Interview with Ted Aguilar of Death Angel
Death Angel has been thrashing since most of you were kids (or not even born yet). After a long hiatus in the 90s, the band reunited and became mightier than ever. On the eve of their latest release "Relentless Retribution" and currently on tour with Soilwork Death Angel will be touring the US up, down, and back again for the next few months. I caught up with guitarist Ted Aguilar before their headlining show in New Orleans to discuss the new album, their busy tour schedule, and going on a sea cruise. A transcription follows.
Buick Mckane: Welcome to New Orleans.
Ted Aguilar: Thank you, thank you.
Buick Mckane: Is this your first time being here? I doubt it, actually.
Ted: This is actually my third time. We were here a couple years ago on the God Forbid tour, but we had a day off and we spent it here. So we just went gallivanting around town.
Buick: That sounds like fun.
Ted: It was so much fun.
Buick: I’m very glad that you did come, all of you, off your tour to come tonight without Soilwork, so thanks so much for coming.
Ted: No problem. It was supposed to be a day off travel day, but I guess we just booked the show, and why not, we’re in New Orleans and as a headliner. Just as an off-date from the Soilwork tour, which is good, and we get to do our own headlining show. We get to play a little longer.
Buick: Sounds like fun. Your latest album “Relentless Retribution” is coming out in September…
Ted: September 14th in the US and September 3rd in Europe.
Buick: This is your first album with your new drummer…
Ted: And bass player.
Buick: And bass player. Wow. How is that going to work out? You think it sounds even better than before?
Ted: I think it’s great. The new album is great. I mean, these guys brought in a whole new fresh perspective; more of a thrash element. This new album is more…the most aggressive, most thrashiest since “Ultra-Violence.” You know what I’m saying? So having these two guys brought in the thrash element which was a tad bit missing from all the other albums. There’s some elements of thrash in previous albums ever since the band got back together with “Art of Dying” and “Killing Season,” but this one is really, really thrashy. So we’re stoked about that.
Buick: That sounds great, especially with the thrash revival going on. It’s the perfect time to do that.
Ted: And it’s where our headspace is at at the time. We wanted to write a good thrash record, and I think we achieved it with this one.
Buick: On two of the tracks for this album, you’re bringing on guests guitarists. What was your decision with that?
Ted: Jason Suecof who produced the record…amazing guitar player. Not only is he an amazing producer and an amazing vocalist, he’s also an amazing guitar player. And when we were recording the record, he kept throwing out, “I want to play on the record! I want to do a solo, I want to do a solo!” And when it was time for Rob to do solos, they had the idea of trading off solos on the song called “Truce.” So they traded off solos, and listening back to it was amazing; what they do, it’s two different styles. You can hear Jason’s style and Rob’s style, and at the end of the solo section, they do a harmony together which is like the climactic part, and just comes back into the song. It’s awesome. And we also have Rodrigo y Gabriela who wrote a piece for the album. It’s at the tail end of a song called “Claws in So Deep,” it’s the second song off the record. And actually it’s… how that came about was Rob, our guitar player Rob Cavestany, he went to go see him in the Bay Area one day; he had a performance. And Rob got to know them and found out they were big Death Angel fans and big thrash fans in general. So, Rob kept in touch with them, and the idea came about having them play on the record. They wrote a piece for it, and sent it to Rob. And Rob played it for us, and we were so blown away by the piece that it just fit perfectly. So it’s an acoustic piece at the end of “Claws in So Deep” and it segways into “Truce.”
Buick: Wow. Are they from the Bay Area too?
Ted: No, I think they’re from Mexico, but they live in Ireland.
Buick: Oh wow, that’s quite a mixture.
Ted: Yeah, but they’re great, great musicians, great guitar players, and they write great music. And, you know, it’s an honor for them to play on the record.
Buick: What kind of music do they normally play?
Ted: It’s kind of like…Spanish, flamenco-type, but they have their own twist to it. They do covers of Metallica, they do a cover of that on acoustic. I’ve seen some performances where Rodrigo Sanchez got up and played alone. And they’ve done some metal covers, but that’s the only one I know. They do this Spanish, flamenco-style that’s really, really incredible.
Buick: Wow. How many songs from the new album are you going to play tonight?
