Kettcar is an indie rock music band based in Hamburg, Germany. The band has released four studio albums so far. The band released their fourth album, Zwischen den Runden, in 2012. Their fifth album, Ich vs. Wir, is slated for release on October 13, 2017. The band name is derived from the Kettcar, a riding toy produced by Kettler since 1962.
In 2001, Marcus Wiebusch of ...But Alive and bass player Reimer Bustorff, who were both members of the ska band Rantanplan, decided to break away from punk's and ska's traditions of aggressive, political lyrics in favor of developing a more emotional, laid-back style. Together with Erik Langer (guitar), Frank Tirado-Rosales (percussion, also a former member of ...But Alive) and Marcus' brother Lars Wiebusch (keyboard), they formed Kettcar to experiment with a different sound and address more personal issues in their lyrics.
When they failed to find a label for the release of their first album, Du und wieviel von deinen Freunden ("You and how many of your friends", a quote from the 1985 movie The Breakfast Club), Wiebusch and Bustorff banded together with Tomte frontman Thees Uhlmann and formed the independent music label Grand Hotel van Cleef. In early 2002, Du und... became the first record to be released via the new label. Its success, while still moderate, exceeded expectations by far and Kettcar became darlings of the German music press. In March 2005, Kettcar released their second album, Von Spatzen und Tauben, Dächern und Händen ("Of sparrows and pigeons, rooftops and hands"), which peaked at number 5 of the German album charts and is sometimes seen as their final breakthrough. The album title is a play on a German proverb, English equivalent of which would be "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush".
Kettcar's third album, Sylt (named after the German island in the North Sea), was released in April 2008 and debuted at number 5 of the German album charts. In August 2008, Kettcar played an acoustic concert at the club Kampnagel, supported by a string quartet. In November 2009, Kettcar continued this program and played six concerts with the orchestra Neue Philharmonie Frankfurt supporting them. A recording of the concert in the theatre Fliegende Bauten was released in January 2010 on the eponymous live album. In June 2010, Frank Tirado-Rosales announced that he was leaving the band in order to pursue other projects. His successor is Christian Hake, who was already a drummer for the band Home of the Lame and the artist Olli Schulz. On February 10, 2012, the band released their fourth studio album, Zwischen den Runden ("Between rounds").
The band went on hiatus from April 2013 until July 2017. In August 2017, the band released their first single in five years, "Sommer '89 (Er schnitt Löcher in den Zaun)". The song describes an escape from the GDR and is understood as a statement regarding the European migrant crisis. Their fifth album, Ich vs. Wir, was slated for release on October 13, 2017.
Kettcar's musical style is usually classified as indie rock or indie pop. The band is also often associated with the musical current Hamburger Schule. Marcus Wiebusch himself does not consider the band to be part of the current, stating that Hamburg is their personal origin only. Reimer Bustorff simply called their style guitar pop. Their newer albums, especially Zwischen den Runden, added strings, winds and pianos to the instruments used.