There truly was no better way to celebrate 11/11/11 than by seeing Anthrax, Testament and Death Angel at the Palladium Theatre in Worcester, MA. It was worth standing outside in the frigid New England weather just for the chance to see these three thrash legends on the same stage, let alone of Nigel Tufnel Day (or National Metal Day depending on who you asked). And a few hours before Death angel took the stage, Metal Insider was fortunate enough to get the chance to catch up with singer Mark Osegueda. During our chat on the band’s tour bus, Osegueda discussed Death Angel’s desire to be on a strong supporting tour package, the downsides of illegal downloading, the band’s legacy and how it has affected their current creative process.
So you’ve been on the road with Anthrax and Testament for the past few weeks now. But I know the band had to reroute their schedule in order to be on this tour. Why was it so important to Death Angel to be on this bill?
Well one thing that we’ve always wanted since even the early days, the 80’s, was to get on a good support tour. And we’ve never had that opportunity. All throughout the 80’s, we headlined the Ultra-Violence tours, we headlined Frolic Through The Park, we headlined Act III, and since we came back we’ve done package tours in Europe, which were great and our following in Europe is significantly bigger than it is here stateside. And one thing we’ve always wanted to do was get on a major support tour here in the States. This opportunity came up and it was to us a perfect lineup of bands we like, and we knew that they would draw people who maybe seen the name or seen the logo but never heard the band. It’s just been opening doors for us, and it’s been proven every night. It’s been phenomenal.
I mean when comes to packages, this is somewhat of a dream package for thrash metal fans.
Yeah, absolutely! And myself included. I enjoy myself every night on this tour. I watch the bands, I’m happy as hell when we’re playing, and it’s going by too fast already. It’s winding down and I’m already like [makes a sad sigh then laughs]. Hopefully there will be more.
On a sad note, though, the band’s guitar tech Dane Wolf was the victim of an attack during the tour’s stop in Denver. Last we heard, he was showing great improvement and was receiving a lot of help in raising funds. Have you heard from Dane at all recently?
Yeah, I talked to him about a week and a half ago. He’s doing much better. He’s in great spirits. He wants to get that all situated, but once he’s up and running he wants to get back on the road. It was unfortunate, but our main concern is that he gets better. He’s a great guy, to top it off. He’s a really, really nice guy.
Had you worked with him before?
We had not. Not for a tour. We had done some one off shows with him because he was a guitar tech for our friends Forbidden. And ironically enough, our usual guitar tech is now working with Testament [laughs]. So we lost our last guitar tech, and we were fishing for anyone. And Craig [Locicero, Forbidden guitarist] recommended Dane, and we hit it off right away. On the tour, he was a joy to have around, and a great tech.
The past two years have been really dominated by talk and hype about the Big 4. In many people’s opinion, though, if the Big 4 were to be expanded to the “Big 8”, Death Angel would be included along with Testament, Exodus, and Overkill. What do you think about such a claim? Do you feel that Death Angel has been overlooked?
Well it’s hard for me to say “overlooked” because I feel very fortunate for the attention that we have gotten, especially in the 80’s we had a lot of attention. And for us to break up in 90-91 and then take ten/ eleven years off and come back, it would be almost selfish for me to say that we were overlooked when some of those bands carried on throughout that whole time. So I think we’ve got a legacy that’s respected, but we had to win back a lot of old fans and we have to prove ourselves in the face of a lot of new metal fans. And I think we’re doing that, and things happen for a reason. And in most people’s [knocks on wood] list of eight, we seem to make most of them, except for the guys who like the more severe/ even more intense brutal sounds. Then we tend to get knocked off, but probably because of songs like “Bored,” or actually the album Frolic Through The Park, but that’s how it works.
Who would you include in the Big 8, or even “Sweet 16”?
Sweet 16? Well I would definitely throw in Forbidden. I would throw in Vio-lence. And I don’t just want to be a Bay Area guy. So at the same time I would probably throw in Kreator and Destruction in there as well.
Making it global!
Yeah, they were playing thrash metal over there as well. So those would be the bands I add to the list of people you already had. [laughs]
Ted [Aguilar, Death Angel guitarist] addressed this topic when we spoke last year during the band’s tour with Soilwork, but I wanted to get your take on this as well. Death Angel’s demo Kill As One started to gain momentum when it first came out through underground tape trading. Do you see any similarities between old school tape trading and today’s illegal downloading? Or do you think it’s a whole different monster?
I think it’s an entirely different monster…how do I say this…it’s a distant monster cousin [laughs]. Because at the same time, tape trading was how the scene flourished back then. That’s how people’s names got around. People had the Kill As One demo, but many of those demos were dubbed by friends and given to another friend. That’s just kind of how it worked. But it was a really underground scene then. Now metal has gotten very BIG, with all the little sub-genres and what not, or the larger sub-genres [laughs].
