DIRT FEST 13 INTERVIEWS, PART 2 – DECREPIT BIRTH’S BILL ROBINSON: “I DO HALLUCINOGENS A LOT.”
I have only nice things to say about Decrepit Birth. Their music is br00tal, their influences are fucking legendary (Vader, Suffocation, Deicide), and there isn’t a single generic breakdown on either of their records. Singer Bill Robinson was the only member of the group ready and willing to sit down for an interview at this summer’s Dirt Fest (my review here), so I took him to the only comfortable place I knew of outside of the heat: the men’s bathroom. Although the smell of tour shits filled the air, the insight Bill gave me into the band and his life-style was nothing short of inspiring. He is homeless by choice and definitely looks it, but you would be surprised to know that he is cleaner then everyone on the tour combined. Living in the terraces of Santa Cruz, CA and growing herb for a living is not really the way I pictured the front man of a death metal band. But Bill does it, and does it well. He loves it so much that he feels the band is actually a sacrifice he makes for himself, and genuinely misses being away from the field he resides in (I slept in a field once – it wasn’t by choice, and had everything to do with Jagermeister.).
Along with Bill’s love for weed comes hatred for the police. The pigs. All of the dick-knuckles in blue who cuffed and arrested more than two dozen people that very day (seriously, waaaaaay too many people got busted with pot and open containers in the parking lot). I’m with Bill on this one. All the fucking way. As far as Decrepit Birth is concerned, recording on a new album should begin sometime in the next eight months. As for the rest of 2009, with Summer Slaughter now officially dunzo, the guys will be embarking on a tour in the fall. Be there or be square, fuckers. Read on for full details…
When we were walking to this wonderful bathroom where we are doing this interview, and you said were homeless by choice. How did that come about?
I don’t want to work, and I don’t want to pay money to sleep.
But you’re working. You’re in a band. That’s your job, right?
My job is to grow herb for a living.
Really? In what state? Or are you not at liberty to say?
We’re not in the States. We live in a country called “California” [laughs].
I like it. Do you just travel with the band and just kind of roam around California when you’re not on tour?
No, I have a patch that I have to tend. I live where I live, I just don’t live in a house. I live outside year round – snow, rain, whatever.
Do you have a bank account?
Yes, only so I can cash checks. I don’t keep anything in there because they don’t need to know what I have.
Right off the bat I do have to ask you: what struggles have you been through collective or as a band that have influenced your music?
Shit. I don’t know. Life is pretty good. I don’t think we struggle too much. The only thing with Matt [Sotelo, guitarist] is that his dad died. Things like that really affect what he writes, [and] in some of the songs where he’s written the lyrics, too, [the lyrics] really reflect a lot of the personal stuff for him. For me, I do hallucinogens a lot, so there’s some influence for me right there.
Does being a nomad have any influence at all?
Probably, but I’m not nomadic. I just live outside. I don’t really travel.
Kind of like a teepee type thing?
I build them. “Shelters” are what I call them. It’s become a state park too, so they’re trying to find me. It’s funny, because I play my little game. They know about me, but they don’t know anything about me.
So it’s your building things on state park land?
It became a state park after I had been there for years – like twelve years.
But they’re shelters you can move, correct? They’re not technically set.
No, they’re something that I build over there and place because during storms we get up to fifty-something miles-per-hour winds.
Okay, so they obviously have to be sturdy.
Yeah, they’re stable.
That’s interesting. You guys have a very unique melding of sounds with the music. How do you find the balance between brutal and charming? There seems to be a very fine line, and I’m curious how you get to that point. You never seem to really cross it. There always seems to be that charm behind the music.
You’ve only heard the second album then.
The first album is fucking brutal.
We’re evolving. We’re into melodic music as well as brutal music. We’re going to write what we feel.
What inspires you that people might find surprising?
Life, other music, herb.
What other music though? Is there any sort of music that you would figure people wouldn’t expect you to listen to?
If they’re musicians, I would say “no” because they would probably understand it. Fans probably wouldn’t get it. We’re influenced off of jazz, classical, progressive. Matt grew up listening to hair bands, and I grew up listening to hardcore punk rock before hardcore became what it is now. Matt is also into ’80s MTV music. Stuff like that.
What are your thoughts on the current state of metal at this point?
I like some of it. I like pretty much any of the bands that we’ve ever played with or meet, everyone’s awesome. It’s just a matter of if I like the music or not. Not even saying hardcore or deathcore – there’s just brutal music that I think is redundant and it’s doesn’t take any talent to make. They’re just writing the same thing that someone else wrote years ago.
Do you think that’s more of what the scene seems to be right now? If you want to call it a scene. Not putting labels on anything, no certain type of metal, just in general – do you think it’s stable? Is it getting better? Is it at a more poser status?
All of the above.
All of the above.
It’s stable. It’s bigger than it was in this ’90s. Metal is definitely coming back.
“Bigger” doesn’t always mean “better.”
You know what I mean. The metal scene is resurging.
