Metal Life Calls For Blood. And The Scoop Behind DEATH ANGEL’s Thrashumentary.
“Life’s too short to be fucking egotistical.” This is a big statement coming from one tried-and-true musician, but Ted Aguilar declares this with the utmost sincerity. “If people want an interview, they took the time out of their day to do it. They’re showing bands support, and then it’s our turn to give back. [The interview] can be with the littlest startup or the hugest magazine. I don’t care, I’ll do them all!” Ted continued sipping on his iced mocha as I let him know how much this comment means not just to myself but anybody reading this who has spent hours doing research for an interview only to be swiftly disappointed by a towering ego. “A lot of it has to do with upbringing; you won’t naturally respect people otherwise. But what separates metal musicians from those of other genres is our tendency to [thrive in] unity. You see another metalhead, and you immediately have the urge to shout to him!” Five minutes into our conversation, I observe that though Ted has made himself an integral part of Death Angel for 14 years now, his roots as that “happy thrash kid” will never leave him no matter how big the paycheck or the tour bus.
I was fortunate enough to be able to explore the band’s home-on-wheels, a black medium-sized bus that looked like it could comfortably fit six, when in fact there were around 10 people including crew who inhabited the space. I found a sign on the outside of the restroom that reminded me of the good old college days when you had to leave passive aggressive notes to tell people to stop doing stupid shit. Literally in this case. “My advice to any touring band as far as hygiene goes is, just bathe as much as you can. Clean up after yourself. You can do whatever you want in your bunk; at the end of the day, you’re the one who has to sleep in it. My [policy] is clean up after yourself, especially in common areas. Oh, and BATHE.” Quite frankly, it’s a lifestyle choice that is important in our homes but hardly thought about when a metal fan crosses the street to the House of Blues and gapes at the symbolism of the almighty tour bus. (resume here) “People think it’s easy living on the road, it’s not. But what job is easy? There’s gonna be jobs out there that look great but it’s also hard I bet you that bus driver—” Ted is currently beefing up his case by pointing at an infamously dirty orange Metro bus chugging by, “—that looks like a fun job just driving around but I bet he has to deal with shitty people. Passersby probably think it looks fun to just drive a huge bus all day, but imagine having to deal with dozens or hundreds of [crazy] people every day.”
Though Ted would never dish on shitty people or tours, he admits there’s been some long and rough experiences. Since this is DA’s first proper US tour in about a year, the last memory he recalled was touring with Children of Bodom and Tyr: “We shared a bus with Tyr, and they’re great guys. But try cramming 15 dudes on the same bus while touring all around the nation in the winter time all while trying to get acclimated to everyone’s own living styles and personalities. What got us all through those tough times were the shows. If I didn’t like the music [we played], I wouldn’t be on tour. You’ve gotta get through the bad to appreciate the good.”
Getting through the bad to embrace the good is a philosophy embraced by every member of the band; but when it comes to the tempting desire to use their stockpile of demos from local bands as Frisbees, Ted tells us that [drummer] Will Carroll does the exact opposite thing. “Will has a stack of demos from all over the world, and he will actually take the time to listen to every one of them start to finish. I’ll stop listening a few songs in if the production is bad or the songs aren’t well-written. Good or bad, Will takes the time to listen to every single one. He won’t skip; he’ll listen to everything someone gives him.”
As much as Ultra-Violence would have been a huge surprise to those who first heard it and thought “Holy shit, how do 15 year olds write like this?”, what may be more surprising is having these interactions with Death Angel today and thinking “Holy shit, how do these 20+ year veterans of heavy metal still have so much humility and spirit AND write amazing music?” The answer: they’re in love with the people they meet and the music they create. That’s why DA is currently prepping to release their upcoming “Thrashumentary,” a rounded perspective of the history of the band and a wholesome appreciation for what I believe to be their best live lineup yet! They are currently touring all over Europe through August 2015. October 1 the Bay Area thrashers will gather to record the next anticipated release. If you see a Blabbermouth article with the headline “Mark Osegueda Says: ‘New Death Angel Is Best Release Yet’,” then they’re bullshitting you. “We’re not going to top that, man. There’s no way. A perfect example: Slayer couldn’t top Reign in Blood, no way. The Dream Calls For Blood was the headspace we were in then. If we try to top that, it would be ridiculous because you can’t recreate that headspace. We can be influenced by it, but to try to recreate it and top it…people are not going to dig that.”
Stay tuned to Metal Life Magazine for upcoming information about the Thrashumentary and news on Death Angel’s upcoming album!
In the meantime, check out our photos from the Cavalera Conspiracy / Death Angel / Corrosion of Conformity / Blind show in Los Angeles in May, 2015.
Editor’s Note: All quotes in this article are from Metal Life Magazine exclusive interviews with DEATH ANGEL.