Rotting Out

Popular LA based hardcore band Rotting Out are getting ready to head down here for their first Australian tour alongside Comeback Kid and Relentless. caught up with vocalist Walter Delgado to talk about the tour, as well as the details of their upcoming third studio album, and what it’s like to be considered a role model.

So Rotting Out’s first Australian tour is about to kick off. How are you feeling?

Very nervous, because I feel like if bands don’t keep that persistent touring in those countries, then they lose people. And we’ve never even been there, so I don’t know whether the hype died, or whether people just don’t care anymore, so there’s still this thing where we’re like, “Oh, maybe we showed up too late and people don’t care.” And at the same time I’m completely excited, because I hear that there are a handful of people very excited for us to come over. So it’s a little bit of both. Also, with visas and stuff that’s always stressful.

And how are you feeling about playing with Comeback Kid and Relentless?

I think it’s cool. I think Relentless brings around an atmosphere with also being locals and with touring Australia consistently. They’re a little bit on the heavier side, and Comeback Kid definitely has the name and their career to set the presence. They’ve been doing it for a long time, I remember seeing Comeback Kid when I was 15, 16… I wasn’t even in a band, I was just seeing them and they would just kill it every night. So it’s pretty cool going out with bands that I grew up with, and bands I’ve also toured with, with Relentless, because we toured with them when they came to the States. Every band brings its own crowd and it keeps everything refreshed and mixed very well. I don’t really see too many crowds getting sour or bitter about each other. Everybody kind of has their little overlaps where they all dwell into a hardcore realm.

Are you familiar with many Australian hardcore bands or not really?

I used to be more. I know there’s a band that just came out, I think it’s Primitive something… I can’t remember, it’s literally a brand new band, they just released a demo like a month ago. I used to be a big fan of that band Survival, also that band No Apologies, they’re an older band. I was a big No Apologies fan. But yeah, it’s very hard for Americans to get a hold of music from other countries – we’re kind of spoiled, so we have so much going on in our states that sometimes we forget that there are other countries releasing cool music too. So that’s why when we tour other countries we get to check out local bands and we’re like, “Oh this band’s sick, these bands are dope,” and it kind of just opens our ears again to something new and something more refreshing than what we have at home.

It looks like your schedule is pretty packed, but are you planning on doing some touristy stuff while you’re here?

We’re trying, we’re trying! The usual, like go to Sydney, go somewhere and pet a koala. All the fun stuff. I’m not really a touristy person. I love food, so I love going to the good barbecue places, or the fine cuisine and stuff like that, checking out the culture and what kind of foods they provide. That’s where I’m at. So I’ll be trying to stuff my face every chance I get.

You guys seem to enjoy being on the road a lot. Besides the actual shows, are there particular aspects you like about touring?

For me honestly, leaving home for a while is kind of a relief. You know, you don’t really have too many worries – you get in the van and all you gotta worry about is playing the next show and making it on time, and making sure you have something to eat the next day. So there’s a lot of stress-free atmosphere, it’s a very careless lifestyle, everything’s kind of carefree. It’s like, “Oh, where are we going tomorrow? Oh cool, Texas, well let’s start driving.” And then we get the venue, we set up, we play. Like I said, I was never big on looking around and scoping things out. I was more excited about seeing what that local scene is like; how aggressive they get, what kind of energy they have, what kind of views they have, what kind of camaraderie they have amongst each other. I was more excited on interacting with the crowd and trying to get kids to just go crazy at shows. Yeah, that’s mostly what I focus on, like, “Oh I can’t wait to play this show, I heard good things about this venue and this city, so let’s see how it goes.”

Do you see a time when that might change, when you might want to settle down and tour a bit less?

Oh, that definitely happened this year. We hit it so hard for two years and didn’t stop, and this past March we just kind of took a breather. We’re writing a record right now, so we’re mostly focusing on the record. We played This Is Hardcore, we played a local show here, we did a weekend with 7 Seconds, so nothing too crazy. But still, we have time breathe at home, because being in a band with five other individuals can get pretty irritating, you know, when you have to talk to the same person every day. You get on each other’s nerves every once in a while, and sometimes you need to back off and breathe. So we took a few months to just chill and relax, and write this record. So once the record is recorded, we’re back on it again. Back on the road, hard.

So can you tell me anything about the new record?

