Why Soviet Soviet Weren’t Live on The Morning Show Yesterday

17022513_10155148641993112_6829756229221154109_n

UPDATE 3/10/2017 3:30 PM: When asked by KEXP for a comment, the Department of Homeland Security maintained the position that the band lacked the proper visa for entry into the United States. DHS did not immediately respond to a question as to whether the use of prison cells and handcuffs is standard operating procedure for musicians arriving without a proper visa.

UPDATE 3/10/2017 3:47 PM: The Department of Homeland Security has informed us of Customs and Border Protection policy:

When a traveler is deemed inadmissible, CBP makes every effort to return the traveler without delay. CBP does not have an overnight detention facility at the airport. Therefore, it is standard procedure for any traveler who is deemed inadmissible and is awaiting return travel to be taken to a detention center until return travel is available. According to CBP policy, it is standard procedure to restrain a traveler who is being transported to a detention facility. The use of restraints on detainees during transport is in a manner that is safe, secure, humane, and professional. It is the responsibility of officers to ensure that the need and level of restraints used is consistent with the operational office’s policies and procedures. At no time are restraints used in a punitive manner or in a manner that causes detainees undue pain.


Yesterday, Thursday, March 9th, Italian trio Soviet Soviet were scheduled to perform live on The Morning Show on KEXP. Their sophomore album Endless was released on felte Records back in December, and with its dark, anthemic, post-punk sound, quickly became a favorite on the KEXP airwaves. Unfortunately, the in-studio — as well as their scheduled performances at Kremwerk, SXSW, and venues along the west coast — had to be canceled. If you’re wondering why, check out a statement from the band below. KEXP sincerely hopes we’ll be able to reschedule a session with the band in the near future.


We arrived in Seattle on the afternoon of March 8.

We made our way to passport control with our ESTA, a letter from our American label (in which the label owner declared we would be performing a series of concerts for promotional purposes only and that we would in no way be receiving any form of payment for those shows) and a written invitation on the part of SxSw in hand. The first of us to get through passport control was Ale (our drummer), who disclosed the promotional purposes of our trip to the police officer.

Ale (our guitarist) and Andrea who both explained the exact same thing were held up and escorted to another office.

Subsequently, we were all called back and interrogated individually, in three different rooms. We were able to have the agents speak directly to the owner of our American label without any success, however. After almost 4 hours of questions they told us their verdict. They had decided to deport us back to Italy and deny us entry into the United States. They declared us illegal immigrants even if our intention was by no means to look for work in the United States nor never go back to Italy.

We accepted this decision as it seemed final at that point. They took our digital fingerprints and took mugshots of us for their file. They confiscated our cell phones and we were denied the possibility of contacting our families and loved ones. Around 10:30pm, two prison officers frisked us, handcuffed us and brought us to jail in a police car. We spent the night in jail and had been escorted there as though we were three criminals. The following day, after having completed all jail-related procedures (mugshots, declaration of good health and signatures), two other agents came to get us. We were searched, handcuffed and again escorted in a police car.

They took us to the customs office we were in the previous day and we waited for our return flight which was scheduled for around 1:00pm local time. Only a short while prior to taking off were we able to get back our cell phones and bags and we were escorted right up to the airplane. We were relieved to fly back home and distance ourselves from that violent, stressful and humiliating situation. We left Italy headed towards the US with all necessary documents, passports and various declarations in which we clearly explained the purpose of our tour, confirming it is was strictly promotional and that we were in no way going to earn money from it or receive any form of payment. We knew that if we were to receive any compensation we would have had to apply for work visas. This was not the case and the people we spoke to for information told us we would be fine. We had not agreed on any payment whatsoever and the scheduled showcase performance at KEXP was most certainly not a paid performance. The point is that the control agents who did a quick check on the concerts we informed them of noticed that two of the venues were asking for entry fees and this was enough to convince them that we needed work visas instead of an ESTA.

We accepted this situation even if we tried to no end to explain the situation and that we were not receiving any form of payment, but there was simply no way of convincing the officials we spoke to. From that moment onwards, we became three illegal immigrants and were treated like criminals.

