Outernational: A band on the verge

Outernational at work.

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.

  1.  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.
  2. 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?
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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:


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