Interview conducted July 29 2015
Interview published August 05 2015
"It's not like you make
the greatest money."
Death Angel recently released its
new DVD, A Thrashumentary. Metal Covenant talked to guitar player Ted
Aguilar in Stockholm, Sweden on the band's 5 week
European tour, in order to find out more about the film and also about
the band's upcoming 2016 spring release. Ted joined the band on its reformation
in 2001 and have become a big part of the band since then, but naturally
he speaks in terms of "they" when referring to the band's earlier
Tobbe: You have a brand new DVD out. What
Ted: It's the history of the band, you know.
It starts from the very, very beginning up until recent. It's like 2+
hours long. [2 hours and 34 minutes.]. It's a great story. We could
sit here all day and talk about it. I suggest people to pick it up.
I mean, old fans and new fans would like it. It's a really in-depth
history of the band. You will know what goes on. How the band formed,
how they got the record deal, and why they broke up, and what they did
after they broke up, the reformation and everything. So it's really
cool, you know.
guy who did the Thrashumentary, Tommy Jones, he filmed it, directed,
edit it, he did the whole thing, he put it all together. Great work,
and a lot of work. He also did our video, River Of Rapture from Relentless
Retribution. Good friend of ours, you know. Ever since we did the video
with him, we became really good friends. He came out on tour with us.
You know, finally it came out after so long, but I'm glad it's out and
it seems like people are really liking it, so I guess it was worth the
Tobbe: I put the documentary style way ahead
of a full live recording and I think it's really interesting. Like you
said, it covers pretty much the whole career of Death Angel, but I guess
there's lots of material left that could fill up at least a couple of
Ted: There's still a lot and we could have kept
going and going, you know. It's like writing a record. You could keep
writing songs, but you just gotta stop. You gotta pick the best ones
that you feel is right for that time, and we did. I mean, there's still
more footage we could add, but we thought what we have right there is
the best stuff, you know. So we just had to get it out now 'cause people
have been asking about it and we don't want it to sit around any longer.
And I'm glad we did, that we released it. You know, things happen for
a reason. I think fans will dig it. I've talked to a few fans and I've
seen some reviews and they seem to like it. So, it's okay, it's good.
Tobbe: So Tommy Jones did pretty much everything,
but how much input did you have, as a band?
Ted: We all had input. We told him kind of a
layout and he put it together. He pretty much put it together and he
knows the band. He's a fan of the band and he spent a lot of time with
us, on the road filming. You know, traveling around the world with us
and getting to know us as people. When you have that, it's a lot easier,
so he goes "Okay. You know, I know the old story. I know this new
story. I know the reformation. I know the current lineup.". So
he was able to put things together and, you know, we had a say, but
the majority of the work was done by him. He had a vision. We looked
at it and "Okay. Add this. Add this. Take out this." and he
just did it. He put it together really well. I'm stoked that he did
Tobbe: Were most decisions like mutual or
did you clash heads sometimes?
Ted: We clashed a few times, but that's okay,
because it shows that we all care. But, at end of the day, we were all
happy with it. That's important.
Tobbe: I guess if you have another DVD out
sometime in the future it will be a live recording since you've done the
documentary thing now?
Ted: Yeah, we've done the documentary thing,
but I have an idea of, maybe one of these days, or years, do more of
"Life on the road with Death Angel" for an album cycle. Like
do a DVD of the making of the record, into touring for that record.
You know, what goes on on the road, like what it takes to put on a Death
Angel show. You know, crew, the life on the road, how we live it, talking
to journalists, and maybe do interviews from people from the promoters
and the festivals and places we play. I wanna do something like that
and the documentary we have done already. You know, the history. Now
let's see Death Angel in it's natural environment, like in the studio
or on the road.
Tobbe: I think that is what people wanna
see actually. Because if they wanna see you live, they can watch a show,
but they can never get inside of your thoughts unless they view a documentary
or something like that.
Ted: You know, you don't wanna give out too much.
