Immigrant Union are gearing up to play the Tone Deaf party at Ding Dong Lounge this Saturday, and in preparation, Tone Deaf’s Ella Jackson joined them to take a flirtatious glimpse into the pseudo glamourous life that is rock n’ roll. Today, we take you to what has aptly been nicknamed “Woolhouse”; the setting for many an Immigrant Union band practice and evidently many a good party as well, the aftermath of which still lingers throughout the residence.
As you walk down the street, despite it being difficult to see house numbers in the night, it’s easy to pick out which house Woolhouse is. Like a crystalline fog, smoke can be smelt in the air as you approach it, and the lawn is unkempt like that of the lady with Alzheimer’s that lived next door to you in the house you grew up in.
Inside, the boys (and girl) of Immigrant Union are more than welcoming, greeting Tone Deaf with smiles on their faces and a cold Carlton Draught. In a tightly fitted room, covered with an eclectic mix of band and gig posters, they then proceed to run us through an average band practice, including tracks that you’ve all come to know and love, as well as sneak previews of new material.
After the band practice and after the others had rushed off to work, we sat down with the core of the group Brent, Bob and Peter for a bit of a chat about their current album, life in Portland versus life in Melbourne and current and future prospects for the band.
Born from humble beginnings, Brent (of The Dandy Warhols) and Bob (of The Lazy Sons) met at Cherry Bar and bonded over music, before going out to a friend’s farm and jamming there all night. But you all already know that story. Bob and Peter had met before then on a very drunken occasion at a gig at Gertrude’s that Peter’s band of the time was playing.
Indeed, the members of Immigrant Union have all been in a large range of different bands, each adding their own flavour to their sometimes very eclectic sound. Some may even find it strange that people from such different musical backgrounds can all bond over this project, but to them, that’s just what’s so great about it.
“I think Bob and I naturally write these kind of folky songs, but we like all sorts of music … and Gamma [Peter] does too. Everyone in the group has been in so many different bands, so there’s no specific genre that we couldn’t approach with some sort of new and interesting angle,” Brent states.
Bob goes on to assert, “It’s hard to pin point exactly what we’re doing now, ‘cause things are starting to change a bit … We’re interested now in writing songs that could be like an hour long.”
Throughout Immigrant Union’s jam, it was indeed evident that their music was beginning to change a bit in their newer songs, though they definitely all retained the band’s trademark sound more or less.
“We just like to be able to, you know… for our own good… just for ourselves… like totally get into it and trip out on what’s going on and make it beautiful.” Bob continued.
“If you don’t do that, there’s no point.” Brent agreed.
It’s not always about what you hear too, they went on to explain, stating that sometimes you just have to take your hands away from your instrument to have the most effect, and that a lot of bands these days don’t realise that.
With their debut LP that was recorded in Brent’s hometown of Portland coming out some time at the end of this year or early next year, the crew are just putting the finishing touches to it, and are beginning to plan for a national tour to support the release, and hopefully a tour of The States soon afterwards if all goes to plan.
The band will temporarily be put on hold for a month or so as Brent heads back to The States to play a couple of shows with The Dandy Warhols, but as soon as he’s back they’ll be able to put their all into Immigrant Union, he assures us.
While he’s abroad, Bob and Courtney, their slide guitarist have got plans to play a few shows together under the name “IU Collective” or “Immigrant Collective”, having just completed a couple of successful shows in support of The Dandy Warhols in Sydney and Brisbane.
“Whenever we get together with just two or three or four people and there’s members missing, we call it Union Collective or IU Collective or something. So if you see that listed, you know that your major heartthrob, like Peter… he may not be there. So you may have wasted your five dollars,” Brent jokes, “You’re just stuck with ugly Bob.”
The album, they tell us, may be ever so slightly different to how we’re used to seeing them play here, as it was recorded with their band in Portland. Peter explains the difference between then and now, stating
“In Portland it was kind of still quite green. Like, it was kind of like, we were still with amazing musicians, and they sounded awesome, but it was still kind of early, in terms of the band and how we were sounding and all that kind of stuff.”
“We were still trying to figure it out, like even as we were recording—trying to figure out exactly what we were doing,” Brent agreed.
They were certainly thrown in the deep end playing gigs in Portland, only having one rehearsal before playing their first show, which happened to be a headline gig. Bob explained, “There was eight of us. We had one rehearsal as soon as we got off the plane, and then we played the next day.”
Despite still putting the finishing touches on their debut album, they’ve already got all their songs sorted for the second album, they reveal.
“I think the next record will be slightly craftier,” Brent asserts, “Which may please a certain type of person, and may displease another type of person. But that’s okay; I think if somebody digs our second record, they’re probably the type that would dig the first one too, ‘cause I’m sure they don’t have five albums in their record collection. So yeah, it won’t be that much of a departure.”
Despite having cool and calm exteriors, these guys have obviously got their eyes firmly planted on the future, and with their impressive music and all the hype surrounding them at the moment, they’re not likely to be slowing down anytime soon, so check out Immigrant Union while you can still see them in the intimate confines of your favourite Melbourne bar/club venues, because you’re unlikely to be able to see them there for very much longer.
Check out some footage we got at their Woolhouse rehearsals: