Outernational is not your typical rock ‘n roll band: the five-piece activist rock group flavors their music with mariachi and Spanish shout outs, recently released an album slamming U.S. immigration policy, and has even played gigs at Native American reservations. Currently, the band is touring across the southernmost points of the U.S., from Texas to California and back again, all to promote their album, Todos Somos Illegales: We Are All Illegals.
“It’s about helping people see that this is not the way things could be, or should be,” said frontman Miles Solay, before launching into a discussion of oppressive countries versus oppressed countries. Solay, who was turned on to activism at a young age, began jamming with some friends in the mid-2000s, and eventually Outernational was formed. The band released its first EP in 2009, but when Arizona passed its controversial anti-immigration law SB 1070 in 2010, things really started heating up. In response, Outernational recorded a cover of Woody Guthrie’s “Deportees” with their friend and fellow activist, Tom Morello, and began performing at protests. “We really think the world comes first,” Solay said. “We’re trying to get people to stop thinking like Americans and start thinking about humanity.”
A big part of the band’s current border tour has been spreading this global message, and Solay has been inspired by the tremendous response. “We’ve seen a new potential generation emerging of rebels, fighters, dreamers,” he said. Events like fighting in the Middle East, the Occupy movement and the murder of Trayvon Martin have riled up a lot of the youth and motivated them to start speaking their minds. “There’s a lot of potential for another generation to really step on the scene in a very powerful way,” Solay said. “We want to be that artistic telescope and microscope that helps people think different and see different. We’re part of a revolution.”
Naturally, Outernational has found a comfortable home in the Occupy movement, and recently played at several May Day events in Los Angeles. “I think that the Occupy movement was in a lot of ways a breath of fresh air,” Solay said. However, he feels that there is still a great deal of work to be done. “I feel that the Occupy movement needs to become a whole lot more international. We need to extend that solidarity to all countries,” he said. “I hope that they don’t get their sights limited, and that it encourages them to dream big.”
Outernational will soon release a new video for “We Are All Illegals,” featuring contributors like Tom Morello and Chad Smith of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, along with photos and videos of 100 fans. Later in the fall, the band will also release a full-length album, Welcome To The Revolution. Until then, tide yourself over with the Todo Somos Illegales: We Are All Illegals album and stay tuned to the band’s website for upcoming projects.