Decrepit Birth – Death Metal PsychedeliaTuesday, 11th July 2017
Not ones to follow the ‘release a new album every two years’ track, it has never stopped Decrepit Birth from being one of the more talked about bands within the death metal circles. From their beginnings with Unique Leader, to their current home in Nuclear Blast, they’ve released three full-length albums that have appealed to a wide swath of death metal fans. Their fourth, and soon to be released album, Axis Mundi, aims to follow in those same footsteps.
Seven years removed from Polarity, their Nuclear Blast debut, Axis Mundi continues Decrepit Birth’s knack for explosive, yet technically-impressive material. Some nods to their past, while continuing to move in a forward direction, it may just be their strongest effort to date. We had the pleasure of chatting for a few minutes with vocalist Bill Robinson, who was able to divulge into the band’s recent jaunt on the Devastation on the Nation tour, the lyrical influence of psychedelics, and his lifestyle, along with Axis Mundi’s approaching release.
Dead Rhetoric: The Devastation tour was your first in a while – how’d it feel to get back into the live groove?
Bill Robinson: I was stoked. I love touring. It’s brutal and tires the hell out of you, but I can’t wait to go back out again. I just got back to my senses. I was really excited after three years of not being out on the road.
Dead Rhetoric: One thing that I was really impressed with when I saw the band for the first time last month was your presence on stage. Where does your on-stage energy come from?
Robinson: I don’t know, I’m a weirdo I guess. I just do what I do when I’m on-stage. I’m a totally different person when I’m at home. I mean completely different. I’m an introvert and I don’t really talk to people much. It feels good to get out on the road and socialize and be a completely different person. I try to keep things positive at well. I try to have good messages for people – life is good. I’m pumped because it’s a good thing that we are doing.
Dead Rhetoric: In terms of a death metal show, it seems like it’s been a while since I have seen a frontman, like yourself, just get out there in the crowd and start knocking people around.
Robinson: I guess. I come from a different generation, I guess. The whole punk era, that’s what it was all about. Being physical, not in a bad way, but it was physical and fun – positive aggression. I’m 50-something year old, and there’s a lot of kids that I’m watching and they are sitting there with their thumbs up their asses, and I’m like, “fuck this, I’m going to jump down and get them in gear.”
Dead Rhetoric: What took so long in delivering a new album? It’s been 7 years since Polarity at this point.
Robinson: Matt [Sotelo]’s writing style and the fact that he has a wife and kids at home as well. The way he writes…our songs are complex enough – not being overly technical like our first album was, but its complex writing with layers and polymorphic rhythms with the guitars. It’s not just straight-forward, and rather than rush it, he takes his time. I’m pretty sure the label was asking him to hurry up, and he let them know that he wasn’t going to compromise for the second album with them and have less of an album. They understood. It’s kind of frustrating for me, because I dig it – I’m not writing it; I’m just writing the lyrics, which can sometimes come out really quick. I just have to be patient. It was really his writing and making sure he was happy with it, that was the main gist of us taking so long.
I respect that – this album, I’m so happy with it. I’m really happy he took his time and made it what he made it. It’s incredible. Him and Samus [Paulicelli] actually structured the album. It’s by far, in my opinion, our best album. The writing is incredible.
Dead Rhetoric: I would agree with that too…
Robinson: I think so. It’s hard because I’m in the band, but from hearing everything we’ve done, this is my favorite album as far as our work goes. I think it’s really well done.
Dead Rhetoric: Is there anything that you feel is different about Axis Mundi, compared to say, Polarity?
Robinson: All of our albums are kind of a concept. The first two albums, Matt just put them in the order that he liked the songs, instead of keeping it chronological. The third album was only conceptual in the aspect that it wasn’t really a story, but they all related the Mayan cusp of consciousness and my misunderstandings of it – the way I believed it, and a lot of psychedelic concepts involved. With this album, it’s different. It’s a total concept and we kept it chronological this time, which makes me happy. I like writing stories and having them make sense.
The concept basically starts on the song “Solar Impulse” from Polarity. Matt wrote all the lyrics to that. It’s a short one, lyrically. Mostly it’s an instrumental. I kind of took the idea of his lyrics in a way that they made sense to me and ran with it for this album. So the first song of this album would really be “Solar Impulse.” Then it continues from there. So there’s a whole different angle I came at this time, looking at it that way. I’m really stoked on it. When I came up with the idea and talked to Matt, he was happy and we ran with it.
Dead Rhetoric: Could you go into the role of psychedelics on your writing…
Robinson: Just life itself for me is psychedelic. Psychedelic, for me, is just inspiring the psyche. I’m fortunate – I’m not crippled in anyway, maybe psychologically I am, but I don’t think so. As far as being born, physically in my life I’ve been able to do what I want to do. To me, everything is a positive in life. I don’t have to look at substances as psychedelic. To me, reality, the way I live outdoors and looking at the forest where I’m sitting, it’s just so beautiful. Life is psychedelic, if that makes sense. It’s so beautiful and inspiring. Again, I’m fortunate and not stuck in a predicament that I’m unhappy in. It’s easy for me to look at it this way.
