.”
Today the five see each other regularly and are friends. What did the documentary do to them? Florian: “After the third film we cried, and this brought us closer together than many other things.”
And this is how the five men live today
For lead singer Kim Frank, the band had “a feeling like I’m in love.” Even after the end, the music didn’t let him go.
Frank: “The others didn’t want the pop star life anymore. Except me. I still loved life.
But: He fell into a hole and barely made it out of the house. Therapy and music helped him get back on his feet. He attempted a solo comeback, without success.
Frank then became a successful author and director and shot around 100 music videos for Andreas Bourani (40), Sido (42), Mark Forster (40) and Udo Lindenberg (77), among others. He lives with his wife in Hamburg.
After the band ended, the drummer was tormented Florian Sump asked himself the question: “Who am I without the other four?” He changed his life. Sump: “The money ran out quickly or invested in such a way that I never saw it. I had to look for work quickly. It was difficult because people still recognized me sometimes.”
He worked as a sausage seller, in a video store and as a nursery teacher. In 2010 you produced the song “Chocolate” for the structure. This was well received and he founded the children’s hip-hop band” Your friends”. He started making music again in 2012. In 2020 he was part of the jury of “The Voice Kids” together with Lena Meyer-Landrut (32), Max Giesinger (35) and Sasha (51). Florian Sump two children and lives with his family in Hamburg.
Bassist Kai Fischer was the oldest of the five guys. What no one knew at the time: in “real” times he and Franziska, a management employee, had secretly become a couple. After the band broke up, they became parents to a daughter (16 years old), who now lives with Kai. The couple is now separated.
After “Real,” Kai trained as a tailor and became a costume designer for films. The documentary also addresses Kai’s depression and gave Kai momentum: “It pushed me to deal with depression and difficult times.” Of “Real” he says: “I have never found anything that meant more to me.”
Andreas Puffpaff, aka “Smurfs”, played bass in the band. He says of the “real” ending in the documentary: “This life, which was a very strange life, suddenly changed. You were financially secure and not obligated to find something new.
However, he quickly reorients himself. He became a media designer, runs his own web design studio and works among other things for Florian’s band “Deine Freunde”.
He lives with his wife and two children in his home village of Husby (Schleswig-Holstein).
Gunnar Astrup was the band’s keyboard player. When others talked about their first time on TV, he was still waiting for the right one. In 2000 he falls in love with Julia, a collaborator of the “Echt” team. The two kept their love a secret. According to the documentary, Julia is the first woman Gunnar has ever kissed. Today they are married and live near Flensburg with their three children.
Gunnar says of the band’s end: “I didn’t really know what to do with my everyday life. I saw the hole after it, but I tried not to fall into it.”
After several management positions at the radio, including at “Rock Antenne Hamburg”, he is now managing director of a cultural festival in Flensburg.
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