It’s always great to catch up with my hometown heroes, and every time I write about or talk to Death Angel, it leaves me nostalgic for those early Bay Area days when thrash first emerged. Just as we all have, Death Angel has changed and grown over the last three-odd decades, but their passion for crafting memorable thrash has never waned. During this decade alone, the band has crafted four superb efforts from 2010’s Relentless Retribution and 2013’s The Dream Calls for Blood, to 2016’s The Evil Divide, and their upcoming new release, Humanicide, which drops May 31 on Nuclear Blast. Since the beginning, guitarist Rob Cavestany and vocalist Mark Osegueda have led the charge, and over the last decade the duo have solidified the band with guitarist Ted Aguilar and the rhythm section of bassist Damien Sisson and drummer Will Carroll. They have also brought in producer Jason Suecoff (Deicide, Drowning Pool, Trivium) to produce their last four albums, including, Humanicide.
Earlier this month, Metal Nation had a chance to catch up with Cavestany to talk about Humanicide, maintaining their desire to create, the impact of a steady line-up and production team, keeping the music organic in the digital age, and how technology and social media have stolen the mystique from rock and roll.
You’re the principal writer in the band and the pre-production guru. That’s a lot of weight to carry on your plate.
“No wonder I’m so fucking exhausted [laughs]. It absolutely is, but at the same time I guess I like to torture myself and put myself in these exhausting situations because I’m kind of a workaholic anyway. If I wasn’t doing that, I’d end up getting antsy and wanting to put myself in a challenging situation, I guess. I’m not doing it on purpose, but I seem to always end up in that place. That’s just the kind of guy I am. I consider that my purpose here on this planet, in this life time, in this band. That’s my role, and a lot of guys are counting on me to keep it rolling so, I want to fulfill the task and rise to the challenge.”
With all the technology we use these days, ProTools and such, how do you find ways to infuse some of the organic process back into the creative processing or writing and recording?
“That’s happening by a couple of things I think. First of all, the cast; the players involved in here are old school. The whole band is coming from the old school, we can’t help it, we were there in the old school. We’re old school cats. So right off the bat, we’re not modern cats. If anything,
that’s one of the reasons we work with Jason [Suecof], cause he’s the modern cat. He’s the dude that’s on the cutting edge of technology and production and I definitely want that happening to our music, otherwise we’re going to be fucking dinosaurs over here. I don’t want that happening. I want to fuse the old school with a new modern production. Part of that is just us being us, being influenced by old school music. Secondly, its us pushing to get together in the same room as two actual humans organically having the energy coming out of two or more people in the room and getting it to flow into a creative space and capture that into recordings. So when I write songs, I’m doing it with the modern technology in my studio, coming up with the parts and recording on ProTools and everything, but then I could leave it that way and start moving on and just get the vocals in there, but before doing that, we’ll do the extra work and take the extra steps. I meet Will, our drummer, at our rehearsal studio and we sit there and organically work on the songs together; jam ’em out live in the room. He’s playing live drums and were working on beats and arrangements, and then I’ll record his live drums into the demos. The same thing will happen with Damien. I could very well send him the files, and he could just work on it using the internet and computers, and he doesn’t even have to encounter me in the same room, but we don’t do that. He comes over to my house and we sit together and vibe out and jam together on the stuff and go over the parts. There’s an organic energy happening that way. Something different happens when you do that. Same thing in the recording studio. I’m there with Mark, and we’re going over the vocal ideas and melodies, harmonies, and that’s about as much as you can do to put an organic thing into it in this day and age, as far as we’re able to do it by the means we can use.”