I do psychedelic substances as well, very seldom, because it’s not recreational. To me, it’s an inspirational thing – I use it and definitely got ideas [for lyrics]. The whole Polarity album was based off certain trips. One trip was half the album on these concepts. Random little trips, memories from the past, when I was younger and doing things…that also came into play with ideas that I had written down for a while that finally got used for that album. On this album, I’m really into the whole sacred geometry thing – like the flower of life. So many of those sacred symbols…sometimes I’ll dose, I try to dose towards night so it will be evening when the sky still has a little bit of light. I’m looking through the tree branches at everything and the sky is the background. I’ll let my eyes just go where they go and everything kind of blends. It’s just relaxing, not staring intently at something.
One time when I was doing that, I was like, “wow, I always see this pattern.” I don’t know how to explain it – sometimes its not on anything, at night, and it’s really hard to see. It’s a network of everything that’s always there. The light is actually the veil and it keeps you from seeing true things. You only see what’s right in front of you instead of everything. So at dark, I’ll see this pattern and I don’t know how to explain it because even if I’m not high on anything, it’s there. I remember this one time dosing and I let my eyes see it…I tried to, I guess you call it mediate, but I don’t really meditate…I was just zoning enough so that I didn’t let it go away. I started noticing between the branches of the trees and this pattern, that it was like sacred geometry, like the flower of life, so to speak.
As it was coming at me, it was incredible. It was like, “ok, I make sense of it now that I see it all,” and I was going into it and through it, and as I passed through it, it was as if I was in a realm of all the Hindu deities – I’m not really Hindu so I’m assuming that’s what it was. It was all these things that were red and blue, and they were still so far off – like pinpoints, and as they were approaching/I was approaching – I don’t know how to put it. I finally had to breathe, and everything was kind of gone and I was like, “holy shit that was killer.” On this album, I have utilized a lot of my misunderstanding about the Hindu and Buddhism stuff, and I say misunderstanding because it’s not something I dabble in. All mysticisms have a point with their culture. So I thought that was really interesting.
Dead Rhetoric: In terms of living off the Earth and these more ‘happier’ things…how does that relate back towards death metal?
Robinson: I don’t know…I never say it does. I think there’s plenty of people that live in nature – maybe not living the way I live, because I think people also have a misunderstanding of how I live. I don’t live off the grid – I have a cell phone and still go to the store. I don’t know who put it out there that I live off the grid, because I didn’t put it out there. I just live without a home. I meet so many people when I’m out on tour, and they are living in a place like Wyoming and Idaho and Montana…all these places that are rural and they hunt and they are country folk, not city folk, thank god. Everyone being a city person; that would be a nightmare. So to me, I can relate with them – living how they are living and hunting for their food or growing their food. Living country-style, to me,it doesn’t have to be city to be death metal. It’s just your preference on what you listen to.
Dead Rhetoric: Any long-term goals for Decrepit Birth?
Robinson: I’d like to get to more places around the world. I think Matt would too. There’s a lot of places we haven’t been that we’d like to. When we set out to do this, I don’t think we ever thought we would get to the level that we got. We are really lucky – the timing has had some play in that. Starting with Unique Leader and Derek Boyer – the timing was all that was. Again, we thought we’d just have fun locally. Next thing you know, it happened how it happened and we are surprised it even got this far. I’m not, knowing what Matt writes, but at the same time, it wasn’t what we set out for. Even though, in the back of my mind, I was hoping.
Otherwise, I think for the band, it’s just about getting out to other parts of the world. There are a lot of places that are really into death metal compared to North America. I can’t wait to get down to Mexico, Central America, South America…or even like Indonesia. Those places, they love death metal. I cannot wait for that. I know Matt’s the same way. I’m sure Sean [Martinez] is the same way. I’d like to say, make a living off of it, but that would be ridiculous. We’d be on the road year-round. Hopefully things keep going well, that’s all I can say.
Dead Rhetoric: What’s next for Decrepit Birth after the album release? Any touring or things like that?
Robinson: I know we got some offers that Matt is considering. They wanted us to do Summer Slaughter, but I think that it was so soon after this tour. We would go out in like a month/month in a half…it would be kind of dumb. We just went out and played. We’ll let this [album] come out and give it time; let people hear it this time instead of coming out while it’s released. Let them get to know it and maybe go out sometime this fall, that’s what we are talking about. There’s nothing planned yet, but the guys will let me know. I know there’s offers continually coming in.
Dead Rhetoric: It’s a good situation to be in, to have the offers coming in at least…
Robinson: I wish we could go out more, to be honest. I dig it, even though it’s grueling as fuck. But it’s fun!