Los Angeles’ groundbreaking rap/hardcore pioneers, DOWNSET., will make their long-awaited return this spring for the release of their first album in 8 years, “Maintain,” that’s due out June 10th from Nuclear Blast. On their 6th album, the band draws inspiration from their early hardcore and hiphop roots while reigniting their passion for the streets and fury for the current societal and political injustices.
Today, the band has revealed full details of “Maintain,” as well as the record’s first single “The Place To Be,” which is accompanied by the video that can be seen above.
Commenting on the new single’s origin of sound, guitarist Rogelio Lozano states: “This was one of the first tracks written with the new members Bobby Ponte and Philip Gonzales. With Nick Jett (TERROR) engineering and co-producing, our first objective was to try and revisit the original downset sound of the first ever recorded demos. To try and recreate the tone, we first unwound our guitars and basses back to drop “C,” and then created heavy rhythmic beats and riffs to facilitate a platform for Rey Oropeza’s Hard Rap flows.”
Lozano adds about the lyrical content: “The lyrics to this song combine several subjects into one song and at the end all tying in together. Represent yourself with class, responsibility and courage. Setting a good example for our youth is my interpretation of the message.”
Following their recent signing with Nuclear Blast, DOWNSET. reissued their controversial demos that helped ignite a street led movement around the world, “Anger/Ritual” 7″ and “About Ta Blast” 7″, which were initially released 30 years ago.
Additionally, DOWNSET debuted a music video for the bonus demo track “Breed The Killer,” that features vintage live footage of them performing the song. Check it out above.
The word “maintain” is defined as “a condition or state of affairs; to provide with the necessities for life or existence.” To have the ability to maintain is to be able to hold fast to the unpredictable balance that is life, and to find a way to prosper through the most fluctuating of circumstances. LA hardcore natives DOWNSET are no stranger to this concept, going on to use life’s checks and balances as the inspiration for their first new album in almost 8 years: “Maintain.”
Recently signed to world renowned heavy metal label Nuclear Blast Records, and having recently released reissued throwbacks of their original demos, DOWNSET have reawakened the passion of old-school hardcore within themselves, and have tapped back into the energy that fueled them from the beginning: life, death, love, hate, injustice… and the streets.
“From the beginning I’ve had concerns about the problematic nature of society,” explains founder and vocalist Rey Oropeza. “I reflect on the experiences of my life. There are concepts that should be challenged and thought about. Everyone is going to come to their own conclusions on how they feel about inequality, misogyny, political topics, etc. but all of these things have kept me critically focused on my activism over the years. My abilities as a vocalist revolve a lot around what I’m feeling, going through, or witnessing at the time; pretty practical.”
“During pre-production, “Maintain” was the first song that we plucked out of the air,” describes founder and guitarist Rogelio “Roy” Lozano. “Going through hard times you’ve got to hang in there, hang on, MAINTAIN and hold it down. During the first wave of the pandemic, we had a lot of fear. Everyone was getting sick, people were dying like our manager Scott Koenig (RIP). It was amazing that we were able to pull all the work off that we did for this album through lockdown.”
With Lozano producing and working in a variety of recording studios alongside the likes of successful engineers and artists (Jerry Finn, Greg Fiddlemin; Cypress Hill, Powerflo, etc.) for many years, it was only natural for him to take the helm of the recording process for Maintain.” “I was lucky to have full responsibility for this album. It was kind of like a graduation; I was finally able to produce my own album in a big studio. I was really happy and confident and with the help of Nick Jett from TERROR we had the perfect combination for DOWNSET and for the sound of this album. Jett made it really easy for us to go through pre-production and the writing process.” The album was then mastered to perfection by Howie Weinberg in Los Angeles, California.
Breathing life back into something that’s not only old school, but that actually stands for something is meaningful work, and meaningful art: “We had a good time and we’re really happy with the way this record turned out,” says Lozano. “I’m happy with the tones, and with the maturity we show in our writing and recording this time around. Regardless of what kind of responses we get, we genuinely love the album, and that’s what really matters for us. Just like Rey’s lyrics to the final song on the album, READY FOR IT, I’m ready for it, bring it on.”
DOWNSET Lineup: Rey Oropeza | Vocals, Rogelio Lozano | Guitar, Phillip Gonzales | Bass, Bobby Blood | Drums,