Universal Music Drops Band After German Magazine Reveals Act Has Ties to Right-Wing Music Scene
Members of the rock group Weimar, who perform behind masks, have fascist-sounding lyrics and are thought to have anti-Semitic backgrounds.
BERLIN — Universal Music Group Germany made a distribution deal with the rock band Weimar — then dropped it this week after an article in German magazine Der Spiegel revealed that the group has ties to the right-wing scene in Germany and that at least one of its members previously performed in a neo-Nazi band.
The group’s lyrics refer to violence and portray the media as “bought puppets” as well as wolves and rats — echoing anti-Semitic imagery used by the Nazis. At least one member of Weimar previously played in a band with outright racist and anti-Semitic lyrics, according to Der Spiegel. Another member, Christian P., has been accused of illegally possessing weapons and spreading neo-Nazi propaganda, according to Der Spiegel. Universal has said that Christian P.’s name wasn’t on the band’s recording contract and his exact role in the group is unclear — partly because the band often performs and poses for photographs in masks.
The group’s album came out in May and went to No. 5 on the German albums chart, and its website lists spring tour dates. The band did not respond to an inquiry from Billboard sent to its Twitter account.
“Based on the information we recently learned from a journalist’s inquiry, we terminated our relationship with Weimar, which consisted of distribution of one album,” Universal Music Group says in a statement. “That has been stopped with immediate effect. The information that has come to light made clear that any relationship with the band was absolutely unacceptable to us and inconsistent with our values. We feel deceived by the band. If we knew then what we know today, we would never have released the album in the first place.”
UMG’s decision comes one week after The New York Times revealed how German label BMG signed a rapper known to have Holocaust-denying and anti-Semitic lyrics, Freeze Corleone, to a one-album deal in 2021 and then abruptly terminated the relationship the day before BMG was due to release the project’s first single. BMG executives had debated internally the pros and cons of signing the French artist and had known that UMG had signed and then dropped Corleone in 2020 after distributing his previous album, La Menace Fantôme (The Phantom Menace), for a week. BMG executives in Berlin ultimately overruled their French team after thoroughly reviewing his older music.
In the case of Weimar, several members come from the neo-Nazi scene in the state of Thuringia, according to Der Spiegel. Konstantin P., who Der Spiegel says goes by the name Till Schneider in Weimar, was previously in Dragoner, a neo-Nazi band that recorded songs that denied the Holocaust.
Dragoner was watched by the German Office for the Protection of the Constitution, a domestic intelligence organization charged with protecting German democracy. Steffen P., who Der Spiegel says goes by the name Kurt Ronny Fiedler in Weimar, came to the attention of Thuringian law enforcement when he attended a right-wing concert in 2005.
It’s unclear what Christian P’s role in the group is, but Der Spiegel says he has known both Steffen P. and Konstantin P. for years, and that they previously played together in the group Uncore United, which has songs that sound similar to those of Weimar. Christian P. has been accused of illegal weapons possession and “forming armed groups.” Der Spiegel says that in 2002 he released an album under the name Murder Squad that featured a swastika on the cover and included anti-Semitic lyrics that denied the Holocaust took place — both of which could make it illegal to distribute in Germany.
Weimar’s relationship with Universal was a one-album distribution deal through the band’s label, Harder Entertainment. The article in Der Spiegel suggests that the deal might have been made by the manager of Frei.Wild, a band from South Tyrol, Italy, that has been associated with right-wing imagery but has distanced itself from right-wing politics. UMG did not comment on this at publication time.