Q&A with Outernational

By: Brent X Mendoza

Tomorrow rock revolutionaries Outernational featuring drummer Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers) will take the stage for a night of socially conscious, genre defying jams. To their credit, the NY based quintet has garnered the attention of guitar god Tom Morello, who has worked with the band as a producer, and even goes as far as to call them, “the next Rage Against The Machine.”

Before heading to the show, get inside the political minds of guitarist Leo Mintek, drummer Chad Smith, and frontman Miles Solay as they share their thoughts on the music industry, stardom, and the state of world affairs.

First off, the name of the band… care to define/explain?

Mintek: Outernational means no borders, no nations. It means revolution, an end to all the divisions between people across the world; valuing the lives of all humans, and uprooting the twisted system keeping people separated and at each other’s throats.

Do you believe that artists/musicians have a responsibility to be politically active/social conscious? Is it vital to have a message?

Mintek: Artists have a responsibility to make great art. And someone once said if you want to make great art, you should set out to fulfill a great need. It’s time to tell the truth and it’s time to shake things up. It’s time to envision something very new.

In your opinion, what is the single most important issue afflicting our world today?

Mintek: Capitalism. Whole countries are sucked dry to feed rich countries. This system destroys people’s means to live worldwide and forces them to go through hell to immigrate to the US and Europe, just to be exploited and disrespected. Poor people here have their livelihoods taken away, and their communities, schools, health, everything neglected and left to rot because supporting these things are not profitable. Profit above all, this is the law and it is killing everything including the planet itself. It goes deep into the culture and psyches of people, all the fucked up values: “me first”, “America first”, the commoditization of everything, even sex, love and intimacy. It’s a cancer and it’s way past its time.

There seems to be an enormous amount of hype surrounding the band, a lot of “next big thing” headlines floating around; does all the attention put stress/strain on the band? Do you ever get self-conscious creatively thinking about people’s “expectations?”

Mintek: We make all our decisions with the people in mind. What needs to be said? What needs to be done? It’s liberating and inspiring to have a calling bigger than yourself.

As an artist, where do you stand on the whole “downloading/file sharing” debate? Should music be free?

Mintek: It costs money to make great records. Fans need to financially support the artists they want to hear. But there are many ways to do that.

How did Chad Smith come about as a guest drummer?

Smith: I first met ON about three years ago, when I was asked to play on their record. They were great, and I had a fun time doing it. Fast forward to six months ago, I moved to NYC and reached out to Miles and we reconnected. For some reason, they got the Spinal tap drummer thing going on. Hope I don’t explode….

Chad what’s it been like watching, getting to experience again, a band in the early stages, sort of building their fanbase and beginning to “take off?”

Smith: Seeing is believing. They are down for the cause. They live it; it is no bullshit. From driving cross country, straight through in a van, to kickstarter.com, which keeps them connected to likeminded people, it’s awesome and humbling and inspiring all at the same time. The new grassroots movement has Outernantional for soil! BAKOW!

Better album, RHCP’s Blood Sugar Sex Magik, or RATM’s self-titled debut?

Solay: London Calling.


Outernational performs tomorrow, Wednesday, June 1 along with The Tender Box, Beatmo, and The Red Paintings. Doors open at 8 p.m. Get the details & ticket info here.

For more info on the band head to www.outernational.net