Leader of Immigrant Union speaks his mind

By MIKE CHAIKEN
EDITIONS EDITOR
Brent DeBoer of the band Immigrant Union admits he’s never been a politically minded musician,
The lead singer, who also is a member of the band the Dandy Warhols, said in a phone interview from Philadelphia, “I’ve never said anything political.”
And in regards to his songwriting, he added, “I’ve never done a political song.”
Typically, he said, his songs have been about himself, “my troubles with women, traveling, and my personal experiences.”
But there was one song on the new album, “Anyway,” that found its way toward the political spectrum of creativity, explained DeBoer.
“One morning at 4 a.m., I got this completed song… It was done in five minutes.”
That song was “War is Peace.”
“It was a love letter to my favorite place in the world, which is still the U.S.,” said DeBoer, who has been living the past five years or so in Australia. He said this nation has the “coolest people,” is home to his favorite food, and has an “ease of mobility” that he loves.
Immigrant Union comes to Danbury’s Heritage Arts Theatre on Oct. 9.
But as much as he loves America, DeBoer does feel things could be better.
And in a written statement timed to the release of “War Is Peace” as a single (which in turn was timed to coincide with International Peace Day), DeBoer wrote, “It’s time we quit throwing away our votes on these Democrats and Republicans. They are basically the same kinds of people, especially when it comes to the war agenda. They have sucked for a long time. Why should we be paying their bills and sacrificing so many lives? Non-compliance has worked in the past. We must boycott their faulty system and the easiest thing people can do is to just not vote for these creeps. Vote instead for someone who represents your values for peace. There are actually a lot of choices out there.”
In his interview, which happened to occur on the same day America started bombing ISIS in Syria, DeBoer said Americans have to stop voting for Republicans and Democrats. All you’re voting for in either case is more war, he said. “It’ll never end,” he said, unless Americans support alternative parties.
“For anyone paying attention,” said DeBoer, “there is no difference between (President Barack) Obama and (former president George W.) Bush…. Obama’s blown up just as many things (as his predecessor).” DeBoer likened the American political party situation to the differences between Coke and Pepsi
Asked if having lived in Australia for the past five years has given him more perspective on his homeland, DeBoer said his current home isn’t limited to just two parties. He said there are an array of different opinions and different political parties.
“The American people aren’t given choices,” said DeBoer . “Both (parties) are going to waste trillions of dollars with shady deals.”
And, DeBoer said, “It’s never going to change unless we choose not to play.”
Politics aside, as noted Immigrant Union is touring behind its newest album, “Anyway.”
The band launched in 2004 (even as DeBoer continued as a working member of the Dandy Warhols).
DeBoer said Immigrant Union has definitely evolved over the years. On the first record, said DeBoer, Immigrant Union worked with a more authentic country sound. The new record, although still drawing from country music for its alt country leanings has more melodic textures.
The songs within Immigrant Union’s current album definitely harkens back to earlier eras of psychedelia and hippie country. The tracks on “Anyway” are reminiscent of the Byrds and the Beatles from the 1960s. There also is the touch of the Paisley Underground sound, which made the rounds in Los Angeles in the 1980s. (Among the bands from that generation were the groups such as the Rain Parade, the Long Ryders and the early vintage Bangles.)
The songs on “Anyway” draw you in by making full use of the empty spaces between the notes.
“The silence and space in the EQ is as important (as the music),” agreed DeBoer.
As for what fans can expect from Immigrant Union in a live setting, DeBoer said, “None of us are extremely good musicians. We’re barely hanging in there.” Since they are working on trying to get the notes right, “There’s no jumping about (on stage).”
However, fans shouldn’t worry that Immigrant Union will be unable to pull off what’s on the record. They do, said Boer. Part of that is due to the addition of two new musicians who weren’t actually on the record, said DeBoer. (The band is now DeBoer on guitar/vocals, Bob Harrow on guitar and vocals, Peter Lubulwa on keys/vocals, Ben Street on bass, and Paddy McGrath-Lester on drums.)
“These (new) guys are real trippy kind of dudes,” said DeBoer. And they are much better musicians than he, Harrow, and Lubulwa.
“We were more bang, bang (in concert before the arrival of Street and McGrath-Lester),” he said. “We’re now more nuanced.”
After the current tour, DeBoer said Immigrant Union would like to tour Europe. But it depends how the new record does on the continent because it’s expensive to go overseas, said DeBoer.
Immigrant Union performs at the Heirloom Arts Theatre, 155 Main St., Danbury Thursday, Oct. 9 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 at the door. For tickets, go to heirloomarts.org. For more information, go to ImmigrantUnion.com

Immigrant Union comes to Danbuury’s Heritage Arts Theatre on Oct. 9.

Immigrant Union comes to Danbuury’s Heritage Arts Theatre on Oct. 9.

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