Episode Excerpt: Matt Sotelo on forming Decrepit Birth, creating …And Time Begins

In this excerpt from Ep. 2, Matt recalls the formation of Decrepit Birth, meeting Derek Boyer, and recording 2003’s …And Time Begins in his home studio.

Starts at 5:56

Anthony Trapani (5:56): How old were you when you started wanting to be a vocalist, and be in a band? 

Bill Robinson: Oh, Suffocation came into my life and i was like, “Oh, I could do this.” I just felt like I could do guttural vocals. 

Matt Sotelo: So we had a friend in common, our friend Lee, and he introduced us. Lee was a guitar player that was local; I met him the first night I saw Deeds of Flesh play. And Bill was his friend, and he kept saying, “I got this friend who’s a really sick vocalist.” And I met Bill, he brought Bill over, and I was like 17, I was young and I had all these riffs and i had all these songs and I was ready to go. I was hungry. And this was… the end of 1994, December ’94…

So these guys were older than me by a little bit, and they liked what I was doing. They liked the songs that I was writing. I thought Bill had a killer voice. And our buddy Lee was a pretty good guitar player, and he hung out there with us for a while. Eventually he took off, and me and Bill just stuck with it. And we jammed with local drummers here in Santa Cruz, and nobody could quite pull it quite right. It just wasn’t quite what we were looking for. But we still jammed and tried to get to the point where we were ready to find the right person. This was about like 98 or so. 

[Then] we met Derek Boyer. He was playing with Deeds of Flesh, and we saw him [play live], and we just pushed; we were like, “Hey man, do you know any drummers? We got this music, we’re looking for someone.” And right there we all became friends, and i learned about Deprecated that night. 

Anthony T: So at that point did you guys have any complete songs yet or anything or was it just…?

Matt S: We had songs that were like the first versions of stuff that became on …And Time Begins. It kind of just morphed that stuff, into the ATB stuff. And Derek and I would get together and hang out, and he moved from San Diego, because originally I went down and played with Deprecated for a little while.

Deprecated

And then i was just [wanting to] do my own thing, I think, and I came back to Santa Cruz, and Bill and I were like, “Let’s do this.” Derek’s like, “I’ll move up there and play bass, and let’s record an album.” And I got a little house, and he just moved up into the house with me, and we worked on that shit like every day. Just writing music. I had all these songs, and we kind of dissected them and rewrote them. Derek was coming at me with songs, and Bill had ideas…

We would also spend a lot of time at the Unique Leader house, which was the Deeds of Flesh house. We’d go down there, in Los Osos, and we’d work on music there. Deeds of Flesh would be gone out on tour, and we’d be packing CDs and sending that shit out, and just hanging out and working on music, and just getting the vibe. Anybody who’s been there you get that vibe. So we’re sitting in there, playing this music, writing shit and feeling really good. 

Those guys come back from tour, and Eric was like, “We’re ready to sign you guys if you’re ready to record a full album.” He hooked us up with Tim Yeung, and we got to have him fly out. I had a little makeshift studio out in my backyard at the house that we were all living in. It was like a totally shitty little garage. 

The …And Time Begins lineup: (L-R) Bill Robinson, Tim Yeung, Derek Boyer, Matt Soleto.

[During the drum recording], it was raining, and it was leaking into the garage, in the ground. We’re sitting there, trying to record this record, and we have everything up on pallets. You can see Tim’s playing drums, and the pallets are swishing back and forth, because there’s water rushing in.

But you know, we got it done. Tim recorded it, and at the time I don’t think Tim was too stoked on exactly what we were doing. I think he was kind of like, “This isn’t my cup of tea as far,” as the material goes. Because I think we were doing stuff that not too many other bands were really doing yet. At the time, with all the super technical changes, and you know, the old school death metal was still kind of there, and the new stuff was kind of… 

(15:42): So the drum recording, that was bad, but we we did what we had to do. At the time, I’m not sure how many brutal death metal bands were recording all their albums at home. Maybe there was a few, people were still going into a studio to record their albums. And I was like, “You know what, I’m going to try and do this shit at home.” I had an adapt machine and I had some pretty advanced [digital] home recording equipment. This was like 2001, you know, or 2002. 

We we edited the drums and I’m sure Bill remembers how many hours we fucking took editing those drums. It’s not because the playing was bad, it was because Tim didn’t get a chance to learn that material all the way through. So he would play up to a section or a break, and we had to edit it all. Every single song. Maybe there were one or two songs that he played halfway through, and was able to play the other half. But he was learning these parts on the fly, so we had to button sections together. And so we would record, and we’d have to write all these notes down, where the different drum parts came in. It was a fucking nightmare – I would never want to have to do another album like that. But we were learning. I was in my early 20s at that point, and recording on the computer was very new to me, and I thought it was cool. We were doing what we could do from home. We wanted that real death metal raw recording, so we figured, me and Derek were like, “We can do this.” And even Bill was jumping in, helping us edit. And we all kind of learned together. So that was a lot of fun. We did the guitars and all that stuff at home. But we ended up mixing with Colin from Vile. He mixed and mastered it for us. He did a good job, considering the product that we gave him, so i’m stoked that he was able to to help us. I think that if he didn’t mix and master it, that album would just sound really bad. So I’m stoked with what he did to it. 

Derek and I had an idea of running my digitech system through his bass Sans Amp DI. So we recorded guitar and then EQ’d it with his bass DI, and then ran that out into a power amp, and then out into a cabinet. And that’s what just gave it that… I mean, you could hear i was playing the notes, but for some reason it almost sounds like everything kind of just runs together. It’s like, just a wall of sound with the guitar. It’s too bad, because the guitars could have been a little louder on the recording too. It’s just, it is what it is.

Guitar playthrough of “Condemned to Nothingness”; uploaded to YouTube on Oct 6th, 2006, three days before YouTube was acquired by Google.

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