DECREPIT BIRTH  "Symbiotic Polarization"

Interview with: Matt Sotelo And Bill Robinson

By Joe Who?

Music speaks to us in different ways. It can expand our imagination, take us on a journey, and create harmony within ourselves. For musicians it's kind of like a puzzle. They put the pieces together in order to see the big picture of what it is they're trying to accomplish. All these qualities share a common bond when it comes to Califorina's progressive death metalmasters Decrepit Birth.

Born in the underground, they've grown before our eyes, and developed a style that sonically can make mountains fall into the sea, while at the same time make us feel like we're walking on water. "Polarity" the group's latest release not only balances the musical elements from their first two albums, it also revolves around deep thoughts, emotion, and motivation.

As you'll soon read here, guitarist Matt Sotelo is the heart and soul of the band, and he had plenty to say when I spoke with him after their gig in Milwaukee while they were supporting "Polarity" on the Summer Slaughter Tour... Also thanks to vocalist Bill Robinson for making a "guest appearance" in the interview to answer a few questions!

WORMWOOD CHRONICLES: This is Decrepit Birth's second time on the Summer Slaughter Tour if I'm not mistaken. Has it been beneficial for the band?

MATT SOTELO: Yeah, for sure. I mean, it's cool because the Summer Slaughter Tour combines bands with different styles. So obviously it brings out different types of fans, and it's also good for making new fans. Last year and especially this year we definitely can tell. Kids are coming up to us saying... I've never heard of you guys before until tonight, and then you've got a new fan. So it's pretty cool.

WC: In a related question... What do you think of the current metal scene?And if not today,what era would you want to be playing in... or associated with?

MS: It's OK right now. I mean, there's a lot of cookie cutter shit going on where you could pull a riff out of one band and stick it in another... you know, stuff like that.It does get a little annoying, but that dosen't mean a lot of these guys playing in those bands aren't cool people.I just think that it would be cool if bands could try and be a littlemore original, you know? Of course there's a hand full of really awesome death metal bands out there like; Spawn Of Possession and Obscura for example. I really like those type of bands. But as far as the hardcore breakdown scene, it's just not my thing.

WC: It gets really repetitive after awhile...

MS: Absolutely! And as far as a time in music... I love classical music. So anytime there was good classical music... 1700's I guess you could say... that would be where I wish I could be, but here I am. So I'll continue to play metal and try to put some neoclassical into it and do my own thing.

WC: With this Summer Slaughter Tour now underway, you'll be playing new songs for people from "Polarity" for the first time. What's cool is you're providing balance for your selves and the fans. I'm sure it's exciting for you guys to play the new songs, plus it'll be a meaningful "first" for all the audiences seeing this tour.

MS: Yeah, you're right. Everything is fresh and we're stoked on playing the brand new songs. I think it's gonna be really easy for us to bring out the emotions and channel that into the crowd. So it's very fun for us. That was a good assumption you came up with there, I like that!

WC: How did you approach this album compared to the others?

MS: Well, it wasn't much different of an approach than "Diminishing Between Worlds" because the way I wrote the music for this album was similar. When it came to "Diminishing", I just never stopped writing after that album was released, and that's how I was able to come up with this one. I think this album is definitely an evolution as far as catchiness goes. People call us a technical band... yeah, we are technical at times, but I think we have a more progressive sound, because we like to bring a lot of styles in and fuse them together. So what we're trying to do now is just make people understand that we're writing songs. It's not just this self-indulgent, tapping, technical, fuckin' arpeggios... I mean, yeah, we do some of that shit, but it's about choice and good placement for that stuff. At least I think it is. I know maybe not everyone agrees, but, for what we're doing I'm pretty happy.

WC: Those emotions you interpet through the music that you mentioned before, do you channel them from anywhere in particular? Do you have to be in a certain mood when your creating the music?

