Soviet Soviet, a band from Italy, have been arrested and deported for “illegal immigration” while on their way to Austin, Texas to perform at the festival SXSW.
Soviet Soviet were going to play a few gigs at SXSW next week as well as perform for Seattle’s KEXP radio station.
The Italian band flew in to Seattle this past Wednesday (March 8th) but were denied entry for having the wrong documents. They were then interrogated for four hours. The members of the band were kept in custody overnight and put on a plane back to Italy the following day.
They took to their Facebook page to say they were unable to contact their family, friends or record label. They also had their phones and bags taken off them and were not returned to them until they were boarding the plane back to Italy. They also say customs officials spoke directly to the head of their US label, but still came to the decision that they were trying to enter the country illegally.
“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,” Soviet Soviet state in the post.
“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.”
They continued: “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.”
Full Facebook Statement Below.
SXSW has been criticised in the past for a clause in its contract that implies that the festival could report performers to immigration authorities if they so wished. That clause had nothing to do with Soviet Soviet’s deportation, but officials from SXSW did have said that part of the contract would be removed from next year on wards.