Yes, without giving too much. I look at the records we do as three parts. Every time we do a record, it’s a part of three. So Street Prowl was the first installment, Wrong Way was the second installment, and this is more like the climax to a set of three. And then it’ll start over again. I’ve always been a big movie fan, so I want to make things a little more epic, more aggressive, and more memorable with this record. We want to come in, definitely without losing our sound, but definitely delve into different inspirations that we haven’t touched before. You know, we come from a huge punk hardcore background as a band, so there are definitely things we’ve admired in other bands that we’ve always wanted to tamper with that we didn’t know if we could get away with. And now we have the courage to touch on those things. You know, bands like Pennywise or Rancid, where they’re very punk rock influenced, but still have that hard attitude and aggressiveness to it. Like Suicidal and Black Flag and Cro-Mags at the same time. It’s definitely the hardest record we’ve written, because we keep thinking, “Oh is that good? Is that gonna be good? I like this,” and then the next day, “Oh I don’t like it anymore.” Or we forget about one song and then we come back to it and we’re like, “Oh that’s awesome.” It’s definitely a lot of going back and forth with this record, so we want to make it as good as possible, and as memorable as can be.

And are there any particular themes on this record?

Yeah, learning how to let go. I feel like as you get older, things start to fall out of your control, and you just gotta learn to accept that everything comes to an end – you know, your loved ones, staying young, trying to act like you never get hurt and you’re invincible. Like all that starts to deteriorate and you start to see the reality of things, that your most loved ones will leave, they will disappear. That’s a hard cold fact, there’s no ignoring that, and how do you cope with something you have no control over? You know it’s coming, and you know it’s going to hurt like hell, so how do you even prepare for that? I don’t think you even can, especially if you’re somebody who’s lost a loved one. No matter if you thought you were ever prepared for that situation. And learning to accept and let go of things that would weigh you down.

You know, you grow up, you hold onto things; you hate a lot of things. You know, “Oh this happened to me when I was a kid, I went through this, I hated these people, I hate what happened,” and you hold onto all that. And it might do you good to hold that aggression and use it, but in the long run it’s gonna break you down, it’s gonna wear you down, it’s gonna wear you out, and it’s gonna probably kill you. What saved you will probably kill you in the end. And it’s learning to just let go, it’s learning to forgive the unforgivable. Learning to be okay with the time spent, and learning that it was more of a privilege than what you think you deserve. The people in your life are a privilege. You don’t deserve these people in your life. I don’t think anybody deserves them, it’s all a privilege. You know, the time spent asking for more time is just selfish. And we’re too caught up in our own lives to understand those things, so that’s kind of where the record’s heading; trying to accept the reality of things, and letting it nourish you instead of being bitter towards it.

So Pure Noise will be putting out the new record?

Yes yes yes.

How did that partnership come about?

Actually, we kind of had a falling out with our last label. Some things happened that were promised and never came through, and it was just a big really irritating headache, so we bought The Wrong Way off of them, and we wanted to release it. We were kind of fishing around but not really. At the end of the day we realised we were going to release it ourselves, but Pure Noise offered to release the record, and we were like, “Yeah, fuck yeah, of course. If you guys are that interested then yeah, we’ll definitely go,” and they offered support from the label and they said, “Hey, we’ll release your next record as well.” And we became good friends with all the dudes in The Story So Far, and they had nothing but good things to say about Jake and Pure Noise and what they did for them. So we were like, “Yeah, you’re a West Coast label, why not?” Like, this just makes sense for us, and it’s been really rad ever since.

You’ve said that you’ve always tried to maintain a West Coast kind of sound. Is that still just as important to you?

Oh, it’s always important. I feel like that’s kind of what separated us from the beginning, and there’s no way we would lose that. As much as I love bands like Bad Brains and Cro-Mags and Sheer Terror, Minor Threat, and all those bands that were there, there’s no way I would lose sight of where we came from. Black Flag, Descendents, Nerve Agents, the Dead Kennedys; these are all West Coast bands that had a huge impact on us. Suicidal Tendencies, Ill Repute, all these bands are bands we’ve admired, and as little kids we were like, “Oh we want to start a band like that,” and like, “That’s going to be sick, we want to sound like that, we want people to know where we’re from just by listening to us and looking at us.” And that still upholds very very much; we still try to maintain that attitude and that style that separated us from the beginning. That’s never going to change with us.

It seems like a lot of your fans really look up to you. Do they get in touch with you or come up to you at shows to tell you that?

Yeah. It’s still very surreal to me, almost bizarre, because I never thought I’d be anyone’s role model or inspiration for anything. I still forget how old I am, I still think I’m like 17 (laughs), and it’s probably not the best mentality to have, but it is what it is. And especially with social media, kids will reach out to me, they’ll send me a message on Tumblr or Twitter or Instagram, and they’ll be like, “Hey, you wrote this song and it meant this to me, and I’m in a situation where something similar is happening. I don’t know what to do, I don’t know where to go. I want your opinion, what do you think I should do?” Or just like, “Hey, thank you for what you’ve done.” And it’s very humbling to get these things, like I didn’t know what me and my friends are doing made such an impact on certain people. I just wanted to get all these stories that I’ve been through out of my head and onto a piece of paper. I just screamed because I needed to scream, and I had a lot of things to yell about.

