The Legal Immigrants: Rock 'n' Roll in its Purest Form

The Legal Immigrants album release show
wsg Streetwalking Cheetahs, Chicago Drive and Gunnar
The Pyramid Scheme, Grand Rapids
Dec. 22, 8 p.m.
$10, (616) 272-3758

Joe Bockheim had a major musical epiphany in the ninth grade as he rode the bus to school.

"I don't really know how I got to the ninth grade without knowing who Led Zeppelin was, but the bus driver was a rocker and she had a Led Zeppelin IV tape and I still remember 'Black Dog' coming on and my whole world changed," Bockheim said.

Naturally, when it came time to form his own project, Bockheim decided he was going to play rock 'n' roll in its purest form.

This mentality shows through crystal clear in the music of Grand Rapids' The Legal Immigrants, which features Bockheim on rhythm guitar and vocals in addition to ex-Rattle Candy guitarist Ian Dodge (lead guitar), Jeff Armstrong (bass) and Tony Lubenow (drums).

The group, which has operated with the current line-up for about a year and a half, will release its self-titled full-length album on Dec. 22 at The Pyramid Scheme with Streetwalking Cheetahs, Chicago Drive and Gunnar from Gunnar and the Grizzly Boys.

Even the band's recording method is straight up rock 'n' roll.

"At the house I used to live in, I had a neighbor across the street," Bockheim said. "I'm a pretty neighborly guy and I struck up a conversation with him. He was a single guy, a retired GM employee. He had no wife and no kids. He had a '69 Corvette and fishing boat. Every day, literally all he did was go to the YMCA to work out in the morning, come home and drink Busch Light."

It was a perfect match for The Legal Immigrants. The band's new bud supplied the room, the guys brought in the recording gear and went to work.

"He even fed us the whole way," Bockheim said. "It was like a full service studio."

Bockheim and Co. had the luxury of tackling the project at their own pace, throwing on an improvised number as a final track, just for fun.

"I'm sure we did some things wrong, but we learned a lot," Bockheim said. "The next batch will always sound better. Some of these tracks we recorded three or four times. We didn't put anything on the record that we weren't comfortable with."