Few bands were more successful in Austria and Germany in the '80s than Erste Allgemeine Verunsicherung (often abbreviated as EAV), a German-language rock outfit primarily seen as a fun band, with humorous, often intentionally silly lyrics and extravagant stage shows, but whose catchy pop songs often included political and social criticism beneath a clownish surface. In its native Austria, the band scored five gold albums and ten platinum or multi-platinum albums (1987's Liebe, Tod & Teufel went platinum sixfold) and had three number one chart hits ("Küss die Hand, Schöne Frau" stayed in the charts for 22 weeks) and 11 more Top Ten singles. Despite the strong Austrian dialect of their lyrics, they found success in Germany and Switzerland, too: EAV had two platinum albums, four gold albums, and four Top Ten singles in Germany, and two gold albums and a double platinum album in Switzerland.
The band was founded by guitarist and songwriter Thomas Spitzer in 1977, together with bassist Eik Breit, drummer Anders Stenmo, and keyboardist Nino Holm. A year later, with the release of its self-titled debut album, the band added saxophonist Günter Schönberger and singer Wilfried (later successful as a solo artist) to the lineup; in 1979 Wilfried was replaced by Gert Steinbäcker (later a member of STS). In 1981, singer Klaus Eberhartinger became the band's frontman, and his extroverted vocal style helped the group to find a distinctive voice. The band released its second album the same year, Café Passé, and won the German Record Critics' Award and a Berliner Wecker in 1982. With their third album, 1983's Spitalo Fatalo, they managed to enter the Austrian album charts. A la Carte followed in 1984.
Released in 1985, Geld Oder Leben! was the band's big breakthrough, not only in Austria, where it hit number one and stayed in the charts for an astonishing 78 weeks, but also in Germany and Switzerland. The album yielded five hit singles: "Go, Karli, Go," "Ba-Ba-Banküberfall" (which even briefly entered the U.K. charts in an English-language version, "Ba-Ba-Bankrobbery"), "Märchenprinz," "Heiße Nächte (In Palermo)," and "Fata Morgana." In 1986, four of the band's songs appeared in the German movie Geld Oder Leber!, starring popular comedian Mike Krüger. In 1987, the band released its most successful album, Liebe, Tod & Teufel, which featured their biggest single hit, "Küss die Hand, Schöne Frau." The album went platinum in Germany, six times platinum in Austria, and double platinum in Switzerland. The following albums -- Neppomuk's Rache (1990) and Watumba! (1991) -- didn't match the success of Liebe, Tod & Teufel, but still managed to get the band a few more gold and platinum awards.
During the height of its popularity, the band was usually seen as a fun project, even though the group had always used its almost burlesque comic image to express serious commentary on various topics in the form of parody. For example, their song "Wann Man Gehn Muß" (a parody of Falco's "Rock Me Amadeus") made fun of Austrian Federal President Kurt Waldheim and the scandal surrounding his membership in the Third Reich's SS (which Waldheim never commented on). Waldheim threatened to sue the band. For songs like "Wir Marschieren" (We March), a satire of right-wing mentality, the band received bomb threats from neo-Nazis after a 1983 TV show.
After Watumba!, EAV went on hiatus for three years, and when they returned in 1994 with a new album, Nie Wieder Kunst (Wie Immer...), their popularity in Germany and Switzerland had faded. They were still moderately successful in their native country, however, and despite several changes in their lineup and little media attention, they had a big enough fan base to continue recording and touring. In 2005, their retrospective double album 100 Jahre EAV...Ihr Habt Es So Gewollt!!, which revisited several of their songs in newly recorded versions, managed to launch a comeback in connection with a large tour. In 2007, EAV released an album with new material called Amore XL, which managed to reach platinum status in Austria. ~ Christian Genzel