The fact that people know exactly how I feel makes me feel a little bit less alone in the situation. I’ve had kids come up to me after shows and tell me, “Hey, that song you wrote about your mother…” And then before I know it they’re in tears, and I want to say, “I’m glad you know how I feel,” but at the same time I wouldn’t want anybody to feel that way, because it wasn’t something pleasing, you know, it was a very depressing moment in my life, and I just needed to put it on paper. And it sucks that there are kids out there that still suffer from these types of situations that have to deal with it every day. And the best I can do is show them support, and be like, “It’s not the end of the world, but I understand that it feels like it is.” And I try to point them in the right direction, you know, like, “Hey in reality, it’s not a beautiful thing, but it’s all you got and you gotta be smart about it, you gotta be rational about it. These people that you think love you and are treating you very abusively, they don’t love you. You need to learn to walk away from all these things for your own benefit, for your own wellbeing.”

I never thought my band would expose these stories of myself to so many people. I thought we were just going to play a few shows in our town and have some fun. And then we started touring and people started asking us to play in other countries and other states. And before I know it I got kids from Europe telling me that I’m their hero or that they look up to me. And I don’t think I’m the best example of a human being that someone should be admiring. I got flaws just like everybody else. I mess up, I say things I don’t mean, I jump to conclusions, I trip over my own words, I’m a hypocrite sometimes. I’m just as bad as the next person, you know, and maybe that’s what people like, I don’t know, that I’m just very realistic and very down to earth. But I definitely don’t think I’m someone who should be looked at as a hero, I think I’m just like everybody else. I’m just another kid in the crowd.

It seems like the hardcore scene in general was a very positive thing for you. What do you think you would have done if you hadn’t discovered that outlet?

Oh Jesus, I’d probably be in jail. I’d probably be dead. When I was a kid I got stabbed for hanging out with the wrong crowd, you know. I grew up in the projects in LA and it wasn’t a pretty scene. It was the slums, the ghetto, and if it wasn’t for hardcore and punk rock, I’d probably be dead. When you grow up in those atmospheres, you don’t see really a career; you just hope you’re alive tomorrow, that’s really what it is. And I mean it sucks, but that’s the way life is. Hardcore did a lot for me; it pointed me in a direction. You know, I was an aggressive kid, I was angry at the world and it gave me an outlet, and a positive atmosphere at the same time. It’s like, “Hey, I can come here and yell with all these people and I will feel better.” Even if it’s just for those thirty minutes, or two hours, or however long the show is, I feel like everything that bothered me was just left at the door, even just for the time being. And that was just enough. And I dove in, and I never wanted to come out, and it’s been almost fifteen years since I’ve been going to shows.

Yeah, I mean you say you’re not a role model, but you’re basically doing the same thing for these kids that kind of saved you.

Oh, most definitely. I’ve definitely fangirled, for lack of a better word… when Bane asked Rotting Out to go to Europe, I was blown away. I was like, “No way, they want to take my band to another country? That’s fucking cool!” And I tried to keep my cool and acted like I wasn’t super excited, and Bane’s one of my favourite bands since I got into hardcore, and the fact that they not only invited me and invited our band, but actually like our band and enjoy the music we write. That’s even cooler to me because some of these lines that I’ve written were directly inspired by some of the stuff they wrote when I was a kid. So I can see where kids latch onto these bands, and I understand it, but the cool thing is when you tour with a band like that, you understand that they’re just like you. They’re still trying to make their way through life, you know, no one’s perfect. The problems we sing about still apply nowadays, maybe in a different form, but they’re still there. Life’s still a struggle, no matter what age you are – whether you’re 15 or whether you’re 40, or whether you’re 29. That’s the cool thing about hardcore, is despite your age, everybody is still in a boat of progression; everybody’s trying to get to somewhere better. And whether you’re coming from a home that’s filthy rich or broken down, everybody copes with situations in different ways. So you can’t go around criticising people, because you don’t really know what they’re going through, unless you’re in their shoes, unless you’re in their home, unless you’re in their lives. So, hardcore did a lot for me. Yeah, I’d be dead. I’d for sure be dead if it wasn’t for what I found.

Rotting Out tour with Comeback Kid and Relentless on the ‘Die Knowing’ tour this October. The first show begins in Perth this Thursday. Dates and details here.

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