Louis Rodrigo

What Keeps Berlin Ticking After Decades in the Industry

New wave, post-punk, pop rock – it doesn’t matter what category you place the band in, because the music still speaks for itself.

Berlin have become a band that defines what it takes to keep kicking, whether it be musically, personally, or professionally. The legendary group (comprised of singer Terri Nunn, John Crawford, David Diamond, Dave Schulz, Carlton Bost, and Ric Roccapriore) has surely seen its ups-and-downs (breakups, lineup changes, etc.) throughout the years, but they have made it through. To that point, Berlin has made it through, even a sort of a rebirth.

The band’s most notable song, “Take My Breath Away” from 1986’s Top Gun movie soundtrack, won the Academy Award for Best Original Song. Italian composer and ‘Father of Disco,’ Giorgio Moroder, had been on hand to help write it. Nunn says that “may have been the final nail in the coffin” for the group, especially when reaching their peak of success. Although the frontwoman herself thrives on collaborations, since the band’s inception in 1978, their own original music is what carried them. Therefore, some of the band members disliked that they did not write that hit song, furthering the need for a split on top of immense pressures for studio time and touring. 

In 1997, Nunn decided to resurrect the band and move forward with a fairly new lineup of musicians. They opened for the Go-Gos own reunion tour in 1999 and have released records since, as well. Today, the band is touring with Culture Club and still singing their iconic eighties hits and beyond.

The Aquarian sat down with the charismatic and dedicated lead singer to discuss being on the road this summer, Berlin’s philharmonic debut, and how “Take My Breath Away” remains a timeless classic.

So, what does keep the band ticking after all of these years?

I think we all love this music still. We love what we’re doing together. We love each other’s company, especially now. John Crawford and I split apart on the 1987 tour. We stopped speaking to each other. We lost the thread and didn’t know how to fix it. It’s so nice to get to go this long and now enjoy each other.

What prompted to break up in 1987?

Honestly, I think we should have taken a break. Nobody was for that idea and no one knew how to ask for that. We were so scared to lose the record label, our manager, and the band. Just the constant working… we had no lives. I blame nobody. A record label is a business and they wanted us to ride the train and make money for them. We were so exhausted at that point. We ended up turning on each other. John was not happy with “Take My Breath Away.” It was hard to make songs that the audience, the record label, and the band would like. He felt like he was losing his band at the time. Now, looking back at it, if we took six months off, we wouldn’t have broken up.

“Take My Breath Away” is a song that stands the test of time, though. Thoughts?

I love the song. Giorgio Moroder helped write the song. I loved his work. I loved the chance to get to collaborate with him. To me, collaboration is everything. It is why I do this, and it’s great to work with other people. The collaborations are just magical to me. I thought it was fantastic. 

Your most recent release, Strings Attached, finds the band exploring philharmonic orchestras. What prompted this to occur?

The UK company called us and asked us if we were interested in doing this. We never had the chance to do an entire album of Berlin music with an orchestra – now we got the chance to play with two. I loved the format: to have the nucleus of the band playing but also the orchestra adding their melodies and counterpoints. It was majestic and epic to hear done that way. It’s six hits and some deeper cuts.

You are on out on the road with Culture Club. Can you tell us more about the tour and how it came to be?

We played with Culture Club a few times; it went really well. We got along with each other – the crews, the bands, and the audiences really liked it. If the band and crew get along, it makes it even better. Culture Club are very nice guys on top of it all. They are iconic and their show is really good. It’s not what I expected – they just have this kind of vibe

New wave has truly evolved. Where do you think it’s going?

I’m just glad electronic music hasn’t gone away. With electronic music, you have so many choices of sounds that you can play with. It’s endless! Rock is great, but it’s guitar, bass, drums, vocals. I think that’s one reason it has been so prevalent since the eighties. The most different, interesting music that has come along recently is Billie Eilish. Her music has a very different take on the electronic scene; it’s unique and I love unique and respect unique. I love when someone does something different. 

How far will Berlin go?

I have no idea. We were making our Christmas album until the tour came along. Oh, and there’s a movie in the works based on DJ Richard Blade and my relationship, as well, called No More Words.