Yeah, exactly. And it’s tough. It’s really tough for me because it’s the greatest marketing tool ever, the internet. It really is. My downside with it would be for one, yeah the artist themselves suffer when it comes to revenue. But even more than that, I miss the days of anticipation and innocence, and I think now people are just so prone to immediate gratification. Like they’re curious about a band, they go on the internet and they hear it right then and there, and then they make up their mind right then and there. You don’t have the hype of reading about the band, wondering about the band, looking at the picture or the album cover and going “Whoa! That’s bad ass!”, and going to a record store or you send in for a demo and wait six to eight weeks and you’re excited to get it and it’s never coming, and finally you just forget about it and one day it shows up and you’re like “Whoa!” It’s almost like you’re forced to like it. That innocence to me is kind of gone. That’s my main gripe with it [laughs]. I liked being excited about that in that way. And if I have kids someday I’d want them to have that same kind of excitement, where I think that is definitely a thing of the past.
At the same time though, would you say that there’s more of a connection between bands and fans thanks to new technology, or not really?
No, I think it can. There’s definitely ways to make that connection. Like we do our fan Q&As on our website, we answer questions and stuff, and Ted takes care of that and makes them fun. So I think there’s ways for bands to do that, but it has to be up to the individual band to do that. Other than that, to me it still sterilizes it for some reason. Maybe if you’re the fan on the other side of the internet you’re thinking you’re knowing the person better, but I think it sterilizes it. I’m into the analog experience, and being a fan and even going “Whoa, that was him who walked by!” kind of thing [laughs].
Well that’s perfect about the Palladium here in Worcester, MA. You HAVE to walk by the fans outside to get to the bus.
Yeah, true right?! Good point!
So it’s been a little over a year since the release of Relentless Retribution, one of my favorite albums of 2010 actually. After this tour concludes, does the band plan to start working on a new album, or is more touring ahead?
Both [laughs]. Rob [Cavestany, Death Angel guitarist] has already started beginning the process of writing. He’s got a ton of riffs, he’s already putting together some basic song structures that he’s thrown my way for me to come up with lyrics and melodies for. So we’re at the very beginning stages of that. We’ll be in the studio I’m guess at the tail end of 2012 recording. We do have touring plans coming. We have the Summer festivals in Europe with some headlining dates in between that and hopefully some support gigs with some other bands. Other than that, there’s talks of other “hopeful” support tours coming up in the States and Europe as well. Those are just talks right now. Fingers crossed!
While talking about recording, and somewhat going back to the Big 4, there’s been a big push towards celebrating a band’s legacy. It’s been done a lot lately through touring packages and also by performing albums in their entirety. Do you feel that going back and celebrating the band’s past live helps or restricts the creative process of recording a new album?
I think it helps in a big, big way. The natural progression is that you want to grow and expand because you get better at your instrument, basically. So you want to keep expanding, and sometimes it can go against you. To me, it’s the difference between Ultra-Violence and Frolic Through The Park. And I know a lot of people love Frolic Through The Park, but it’s a very difficult album for me to listen to [laughs]. And that’s just me, though. It’s just young kids getting better at their instruments and wanting to expand, but you could be deviating too far from you’re roots. We honed that in eventually. And I think with a lot of fans, and I’m guilty of it too with certain bands I’ll say “Oh I only like Maiden’s first two albums!” or something. I mean, I like more than Maiden’s first two albums! But when you’re a kid, you’re like “I like the first two albums!”
The Metallica argument.
Yeah, it’s things like that. So I think it also helps the artists get more in touch not only with the fans but just with their original roots and where their headspace was writing for that, especially when they start writing for the next record if they’ve done a tour playing a classic album in its entirety.
One last thing, Happy Spinal Tap Day (11/11/11)!
That’s right! [laughs]
With that in mind, I was wondering if you had a favorite real life “Spinal Tap” moment that happened to you.
We’ve never had any extreme experiences, which thank God. I mean, we’ve had ones where like driving to venues, showing up and having the marquee say “Dark Angel.” Things like that.
At least it’s not a puppet show billed above you!
Yeah, exactly! So it’s things like that, or “Dark Angle” even, things that just make no sense whatsoever. And falling down on the stage, but nothing too extreme.
No mini Stonehenge coming down in the middle of the stage?
Yeah, exactly. Nothing like that. We do run into bands, though, on tour that are much more successful than us, and they are playing the “enormo-Dome” and we’re playing the small room at the Palladium [laughs]. But it’s things like that, nothing too extreme.