Die Kreuzen ("Dee Kroyt-zen") started in 1981 when four suburban kids from Illinois and Winsconsin joined forces in Milwaukee. Their name means "the cross" in German, and they would later say they chose it because people wouldn't know what it means. Their first recordings ended up on the "Charred Remains" comp tape put out by Version Sound, putting them immediately side by side with some of the country's best hardcore bands. They then landed a few tracks on the Master Tape compilation LP on Paul Mahern of the Zero Boys' label. By the end of the year they had a single of their own, the classic Cows and Beer EP on Version Sound. This record was unlike anything else coming out at the time. Die Kreuzen took the basic formula for hardcore and twisted it around so that it sounded sick and scary again.
The band launched a 1983 summer US tour on the strength of their single, and returned to Wisconsin to record their first full length for Touch and Go. The resulting 21-song album, which finally saw the light of day in 1984, is the band's masterpiece. No other record sounds like it, and even the songs that were great on the EP are taken to a whole new level of twisted ferocity. After two more years touring around the US and Canada, Die Kreuzen toned down their sound significantly and recorded the October File LP. This album is more spacey and new wave, losing the edge their first one had. The band continued playing into the early '90s, continually winning new fans as their sound continued to "mature" and "evolve" into less intense areas including the addition of a horn section. All of their records have been reissued on CD (including the rare early material on the Gone Away single just after the Aerosmith cover), and the first LP is fairly easy to find since it sold thousands of copies back in the day.
DEMO tape (1982)
COWS AND BEER EP (Version Sound, 1982)
DIE KREUZEN LP (Touch & Go, 1984)
OCTOBER FILE LP (Touch & Go, 1985)
CENTURY DAYS LP (Touch & Go, 1988)
GONE AWAY EP (Touch & Go, 1989)
GONE AWAY 7" (Touch & Go, 1989)
Pink Flag/Land of Treason 7" (Touch & Go, 1990)
Big Bad Days/Gone Away 7" (Touch & Go, 1991)
CEMENT LP (Touch & Go, 1991)
CHARRED REMAINS tape (Version Sound, 1981), "Pain", "Hate Me"
THE MASTER TAPE LP (Affirmation, 1982), "On the Street", "All White", "Fighting"
AMERICA'S DAIRYLAND tape (Last Rites, 1983), "Think For Me", "Enemies", "Rumors"
CODE BLUE tape (Last Rites, 1984), "Fuck Up", "Live Wire", "Champs"
Lyrics to Cows and Beer and Die Kreuzen LP
Interview from Touch & Go #21
A brief but interesting early interview, on the Dementlieu Punk Archive.
Interview from Forced Exposure #10
Steve Albini interviews the band for Forced Exposure in 1986. Thanks a lot to Obik for getting me the interview!
Die Kreuzen Fan Page
This page was helpful, but you have to change the first letter of his links to lowercase in order to see them!
Southern Die Kruezen Page
The Southern Records page which ignores their hardcore years.
Punk Rock in Wisconsin
Because Die Kreuzen weren't the only ones.