One of Grand Rapids’ favorite rock bands performed new and old songs in-studio and chatted about getting more eclectic on the next studio album. Listen to the podcast, watch the video.
THE BAND: The Legal Immigrants
THE MUSIC: Genre-spanning rock
WHERE YOU CAN SEE THE BAND: 8 p.m. Saturday at New Holland Brewing’s Knickerbocker in Grand Rapids; Feb. 24 at the 13th annual Winter Beer Festival at Fifth Third Ballpark in Comstock Park
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Much like their name might imply, The Legal Immigrants have made quite the serpentine journey to get to where they are as a rock band.
From recording their first album in a basement to surviving various lineup changes to expanding their musical scope amid the “good guidance” of producer and engineer Tommy Schichtel at Grand Rapids’ all-analog Goon Lagoon, the band has continued to toil earnestly for its rock ‘n’ roll “citizenship.”
“The holy grail for me in terms of a rock ‘n’ roll band is solid lead guitar, then a bunch of voices and a great rhythm section,” offers frontman, lead singer and guitarist Joe “Boots” Bockheim. “Being able to balance harmonies and have a crunch coming through on lead guitars is something that I’ve always aspired to be a part of.”
The Legal Immigrants ably demonstrate that “crunch” every time they play live, propelled by Bockheim’s engaging and robust on-stage demeanor, with lead guitarist Ben Taber’s versatile and oft-psychedelic accents, Kevin Kitsch’s powerful bass playing and Marcus James’ feral drumming.
And after three albums – the last two (2015’s “Drugs to Roses” and 2016’s “Panacea”) recorded at Goon Lagoon – The Legal Immigrants continue to explore and roam into new musical territory, something Bockheim says will be obvious on their next album, set for release later this year.
TINKERING WITH ‘A LOT OF SOUNDS’
“This next record is going to be even further toward the eclectic,” he insists. “It’s easier to put in the lunchbox and sell to the kids and call it a rock band, but on this next one, there’s only one truly true rocker on there. There are a lot of sounds … more instruments.”
The band recently uncorked the old and the new during the latest session of HopCat presents Local Spins Live at River City Studios, performing for a small in-studio audience and chatting with host John Sinkevics. (By the way, we’re changing things up for the next session which will be aired live on Facebook: Tune in Jan. 31 with blues sensation Jake Kershaw and his band.)
VIDEO: The Legal Immigrants (HopCat presents Local Spins Live at River City Studios)
Video by Brennan Heldt and the River City Video Team
Check out the video here and full podcast below, with the performance showing off the range of the rock band stylistically and sonically.
While Bockheim professes a love for “tube amps” and “older stuff,” provided it works, guitarist Taber (“the gear guy”) is more intentional about the sounds he creates.
“There’s 12 notes in Western music, so in order to approach it creatively, I think you have to think about it harmonically or texturally,” Taber says. “If you’re going to do electronic music, you may as well try to tinker around with some stuff.”
Tinker … and keep it authentic, Bockheim says: “We’re not trying to be somebody other than ourselves.”
Catch The Legal Immigrants live at New Holland Brewing’s Knickerbocker, 417 Bridge St. NW in Grand Rapids, at 8 p.m. Saturday. Details online here.
PHOTO GALLERY: The Legal Immigrants at River City Studios
Photos by Anna Sink
PODCAST: Local Spins Live at River City with The Legal Immigrants
Engineering by Roy Wallace
Check out more Hopcat presents Local Spins Live at River City Studios sessions online here, including spotlights on Jesse Ray & The Carolina Catfish, Big Dudee Roo, Lady Ace Boogie and more.
Copyright 2018, Spins on Music LLC