The last time I saw Simon Matthew Carrillo perform was at Nostalgia Fest in 2012. One of his bands, the post-hardcore outfit Edaline, had reformed (mostly), and Carrillo’s powerful songs came alive with raw emotion that night at the Phoenix Theater in Petaluma.
Sadly, family and friends in Sonoma County and beyond are mourning his passing. He died from kidney failure March 24 in Portland, Ore., where he lived for the last 15 years. He was 40. Those who knew him best remember him for his compelling music and endearing soul.
“I don’t remember when I first met Matt, likely it was in 1993 when we played our first of many shows together,” says friend Kevin McCracken. “He was funny, goofy, a talented artist, he loved music, and the thing that stands out most is how genuine and supportive he was.”
Carrillo first emerged in the local punk scene with the formation of his angular and angst-ridden punk band Kid Dynamo in the early 1990s. Then he formed Edaline, a melodic punk outfit that opened the door for underground indie rock to take hold in the North Bay.
Carrillo’s greatest success came when he helped form the darkly layered Desert City Soundtrack and moved with the band to Portland in 2001. Desert City Soundtrack set itself apart from the emo-rock pack by combining hushed moments and cathartic chaos highlighted by Carrillo’s beautifully dissonant guitar.
Throughout all of Carrillo’s success, his most constant trait was his unending enthusiasm for making music and his unwavering support of his friends.
“His enthusiasm, passion and excitement for others to thrive were always present,” says friend Adam Glidewell.
In hearing the many stories of Carrillo’s mix tapes and seemingly never-ending streams of napkin doodles lovingly given to friends who still hold them dear, his all-inclusive late-night guitar playing and songwriting sessions, Carrillo’s lasting affect on the community here becomes apparent.
“We were alive and passionate. That’s the Matt I remember and celebrate,” says friend Terrie Samundra. “I’m going to listen to music till my ears bleed, and I’m going to remember the beautiful, sweet, gentle and brilliant creature he was.”
In the wake of Carrillo’s passing, communities in Santa Rosa, Portland and elsewhere have come together in an outpouring of love to share pictures and music. This week, a gathering in Carrillo’s memory is being planned, and a larger concert event is in the works for the summer.
Family and friends come together to remember Simon Matthew Carrillo April 11, at the Big Easy, 128 American Alley, Petaluma.
Kevin McCracken contributed to this story.