First impressions are obviously important, and UPPER DOWNER certainly have that taken care of. The band’s infectious brand of melody infused gritty ska punk rock, coupled with socially and politically conscious lyrics should assure them a string of great reviews, as their debut showcases the band’s ability to meld pop punk sensibility and smart hooks with massive energy and integrity. We asked the trio to share the detailed sotries behind each and every track from their impressive debut and get you a better idea of what we’re looking at here. Go!
All songs written and performed by Upper Downer / Prouduced, mixed and engineered by Davey Warsop at Hurley Studios / Mastered by Paul Miner at Buzzbomb Studios
Disarm the Police
I’ve never owned a car in my life. Because of this, I take public transportation a minimum for a minimum of 2x per day. On the Los Angeles metro train, I see all walks of life – usually people who are just waking up, coughing sneezing and farting..gross, but harmless people just trying to get to their shitty jobs or whatever..occasionally there will be a schizophrenic suffering from paranoid delusions, but they are usually easily ignored. They are not dangerous. Then there’s cops.
For some reason whenever they jump on board, everyone (even the schizo effectives) immediately become silent and begin to express fear, as is evidenced by their body language. I see the cops standing there with their hands on their billy clubs, or grabbing their belt ever so close to their Sig Sauer 9mm’s. The civilians fear the cops, but I know that the cops fear the civilians even more.
Less than ⅓ of Americans own guns (and that number is decreasing), but more than 99% of police officers in the US are carrying a firearm while on duty. I understand that their jobs can be dangerous, but arming a moving target only makes it stick out more.
Being a person who has experience in the mental health field for the better part of his adult life, I am aware of how easily impulsive decisions regarding self-preservation can be made in a state of irrational fear. Part of what i do for my day job is help people remove themselves from triggering situations. It is my experience that a person who feels they are in a “well” state of mind may be triggered at any point regardless of how they feel, by any number of ext/internal stressors. While paradoxical, I do not think it is logical to arm people who are in a position that by nature exist in a consistently high stress environment. Also, fuck the police.
These thoughts and some further reading spurred the song “Disarm the Police”..also a 3 mile run, some pizza and a few run ins with America’s finest to conjure up some repressed feelings. Listen if you want.
This is another song that developed from my time working as a broke punk in an affluent part of town. When I first moved to LA I had a shit job standing at a bank as the “attendant”, holding the door for all walks of life – usually seemingly ungrateful assholes that did not exchange eye contact, or at most at most would mutter an apprehensive “thanks”. Standing in that parking lot all day for hours on end I watched cars smash into each other, families get into fights..hell, I even saw 8 cops with pistols and shotguns surrounding a man wielding a samurai sword behind the neighboring gas station. No matter how colorful, distracting or violent the situation, I noticed that people just didn’t seem to give a fuck. I also realized that after a time, I had become this way – totally desensetized to what was going on around me.
The song somebody died is about our self seeking, self engrossed and relating culture – It’s about what what we’ve all unconsciously become as a byproduct of hollywood movies, instagram and way too many wealthy and overly privileged people who are idolized by the masses.
“Somebody Died, no it’s not fine, forget what I see, get back in my Porsche”
It’s sickening that I can even find these words relatable. My goal is to raise my awareness on a daily basis of the welfare of my extended human family. I recognize that I need to take actions to reverse this process, to keep myself in check from getting too self absorbed. How can you relate to this?
The song Alone was written originally as a grunge styled song with no intent or purpose..I experimented with a breakneck tempo and D-Beat – the song came alive! The chorus was simple and came out before anything else – On the way over to my rehearsal space I jotted down some quick lyrics for the verse. I think the song was written recorded and finished within a matter of 2 hours, changing very little from that point forward structurally or lyrically. Essentially the song is about isolation and the insane ping pong thoughts that race through my mind. I’ve been sober for about 4 years and have never been so aware of my thoughts and unhealthy tendencies. These thoughts are at their worst when I’m alone, hence the title.
“Alone to feel this way, alone everyday, alone inside my head, alone where all ye end up dead!”
