Hannibal masks and camp classics: the story of Slaven Bilic’s guitar days

It’s an era sadly over in the Croatian’s life, but it was nice while it lasted...

“Germany are Rammstein, not Nena.” Slaven Bilic was talking to the press before meeting – and beating – Joachim Low’s men with Croatia at Euro 2008, and couldn’t help but compare Die Mannschaft to the German musicians. The subject matter wasn’t surprising: Bilic was one of the hottest young coaches around: a tattooed, guitar-playing ‘rock star manager’ with earrings and an infectious personality.

After hanging up his boots in 2001, the songwriter, guitarist and occasional vocalist tried hard to launch his band, Newera. However, their debut single Hannibal Ante Portas, a love song buried beneath layers of lazy alt-rock riffs, received a lukewarm reaction, while Bilic caught the coaching bug. (In case you’re looking for the music video, starring Bilic in a Hannibal Lecter-style mask, it’s been removed from the internet.)

Guitar hero

He returned years later with a new band: Rawbau. Bilic wrote anthemic glam-punk banger Vatreno Ludilo (‘Blazing Madness’) for Euro 2008, dedicated to the Croatia fans. It was camp but made him a cult hero, leading a red-hot team featuring a young Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic. Then the fall. After topping their group, Croatia crashed out to Turkey and Bilic was mocked in the media for the same things they’d previously worshipped him for. Sadly, he never compared teams to bands again and his career as a musician was over.

Slaven Bilic

This feature originally appeared in the February 2015 issue of FourFourTwo. Subscribe!

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