Beloved Aussie outfit Immigrant Union have just dropped yet another blissful slice of psych-rock in their lofty new single ‘Soldier Field’ released last Friday. Dipping into the outfits’ renowned alt/folk/country tropes but with a healthy dose of psych, Immigrant Union’s latest offering rounds out a trifecta of easy listening tracks set to feature on their forthcoming third album Judas coming out midyear via Cheersquad Records & Tapes. We had a chat to Immigrant Union’s frontman Brent DeBoer all about it.
Hey there Immigrant Union! We’re really loving your new single ‘Soldier Field’! Can you tell us a bit about how this track came to be?
I play drums in The Dandy Warhols and we were on a tour a few years ago and I was standing outside a massive football stadium in The States called Soldier Field. I was having one of those ‘what the hell am I doing here’ moments and I remember sorta humming some notes and lyrics as I searched for where I was actually supposed to be going. Those two words hit me a little. It sounded like the name of a classic film from the 70s or something and seemed like a cool name for a song. That’s really it. I just thought it would be cool to name a song Soldier Field so in order to do that, I just made the first line “and now I stand at Soldier Field” just to see where it would take me.
You previously mentioned that the track acts almost as a follow up to IU’s 2016 single ‘Shameless’. Can you give us an insight into the connection here?
Was that a single? Not sure if Shameless was officially a single but it was certainly a popular tune from the record. It’s pretty much my favorite song I’ve ever written though. I felt a connection I suppose just because Shameless was my ode to leaving Portland for Australia to get married and have a family and it felt amazing but was also very scary. I’d never lived outside of Oregon aside from living in a bus half the year every year. It was a big move. Soldier Field took me down the path of ‘now I live here and have kids’. A reflection on those feelings that made Shameless come about. Like myself answering myself from years ago.
What’s it like releasing new music during isolation? Does it feel strange to not be able to follow it up with live shows?
Very very strange. I’m so worried I’ll never play a gig again. Honestly freaked out. I’ve had at least a few gigs a month and often times like 23 gigs a month for the last 25 years of my life and it’s frightening to think the salad days may be lost forever. I just hope once these people, whoever they are, finally let us leave the house, that people will get back to heading to concerts and festivals and sporting events without fear. We gotta live ya know? Life is dangerous but we can’t be afraid. Every day is valuable. We mustn’t let this virus ruin the beautiful things that make the struggle worth it. Safety is really boring I have learned.
And how are you getting through the general day-to-day of lockdown? Have you developed any new skills or hobbies?
Um….not really unfortunately. I have written a lot of really cool songs though. I am naming them Corona 1 and Corona 2 etc. I’m up to Corona 10 now. My goal is to hit 19 before we are released back into the wild. I did a hip-hop song I’m really happy with. I guess that’s a new skill however I am afraid I might not be very good at it. Hip hop is the most difficult music to write. I can only imagine how hard it would be to perform. I don’t think I could ever muster the courage.
Having played together for over a decade in various incarnations, Immigrant Union have toured with a bunch of notable musical acts including The Lemonheads, Noel Gallagher, Wolfmother and more. Are there any particular moments that stand out from life on the road with any of the bands you’ve toured with?
Not really no. Nothing that stands out. We had a great time with all of them and certainly stayed up way past most sane people’s idea of a bedtime but I can’t think of any really crazy moments or anything. One funny story was how we got the gig with Noel though. I was an extra in a Mike Bruce directed video for Noel in LA. During a bit of down time, it came up that I was living in Melbourne and Noel said “oh that’s great I fooking love Australia. Hey I’m playing there in a couple months, you should come out!” I told him that I had an Aussie band and we should open up for him when his manager chimes in saying “Noel we already have a band set to play those gigs.” Noel arced up and said “we’ll fook those fooking cunts I want to play with my friends. Tell em they ain’t fooking playing we’re getting Immigrant Union!” Oh man I felt bad for whatever band that was who lost the gig but…damn. It wasn’t my fault I had no idea that would happen.
Your current band makeup includes you, Bob Harrow, Peter Lubulwa and newcomers Ben Street and Paddy McGrath-Lester who will feature for the first time on your upcoming album Judas. Can you tell us a bit about the album?
Yeah it was amazing making music in the studio with Ben and Paddy. Proper trippers those two. We tracked the whole album basically live with me on a scratch guitar and scratch vocal in the control room and Paddy and Ben doing the drums and bass live together. Actually we kept a lot of my scratch guitars and on the first track, Bill Hicks, we used both my vocal and guitar from the live take. I just could never really beat that first raw performance so we just used it. We recorded in the studio at my house and Bob’s house and a few other places. We worked with a lot of very talented people. We even had Courtney from The Dandy’s over at my house on an off night during a Dandys tour to mix a track. I am very much in love with this album. Bob’s song, Ahmed, is killing me at the moment. I blast it pretty much every day.
If you were stuck in isolation with one other artist or band, who would it be and why?
The Dandy Warhols for sure. We would have made about 4 records by now.
Last of all, what’s the first thing we’ll find Immigrant Union doing once lockdown laws are lifted?
Hooking up and getting sweaty in the rock room without a doubt. Actually maybe we’ll do it now. Don’t call Big Brother on us please. We’ll set up at least a couple meters apart.
Listen to ‘Soldier Field’ below and keep an ear to the ground for Judas album release date very soon.