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.

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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.

It’s been an INSANE 8 years, politically and socially; how has that affected you guys, and how have you guys changed along with it?

There’s a lot of stuff we were singing about years ago that’s come true, that’s even more relevant now than it was then. We’ve got a song called “One for the Airwaves”, with a lyric: “American streets, the basements of Iran, the real revolution’s only a matter of time“, and we wrote that a long time ago, but since then there’ve been big protests in Iran and people in the streets there, several years ago, and there weren’t people in the streets in the US, so I was feeling like, “Oh, it’s backwards now“, but then here I am today, and it’s the other way around again – there’s people in the streets from the United States, from the Occupy stuff and onward.  And I feel that our message makes more sense to people now when they see how bad things are getting, and how badly a revolution is needed – we were doing this in ’07-’08, and people believed in Obama so much that they didn’t want to hear it, but now they understand how broken the system is. It’s still very against the grain, but things like Occupy show that people are more open to it and ready to discuss it.

In addition to your show tomorrow night, you guys are also going to actually be performing on Sunday alongside Jello Biafra, Tom Morello and others, at the one-year anniversary of Occupy.

Yeah, we’re gonna be out there on Sunday collaborating with Jello, Morello, Rebel Diaz and others for this big posse cut, trying to give people a big kick in the pants to get out there this fall. Morello is an old friend of ours, and he produced our new record, Future Rock – he’s supported us for a long time, our cause and our fight.

What are your feelings on the Occupy movement, and it’s effects?

I think it’s a very positive thing; I think it needs to go a lot deeper. It’s not about “reclaiming America”, it’s not about kicking out corporations from control – that’s the essence of the capitalist system. It’s great to see people out there being active again, but the police really crushed it last fall. So I’m glad it’s still hanging on and coming back with this rebirth, but it needs to go a lot deeper than it did last fall.

When you talk about “going deeper”, you guys are supporters of Bob Avakian and his Revolutionary Communist Party (another supporter being Superchief’s own Red Fucking Menace and Internet Wizard, Alfonz Fanon); he’s even featured on the Todos record, doing vocals on the track “Across the Border”. What drew you guys to Avakian, and why do you believe in his cause the way you do?

We’re really big fans of Bob Avakian, because he’s got this really great vision and method for revolution – it’s not about trying, it’s not about “fighting the good fight”, but actually planning for real revolution. It’s not a mystery; there’s real things happening and there’s a lot of history behind it, a lot of thought put into it. And we’re really driven by that. He’s a contemporary guy, but he’s been around since the 60′s, and he’s seen everything go down, and he’s developed this “new synthesis” of Communism where one of the key points is the need for dissent, the need for a lot of wrangling to get to the truth – a solid core with a lot of elasticity. And a lot of people think that’s an oxymoron, Communism with elasticity and dissent, but it’s not – it’s actually how you get to the truth.

Seeing as we’re in another election season, what would be your advice to people who think Obama or Romney are the answer on Election Day? Would you say to just not vote, fuck all that?

Honestly, it doesn’t matter. If you’re going to go out and vote that day, go out and vote, but just know that it doesn’t matter. Both of them are so far from what we need, and both of them only work for the interests of the ruling class; same as anyone elected before or who will be elected after. Avakian has one piece called “Elections as Auditions” that goes into how the elections aren’t just rigged and planned – it’s an audition the same way that American Idol is an audition. The controlling forces want to see who will be a legitimate candidate, and the media can de-legitimize anyone at any point, but they’re testing out these candidates to see who will have the effects they want, and they test them out to see how people respond to them; but at the end of the day, the campaign isn’t about getting votes, it’s about who can be used to serve the interests of the ruling class. That’s what Obama was – Obama was the trump card to get people believing in America again, and when he turned his back on the people who thought he was what we needed, a lot of people realized that the “American Dream” is a lie, and realized we have to take real action – we need something much more profound and outside of the electoral system. Democrats and Republicans have different platforms, but they both serve the upper class. We need to take action for the people underneath, to come together and create a new world. Just please, please, don’t believe the hype, you know? Don’t be fooled into thinking that’s the way to change.

It’s always been about grassroots mobilization with you guys – you raised 20,000 on Kickstarter thanks to your supporters so you could make the “Todos Somos” album, along with the “Welcome to the Revolution” album.

We raised a lot of money and mobilized a lot of fans and friends for that, to show people that there’s a band singing songs with a different message, talking about living a whole other way, that we can break down these divisions – and people really believed in it, and we owe everything to them, to our supporters, from Tom Morello and Chad Smith from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, who drums on Welcome to the Revolution, to anyone who donated or showed their support for us.

And after all that, you’re coming home tomorrow night, so tell us a little about this show.

We’re really excited about the show tomorrow. It’s out tour finale – we did THREE coast-to-coast tours this year, and this’ll be our last show for a while, and it’s gonna be something different than what people have seen of us; it’s gonna be very intimate. This is material we’ve honed on the road, all these places we’ve been, and it’s gonna be stuff New York hasn’t seen yet, plus a lot of stuff we haven’t played in a while. It’s gonna be a real concert.

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OUTERNATIONAL play 92Y Tribeca TOMORROW NIGHT with THE SKINS opening – the show starts at 9 and is ALL AGES.

For more info, check the event page HERE.

Listen to Outernational HERE.

About Tricky McYouth-Rodman

View all posts by Tricky McYouth-Rodman
If there was a 25th hour in the day, I'd probably use it to get more wasted.