This is what happened this past Wednesday and Thursday. We would like to thank the people who supported and helped us throughout this ordeal, including Alessio Antoci, Owen Murphy and John Richards.

We would like to apologize to our fans, the owners of the venues, KEXP radio and the SxSw festival.

We would also like to apologize for having had to cancel our American tour and hope to go back soon.

Soviet Soviet.

This entry was posted in KEXP, Music News and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

34 Comments

  1. fissilemissile
    Posted March 10, 2017 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    Jeebus Flippin Crepes!! What has happened to our paranoid state?

  2. Dr. Sam
    Posted March 10, 2017 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    I am so ashamed of our country, of how far we’ve fallen in such a short period of time. I am embarrassed to be an American. These young men were treated despicably and they have my deepest sympathies. What they experienced is the result of an authoritarian, extremist, and paranoid minority in this country who happen to be (transiently) in power. I hope that when the pendulum swings back to normal, they’ll do us the favor of giving American a second chance (although I wouldn’t blame them if they didn’t).

  3. Michael Meyers
    Posted March 10, 2017 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    Soviet Soviet, please know that this is not who we are! I am truly sorry for the repugnant behavior you all experienced. Trust me, when I say most Americans will look back on this time with shame and sorrow. You matter.
    -meyers

  4. Colleen Jury
    Posted March 10, 2017 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

    I’m so sorry that was your experience in my city. This is absolutely shameful. There is no excuse for it. Please accept my apologies for my country’s new administration. We tried very hard for this to not happen; we’re hopeful it can be reversed before too much more damage is done.

  5. Julie
    Posted March 10, 2017 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    I hope Italy takes action against the US for this affront.

  6. Bob Agamalian
    Posted March 10, 2017 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

    WTF!?

  7. Calina
    Posted March 10, 2017 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

    Did this ever happened in the last 10 years with artists? Is this a new problem?

  8. Andrew K
    Posted March 10, 2017 at 10:28 pm | Permalink

    Well, I am so relieved and feel so much safer because an Italian band was denied entry to the country and humiliated. Way to go, CBP agents, what heroes you are to protect our nation from those troublemaking foreign musicians! I hope you go home to your families at the end of your shift proud of a job well done! So proud of our country (Not).

  9. Claes
    Posted March 11, 2017 at 3:11 am | Permalink

    It´s been like this for a long long time. Plenty of bands have been deported of the years.

  10. Anne johnsn
    Posted March 11, 2017 at 5:11 am | Permalink

    This is exactly who we are. How we act is who we are.

  11. Paul Beckman
    Posted March 11, 2017 at 5:25 am | Permalink

    Unfortunately with this maniac in office this will be the norm for too long.

  12. Sharon Grayum
    Posted March 11, 2017 at 5:43 am | Permalink

    So sorry to hear of this situation. La Terza Classe from Italy is here in Austin for gigs as well. No problems. Their gigs are non-SXSW. Let’s support the Italians and hope this situation gets corrected. The time, hard earned cash to make this trip possible, arrangements for accommodations, etc. my heart to Doviet Soviet.

  13. Al
    Posted March 11, 2017 at 6:40 am | Permalink

    While we are experiencing great uncertainty and pain around our nation’s embarrassment of a president and his lunatic ways, I have seen this particular action go both ways.

    I have a friend who teaches a theatre art who was similarly denied entry, detained (though, admittedly, I don’t think a trip and processing through jail happened) and deported from a European country while on his way to participate and teach in a three day workshop (for which he was getting little to no recompense) because he said he was teaching.

    It is not unusual for the border control of any country to make judgement calls about the nature of a visit matching the entry documentation — this isn’t Trumpism, this is international business as usual.

  14. Rebecca Campeau
    Posted March 11, 2017 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    I’m truly sorry for your pain and humiliation. A link from a friend who works with international artists: http://myemail.constantcontact.com/GG-Arts-Law–Important-Update-on-US-Immigration-Law–March-7–2017-.html?soid=1104038875211&aid=awwN8otzjNc

  15. Ryan Simmons
    Posted March 11, 2017 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    So sorry you had to go through that. It’s hard not to assume that this occurred due to the new policies of our current government. Just know that many of the citizens of this country are fighting for the rights of those illegally stopped at the border and, if your documentation was correct, you can get in touch with the ACLU to answer questions about your experience. Hope to see you Stateside soon.