MS: Definitely. Like I said, I continued the writing from the last album, but there'll be times when I'm uninspired. That's not a bad's just why push it when you're not feeling it? So yeah, there are times when maybe I'll go through something emotional in my life and that'll definitely spark interest in writing and make me go for it... like my dad passed away a couple years ago...

WC: I'm so sorry...

MS: Thanks. Yeah, that was actually a big influence for the song called "Sea Of Memories", It's an instrumental for my dad. So that definitely came from an emotional place in my heart.

WC: I was gonna say some of your riffs really jump out at you. They're really emotional sounding.

MS: Definitely man. I like to close my eyes, lean back, and just absorb it, you know? It's not always about this ultra brutal thing, it's more about connecting and going really deep with what we do and channeling that energy back out. Like tonight you could see the kids were digging it. So it makes me happy to see that.

WC: Have songs ever turned out differently from the way you first originally envisioned them? Any songs on this album give you any trouble?

MS: Yeah, what happened was there was actually three other songs that I was working on for this album that were gonna go on up until the last month before we recorded. They just weren't right for the album. I'm not saying they're not killer songs, it's just the songs we chose for the record seemed to fit better. So I'm glad I didn't put these other three songs on there because they seemed to have a different vibe.

WC: Do you think those songs will be used down the road?

MS: Yeah, maybe so. They might evolve a little bit from what I wrote them as. Right now they're just sitting on my computer waiting to see what comes about. All the songs you hear on the record sound a little bit different on the pre-production versions that I did, but,not much. It's pretty much all the same stuff.

WC: The album was recorded at your home studio. Is it safe to assume that the band is comfortable taking direction from you given that you have the most insight into where you want the music to go?

MS: Yeah, I think so. I'm not gonna lie, I write most of the music, but I can also get ideas from the other guys. Bill

(Robinson - vocals...) writes the lyrics and KC (Howard - ex drummer...) actually contributed a little bit too, but when it comes to the composition, that's 99% me. I usually have a vision of what I'm gonna do and these guys are helping me to push it forward. So I think we're gonna stick with this method for now.

WC: You had some lineup changes recently. Was it difficult to adjust following KC and Dan's departure from the band? Did it take the new members long to get the music down and delve into the whole Decrepit Birth mindset?

MS:I miss Dan (Eggers - exguitarist...) and KC a lot because they're good friends of mine, you know? But when it comes down to the new guys, I think we're on to something a little bit better and I'm really feeling good about this lineup. It didn't take them long at all to learn the shit. Sam ("Samus" Paulicelli - drums, ex Abigail Williams...) came out five days before we started the tour and practiced with us. It was the first time we jammed with the guy and he learned our set perfectly. So I was happy! (Chuckles)

WC:I was gonna ask you about that.Are Sam and Chase (Fraser - guitar, ex Animosity, Son OfAurelius...) interested in becoming permanent members of the band?

MS: Yeah, at this point in time these guys are saying they would like to be the permanent members. So hopefully this will happen, and everything works out.

WC: I noticed on "Diminishing Between Worlds" the band was a trio. You then expanded the lineup for the live shows. In essence is this because Decrepit Birth's music is structured to incorporate two guitars?

MS: Yeah, absolutely. We definitely need two guitar players when we play this stuff live. I mean, if it was just me, so much would be missing because there's a lot of harmonizing going on. So, yeah, my intention was to make sure that we have another guitar player for the live situation.

WC: Earlier you mentioned Bill writes the lyrics. What were some topics he wanted to talk about on this album?

MS: Well, the whole "Polarity" theme ,of course ,and then he also delves into this hallucinogenic / psychedelic type stuff. It's a little bit beyond anything that I understand... but, then again we're kind of into this esoteric / abstract stylelyrical content, very sci-fi and whatnot. So when it comes to the lyric questions, it's kind of hard for me to answer because it's more Bill's animal when it comes to the lyrics.

WC: The last song you guys played tonight he said something interesting... Shit! How did he say it? I'm trying to remember...

MS: Something about all of us being one? Was it "Symbiosis"?

