The place: Kaiserslautern, Southwest Germany. The time: 1982. From the ashes of a deutschepunk band called Kahlschlag started Die Walterelf (or Walter 11), a punk rock band in the melodic style of late 70's UK bands. Some months later, Frank (guitar), Markus (bass) and Beppo (drums) from said band, came across Lee, an American GI stationed in Germany. As some other punks in Germany who were influenced by American HC, which at the time was setting foot in the "old world", the boys from Kaiserslautern decided to start their own fast band and asked the soldier boy (who later on regreted his army service, but at that time was for him an escape from home) to join as vocalist. The Spermbirds were born. Even though Die Walterelf didn't break up and in fact, continued to exist along Spermbirds for a long time (and in my opinion, are damn enjoyable too), the Spermbirds were the ones to gain most notoriety both inside Germany and abroad.
After some demos done in 1985, came their vinyl debut one year later in the form of a split with Die Walterelf. Don't Forget the Fun was released by X-Mist records, first as a 7" and then reissued as part of a 12", which also contained the 7" of another pioneer German HC band (also originally released on that prolific label), the Skeezicks. In my opinion, the split 7"/12" is decent and worth getting.
In 1987, another German indie (We Bite) released the band's first full length, Something To Prove. It was also licensed to Boner records in the US and Manic Ears in the UK, a fact that probably helped them gain many more fans. I think it's reasonable to assume that they had gigged and rehearsed very often, as all the songs on the record here sound plain great. In my opinion, this is one of the best HC records to come out of Europe (or anywhere for that matter) at the time. It definitely shows the influence of early 80's USHC musically and a fixation with the Angry Samoans lyrically, even though the band would later on publicly apologize for the sexism in some of their lyrics. What set this LP apart from many others in the genre is the melodic riffs and licks (especeally notable in songs such as "Try Again", "Something To Prove" and "Get On The Stage") while mantaining the aggresive fun of, say, LA punk circa '81. Lemme tell you, the hooks on this one will stay carved in your cranium for years to come.
In 1988 the band split up, in what would be the first of many similar situations. As a posthoumous testament, We Bite released an LP of both compilation and unreleased material, that mostly works great - the liner notes refer to it as something along the lines of The Ruts' "Grin and Bear It" and I can only agree with what may seem as a pretentious statement. Songs such as "Die Sgt Landry" and "Nothing Is Easy" are as good as anything by those punk bands that people are willing to pay big bucks for on E-Bay, they just happenned to be from Germany and not from a cool US town.
After they reformed, The Spermbirds kept touring and recorded the Common Thread LP, which like all the (several) records that came after that, didn't leave as good impression on me. I must admit that I liked Lee's post-Spermbirds band 2Bad (which also included ex-members of the underrated kraut HC combo Challenger Crew) better, althought they had more of a late 80's DC sound. After that, Lee also revived his Angry Samoans passion for Steaknife, who also had some material out on X-Mist and were actually pretty cool. The others also had some bands but I couldn't tell you how they sound. But I guess that the most important thing to know, in case you don't own the early Spermbirds material, is that it's still available both on vinyl and CD (try X-Mist) and, as it should be obvious by now, I can't stop myself for recommending.
DON'T FORGET THE FUN split 7" w/ WALTERELF (X-Mist, 1986)
SOMETHING TO PROVE LP (We Bite, 1986)
GET ON THE STAGE 7" (We Bite, 1987)
NOTHING IS EASY LP (We Bite, 1988)
COMMON THREAD LP (X-Mist, 1990)
THANKS LP (Dead-Eye, 1990)
EATING GLASS CD (X-Mist, 1992)
JOE CD (X-Mist, 1992)
SHIT FOR SALE LP (Gun, 1994)
FAMILY VALUES CD (Gun, 1995)
GET OFF THE STAGE 2CD (Gun, 1996)
X-MIST COLLECTION LP split w/ SKEEZICKS (X-Mist, 1988 - has the first 7")
COFFEE, HAIR, AND REAL LIFE CD (Eastwest - has material from 1984-1991)
SOMETHING TO PROVE/NOTHING IS EASY CD (Flight 13 - has both records on one CD)
Spermbirds Official Homepage
Has info on the reformed Spermbirds activities, also pictures, a discography, etc.
Spermbirds Fan Page
I think this one's a bit more informative than the Official Site, there's a short band history but also two interviews which are worth reading (especially the first one).
Interview from Ox #37
Here's an interview in German, I'm guessing it's pretty recent...
X-Mist Records from Germany released some of the later Spermbirds albums and also sells their early material.