Growing up in the slums of San Pedro, Walter Delgado developed aggressive instincts that helped him to survive. Between pummeling breakdowns and shrieking freak-outs onstage, the musclebound front man for Rotting Out jumps around as though he's a crazed, sweaty animal. As with their forebearers such as Suicidal Tendencies, Rotting Out purge their knowledge of the roughest Southern Californian streets onto every audience.
As one of the pillars in the current hardcore scene, Rotting Out continue earning respect for their DIY roots. “Everyone's trying to mooch and make a dollar off somebody else. The [fewer] people involved, the prouder you feel about doing everything yourself,” Delgado says. “Anyone can record a demo on their computer and can upload that on Bandcamp and have 1,000 people hear it by the end of the night. You can call a pressing company and put out your own vinyl.”
Coming of age on the outskirts of LA in the South Bay shaped Delgado's outlook from an early age. “There's one way in and one way out [of my hometown],” he says. “Everyone in the town is super-'locals only'; you can always tell who's an outsider.”
In high school, Delgado struggled with alcoholism and drug addiction before getting turned on to straightedge culture by listening to Orange County hardcore band Throwdown.
“[Straightedge] was just the kind of motivation I needed” to get clean, he says. The band's music even lured him into his first hardcore show at the now-defunct Showcase Theatre in Corona. “When the Showcase Theatre got shut down, a lot of people lost hope [in the local scene],” Delgado says. “But people started opening up other venues and letting hardcore acts play.”
Though there are fewer OC venues for bands such as Rotting Out to play these days, they continue to produce new music. The relentless smash of chugging distortion and strained shrieking fueled by textbook skate punk carries an extra dose of hair-raising aggression in the title track of the band's 2013 release, The Wrong Way, with its machine-gun snare and gang vocals.
Now, bands from surrounding areas have come together to fill the void left by Orange County's declining scene–including Xibalba from the Inland Empire, Alpha N Omega from the Valley and Delgado's South Bay outfit. "The OC scene is just mostly kids who go to shows,” Delgado says. "It's a big deal because touring bands can play the Glass House in Pomona . . . [or] Chain Reaction, and kids will always come out to that.”
Breaking out of the scene they helped to build, Rotting Out have begun playing shows with bands that have more resources and bigger fan bases, even if they lack some of Delgado's straightedge ethics. At the end of the day, he says, the goal was to bring kids into the hardcore scene and create unity between fans in the inner city and the suburbs.
For more info and music from Rotting Out, visit www.rottingout.com.