The Legal Immigrants
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The Legal Immigrants

Grand Rapids, MI | Established. Jan 01, 2009 | SELF

Grand Rapids, MI | SELF
Established on Jan, 2009
Band Rock Alternative




"The Legal Immigrants Album Review: "Panacea""

Like some of the best albums from the ’70s, “Panacea” deftly weaves in elements of blues, country, soul, honky-tonk and more into its rock tapestry without ever sounding like that’s what The Legal Immigrants are trying to do. That’s the beauty of this Grand Rapids band and chief songwriter/frontman Joe “Boots” Bockheim. It all just spills out naturally, like some sweet and strong magical potion touting the healing power of rock ‘n’ roll. Part of that can be attributed to the fresh, muscular production and recording by Tommy Schichtel of Goon Lagoon studios. But it also speaks to Bockheim’s clever and insanely catchy songs which ascend to new heights on the band’s third album. From the opening, raw blues-rock fury of “Today’s Catastrophe,” to The Beastie Boys-meet-Iron Butterfly party thrasher, “Hollywood,” to the poignant, Led Zep- and Beatles-inspired epic closer, “Impossible,” it’s a sonically pleasing affair boasting Ben Taber’s impeccable guitar work and the rhythm section tandem of Kevin Kitsch and Marcus James. For listeners, it means that this album may be the perfect salve for what ails you, or as the band puts it on the medicine-show cover for “Panacea”: “Good for man or beast.” – John Sinkevics - Local Spins (John Sinkevics)

"Album Review: The Legal Immigrants - Drugs to Roses"

The Legal Immigrants have come straight out of Michigan with a heavy, Detroit-rock punch. Their debut album, Drugs To Roses (out now) is pure, ‘70s-inspired rock without kitsch. We can’t help but appreciate the meta album title, either (“Drugs” is the first track on the LP, while “Roses” is the album’s closer).

While there are hints of the White Stripes in their sound, The Legal Immigrants rely more on straight rock than on garage debauchery. Heavy on riffs and driving drums, fans of Wolfmother or any Zeppelin-influenced outfit will dig this record.

Kicking off the party, opener “Drugs,” features the howls of lead singer Joe Bockheim, which hit you in the gut and prepare you for the following nine tracks. “Bludgeoned” is heavy, distorted goodness, breaking into a runaway train of classic ‘70s guitar-driven rock that will get your heart racing. Track “Billy Goat” pairs a bluesy, garage sound with lyrics about a relationship’s honeymoon phase. Bockheim sings, “I talk in circles to avoid getting ahead of myself,” and it’s this kind of wordplay that helps counteract the balls-to-the-wall compositions.

The band cools things off with “Fork In The Road” and album closer “Roses.” The mid-tempo, southern rock vibes are a nice change of pace, but a few more twists and variations throughout the album would have made it more dynamic.

The Legal Immigrants have taken a chance, staying true themselves and their classic rock sound, and that passion can be heard in each and every song. - Culture Collide


Hailing from Grand Rapids, Michigan, garage rock band The Legal Immigrants are inching closer and closer to releasing their new album. Drugs to Roses is their latest piece of work, slated for release on July 3rd. To give you a little taste of what’s to come, the band has released the track, “Fork In The Road” to share with fans old and new.

“Fork In The Road” oozes with coolness. Gritty, raw, and honest the band draws inspiration from Led Zeppelin and other heavy hitters from the past, so it’s no wonder what you hear will remind you of them. Throw in some modern day rhythms ala The White Stripes and voila, you’ve got The Legal Immigrants. Take a listen below, and hear for yourself. Bonus, it’s available for download (for free!) as well. - Kerriann Curtis

"The Legal Immigrants – “Drugs to Roses”"

If you watched the movie Almost Famous, you’ll remember the fictitious band Stillwater, whom a 16-year old Cameron Crowe followed during their 1973 summer tour (note: there was an actual band by the same that was active at the time but the movie isn’t based on them). That band created rock ‘n roll that echoed of The Allman Brothers, Led Zeppelin, and Peter Frampton, who just so happen to co-write the songs sung by Stillwater in the movie. Now imagine that band brought to real life in contemporary times. That’s what you get with The Legal Immigrants. From Grand Rapids, Michigan, The Legal Immigrants’ rock ‘n roll is unabashedly retro. It resonates with the power of the great rock bands and artists of the 1970s, such as those listed above. Even their name is likely a nod to one of the all-time great songs, “Immigrant Song” by Led Zeppelin.