Yeah, it’s out there. As long as there is less hip-hop, I’m all about it. There are a lot more fans, and there is a big uprising of younger fans. The fans are generally in their early teens at this point, but it seems to be not the necessarily the type of music that you guys play.
It’s all good. Those kids like us just as much. When they see us, they end up coming up saying “you guys are one of the best bands that I have ever seen.”
So you feel that you are definitely gaining more fans the more you are on tour?
Even if they look like little anime characters, yes.
Yeah with the hair that looks like it got attacked by a lawnmower.
They’re respectful. We all get along.
I know a lot of bands will only go on tour with the type of metal that they are.
Nope. It would be to our benefit to do a tour that’s more up our alley, but we have no problem. We toured with Veil of Maya, which for hardcore/deathcore, those guys are fucking sick. They are very talented and became some of our best friends. All these guys – Born of Osiris, Beneath the Massacre, After the Burial – [are] awesome. Even if I’m not into the breakdown stuff, which I admit I’m not, they’re talented. The shit that they’re doing between breakdowns is fucking good.
So you definitely think that there should be more of these kind of, I don’t want to say obscure tours, but more of a melding of different types of metal instead of trying to keep it as it were…
As well as keeping it within a genre.
That’s how we’re making new fans.
Exactly. What are the best and worst parts about being on tour especially one like Summer Slaughter where there is more than three bands?
I smell like fucking penis. My entire body.
What I heard from some of the guys is that you can’t go number two on the bus.
We’re not on the bus because we’re nothing. We’re peons.
You guys are not peons.
We’re peons. We’re in a van that breaks down, and we can’t afford mechanics, so we fix what we can ourselves. We’re not mechanics, so it’s hard. What’s hard about the tour is leaving the club at midnight or one and have to be [at the next tour stop] at nine in the morning. So it’s a straight drive the whole time with no sleep. And I lose my voice from no sleep, so it really sucks. These guys want to drink, and I don’t drink.
And I’ll tell them “Nope, I’m not doing it tonight.” So they drove a little last night, so to speak. Lack of showers, no time, missing our family or girlfriends, whatever.
So does that strain of tour influence music at some point?
Not at all?
Hopefully we don’t train wreck because of a tire, but no, it doesn’t really influence what we write.
What are you plans when you are done with the whole summer tour run?
I’ve got a patch to get back and tend. Hopefully it’s not dead yet because I can’t water it at the moment.
You don’t have anybody taking care of it?
A friend is taking care of it if he’s not too high.
Do you think that they might be too high to do it?
Actually, my partners are lazy so I’m doing my own thing on their land. So I said “Hey, help me water while I’m gone.” My partners and I have so much going that possibly that’s what my friend is helping work on. If he doesn’t forget to water mine.
So as far as the band goes…
Writing. You guys don’t have any plans to record any time soon? Do you have anything written at this point?
December we record.
You’re recording in December.
Alright. What’s the most ridiculous thing that you’ve ever experienced on tour? It can be something that you did, another person or band…
Ridiculous… hmmm. I can’t think of anything ridiculous.
Because everything is?
The only thing that I can say that’s ridiculous I’m not going to say, because the person is too close to us, and it would create too much drama. I can’t say nothing.
Then we need to go somewhere else. Let me hear this story.
No, I won’t even repeat it. We can’t go into this. No.
After the recorder is off?
I can do that, but no I don’t trust you.
Oh come on, I’m not going to say anything.
I can’t. My lips are zipped.
You’re killing me. I know you’re definitely not, you don’t seem the fighting type person, but if you were to be able to beat up one person, anybody in the world, who would it be and why?
Gosh, it would have to be a cop.
There are so many of them. You just pick one and point at him. If he’s an asshole. I’m not a fighter type, but get me pissed off and push my button, and I’ll beat the fuck out of you.
Is weed completely legal in California or is it just the whole medicinal thing? If you get caught with a certain amount you get a ticket.
It’s medical if you have your card. It’s not legal, and it shouldn’t be legal because then the government has control over it. It should just be decriminalized, like life is decriminalized. Life is not a crime, so herb should just be a part of life. We don’t go killing people. We don’t drive into crowds of people impaired and all that shit. We just smoke herb and chill and get along with everyone.
I completely agree with you on that one. It’s just shocking. I don’t smoke weed. I drink alcohol. Weed doesn’t agree with me very well. Some bars are open until four in the morning. You drive to get to the bar most of the time because even if you’re in the city with public transit, it shuts down at 2 a.m. So you’re going to allow bars to be open where they are serving copious amounts of alcohol, normally don’t cut people off, and then allow them to get into their car? I don’t get it. I tell people. Nothing has been proven to cause any deaths with weed.
It doesn’t kill anybody.
It’s revenue. The system wants revenue. If they were smart, they wouldn’t have done what they did with alcohol and could have made more money.
Just keeping it illegal and busting people for it. As far as it is, it’s legal and they bust people for it making a shit load of money.
But then you get moonshine, which does kill people.
Yeah, but we’re on the same page. I agree with what you’re saying.
Is there anything else you would like to say to the fans because that is who is going to be reading this?
Just live your life to the fullest. Be safe, be smart.