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Political rockers Outernational! hit borderlands on new tour
Outernational! plays the music of revolution.The band comes to every show with the purpose of creating movements, changing lives.
“Culture is food for the youth. Music is food for the youth,” says Leo Mintek, guitarist for the band, which brings its “Todos Somo Illegales” tour to Fulton 55, tomorrow night.
“It’s not just entertainment. This stuff matters.”
When Arizona passed the immigration law SB1070 — and HB2281 a year later— the band traveled there to meet with student activists and play protest rallies. Outernational! is a band in the tradition of the Clash, both in terms of sound and sustance and it used the stage as a platform to talk about imigration and democracy, capitalism, nationalism and what they see the hyposcrisy at play in the United States borderlands.
And they were booed for it, Mentik says. After alll, here was a rock band, from New York. What could they know about the problems in Arizona?
Those experiences inspired “Todoa Somo Illegales” the band’s 18-track bi-lingual concept peice available now as a name-your-price download. The album interweaves audio clips from classic borderland cinema with rock, hip-hop, cumbia, gypsy rock and vintage soul and features guest spots from the likes of Tom Morello (no stranger to revolution music), Chad Smith of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Residente from the Puerto Rican duo Calle 13.
To support the album, the group set off on a tour of border towns that moves through Texas and Arizona, into California. The first show was at an art gallery in Brownsville, TX, 100-feet from the US/Mexican border. They continued on to towns like Laredo, San Antonio and El Paso and on to the Akimel O'odham Indian territory. Thing was, the border was always there, Mentik says. Sometimes it was protected by a giant wall and armed border patrol agents. Other times the only protection was the Rio Grande and miles and miles of desert — A desert that is becoming increasingly militarized.
“There are all these helipcopters and satellties...all for people who are coming here to work,” Mintek says. Which is the story of America, he says. Therein lies the hyposcrisy and the reason for the album, the tour, possibly the very band itself.
“The whole country is filled with people, these workers who are called illegal,” he says."We want people t0 set their sights on the idea that society, the world, the country, can be a whole other way."