GOOSEBUMPS “SCARED TO SEE A DOCTOR” RECORD RELEASE SHOW AT 538 JOHNSON (FULL SETS FROM GOOSEBUMPS, AJAX, MERCENARY, LIBYANS, AND LA MISMA)

Like an episode of Jerry Springer, but with more fireworks.

FIGHT CLUB: THE BEST OF FRIDAY NIGHT THROWDOWN

Following the news of Throwdown’s return at SXSW this year with a Texas vs. NYC event, it seems only appropriate to take a look back at the history of Friday Night Throwdown, and the coverage we’ve had of it here on Superchief over the years. For the uninitiated; Friday Night Throwdown wasn’t just NYC’s best underground boxing event, it was NYC’s best underground party.

TEXAS VS. NYC: THROWDOWN RETURNS AT SXSW THIS YEAR

The organization that brought Ford models, Marines and Bloods together for New York’s best underground party is bringing their business to Austin, and bringing with them a Texas vs. NYC event…and Superchief will be covering the whole thing, from start to finish.

THIS APRIL: SUPERCHIEF GALLERY NYC PRESENTS JOHN FELIX ARNOLD III’S “EXCORRIGIA | THE SCOURGE”

From the world of UNSTOPPABLE TOMORROW, Superchief Gallery NYC returns this spring with John Felix Arnold III’s EXCORRIGIA | THE SCOURGE, an exhibition of new works in painting, drawing, mixed media, installation, and sound. The exhibition will run from April 3 through April 13, and there will be an opening reception on Thursday, April 3 from 6-10pm at CultureFix on 9 Clinton Street.

HIGH ON HUNGER: JANE CHARDIET

“High on Hunger” is Jane Chardiet’s new zine, featuring personal essay, photography and interviews with 12 artists, including some of our favorites, about their 2013 and their artistic goals in the new year, along with photographs of each licking fire. It’s good stuff, so I asked Jane about her 2013, because turnabout’s fair play and that’s how the game works.

12 O’ CLOCK BOYS (BALTIMORE STREETBIKE REALNESS)

Whatever your city is doing, what the homies out in B-More are doing is 10x as crazy. 12 O’ Clock Boys is one of the hardest movies we’ve seen in a long time, hands down, exploring a city and a culture that just doesn’t give a fuck (and featuring Baltimore himies like Schwarz on the soundtrack) the film gets more done in it’s 75 minutes than most documentaries do in twice that.

TAPE BAG #1: I HAVEN’T GOTTEN OFF MY COUCH IN DAYS.

Talking shit on random tapes cuz I wanna. Round one: Mongrel, Skinny Puppy, Madonna, Gowanus Mutant Kommandos, Temple of the Dog and MORE.

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Ricky Luanda of the experimental NYC punk band Chain Gang, one of the coolest bands ever, passed away earlier this week from esophogeal cancer. Watch 10 minutes of the bands’ rare, legendary, batshit crazy 1980′s film “MONDO MANHATTAN” right here.

ALWAYS KEEP THE CAMERA RUNNING: MAKS SUSKI’S VIDEOS OF THE NYC MUSIC SCENE

Maks Suski has been hard at work documenting live music in NYC on video for the last 4 years; we asked him to compile a list of some of his favorite videos that he’s shot, a list that includes Japanther, Action Bronson, Death Grips, Culo, Crystal Castles, Limp Wrist, Black Pus and more.

THERE IS A TINY LEG A QUARTER OF AN INCH BELOW YOUR TENTH RIB.

“Although Tiny Leg’s sound owes much of it’s inspiration to the Oakland glucose and thumbtrack scenes of the mid-nineties, and has been called by HotFridge magazine ‘a thumbcore homage to the sound of Velvet Curtis and Taco’ and ‘a slick-stale, neo-juicy, post-hipster alchemy, somewhere in between gluke-wave and puke-base’ by PeckerwoodsToday, those sentences are too journalistic and not souague enough, if one may permit my french.”

DAWN OF HUMANS, HANK WOOD & THE HAMMERHEADS, AND PHARMAKON PLAYED PS1 SATURDAY NIGHT (FULL SETS)

PUNK NOT ART NOISE NOT MUSIC ACK ACK ACK ACK

TOD SEELIE’S “BRIGHT NIGHTS” BOOK RELEASE & PHOTO SHOW AT SUPERCHIEF GALLERY AT CULTUREFIX (VIDEO)

Tod Seelie’s book release and photo show at Superchief Gallery at CultureFix was a celebration of the last 15 years of New York’s underground, for sure; but it also kept an eye on the future.

FUCKED UP CLOSED OUT 285 KENT’S LAST SHOW (FULL SET)

285 Kent finished it’s run last Sunday night; check out full video of Fucked Up’s headlining set right here.

SUPERCHIEF GALLERY AT MIAMI ART BASEL 2013: WILL SMITH CAN SUCK IT.

Superchief Gallery’s showing at Select Fair 2013 is even bigger, better and more batshit crazy than our 2012 showing was – check out photos here, and for homies in Miami, we’ll be at the Catalina Hotel all this week!

STACY KRANITZ’S SKATOPIA (50+ Photos From a Burnout’s Paradise)

Photographer Stacy Kranitz recently journeyed to Skatopia, a famed 88 acre skate park/commune in Ohio which was founded in 1995, documented in the 2010 film of the same name, and once described by writer Kevin Duffel as “a demented mess that meets halfway between an anarchistic Mad Maxian Thunderdome and a utopian skateboard society.” Goddamn if it isn’t one of the best things we’ve ever seen.