Saturday, August 27, 2005

187 L.A. trademark

It always pisses me off when I hear certain hardcore elitists at shows or on message boards making fun of fifteen-year-old kids at shows wearing nu-metal shirts. Now, I’m no friend of the nu-metal, or whatever you want to call it, but I remember being fifteen. And few are those among us who got into hardcore directly by listening to Minor Threat or Youth of Today.

I was introduced to heavy music primarily through two bands – Downset and Sick of it All. It was 1994 and up until then my blossoming teenage self had been content to live on an MTV-prescribed musical diet, mostly your usual grunge and indie rock suspects. I had read about hardcore and noticed the ubiquitous presence of SOIA T-shirts in my high school, but had no idea what any of those bands sounded like. But in my little German town there was one club close to my house that frequently hosted larger parties and shows. One night we ended up at a party sponsored by a well-known alternative music magazine. I walked in right as Downset’s ‘Anger’ started playing and was floored. A few days later I picked up their record, along with Scratch the Surface, and somehow I knew that this would change everything for me as far as my musical preferences were concerned. I began to pay more attention to the bands that were coming through town, and thus ended up going to my first hardcore show a few months later.

It was a weeknight and the club was almost empty. I was getting ready for a big disappointment, but to the headliner of the night it didn’t seem to matter that a mere twenty or so people were in attendance. The singer stomped and screamed and flung around the mic stand as if to ward off throngs of stage-diving kids. They completely owned the stage and it was impossible not to be captured by the power of their performance. That band was called Warzone.

After that, I started going to as many hardcore shows as I could. But if it wouldn’t have been for Downset and SOIA, I might never have ended up checking out any other hardcore bands. Long story short, everyone has to start somewhere. So next time you see a kid wearing a Linkin Park shirt at a show, be glad he or she is there. A few years hence, that kid might be standing on stage screaming his heart out for your entertainment.

Where was I going with that? Oh, right. Downset had their roots in the LA hardcore scene. Before starting Downset, singer Rey Anthony Oropeza fronted a band called Social Justice. It’s straight up old school hardcore, with a mix of positive and personal lyrics, sing-alongs and raised hands with X’s on the record cover. Not terribly original, but fun stuff nonetheless. As far as I know they only recorded this one 7”, entitled I refuse to lose and released on Green Records in 1992. For a comparison, I guess you could say that Social Justice was to Downset what Hard Stance and later Inside Out were to Rage against the Machine. (The proximity doesn’t end there – note the cover of Inside Out’s ‘Burning Fight.’)

Social Justice – I refuse to lose
Social Justice – Hear the cries
Social Justice – Spiritual soul
Social Justice – Promise to God
Social Justice – Burning fight

10 Comments:

Anonymous DarrenTX said...

I cannot remember the title, but Social Justice also released and LP. I remember buying it around 89 or 90. I never heard the 7", but the LP was solid just not that original.

10:12 PM  
Blogger Andrew @ AVERSIONLINE said...

NICE, dude. This is nowhere near as good as Inside Out, but I wasn't aware of the pre-Downset connection, and this is WAY better than Downset. I only liked Downset for a very brief time as they were always a little too cheesy for me (and not in a way that I could dig for kitsch value), but I used to have their first record on tape and I saw 'em live several times. The Social Justice full-length was called "Unity is Strength" and seems to be pretty rare... I'd be curious to hear it based off of this 7", though. Thanks for another cool post.

8:29 AM  
Anonymous desintegrado said...

yeah, everybody have to start somewhere...i used to listen to metallica, sepultura and the likes as 14 years old, and when i was 16 years old i bought a metal hammer magazine with a sampler including a song by strife with guests vocals of chino moreno...it definately changed my life, or maybe destroyed it...aggresive music freakism is a lonely and tough stuff to deal with, as many of you would agree with me :)))

8:00 AM  
Blogger Buske DNA said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

6:29 PM  
Blogger Buske DNA said...

If I'm not mistaken, the few times I saw Downset they actually covered a Social Justice song. I was never familiar with SJ, so I don't know exactly what song it was. They also were known to cover the Inside Out song when they played more hardcore oriented shows (at least on the East Coast). Thanks for the tunes!

6:31 PM  
Blogger sweetandsound said...

Thanks for your comments guys! I had no idea there was a full-length.

re aggressive music freakism: weirdly, it's becoming almost a hip thing to be into obscure heavy bands around here these days. so, hang in there, desintegrado ;)

10:34 AM  
Anonymous K Killa said...

I seem to remember a 7" version of "anger" which was expicitly directed towards Zach de la Rocha . . . not just the vague references on the album version. Does anyone know if I am just making this up? And this SJ stuff is way better than I thought . . .

10:33 PM  
Anonymous Dick Masters said...

I don't care how old you are, this band is horrible. I don't hear an ounce of original thought on this one (save for maybe the religious bark).

2:36 AM  
Anonymous Manuel said...

me again (Manuel/ green.rage@web.de)

... I always loved the typical "Cali" thing of the band... reminded me of Uniform Choice and Insted. To be honest: the band sounded like a coverband and the lyrics were kinda funny. But they meant it... hahahaha. The thanks list had things like thanking teachers for graduating high school etc.; that's posicore to the max.

Brett Gurewitz even produced the LP. (came out on Safeside Records)

The LP is not that rare, it' s just... no one cares about it. Lost And Found Records even did a rerelease of the fulllength and remastered it (like all "boots" or half legal releases Lost And Found did a good job on remastering the stuff they did... Urban Waste, Citizens Arrest, Integrity, Wide Awake Demo (the demo on the L&F 3" CD sounds better than on the official discography), Heresy, Deep Wound, Uniform Choice andandand).

The 7" you posted is a rerelease by Green Records; it came out on Justice Records and didn' t have the Inside Out Cover (horrible by the way). They also did a demotape called "Youth Unite".

I don' t need to write that much cause there is a webpage now and even a myspace page (if you like to: I' ll rip the LP for you):

http://www.downset.net/socialjustice/index.htm
http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=42957000

4:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

downset and Social Justice are the true originals for belinding hip hop, hardcore, and the like ... You don't have to hate the players you fools, just hate the game!!!!! LAHC!

12:12 PM  

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