Part Two: Fame and fortune

1998 Gob Squad moves to a new, but damp, office with just a wood-burning stove for heating. Important documents start to go mouldy but are burnt for warmth. Martin Cooper, a sound technician recently thrown out of a band for putting too many annoying samples into the mix, is enlisted to work on the soundtrack for Calling Laika. The project is produced at TAT, Frankfurt under the watchful eyes of theatre impresario Tom Stromberg. The group starts flying with BA instead of driving a van to Germany. Backpacks from student days wear out and are replaced by suitcases. What Are You Looking At? premieres at Berlin Biennale and for a few heady days Gob Squad is the talk of the town. Matt Adams, part-time lecturer in German philosophy, becomes first company administrator. Admin wage increases to £1.87 per hour.

1999 Simon Will stops climbing the arts administration career ladder and joins the group instead. They start taking music lessons during the rehearsal process for Safe. After weeks of effort, „Rockin' All Over The World“ is played at the Kampnagel premiere in Hamburg. Thanks to a little nepotism, Safe is presented at the Edinburgh Fringe, courtesy of Armstrong Vinyl Flooring. The majority of the group now lives in Berlin, and become artists-in-residence at the Podewil Centre for Contemporary Art at the invitation of theatre curator Aenne Quiñones. Christina Runge takes over as administrator and achieves a rare understanding of the workings of the German tax system, earning her the nickname "Miss Moneypenny",  Little White Lies, a one-off performance for live audience and radio broadcast is presented at Akademie der Künste. At the after-show party, Alex Large's bag, containing all photo and video documentation of the piece, is stolen, never to be seen again.

2000: In spite of last-minute help from sound designer Sebastian Bark, Say It Like You Mean It premieres to a mixed response. Several important critics and promoters chat, smoke and even sleep through the performance then say their goodbyes. A video installation, Where Do You Want To Go To Die? is made for Expo 2000, Hannover and installed outside the German pavillion. Soon after opening, the piece is closed down by the organisers who fear bad publicity after a member of the public falls to his death inside the building. Admin wage increases to 10 Deutschmarks (£3.30) per hour.

2001 The year they broke America… and America almost broke them. Safe tours the US and the group are pleasantly surprised to find that a piece sometimes reviewed as "superficial and shallow" in Germany was thought of as "deep, dark" and "far-out" in the States. However, these were to be the final performances of Safe as Liane Sommers and Alex Large decide enough is enough and leave the group to pursue solo careers in the music video industry. The remaining members are rejoined by Miles Chalcraft and take a new direction, working with internet, phone and video technology to make The Great Outdoors.

to be continued...