The blistering rock is heard throughout their new album, Drugs to Roses. The opening two tracks, “Drugs” and “Bludgeoned” are barn-burning numbers that echo of Zeppelin. The guitars wail and scintillate while frontman Joe Bockheim’s voice hollers above the hooks. However, Bockheim doesn’t have Robert Plant’s screech. Instead, his voice is more akin to Andrew Stockdale of Wolfmother, the Australian rockers who too have been inspired by the ’70s. On “Bang” and “Freak Out”, The Legal Immigrants spice things up, as the tempo is accelerated, the guitars shimmer a bit more, and Bockheim’s voice rises to match the sonic flurry. The guitar solo on “Freak Out”, while brief, is awesome and would make for a feverish guitar jam live.

When hearing “Bily Goat” and “Temptress”, another big name comes to mind, but not a band or an artist from the ’70s, although maybe he should have been from that era. With the masterful guitar work, a higher pitch in the voice, and observations about the crumbling of society and deceptive individuals, you would think Jack White was singing these tunes and not The Legal Immigrants. “Bily Goat”, in particular, is fantastic and arguably the highlight of the album.

On the more “melodic” tracks, “Fork in the Road” and the closer “Roses”, there is a familiarity to The Districts, another young band making old-fashion rock ‘n roll relevant once again. The guitar flourishes, the building tempo, and the thoughtful lyricism are common characteristics of these two emerging bands.

Drugs to Roses is a great album, and a must listen by rock ‘n roll enthusiasts. It recalls the decade that has defined the genre and replicating some of the great artists of the time while adding a modern touch. And after spinning the album, put on Almost Famous just to be transported back to the time when rock ‘n roll ruled the airwaves.

The Legal Immigrants currently are Joe ‘Boots’ Bockheim (lead vocals, guitar); Ben Taber (lead guitar); Kevin Kitsch (bass); and Anthony Lubenow (drums). Trevor Reidsma was the original lead guitar player, who played during the recording of the album and contributed to the songwriting. - The Revue (Ben Yung)

"The Legal Immigrants"

LOOKOUT SUMMER! - There's just something about mid-west, blue collar blues that does us all in. And it's with that in mind that I share today's spotlight artists, some up-and-comers from Michigan in a rock band called, The Legal Immigrants. The band live and breathe the staple fruits of rock's past (Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath) and some of it's latest influences (moderns like The White Stripes) but there's a slow, glory that rises in these otherwise scrappy tunes that makes me really dig what I'm hearing. The heat of the summer brings the band's new album, Drugs to Roses (July 3.) Recorded at Goon Lagoon Studios in Grand Rapids with producer Dick Chiclet, the record was completed in six, five-hour sessions with a few extra days for the mixing and mastering process. The Legal Immigrants are Joe Bockheim, Trevor Reidsma, Tony Lubenow, and Kevin Kitsch. Get in now.. - Ryan's Smashing Life


There's something I've never done before; I've never compared a band favourably to The Doors. In my mind, The Doors were just too unique, too singular to bear comparison of any kind. Yet less than 30 seconds into The Legal Immigrants track "Fork in the Road" I find myself doing exactly that. The track is huge, an attention grabber from the very first chords and suddenly I am listening.

"Fork in the Road" is the first single from the band's debut album Drugs to Roses which is due out on July 3, 2015. I had an exclusive listen of the full album and I predict a bright future for The Legal Immigrants. - Addicted To Media (Mandy)


The Legal Immigrants announce the July 3 release of their upcoming album, Drugs to Roses, with a music and philosophy centering around a central Detroit ethos: raw, gritty and honest.