  16. Impeachment Time
    Posted March 11, 2017 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    The orange guy crossed too many lines before he was even elected. The real target of this ugly behavior is mexicans and muslims; he has ordered that everybody get this treatment so that he can’t be accused of racial or cultural discrimination. We know Russia got him elected. What in the world has to happen for impeachment proceedings to begin? Before the election how many times did we hear he might have conflicts of interests all over the world and that he never released his tax returns? Considering his history of deception in his own businesses, inventing lies to rouse crowds, birtherism, etc., it’s a miracle he got this far. I am ready to fully support his impeachment. The way he has authorized that mexicans be hunted down like criminals dishonors the humanity of those people and their contribution to american culture. The USA should do like South Korea, which just removed their president because of breaches of the constituion. Check out this video (subtitles in english) that strives to document corruption in Russian government, in particular, the lie about how Medvedev is just a public servant with a modest salary. Now, consider just how the orange guy may be involved with that. Consider how the AG and the ex-security advisor lied about their communications with Russian intelligence. Consider the fact that the US no longer has a pro-Ukraine position. What else has to happen? Objectively presented evidence.

  17. chris andrew
    Posted March 11, 2017 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    They would not have been able to enter the country no matter who the president is, these are the existing laws which have not changed in 20 years:

    http://www.m-magazine.co.uk/creators/advice-musicians-traveling-us/

    “Entertainers who are normally compensated for performing are not classified as amateurs and thus will be unable to travel to the US under the VWP to perform, even if they have agreed to perform in the US for free at a charity or private members event and do not solely make a living by performing.”

    Unless they regularly perform for free, it sounds like their label tried to save the visa cost or something and hoped they would skirt by customs.

    SXSW’s performer support page specifies that opting for an ESTA instead of the standard O or P visa carries significant risk.

    Eligibility under the Visa Waiver Program

    “Citizens of 38 countries may be eligible to register under ESTA and enter the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program(VWP) or apply for a B visa instead. While the odds of success entering under Visa Waiver Program (VWP) are favorable, the consequences of being denied entry are determined by Customs Border Patrol agent during your screening at the port of entry. We encourage you to be very careful when using the VWP Program to perform at SXSW, the guidelines to do so are very strict.”

  18. Peter
    Posted March 11, 2017 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    Shame on KEXP and the band for trying to spin this into some kind of heavy-handed Trump administration policy. There is nothing out of line with how they were treated, which is the same as it has been for decades for anyone trying to enter the country under false pretenses. The visa wavier program is for tourists, not bands coming to promote themselves and “tour” the country. There is no reason the band couldn’t get work visas like every other foreign band that comes to U.S. to further their career, other than being just too lazy or cheap. The fault lies with the band and their label. I detest Trump as much as the next rational human being, but don’t blame CBP for doing their job.

  19. Travis Sivart
    Posted March 11, 2017 at 9:01 am | Permalink

    I guess I am a little disappointed in the neutral tone of this blog post. Did KEXP work with Soviet Soviet prior to their arrival in Seattle and offer advice with regard to acquiring a visa? Was it previously OK that bands perform in the USA without a work visa? If so, I would expect KEXP to take a principled stance against the actions of Homeland Security. If not, then the label that advised this band should accept responsibility. Regardless, perhaps KEXP should consider creating some online resources to help bands from overseas perform in the USA without encountering issues at the border. And if this isn’t possible owing to unclear or unstable policies on the part of Homeland Security, KEXP should publicize that fact to help prevent these deportations from becoming common place.

  20. Keith
    Posted March 11, 2017 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    This is nothing new and has happened in the past to bands like the Damned, Echo & the Bunnymen and many others and this was under Obama. I really like Soviet, Soviet and I hate the way they were treated though but they really need to get the proper work visas to tour the U.S.A. This happens in the U.K., Canada and Asia as well. Here’s a link to a 2011 article:
    http://popstache.com/features/pop-vicious/the-united-states-government-keeping-america-safe-from-foreign-music/#

  21. La
    Posted March 11, 2017 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    What a loss, what a disgrace, and I’m so sorry that that this was the “welcome” the band received. You deserve so much better. Please know that this administration and these policies are NOT shared by the majority of citizens here in Seattle, or even in the U.S.

