Sitting Down With Dan Weinraub of Downpresser, Minus, and SECTION H8

“We talked about breaking up or stopping. It was definitely a slow down, but we’re just gonna keep chugging along.”


Oscar Bloom

Dan performing to a crowd

Dan performing to a crowd (Jose Calixto)

Dan: I am Dan Weinraub. I am the Vocalist of Downpresser and I play bass in minus and SECTION H8.

Joaquin: Has growing up in Santa Barbara had a lasting effect on you?

Dan: It’s interesting because it was a lot different when I was growing up, as far as music. What had a pretty good effect on me and my music sense because we had The Living Room, which was a really famous venue in Goleta. I went to a lot of concerts there. We made a pretty good scene because of that, and there’s still a good scene in town, but it’s kind of harder because there’s less of a central location. And that’s for the music scene. Growing up, all my friends played music. And we would all play music, some of them being in Junior High or even Elementary school. But you’re right in between the beach and the mountains. I love hiking and I love going outside and being in the sun and stuff like that. So that definitely had an effect on me too.

Joaquin: Downpresser has been a band for over a decade now. How do you think your sound and message have evolved over the years?

Dan: When we started out it was definitely more straightforward; alright here’s the fast part, two step part, the mosh part, you know. Our guitarist Sean writes a lot of the music, so he will bring ideas and we all work on it in the practice room. He started listening to more Pantera and just metal, whereas we would listen to hardcore. He started to expand his influences and learn more about the guitar, and that had an impact on us and we started expanding our influences. As far as the message goes, it’s whatever I’m dealing with at that time in my life, such as my emotions, and I wait until after the song is done to write the lyrics.

Joaquin: Downpresser is a band that has toured extensively internationally, but recently has only been doing one-offs and weekends. Do you think Downpresser will come back into the main spotlight as far as touring?

Dan: Ever since I was a kid, it was a precious dream of mine to tour. So it’s really odd, this huge difference totally went on. It was a huge milestone for me when we did tour a lot. We’ve always been a “band’s band,” you know, we’re not super upbeat or mainstream, neither are we super active on social media. It was a huge part of my life, being able to tour. I love doing it and we definitely tried to make it work for a couple of years. Our first tour was the Midwest in 2009, then we started to do full U.S. tours. It was 2013 and 2014 when “Don’t Need a Reason” and “The First Four Years” came out. We said, “Ok let’s make this work.” And we had an amazing time touring in support of those records, but living in Santa Barbara you have a lot of bills to pay, you know, it’s expensive. It really didn’t work out that way for us, which is fine. I love touring. I love all that stuff. As far as touring again, I feel the scene has changed a lot and we don’t really need to tour anymore. We are definitely open to a long weekend or a 20th-anniversary thing. But, you know, most of us are in our 30’s. I just got married last year and, again, bills. I’m pretty happy at this point. We’re kind of just a Southern California band with our own group of fans. I don’t think we will be doing any touring soon, if ever.

Joaquin: A lot of your songs deal with mental health and overall mental and social issues. How does the content of your songs impact the writing process and performing the songs?

Dan: I’m not really going for content based when it comes to lyrics. I kind of let my emotions dictate what I’m gonna write. I do mostly focus on the rhythm of the song and, like, the structure of the words and that the words interact with each other, and so that kind of leads the way. Sometimes it’s a combination of style and emotion. Lyrically, I kind of just let my emotions lead the way and just write whatever that felt right, whatever sounded good. Some songs are definitely like “Okay, I know what this one’s about, this was inspired by this event.” So to be able to play them, it’s usually pretty easy. You know, there’s some of the more specific songs depending on where I’m at with those, whatever they were written about. They can be difficult sometimes. I know what my emotions were when I wrote this song and I can channel that and go play.

Dan performing to a crowd (Oscar Bloom)

Joaquin: People hear real meaning in your songs. How does it feel to have a real positive impact on people with your music?

Dan: It feels really good because, again, I’m not trying to write the greatest song in the world, I’m writing what I feel. People tell me, “You helped me through this.” It’s incredible, and to have people connect with something I made helped the process of reconnecting with myself. That’s what hardcore is all about. It’s accessible and you can relate to it.

Joaquin: How has the hardcore scene changed from when you guys started to today?

Dan: I think social media had a lot to do with it because 2006 we had MySpace and Facebook. We would go into shows, me and Sean, since like the late 90s, you know, we would just go to a website and there’d be a show that stood out. And we just showed up and hoped that it hadn’t been canceled and somebody forgot to update the website. Now, you know, now it’s just like, you open Twitter and say “my favorite band is on at 9:15 so I’m just gonna show up at 9:00.” It’s much more accessible for that reason. You know, you don’t have to work so hard like we did back in the day to just be able to go to a show. And so for that reason it’s less complicated. Now it’s gotten way more accessible. There’s way more females and obviously there’s a lot of non-binary and LGBTQ members. It’s very inclusive of all people. It wasn’t always like that. There would be like two girls at a show and they were always the band’s girlfriends or something like that. There were not that many groups represented and it’s just great to see.

Joaquin: What do you feel has been a huge turning point for hardcore in being more accessible and overall with more eyes on the scene?

Dan: First thing that comes to mind is Turnstile just got nominated for a Grammy. That’s a hardcore band and they’ve obviously changed their sound. But, you know, those are hardcore kids. We toured with them almost 10 years ago now, like on one of their first timers and stuff like that. So to be able to kind of see bands, like, just doing their own thing and going commercial, that’s big. I don’t know if it’s a turning point, but it’s a big moment, I would say.

Joaquin: Does Downpresser have any plans for the future? Any goals or aspirations?

Dan: We don’t really think about it too much. We talked about breaking up or stopping. It was definitely a slow down, but we’re just gonna keep chugging along. We started working on a new song the last couple practices. It’s really hard for us to get together with each other. We live all over Southern California at this point, so for us to get together with practice, it kind of has to be, like, getting ready for a show. When we have shows is when we have those practices. We make them twice as long so we can work on new stuff while we’re all together. We have started working on a couple songs and the next thing we’re going to try to do is a seven inch or an EP of some kind. Because if we try to do a third LP, it won’t come out until 2030 at this point because it takes us so long. As far as goals, 20 years. That’s a big one for me. I never thought we’d get to five years. Then we hit 10 years, and 17 years now. So it’s pretty crazy for me and I love to think about 20 years. We don’t really have any plans to break up or stop. We’ll play a few shows in California. I don’t know if we want to travel. We would like to go back to Europe at some point, but it’s just tougher with personal stuff. Oh yeah, a 20th anniversary show in Santa Barbara, that will definitely happen.

Joaquin: Do you have any memorable moments while on tour?

Dan: This is funny. We were playing somewhere in the south and there were maybe five people who were all in bands that were playing that night. And the promoter had made spaghetti because a good promoter will provide food to the bands on tour. So everyone takes advantage of this and everyone in all the bands is just eating bowls of pasta while a band plays. And once they were done they’d get their bowl of pasta. It was just us eating pasta, playing hardcore music somewhere, and having a good time.

Joaquin: Anything you want to say to the students at DP right now?

Dan: I would have graduated in 2003. But I tested out after sophomore year, so I actually haven’t been to DP in awhile. It’s crazy there’s still hardcore kids. It’s crazy I can get to do something like this, you know, connect with my old High School and everyone else. It’s awesome. So thank you Joaquin. And to all the students, take advantage of where you live. You know, it’s super easy to take advantage of where you live and say “it’s too expensive” and look for alternatives that aren’t nearly as nice.

Never miss out on new articles!