Drawing inspiration from bands like Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath, with some hints of The White Stripes thrown in for good measure, The Legal Immigrants found their own distinctive sound, and through this dirty garage rock aesthetic, they fashioned a bridge between a particular late ‘70s rock production and more modern and serrated indie rock rhythm. Attracted to the sound that analog recording could provide, the band recorded, mixed and mastered their new record on tape, which forced them to be very tight and exact in their performances. In fact, most of the instrumentation on the record were live takes and even “the imperfections throughout the record ended up sounding perfect to me,” explains Bockheim. Recorded at Goon Lagoon Studios in Grand Rapids with producer Dick Chiclet, the record was completed in six, five-hour sessions with a few extra days for the mixing and mastering process.

The first single off the album, “Fork in the Road,” revolves around making decisions with an underlying theme of hypocrisy. There are literal and symbolic lyrics in this song. Bockheim explains, “I went to catholic school growing up, so got many a hefty helping of the gospel.” “Move the plank that’s been stuck in your eye and I’ll give you a stone to throw” is the gospel inspired line. There’s this one story where Jesus is calling people out for being hypocritical and talks about removing the plank in your eye before pointing out the speck in someone else’s eye. He says, “Now as a kid, the image in my head was someone walking around with a five foot 2×6 board in their eye.” - Amp Kicker (Scott)

"The Legal Immigrants – ‘Fork in the Road’ Single Review"

The Legal Immigrants are a blues-rocks outfit hailing from Grand Rapids, Michigan but whose sound and style are very much rooted in the earthy textures of urban blues-rock luminaries such as The Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, The White Stripes and others.

This new single “Fork In The Road” is taken from their up-coming album Drugs and Roses and is a fine sample of the particular brand of modern blues-rock that the band are developing; with a tight song structure and conservative composition that reveals the pop-orientated approach to song-writing which the band are obviously cultivating.

The track immediately catches your attention as it begins with some abstract ‘twiddley’ guitar picking; it then quickly settles down with a classic foundational blues riff and solid back-beat which both prop up the song until its conclusion.

The strong vocals of singer and founding member Joe Bockheim soon kick in and brings the song to life. The lyrics deal with the staple blues themes of loss, women and badly-made choices.

From here the song unravels seamlessly and carries you happily along until its ill-advised reach for an unnecessarily grand crescendo; with the inclusion of a superfluous guitar-solo which adds little to the overall effect of the track.

It seems clear that after a slow first few years together – and after numerous line-up changes – The Legal Immigrants are not interested in excluding any potential fans from their music; and it is for this reason that they keep their verses short, their rhythms consistent and their choruses eminently sing-along-able.

This is an extremely tight and well-made single with just enough raucousness and grit to qualify it as a cracking example of modern, mainstream blues-rock. - Pure M


2016 "Panacea"
2015 "Drugs to Roses"
2012 "The Legal Immigrants"



To The Legal Immigrants, music as constant moving force. It's what drives and inspires their their every move as carefully navigate this world and it's subsequent twisting rhythmic branches. The people that make the sounds are Joe Bockheim, Ben Taber, Kevin Kitsch, and Marcus James.

Attracted to the sound that analog recording could provide, the band record, mix and master their new records on tape. Most of the instrumentation on their records are live takes and even “the imperfections throughout the record ended up sounding perfect to me,” explains a band member that wishes to remain anonymous. Recording at Goon Lagoon Studios in Grand Rapids with producer Dick Chiclet (known globally as a sonic mastermind), TLI records are made with human hands and hearts.

TLI are messengers of peace, hope, respect, and gratitude. 

Their songs are virulent and ragged but possess a certain pop foundation which gives them an aptitude for clinging to your mind grapes. Sinewy guitar riffs and vocals that carry like a camel. The music is loud and raucous and is bound to no sound. it’s distinctive and memorable and is charged with enough emotion to peel back the layers of even the coldest heart. 

"Panacea" 2016

"Drugs to Roses" 2015

Band Members