Ted: Tonight? Actually, we’re going to play one which is “River of Rapture.” We kind of want to hold off on playing a lot until our record comes out. We don’t want to let the cat out of the bag quick. So we wanted to play one that we feel goes good with the set we’re playing, and just play one to let everyone know that we have a new record coming out. As soon as the new record comes out, we’re going to play a lot more from the new record.
Buick: Are you going to bring your producer along so he can play on the stage too?
Ted: You know, we’re going to see him tomorrow ‘cause we’re playing Orlando. He’s coming out, he lives in Florida. He’ll be there, but we won’t play the song he plays on. Maybe when we come around the second time around, you know, maybe we’ll have him come up.
Buick: I’m sure he would like that.
Ted: He’s bugging us about it all the time, but we’re not playing this song on that tour. But when we come around and do a headlining tour sometime in the new year, we’ll have him come.
Buick: Well, speaking of this year, you have a ton of dates scheduled already and into next year. And in October, you’re going to South America for the first time.
Ted: First time.
Buick: How’s that? Are you really excited?
Ted: We’re excited, we’re excited. It will definitely be our first time going to South America, and we’ve gotten a lot of emails and, you know, mail from down there. And we’ve always wanted to go there. We’ve had offers to go out there quite a few times, but it fell through. But this time we’re going out there, and we’re just excited. I mean, I’ve talked to a lot of bands who have been down there and they said it’s… not only is the country amazing, the places they play amazing, but the fans are just intense. And we’re looking forward to going out there and playing to the fans out there, the crazy fans. So we’re excited.
Buick: That’s what I hear, there’s always a huge amount of people that show up and it’s just a great time.
Ted: Yeah, yeah, we’re really excited. We can’t wait to get out there and rock it.
Buick: Awesome, well you’re also playing the 70,000 Tons of Metal Cruise in January next year. Do you know how that’s going to be or have you ever played on a boat before?
Ted: A few months ago we did the Sweden Rock Cruise from Sweden to Finland and back. And we played with some bands out there. That was great. That was just fun. I think this cruise we’re going to do, the 70,000 Tons, is just going to be insane. Like four days on the ship from Miami to Cozumel and back, and there’s just great bands on there. You have Testament, Exodus, Forbidden, Fear Factory, Obituary, and Uli Roth, I know there’s a couple guys in the band who are excited to see Uli Roth, Trouble, Swashbuckle who’s on tonight playing, and there’s more bands to be announced, but that’s just going to be one big party on a cruise ship.
Buick: You so have some free time when you go on these cruises?
Ted: Yeah, yeah, I think we’re just going to play of the four days, we might play one or two days and the other two days we’ll be checking out other bands and, you know, have a good time.
Buick: Talking to everybody on board.
Buick: Did yall get…
Buick: Well, seasick. But mobbed by people when you go there? Or do you just blend all together?
Ted: Um, we’ll probably blend all together. I mean these cruise ships, just like the Sweden Rock Cruise, there’s no backstage areas, there’s no dressing rooms or what not. All the fans and the band members are just going to run into each other. So that’s good for the fans, I think. You know, they can hang out with any band member in a bar or at the pool or at a restaurant or something. So it’s going to be an all-night thing. It’s going to be great. We’re looking forward to that.
Buick: Is there anything else you would like to say?
Ted: We have a new album coming out. It’s called “Relentless Retribution.” It’s coming out via Nuclear Blast September 3rd in Europe, September 14th in the United States, and I just want people to pick it up. It’s the trashiest, most aggressive record since “Ultra-Violence,” but still Death Angel. I think everyone’s going to be stoked to hear it.
Ted: And if you, like, go to Nuclear Blast’s website, there’s an offer I think, CD and DVD which is limited edition which is actually the making of the record which is kind of cool. It has footage from…it has band interviews, it has footage from our rehearsal room up until we’re done recording, so it’s cool. And I think people would love to check that out, how this record was created.
Buick: That sounds great, and you have so many dates coming up, everyone can have a chance to see yall.
Ted: Yeah, we have a website DeathAngel.com, everyone has a Myspace, Myspace.com/deathangel. And Facebook is popular nowadays? So look us up on there, and we hope to see you in your town soon.
Buick: Alright, thank you so much.
Ted: Thank you.
Emily is an avid supporter of the New Orleans scene, often filming shows and conducting interviews with local bands to help promote their music. She also runs her own site dedicated to the New Orleans scene, Crescent City Chaos.
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