4 things you should know about Immigrant Union

There’s a few things you should know about the alt/country/psych collective, Immigrant Union. We got the chance to have a chat with guitarist and vocalist, Brent DeBoer, about the band’s unusual formation story, their stellar new album, and his recent foray into hosting a home shopping network…


1. So, a Melbournian and a Dandy Warhol walk into a bar and decide to create a band…

A couple of guys, a couple of beers, and some talk about starting a band may seem like your average story, but the birth of Immigrant Union is anything but. It was 2004 when a chance meeting of Melbourne musician, Bob Harrow, and The Dandy Warhol’s drummer, Brent DeBoer, led to a few all-night jam sessions and an album of songs…

Brent: I was in town to speak at the Aussie premiere of the movie Dig. Basically it was just a good excuse to dispel all the myths presented in the film. It was a digital film festival called Resfest, if I remember right. Matt Hollywood [of The Brian Jonestown Massacre/The Out Crowd] and I were on the trip together, and we went for a drink and ran into Bob who asked us if we were there to play a concert. We explained the situation and basically hung out for the next few days. Subsequently, each time I would return to Melbourne, I would call up Bob and we would get together and strum. After a bit we had enough songs to make a record, so we started looking for drummers and bass players and organ players and what-have-you.


2. There’s a Courtney Barnett connection…


Before she was catapulted into the limelight, Courtney Barnett and her bandmates, Dave Mudie and Bones, were all members of Immigrant Union from 2011 – 2013, and they feature on the latest album Anyway

Brent: Courtney was playing slide guitar and singing with us for a couple years. I knew it wouldn’t last though. After playing on her first EP, I came home and told my wife that Court was going to be huge. I didn’t realize that half the band (Bones and Dave) were going to go with her, but we rolled with the punches, and now have Ben Street and Paddy McGrath, who are two of the grooviest and coolest people I have ever met.


3. Brent was once the host of a Home Shopping Network…

Brent: In the video for ‘War is Peace’… I wrote that song after watching a republican debate in the states early on in the 2012 primaries. There was this one guy, Ron Paul, who kept saying these amazing and hilarious things about abolishing the DEA, and legalizing all drugs, and bringing all the troops home, and closing all foreign bases, and saying that America should quit meddling in foreign affairs, and he was killing me. I loved it!

“Who here would start shooting heroin if it were legalized tomorrow? The answer is none of you. The same people who take drugs today would be the same people who are taking them once they become legal! It is time to end this phony drug war!!” I just loved it. Thank god he didn’t become president because he would have been assassinated before he even organized his closet in The White House. 

Well anyways, I wrote the lyrics to ‘War is Peace’ based on what I vaguely remember him saying. And I sorta imitated his voice too. Then I thought it would be funny in a really dark Bill Hicks sort of way to host a home shopping style TV show where I sold hideous weapons and torture devices, and corrupt international business deals to an audience of global tyrants. It’s better if you just watch it.


4. The new album Anyway has been deemed a stand-out masterpiece by industry tastemakers


Since it’s Australian release in April 2015, Anyway has received glowing reviews across the board. Rolling Stone praised the album with 4 stars, and The Australian bestowed 4.5 stars, touting it as a “timeless album for all moods and seasons”.

Brent: It was definitely flattering to see Rolling Stone and other magazines and online critics notice our songs and sound on Anyway. I never really cared all that much for music critics, but I am actually growing quite fond of them after the release of this album! All jokes aside, we did work very hard on this, and we do hope it touches people, and we hope to meet those people soon. If you do happen to see us at a gig or on the street somewhere, please say hi. Maybe we can get a beer.


Fortunately for Novocastrians, we’ll be able to grab a beer with Brent very soon. Immigrant Union are headed to The Lass O’Gowrie on Friday 14 August on their Anyway Album Tour.

Tickets available at the door.

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