The significance of this song for me, is that I’ve found it to be necessary for my mental health to connect with others each day. As a musician and creator, it is also necessary that I spend a good deal of time alone, so there is a bit of a balance that I need to find between these two places. Not to be all spiritual and new age, but I do best when I feel connected and am riding higher vibrations – this frequency does not exist when I isolate for days on end, therefore I need to find others to connect and feed with. Its emotional cannibalism at its finest.
Okay so, I was pretty addicted to drugs for a pretty good amount of years. I mean, I’m only 29, but from 15-25 I roamed the streets of downstate NY looking for ways to get fucked up, stuff to vandalize and easy targets to rob. I’m not really proud of this period of my life, but its what happened and I don’t need to run from it anymore. For the last 4 years of my using, I was a Heroin addict and almost lost my life. Halfway down the ladder of opiate addiction, I sought every imaginable remedy to get clean and stop acting out the way that I was. Unfortunately, these short periods of purging were inevitably following by bingeing and doing what I needed to do to “get the monkey off my back”. From that hell that I experienced, I became aware of an emotional pain that I would not wish on my worst enemy. Most of it was pretty petty stuff, though honestly the smaller and more pathetic the action, the more moral and core degradation I experienced. The chorus of the song is a cliche for addicts and alcoholics, but I don’t give a fuck. Every word of it is true, and I’ve never heard it in a song before. For all of those reading this who can identify with a struggle similar to their own, I promise you that my life was literally nothing during those years that I was out there getting loaded. When I finally became willing to be honest with myself and go through some pain, I found the life that I had always dreamed I could have on the other side. The only problem, is that it takes a lot of fucking work. My advice? Get ready getting ready, then go and never turn back. Make sure you take your time getting ready, I can’t stress this enough.
This is another song about being a Heroin addict..I guess it kind of dives deeper/becomes a little more specific about the thought process and irrationality that surrounds the mind of a dope fiend. It’s the “I’m not doing this anymore..ok just once more” manic depressive nature of the addict who can be pictured by Seth McFarlane’s depiction of Cookie Monster cooking up some cookie crack on one of his popular TV shows. Actually, I was probably on Heroin when I watched this (I quit Heroin, cigs and TV at the same time. Go figure) Not to beat a dead horse, but it was pretty grimy out there living for a fix, or resigning to another day of hell in withdrawal. I thought that if anything really summed up the dark side (in a dark humor kinda way) it would be the words “Piss Jug”
“Another day with my Piss Jug”
Explanation: There is no feeling worse than when you really have to take a leak, but you’re in a psychosis trying to kick H and just can’t bring yourself to leave your shooting cave to use the toilet. Any sort of vessel that holds water will do, but if you have an empty gallon of water or milk, you may as well have struck gold. That’s a Piss Jug, and it’s just bought you another 12 hours (depending on liquid stock, intake etc.) of pure isolation. This is what daily life essentially boils down to, when you are in withdrawal. People and sunlight are to be avoided at all costs.
“In withdrawal, there’s no morale!”
When this band was in its “dumping ground” stage, I wrote music with a good friend of mine. He wasn’t the most amazing guitar player, but he was smarter than me and had a pretty damn good ear for music. More than anything, the two of us together had fun and felt comfortable around one another. We only had one goal, and that was to play one singular show. We decided that it would be ok to break up after hitting that goal.
We wrote a bunch of shitty songs, 2 good ones and many more mediocre throw aways. Eventually we had a set, found someone who was able to rhythmic noise on the drums and played a show. It was so liberating that we played again and actually made Upper Downer a band. It was called “dysregulated” then, but we changed the name as people thought it sounded like someone who needed to take a shit or something.
Over the next summer, my friend decided to pick up his old dream of going to law school. I supported him in doing so, but realized that the band would never have the primordial freedom that he brought when we were a couple twenty-somethings messing around.
This song is about chasing dreams, sacrificing and not giving up. While I may be disinterested in the carrots others are chasing, they’re probably bound to drop more silver than mine. I just don’t care about that stuff right now.