Laibach Biography

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With origins in Trbovlje, Slovenia, Laibach’s powerful imagery has long been confused with the fascist icons they have tried to deconstruct. They were formed in 1980 by members of the (then) Yugoslavian army, including Tomaz Hostnik (1961, d. 1982; vocals) and Miran Mohar. Named after the German word for Slovenia’s capital city, Ljubljana, they acted as the musical arm of the political art movement NSK (Neue Slowenische Kunst - New Slovian Art), conceived in 1980 and formulated in 1984. Laibach formed one of three sections of the movement, the others being Irwin (painters) and Scipion Nasice (theatre).

Laibach itself has a constantly fluctuating line-up. However, the nucleus can be identified as Milan Fras, Dejan Knez, Ervin Markosek and Ivan Novak, the latter acting as spokesman after Hostnik had committed suicide. In 1982, they toured outside of their native country for the first time, releasing their first UK single, ‘Boji’, in 1984. In the mid-80s they recorded Teutonic reworkings of several rock classics, and appeared on the UK television arts programme The South Bank Show. The 1987 release ‘Life Is Life’, based on the earlier pop hit by Austrian band Opus, had the unfortunate effect of becoming an anthem for neo-Nazis. Other notable pursuits included the commissioning of a soundtrack to Macbeth performed by the German theatre company Deutsches Schauspielhaus. It was played live during performances. In 1988, the band covered the Beatles’ Let It Be, bar the title track, in its entirety, in Wagnerian military style. Two years later they released Sympathy For The Devil, which featured seven different cover versions of the Rolling Stones song. They also released the German-only single ‘3 Oktober’, to celebrate reunification in 1990. Notable Laibach releases in the next two decades included the thematically linked covers albums NATO (1994), concerning war, and Jesus Christ Superstars (1996), concerning religion, and Volk (2006), which collected 14 songs inspired by national anthems.

Although they have achieved some degree of prominence, any realistic study of Laibach should focus on them as merely one component in a larger and more important artistic movement. The German band Rammstein enjoyed commercial success in the 90s and 00s with a barely disguised update of the Laibach sound and artistic vision.


Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.


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