Immigrant Union formed over beers via a chance meeting between Brent DeBoer of the Dandy Warhols and Bob Harrow. Their friendship grew, they acquired the talented vocalist and keyboard player Peter Lubulwa, and over the years has seen members including Courtney Barnett, Dave Mudie and Bones Sloan who feature on Anyway. These days Immigrant Union’s lineup sees Ben Street and Paddy McGrath-Lester on bass and drums. Credited with four stars from Rolling Stone, four-and-a-half stars from The Australian, four stars from The Age and four stars from The Music, the release of Immigrant Union’s Anyway has a tour to match. Brent DeBoer answered some questions while on the road with the Dandy Warhols.
So tell me, what exactly is ‘alt-country psych’?
You know, I really don’t know. All good music should be psychedelic, I suppose. If it doesn’t somehow expand your consciousness I don’t really see the point. And basically you have to describe your music somehow, and then even when you, do people want to say ‘what do you mean by that?’ I guess it is true that talking about music is the same as dancing to architecture.
What is the key, do you think, in writing an infectious foot-stomping tune?
I guess a good beat and a good sound and something that is fun to sing along with.
How did the members of Immigrant Union find each other? How hard is it to find exactly that right combination of people to create the ‘magic’
of a band?
Bob and I met at a bar and then a year or so later I moved to Melbourne. We already had a couple of songs and started writing more. Once we had a dozen or so we decided we better get a band together so we started calling around to Bob’s musician friends in Melbourne. We went through quite a few great musicians before we found the combination that we have today. I guess it just takes a bit of time and a lot of experimenting until you nail it.
You appear to be having a lot of fun, particularly in the video for War is Peace. Can you tell me a little about that?
I watched a documentary about global arms sales and there was this section of the movie where they visited an arms convention. There were dudes in suits and turbans just walking up to booths grabbing brochures and checking out the latest weapons of death and destruction. It was as though they were checking out fishing equipment.
Just going ‘hmmm this looks nice. This would kill a lot of people.’ Total psychopaths. We decided they should have their own home-shopping channel.
What did you set out to achieve recording Anyway?
I guess we had the same goal that anyone has when making an album: to make a timeless classic record for the ages.
Can you tell me a bit about the producer? What changed from page to studio?
I think among the six of us in the band and our engineer Matt Robins we all produced the album together. As far as what changed from page to studio I would say quite a bit.
When you go in to make a record it’s good to keep an open creative mind. You never really know which direction you’re going to go and that is the fun of it.
What should we expect for your live gig in Byron?
Expect to go in to the concert as the person you are today and leaving a completely different person marked for a life by the experience of witnessing Immigrant Union live.
For the rest of your life, when people talk about you or tell stories about you, for clarity, it will be necessary to specify whether the story pertains to you before or after Immigrant Union. Be warned: you will never be the same. There is no going back.
Immigrant Union play the Hotel Great Northern on Friday 28 August.