The identical twins, Bill (vocals) and Tom (guitar) Kaulitz, were born in East Germany, as the republic was on its last legs. Their step-father was a musician who encouraged the lads' endeavors. And they had no problem taking the stage.
Drummer Gustav Schäfer and bassist Georg Listing, who were music school friends, saw the twins at a club show and that was the start of Devilish. The group eventually changed their name to the German spelling of Tokyo, a favored city, and in recognition of their constant touring and living in hotels.
Tokio Hotel landed a recording contact with Sony but just before the release of their album, Sony got cold feet and abandoned the project. But the group landed on Island Records for their German debut. A second album rolled out before Tokio Hotel decided to take a shot at the English-speaking market with '07's "Scream." A million copies were sold worldwide and the group earned the MTV Awards.
They released their first U.S. single, "Scream" and "Ready, Set, Go!", exclusively at Hot Topic stores. '08 saw two U.S. tours. In between treks, Tokio Hotel hunkered down in Hamburg to record '09's "Humannoid," in both English and German.
Europe and the U.S. are different places. That may seem obvious but it goes a long way to explaining why some bands are massively popular in one place but not so much in the other. There's another factor. Rock doesn't translate the same (if at all) throughout Europe. The Germans get Metal, Speed, Thrash and Industrial but not much else. So Tokio Hotel is an anomaly.
"Scream" osculates between acoustic (mid-tempo and ballads) and Glam leaning songs. Both styles produce worthy tracks. Bill goes from a whisper to a barrage on "Ready, Set, Go!," an obvious single, but "Live Every Second" kicks it out. The acoustic "Monsoon" best represents the band's mellower side.
It's evident that there are challenges when English is not your first language. The acoustic "By You Side" tries some rhymes that make it sound like a silly pop throw-away. Still, this album outshines the group's next full-length set.
The best song on "Humanoid," "Automatic" was also released as a single. "Dogs Unleashed" is an outstanding synth Rocker. "Hey You" is the group's attempt at creating an anthem and "Phantom Rider" goes for the big drama. These songs aside, most of the album seems less Glam and is reminiscent of Tears For Fears or the Thompson Twins - not necessarily a good thing.