Tokio Hotel's frontman Bill Kaulitz enjoys breaking fashion rules as he plays dress up
REPORT: JEANMARIE TAN
Guy or girl?
People usually do a double take when they see Bill Kaulitz, the singer from German pop-rock band Tokio Hotel who is worshipped by screaming young women all over the world as a sex symbol and fashion icon. The others in the band are his twin brother, Tom, who is the guitarist and their childhood pals, drummer Gustav Schafer and bassist Georg Listing.
The quartet is massive in Europe and has already made waves in the US. But things can only get bigger.
Fans can't seem to get enough of Tokio Hotel's catchy hit songs like Monsoon, Ready Set Go, Rescue Me, Scream or the latest single Automatic. And nobody can ignore a frontman like Bill, who's as handsome as he is beautiful and makes American Idol Adam Lambert look like Kris Allen. He cuts such a strikingly emo figure with his dramatic guyliner, skin-tight black goth-glam wardrobe and gravity-defying coiffures that require a full bottle of hairspray a day. Needless to say, speculation about his sexual orientation has been heating up.
But relax, girls.
Bill, 20, told The New Paper: "I've always liked girls and I've had (a few) so far." Humble, gracious and exceedingly nice, the super-slender 1.9m-tall rock star said in fluent English over the phone from Berlin: "When everyone talks about a boy who wears make-up, they think he likes boys. "That's a normal reaction, but it's not this way at all." He also follows his own path when it comes to his dramatic image and finds having a stylist "a nightmare".
"I don't care if anyone says I look feminine. I wear what I want to wear. I like to break borders when it comes to fashion. If people say to me, "Bill, you can't wear that," I definitely will wear it." Recently, he experimented with white and black dreadlocks. And no, he wasn't influenced by his identical sibling Tom, who dresses like a hip-hop rapper and sports dreadlocks or cornrows, baseball caps, sweat bands and baggy streetwear. However, Bill - whose voice is gentler and higher-pitched than Tom's gruff, masculine tone - said the dreadlocks were "hot and uncomfortable" in summer, so he cut them off and now flaunts a shorter mohawk.
He said: "I like the freedom to do whatever I want with my hair and my whole style... it's boring to always have the same look."
He also thinks it's a "cool compliment" that his fans are obsessed with his physical appearance.
"It's what every singer dreams about, isn't it? When you're on stage and see people in the audience having your hair and make-up."Bill even received the honour of becoming the youngest person to be immortalised in wax at the Madame Tussauds museum in Berlin last year.
His signature look was born after attending a Halloween party as a vampire when he was 12. The fan of the Twilight movies, who would love a cameo as a bloodsucker or to contribute to the soundtracks, recalled: "After that, I wanted to have black nails and dark make-up, and started wearing them to school and everywhere. "My school was horrible though. Everybody was looking at me and talking about (how I looked), but that was the way I felt, it was my personality."
Tom, older by 10 minutes and who is more of an extrovert and usually tagged as the "evil twin", interjected: "he always had me, I was like his bodyguard!" Bill added: You have to be really confident if you want to look like this. You should just do your thing whenever you want and it'll be all right." Tom joked that without make-up, Bill "looks nearly the same as me - but not as pretty."
Tokio Hotel, formed in 2001 in Magdeburg, Germany, released its first German album, Schrei, in 2005. In 2007, its second German album, Zimmer 483, came out, followed by its first English album Scream - a strategic move by its record label Universal Music to widen the Teutonic boyband's appeal beyond the German-speaking world. The long-overdue language crossover hit pay dirt.
These CDs scored combined sales of more than one million copies worldwide, which helped the band win the MTV Europe Music Award for Best InterAct. Last year, Tokio Hotel pulled off an upset victory over Miley Cyrus, Taylor Swift, Katy Perry and Jordin Sparks for Best New Artist at the US MTV Video Music Awards.
And last month, it nabbed the Best Group trophy at the MTV Europe Music Awards, edging out fellow nominees Black Eyed Peas, Green Day, Jonas Brothers and Kings of Leon. According to Tom, the guys' next stop will "definitely" be Asia. Especially Tokyo, the city the band is named after - because they reportedly love the idea of the Japanese metropolis - but bizarrely have never visited. But now, Tokio Hotel is busy promoting its new album, Humanoid, which was recorded in both German and English. Both versions were released simultaneously worldwide in October.
Despite sharing a womb, the Kaulitz brothers - who don't have other siblings - are polar opposites, not just in terms of their aesthetic preferences but also in their approach to relationships.
During our chat, Tom affectionately mocked Bill for being a diehard romantic who believes in "real love", whereas he's a loud-and-proud alpha male and ladies' man who "believes in real love - for one night".
Bill lamented that Tokio Hotel's burgeoning fame has contributed to his non-existent love life. He said: "Especially now, we don't have so much time or privacy anymore, so I want to spend time with a really important person and not waste it with a girl just for one night. What I'm searching for is a real soulmate, I'm quite old-school.
"It's hard to meet girls because it's impossible for us to walk down the street in Europe or go to a party without the paparazzi following us. And I'll never know why the girl is interested. Does she want to meet for Tokio Hotel or for me?"
Listing, 22, is the only member of Tokio Hotel who has a girlfriend.
So would Bill date someone prettier than him?
He said laughingly: "I would! When I fall in love, I just do everything. I don't care if she's prettier than me or whatever." To which Tom added: "Although it's difficult to be prettier than Bill!"