WC: Yeah, it was "Symbiosis"...

MS: I'm sure you could ask him, he's right over there! Hey BILL! Can you come here for a second? Let's ask him... (Bill walks up...) He had a question about "Symbiosis".

WC: Hi Bill. We were just talking about lyrics and I was telling Matt that the way you described "Symbiosis" tonight was interesting. Can you tell me what that song is about?

BILL ROBINSON: "Symbiosis" and Symbiotic mean things that are opposite or different. Everything needs to be a particular way in order to maintain.Like ,for example, I hate being sick when there's germs, but,we need that as a balance because everything is symbiotic. The way we're killing rain forests, there's species that are now dead forever, and it's detrimental to the existence. So I just introduce the song as... "We are the living family, everybody, everywhere in existence"... Whether your black, white, gay, or straight, it dosen't matter, we all need each other. That's all it's about.

WC: That's cool.Yeah, I remember you said something, but, I forgot how you phrased it.

BR: Tonight I actually introduced it differently. I said..."This one goes out to all of us. They say we're outlaws, but the system and the government are the criminals. Live your dreams and live life to the fullest."

WC: OK, That's what you said! I knew "Symbiosis" was related to science, but when you brought up the government, I was like, Whoa! I didn't see that coming!

BR: That was the first time I ever said it that way. I try not to make it sound scripted, but, sometimes I have a habit of saying the same thing!

WC: As long as you're here, I've got another quick question...

BR: Yes, I do farm, and I fuckin' love growing weed!

WC: (Laughing) Actually I was gonna ask you if there's any subjects you'd feel uncomfortable writing lyrics about?

BR: Yeah, I don't write about; rape, murder, gore, antichrists, and all that shit. I mean, it's been done before and it's not who I am, you know what I mean?

WC: Gotcha, no Cannibal Corpse type stuff...

BR: Yeah! I mean, no disrespect to them, it's just with some bands I know I'm gonna be bumed out when I start reading the lyrics, but they're excellent musicians... such as Aeon. I can't read their lyrics, I'll laugh, but fuckin' A they kick ass! I mean, Deicide's first album... I'm not into the satan shit, but they fuckin' did it excellent. Not their first album... I'm sorry, "Legion". Fuck, that was the best satanic death metal ever! It scared the hell out of me when I heard the lambs going... bawww!

WC: (Laughing) I hear ya! Thanks Bill.

(Bill exits our conversation... Matt and I continue on with the interview... Joe Who?)

WC: You guys made the jump to Nuclear Blast Records, I see. Now that you're on a new label, I'm sure your work load will pick up.I was wondering if the business is everything you thought it would be?

MS: Yeah, it is a lot of work, just because Nuclear Blast has a lot of things they want us to do. There's interviews, answering e-mails, touring, you know? The business is bigger for us now, whereas before when we were on Unique Leader it was a little more unprofessionally run. But yeah, you just gotta step up to fit their needs and whatnot. So we've been trying, it seems like they're pretty pleased with us so far.

WC:Do you have any expectations for this album?

MS: Actually I don't have any expectations at all. I mean, yeah, I do wanna see it be successful, but it's not what I'm betting on. I just wanna keep touring and playing music.

WC:Do you feel you have anything to learn or prove as a musician? Do you consider yourself a goal oriented person?

MS: Oh, yeah, for sure. I have tons to learn! I'm just gonna keep working at it. I mean, it's not really to prove to anyone except myself. But yeah, I have personal goals I wanna set and stuff like that definitely.

WC: Thanks a lot for your time,Matt. Any final words for the fans?

MS:Yeah, just keep an eye out for us. We'll be out on tour with Suffocation next in the U.S. and then after that we'll go home and chill for maybe a couple months, then go back out in early 2011 starting in Europe and try to stay on the road for the whole year.Check outour new album... if you have to download it right now, I understand. I don't worry about that stuff, but if you like it, maybe come see us live, and pick up a t-shirt or whatever, and thanks a lot!