Outernational don’t fake it, and they never have. I’m not talking about any bullshit pedestrian claims of being “legit” or “real” that waaaay to many bands are fixated on; I mean in an uncompromising, straightforward this-is-what-we’re-fighting-for sense where they’re not going to water their beliefs down to cater to anyone, and, like I said, they never have – as they’ve fought for the better part of 8 years now, as NYC’s foremost Communist activist rock band. In the time that most bands have come together, broken up, and reunited, Outernational have held it down, staying true to what they’ve always been about. I saw them for the first time in ’09, and they’ve changed plenty since then, but that was the vibe I got from them then, and it’s the vibe I get from them now. The best part? They’ve only just gotten started.

For Outernational, though, it’s always been about their connection with their audience, about community, and the support from believers in their fight, friends and fans (all of which kind of blurs into one big crew after a while) that have allowed the band to make it to this point. That kind of support enabled them to raise $20,000 for their cause on Kickstarter in mid-2011 to record their first two full-length records. They haven’t slowed down since – Last December they released a full-length concept album about the struggle going on at the US-Mexico border, “Todos Somos Ilegales: We Are All Illegals”, which featured some of their famous supporters, like Tom Morello, Chad Smith of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Calle 13 and Revolutionary Communist Party head Bob Avakian. And as if THAT wasn’t enough, they then took their fight to the very lands they were singing about, embarking on two separate tours of the borderlands. They’ve come back home to New York for a special tour finale at 92Y Tribeca tomorrow night, and I talked with Leo Mintek, guitarist from Outernational and my homie from way back, about the crazy ride the band’s been on for the last 8 years, and where they’re going.


So you guys have been together for 8 years at this point – how’s the band changed in that time?

8 years, since 2004. The idea for this band was born then, and we’ve changed so much –  members, stylistically – we’ve really evolved and gone in so many different directions. There’s a lot of talent in this band, and a lot of different types of music we mix together. We’ve grown a lot, and seen a lot – we just did two tours on the borderlands, the place where the struggle we’ve been singing about is actually taking place.

How were you guys received out there, on the borderlands?

Man, it was tremendous. We got so many responses from people down there, having made a concept album about the border, and then to go down to the border, you know, as outsiders – we’re not from there, I’ve never been there before, I’ve never been to south Texas, west Texas, Arizona – and we were welcomed to all types of places, from community centers and concert halls, Native American reservations, getting the message out there; we met bands from Mexico who crossed the border to play with us, and we were welcomed by them and invited to return. They appreciated the message – you know, there’s always cynics who say, “Oh, you have no right to talk about this, because you’re not from here” – but there was this overwhelming response from people down there who were like, “thank you for coming down here – no one sings about us, no one talks about us”, and they invited us to come back after the first tour, so we did it again. We were in El Paso, which is sister cities with this city called Juarez – which we have a song about on “Todos”, “Ladies of the Night”, which is about the women of Juarez – which as of right now is the most active border-crossing city. We’ve been lucky to play there 4 times, and everytime they’re just so shocked and inspired to hear us, these dudes from New York, singing about them, singing for them, coming in with this message. We played there the other day and opened with “Fighting Song”, and when we finished the whole crowd started chanting “CHINGON, CHINGON!” – which is a form of “Fuck”, but it’s positive; it basically means “GODDAMN!” – and it felt real good to hear that kind of response.

Read the entire Superchief.TV interview here.

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