  22. Chloe Degravelle
    Posted March 11, 2017 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    Maybe they shouldn’t have tried to get in on the cheap and spent the extra money to get the proper Visa. I don’t care what they say, they were here to promote their album and therefore were coming in for work.

  23. Heather Kenney
    Posted March 11, 2017 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

    I am so sorry. And so ashamed and worried about the state of my country.

  24. Sharon
    Posted March 11, 2017 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been checking the bands FB the last two days to find out what actually happened. Thank you for providing this info for us. So sad and ultimately embarrassing that this is happening. Further proof of the tyranny that is becoming our reality.

  25. Peter T Jameson
    Posted March 11, 2017 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    This is Trump’s America. No reason to believe it will improve in the near future. You’re better off playing Canada and Mexico. Good luck and I’ll check out your music. Pedro in PA

  26. David
    Posted March 11, 2017 at 6:09 pm | Permalink
  27. Cynthia Drew
    Posted March 11, 2017 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

    This is so outrageous and offensive! I am appalled as an American that we could treat innocent musicians, who fill our world with the few ounces of joy we have left here in America, in such cruel and offensive fashion.

  28. Kevin
    Posted March 11, 2017 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

    This is nonsense. The visa waiver program does not apply to touring musicians, even if they are working for free. Their management messed up big time and now they’re trying to capitalize on the anti-Trump sentiment in this country. This is not a new thing. In fact, these restrictions were tightened under the Obama administration. This would happen in any other country as well. I literally just had to apply for a special business visa to do completely free volunteer work in Tanzania.

  29. Frank Fitton
    Posted March 11, 2017 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

    They were scheduled to play at least 2 “for profit” shows on the west coast. Their statement is a lie.

  30. Bill Johnson
    Posted March 11, 2017 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

    Seattle should provide public defenders for immigration hearings so that ICE knows they will have to justify their detentions every time. Sign to demand it.

  31. Bob Soper
    Posted March 11, 2017 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

    This is sickening.
    This is not my country anymore… I want out.

  32. Larry
    Posted March 12, 2017 at 12:43 am | Permalink

    Appalling treatment by CBP thugs who have no clue how to do their job. “According to CBP policy, it is standard procedure to restrain a traveler who is being transported to a detention facility”. Why?? Why handcuff people who are obviously no threat and no risk of fleeing?

    International diplomacy works on a tit-for-tat basis. So as the US continues to abuse visitors from foreign countries, their governments will retaliate by giving American travelers a hard time at their borders. And the US, land of immigrants, will gradually become an isolated nation like North Korea.

  33. Paul R
    Posted March 12, 2017 at 5:44 am | Permalink

    If the EU ever needed further justification to act on the recent vote in Parliament to end the visa waiver program for US citizens entering Europe this is it. And I say this as a dual UK/US citizen living in England with a US citizen spouse who would be adversely affected by such a move. But enough is enough.

  34. Xavier
    Posted March 13, 2017 at 8:08 am | Permalink

    What a bunch of f*****g amateurs!
    The label guy advising Soviet Soviet to come perform to the US without proper visa? Amateur!
    The guys inviting them to do different gigs here and there not telling them about visa? (except SxSw people apparently) Amateurs!
    These musicians ignoring the need of proper visa to play in the US? Amateurs!
    Their agent back in Europe letting them fly without proper visa? Amateur!
    The guy in Oval Office ? Amateur!
    People who elected him? Amateurs!
    Actually, the least amateur guys in this story might be the customs border patrols ones, just implementing the law as it exists. Durex legis, sed legis.
    What if people start doing their job properly, instead of whining, complaining and procrastinating on Facebook all the time?
    Another sad story of how America is becoming the kingdom of amateurism…

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *

*
*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Donate Now!

Donate to KEXP Today!

Donate to KEXP Today!
where the music matters

The KEXP Blog

Sponsored By
Become a KEXP Sponsor!
  • KEXP Post Categories