Immigrant Union Interview
Brent DeBoer is the drummer for The Dandy Warhols. Bob Harrow is the lead singer of the Lazy Sons. Gamma Lubulwa is the keyboardist for the Galvatrons. Together they make up the core of Immigrant Union.
Brent DeBoer met Harrow while traveling through Australia with Matt Hollywood of the BrianJonestown Massacre. Hollywood and DeBoer were in Melbourne for a spell and while drinking at the world famous Cherry Bar on ACDC lane, were approached by Harrow. 24 hours later the three would find themselves on a farm outside of Nagambie drinking VB cans and strumming classic country and rock till dawn. DeBoer and Harrow have not parted ways since.
The two singer/guitarists share a mutual love for classic country and folk and after a few years, decide to finally put together a band. They recruited one of Bob's old friends Gamma and in December of 2009 began recording a demo of the Harrow/DeBoer songs written over the last few years.
This demo was then handed to record producer and engineer, Gregg Williams (The Dandy Warhols, Cheryl Crow, Blitzen Trapper) in DeBoer's hometown of Portland Oregon. After hearing their demo recordings, he decided to record their album. Harrow, DeBoer, and Gamma flew to Portland in March of 2010 to get started at Williams' studio, The Trench. They recorded one song per day and after only a few weeks it was complete.
Oregon is the first single from the record; a fast, toe-tapping and catchy tune which was a crowd favorite during a four-week residency at Melbourne's iconic rock venue, The Tote, alongside 70's inspired rockers, Stonefield.
Interview with Robert HarrowQuestion:
Can you talk about the inspiration behind Oregon? Robert Harrow
: Well, I wrote Oregon just before I split to Portland, Oregon, USA, to begin recording our album. I think I must have had a bit of a tiff with my girlfriend at the time, I guess the song has two meanings. One being me just wanting to be happy and comfortable, you know? Like saying 'I wanna dance, just give me a chance
I wanna see you're just like me, time will tell.' Obviously it's all pretty metaphorical. Secondly I'm trying to put her and my own mind at ease bout me going for so long 'I'll leave my heart with you when I'm on the road, sorry it ain't gold.' Being a musician can be hard on relationships
Did you have any pre-conceived ideas about the music industry? Robert Harrow
: Honestly, I don't think I did, when I was younger before I moved to Melbourne from Benalla, VIC, I did not know what to expect, I just figured I'd try and play and get my stuff out there, it ain't always as easy and clear cut as that though
Do you write your own songs? What's your inspiration? Robert Harrow
: Yep, and I collaborate with my band mate Brent.
Brent, Gamma, Bonez, Courtney and Dave. The guys in my band, I kind of just want to write songs that they will dig, and that they can come in and sing killer harmony's on. In terms of lyrical content I like to write about contemporary things, things that happen around me that I can see or touch or hear and things that happen to me, I've been writing a lot of personal songs lately, I'm kind of getting sick of that now though, I started one this morning about the politicians who drained Lake Mokoan. That's the lake I grew up on. It's pretty sarcastic, I dig sarcasm. Question:
What music/artists do you listen to when you are not playing your own? Robert Harrow
: I listen to a lot of music. I get ideas from as much stuff as I can. Courtney and I were driving around this morning listening to Green Day's 'Dookie.' It's such a good album, killer melodies and harmony. I also listen to heaps of, Neil Young, Dylan, Hank Williams, The Grateful Dead, The Kossoy Sisters, Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, Beatles, Brian Jonestown Massacre, Blitzen Trapper, Coatsy, The Dandy Warhols, The Flying Burrito Brothers, The Olivettes, Thomy and the Tanks, My Left Boot, 1776. Right now I'm listening to The Merri Creek Pickers, what a band. Question:
What's next? Tour/Album/Single? Robert Harrow
: Well, we got our single Oregon being sent to radio I think this week, then our album will come out in a few months, we got some shows booked in Melbourne and up the east coast. We will have a tour posted up soon.Question:
Was there a moment you contemplated throwing in the towel? Robert Harrow
: No, I don't do anything else.Question:
Do you prefer performing live or recording? Robert Harrow
: That's a tricky one! The studio and doing demo's on Brent's recorder is super fun because it allows you to sit and do a beer afterwards and realise what the heck is going on with the songs you have been writing. Playing live though is so cool, especially when everyone is playing and singing , there is nothing better than hitting a harmony or tripping out on what Brent is picking, or what Bonez is warmly rumbling on.Question:
What/who was your inspiration to go into the music industry? Robert Harrow
: I never actually thought to myself 'I want to be in the music industry' the music industry is just sort of a result of writing music.Question:
What is the biggest challenge you have faced along the way to your musical success? Robert Harrow
: Me. I'm pretty hard on myself.Question:
What's a typical day like? Robert Harrow
: I wake up, I hit snooze like eight times, I call Brent, if he isn't busy I'll go to his place or he will come to mine and rehearse, listen or maybe we write, or if he is busy I'll call Courtney and do the same with her, Bonez and Gamma might drop in, then at night Dave and the whole gang will come to The Woolhouse and rehearse. After rehearsal we usually hit up The Old Bar or the Tote and do a few brews or a Bison Grass. Then Brent and I (sometimes all of us) might go back to his and do one and check out some new stuff. Question:
What has been your favourite part of becoming a music artist? Robert Harrow
: Getting to just play, travel and play music with these guys.Question:
If you could collaborate with another artist, who would it be? Robert Harrow
: Besides Dylan and Harrison and Bowie, the gang I'm with now, truly I cant think of any one else id rather play with, I cant believe I get to hang out with them everyday, just the coolest people ever.Question:
Can you talk about your recent performances alongside Stonefield? Robert Harrow
: Yeah, we did a month long residency with them at The Tote. They can play; it was a lot of fun watching them each night. For us it was our first ever shows in Australia, with a line up that has since changed, so we were still working out what the hell we were doin', you know? Both our bands really got along well, just goin' out for dinners and things like that. Just a couple days ago on tour in Sydney, I was standing outside 7/11 at like midnight and out of nowhere I just hear 'Bob!' and along come the girls, I put them on the guest list for the Dandys show the next night. They made it down early to see Courtney and myself play, which was great 'cause I'm so used to seeing them at shows now. It's strange how our bands just always seem to run into each other, if we don't see them for a few weeks it is like, 'Hey man, where is Stonefield?'Question:
Do you have a website fans can visit? Robert Harrow
: Yeah we have www.myspace.com/immigrantunion
and we are on Facebook, you can download 'Oregon' for free there. We have a channel on YouTube and you can buy our EP for $5 bucks at http://immigrantunion.bigcartel.com
we also have got T-Shirts that look pretty cool.Question:
What is the story behind the bands name? Robert Harrow
: Well, we needed a band name, and we landed on this one. Brent is from the U.S.A and he has immigrated to Australia, during the course of my life I have migrated back and fourth from the U.S.A and Australia and Gamma is of Ugandan decent and is first generation Australian. So I guess we are just a Union of Immigrants
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