Outernational: A band on the verge
Recently, I watched Outernational play in what was once CBGB’s, at John Varvatos. Jack Daniels’ hosted the bar; it was crowded but the whiskey-fueled, downtown audience was riveted by the NYC band’s brand of rock with a message.
Outernational is rooted in street rock classics, New York City, and revolution; elements that give the local boys credence with rock fans looking for a new sound in line with the old guard. They recently covered Bob Dylan on Amnesty International’s 50-year anniversary compilation. But they’re truly revolutionary for unorthodox choices as a band that courts the mainstream.
- The members of Outernational are gringos who sing in Spanish. A lot. They have bad accents, they don’t speak the language, but they staunchly stand behind their choice to go bilingual, for a variety of excellent reasons.
- They are not ageist. What up-and-coming band features wrinkly (sorry cool, old rock guys) guest members in their videos and on tour? Not buried in the back but on camera and up front with pride?
- The band funded their album through a Kickstarter campaign, to the tune of $20K. I like to imagine the pale ones stopping in at the Trader Joe’s in rural Malibu between recording sessions.
- Their guest artists span the broadest spectrum. On their record “Todos Somos Ilegales” U.S. communist party leader Bob Avakian shares an album with reggaeton kings Calle 13.
- Frontman Miles Solay sites Tupac Shakur as a major influence and you hear it when he raps verses in English between Mariachi-backed Spanish choruses.
Last week the band stopped by Bushwick for an all-ages show before a tour that takes them to Mexico for the first time, to try out their bilingualismo.
Check them out here: