Bob Harrow talks about Immigrant Union

Bob Harrow interview.

“Brent was in town with Matt Hollywood from The Brian Jonestown Massacre, they were here for the release of a movie called DiG. I guess whoever was showing them around, took them to The Cherry Bar. Earlier that day I was flicking through a Rolling Stone and saw a picture of The Dandys (Waholes) and in the pic Brent was wearing a Dylan t-shirt. That night I went to Cherry, when I arrived my mates were like ‘check it, that’s the drummer from the Dandies.’ So I went over and asked him if he was into Dylan.

Brent and I started Immigration Union however weeks after that Gamma (Peter) joined the band on keys and third harmony. The three of us have been in from the start. We were lucky we found Gamma, he is so freakin good and thoughtful about what he plays, he never over plays, his texture is invaluable.

The first solid line up of Union came when we found Dave Mudie, Courtney Barnett and Bones Sloan. I’d been friends with Dave for years and always thought it would be cool to play with him, he is a sick and tight a hell of a drummer. Same deal with Bones, he was actually the first person I called when I got back from the States.

Courtney joined a little after these guys on slide guitar. A few of my mates worked with her at a bar called Blue Tile Lounge, that’s how we met. We became friends and then Brent was like ‘can Court play slide!?’ She never really had at the time I don’t think but she learnt really quickly. She also sang with us too. After Court blew up, we needed to find a new bass player and drummer because Dave and Bones were off playing with her.

I asked Ben Street who I’d known since he was a kid to play bass. He can pretty much play every instrument and he is a trippy dude, exactly the sort of guy we wanted in Union.

I had done a few solo gigs with Paddy McGrath Lester on drums and became mates with him quickly, I really loved his playing so he was an obvious choice to ask to join the band. Ben and Paddy’s first shows with Union were opening up for Black Rebel.

We are really lucky having them in the band, they have helped take our live shows to a whole new level.”

Screen shot 2015-07-24 at 7.13.10 AMWho leads most of the musical direction when you jam and how is the texture added? MP

“Well for a long time it use to be that either Brent or I would have a new song / idea that we would bring to rehearsal and then we would all jam on the tune together until we had a the texture and groove that felt right. This still is the case, however more and more now at rehearsal Ben or Paddy for example will take of playing something out of thin air and then we all fall in and figure out our parts. I record all our rehearsals on my phone, it’s so cool going home after rehearsal and listening back to these ‘jams’ and realising that ‘wholly shit, yes, this is a freakin song.’

We want to play bigger shows and festivals, release more albums and just keep moving. We are currently at the beginning of recording album number 3 and this time we have set up our own studio and we are tracking it ourselves. We are all pretty excited at the prospect of making the album ourselves.”

Which song/songs resonate most deeply with the band? MP

“If you mean our songs, I’m really digging the live outro of ‘I Can’t Return‘ the sounds coming out of Brent’s amp are sick. The groove feels like Meddle by Pink Floyd. If you mean like what songs do we dig, I’m really digging on the whole of Blonde on Blonde at the moment.”

What has been the greatest trial? MP

“Having to find a new bass player and drummer after Bones and Dave. We lucked out big time with Ben and Paddy.”

Who are your major influences? MP

“Jesus, umm, Sun God Replica are sick. Dylan and Neil Young”.

What’s happening at ACMI? MP

“It’s for the Bowie exhibition. Friday nights at ACMI they have live bands and DJs playing for free but you’ll still have to book if you want to see the actual exhibition. It’s going be fun. Brent the lucky bastard actually did a whole tour with the physical David Bowie, opening up for him with the Dandies.”

 What is your tour plan? MP

“Up and down the east coast, over to Adelaide and down to Hobart. I’ve actually never been to Tasmania. We might be announcing some extra dates soon too. I can’t wait for this (August) tour.”

Photographs by Tony Proudfoot

New Album, 'Anyway'
New Album, ‘Anyway’

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