Death Angel Interview
In Dreams Of Terror – An Interview with Death Angel
Originally published on Ghost Cult Magazine’s Website 09/10/2013
The last three years have seen many changes in the Death Angel camp. 2010’s Relentless Retribution opus was the Californians first album with either of the Pepa cousins or drummerAndy Galeon, yet the ensuing two year saw them band touring tirelessly with compares likeTestament and Anthrax in support of it. It was the band’s largest touring cycle for some time with fans lapping up their energetic performances. Even when discussing the turbulent line up changes which nearly crippled the Californian veterans in the past guitarist and founding member Rob Cavestany remains an upbeat character whose mile a minute replies make him a thrilling storyteller. After such a gruelling schedule, no one expected Death Angel to make such a rapid return to action but they are back with another assault on the senses in The Dream Calls For Blood (Nuclear Blast). Ghost Cult’s U.K. Editor Ross Baker quizzed Rob regarding their rapid return to action, line-up changes and the future of the thrash metal genre.
Death Angel have been touring heavily since you released Relentless Retribution Tell me about what inspired you on the new album The Dream Calls For Blood and why you returned to the studio so quickly?
We were so inspired by the energy of the audiences on tour. The response we received particularly when playing The Ultra-Violence material was astounding. It really lit a fire under our asses and made us hungry to get to work on this next record. We wanted to take this live energy into the studio that we got from the live shows. We came off writing the previous album to touring straight for almost three years and then went straight to the studio to record this one. We were writing songs while on tour and we felt the material was so strong we wanted to work on them right away and capture that energy on this record. I think we achieved that. We have been playing as a tight unit for three years straight. We have such a good relationship as a band now. The work almost killed us but it was worth it. We got tired of partying all the time. We kept a crazy tour schedule of playing 16 nights in a row with one day off. It gets pretty brutal so you can’t party all the time. You have to keep your sanity but we wanted to get some of the writing done on the road so that when we got home we could spend some more time with our friends and families.
This is your second album with this line up. How has the line up change altered the way the band works together? When did you decide to continue the band?
It really has. The original line up of this band was amazing as we grew up together and learned to play after we went to see Kiss perform live. We started this band when we were 12 years old and of course, as you get older you will see many changes. The business aspects of the music industry fucked things up for us. It stole our innocence really. I am grateful that we started the band as kids who were playing for fun because we remember how great it is to play music. We started when we were living with our parents and now we are parents ourselves who are still running around playing heavy metal! It can be a struggle unless you are as big as Metallica to keep going. Many fans will not know how difficult it is to keep going. They assume you can live off your album sales but we have all had to struggle and work a day job in between tours. Money problems and things took their toll on us and we would have fights and argue about the stupidest things. It got ugly sometimes. We got to a point when Andy and Dennis had left the band so we were without our original drummer and bassist. At the time, we talked about giving up because we were so disheartened with everything. Andy leaving was especially hard. He is like my little brother but when he gets upset, he brings the whole room down with him. We do not want to be one of those bands who people wish had retired years ago and carried on playing past their time. Damien and Will saved this band. If it hadn’t have worked with them there would be no Death Angel. They made us realise that we had a lot more music in us and we decided to carry on.
How have the line up changes effected Death Angel on the whole? Has this been a necessary evil or something you wish could have been avoided?
We hated to see the other guys go but we could not have carried on otherwise. Damien and Will coming into Death Angel breathed new life into us. There was no arguing over one snare kit or riff like before. They are both hardworking guys who want to tour and record. The writing process is so much easier now. It is more intense, ferocious and technical these guys are lethal weapons! The original line up of this band are cousins so the line up changes were crushing and it was really hard for me to get over. Emotions were high and it left scars. Our personal relationships are still awkward. It is difficult when we get together for our kids birthdays and things like that. Unfortunately, our kids are not getting to grow up together the way we did.
Mark Osegueda produces some amazing high vocals on tracks like “Detonate”. Does he do a lot to maintain his voice?
I thank the gods of metal for giving him that resilient voice. He does a lot to take care of his voice and exercises’ like crazy! He and Damien do a lot to keep in shape. On the other had he loves his fucking gin! He drinks like a fucking fish! He is naturally a very hyperactive and likeable person. I was talking to a female friend of mine recently and she was wearing some high heels that were impossible to walk in. I told her “take the damn things off, why do you even wear them?” her reply was “Vanity prevails honey!” I guess Mark is like that. He tries to take care of his voice but he still wants to have a great time. I do have to tell him to shut up occasional (Laughs) He will be holding court with Testament and Anthrax telling stories at the top of his lungs singing ‘Riding On The Wind’ by Judas Priest stood on a table drunk as hell but he can still get it done onstage!
How important is it to maintain the aggression in Death Angel? Is it hard to expand on your sound while also staying faithful to the genre itself?
It is hard to do. We do consider very carefully, what we put on the record. I often write parts of songs and piece them together. I always choose stuff that is the most catchy and ferocious. It has to have hooks. It has to be natural. We like to bring out the raw emotion into our music. It is more important than playing fast or anything like that. We try to write for ourselves but obviously, I want to make something that sounds like Death Angel. I write a load of stuff that does not make it onto our records because it does not fit with our style. It is important to express yourself and do something different but it has to sound like Death Angel.
The last album saw you touring relentlessly. Will you continue do to so on this album cycle?
We didn’t expect the last tour to take three years but we got the offer to tour with Anthrax and Testament so we stayed on the road. If we keep getting offers, we will take them, as we love playing live. I do want to get to the next album sooner however. I feel like I want to start writing more songs already but we cannot because we still need to learn these songs to play live!
I understand you are a fan of acts like Suicidal Angels and Havok. What is it about these Thrash bands that you find so exciting?
I love touring with these younger bands. They are so hungry and it is very inspiring. We get a kick out of trying to keep up with these guys. We are very proud of our live show and we love to show these guys we can burn them up even when we are ten times their age! We watch the other bands we tour with and acts at festivals. We don’t need fancy lights and that bullshit we take our energy to the stage.
What are you most proud of achieving with Death Angel?
Other than the new album, it has to be just that we have survived. The fact that we survived these line up changes, climbed out of our own ashes and are now in a stronger place than we have ever been.