I'd like to do something like what it takes to put on a Death Angel
show. Like the travel, the gear, the production setting up, and what
the crew goes through. You know, stuff like that. And I think when people
see that, they probably see "It's not so glamorous. It's actually
work.". But it's work we wanna do, you know.
But when it's fun it's easier to go to work.
Ted: It is fun and we're fortunate and blessed
to do what we do. Don't get us wrong. We love what we do. We don't take
it for granted. But I can see from people from the outside looking in,
it's like "Oh, you get to travel around the world and you get to
". Yes, we're fortunate, but not everyone is built for
this, you know. We know people who want to travel and when they go out
there, they got out of their comfort zone and they break.
Yeah, it looks glamorous, but it's not perfect.
There is gonna be ups and downs. There is gonna be things that happen,
you know. For example; We toured the US, we're on the tour, the bus
breaks down, no AC - in the summer!, and you're hating it. Stuff like
that happens, but you know what; it could be worse, you just gotta learn
how to deal with it. It's just like life.
Tobbe: You have to make sacrifices in normal
Ted: That's what I mean, but a lot of people
just think musicians have it easy. We don't. It's not as easy that a
lot of people think. It is fun. We love what we do, but it's not as
easy as people would think or as glamorous as what people think it is.
Tobbe: Let's talk a little about your coming
album. You've been writing songs.
Ted: Yeah, we're writing some new songs. We're
like 6 songs in. No lyrics yet. I know Mark [Osegueda, vocals] is still
writing some lyrics. We go home August 13th and we're gonna take a couple
of weeks off and in the beginning of September, we're gonna continue
writing and doing some pre-production. And on October 1st we're gonna
start recording the album. Now if you're gonna ask me the next question:
What's it gonna sound like?". [Laughs]
Tobbe: No, actually I'm gonna say that the
last album was mainly written while on tour, Rob [Cavestany, guitar] told
me and this is different obviously.
Ted: Well, it's a little bit of both. A lot of
the first 6 songs we're written at home. Then right now, at any chance
we get, we rehearse whatever 6 songs we have, at soundchecks and what
not, just so we don't forget 'em. And sometimes when you play 'em in
a different environment, you get a different inspiration and a different
vibe and maybe you play something different that might sound great,
you know. So it's kind of cool, that we're doing that, to play these
new songs in a different environment, instead of in the same old rehearsal
room, where you're like "Okay. I'm in here again." and you're
just on autopilot. On the road, you're kind of not on autopilot in a
way. But yeah, I mean, there's some ideas written on the road. Not much,
but I think we're gonna continue all that when we come home.
Tobbe: So here comes the question. Is it
similar to The Dream Calls For Blood? Which I would think it is.
Ted: It's influenced. There is gonna be The
Dream Calls For Blood influence. I mean, I know a lot of people love
that record. And we love it too, but, you know, are we gonna try to
top it? No. Are we gonna try to make something faster? No, because we
can't recreate that moment in time, you know. [Sighs]. We were like
a couple of years younger then, but from the writing and recording of
that album 'til now, we grew as musicians and people, so we have a different
mindset. It's still gonna be Death Angel. Don't get me wrong, but I
think we're gonna expand a little, you know. For each album, we spread
our wings more and try to check out new territories. But, we're gonna
be influenced by that album because we're playing a lot of it on the
road, so it's bleeding in. All I can say today is that it'll be Death
Tobbe: You did some different stuff in the
past, with like some slower songs, but The Dream Calls For Blood was more
like a display of intensity, so maybe it's a more varied record this time?
Ted: It might be more varied. Right now we're
writing some really good stuff, but who knows what happens from now
until we record. Rob might come up with something mellow or acoustic.
It's kind of hard to tell. We'll see what it takes, 'cause right now,
I mean, songs are always evolving. You know, we're always writing and
it always keeps changing, up until the point we start recording. Some
songs now, they sound really fast, but they might up being heavy.
Will Jason Suecof [producer] be around this time as well?
Ted: We're thinking about it. We're thinking
about it. It's getting there. We've been in talks with him. I know he
wants to do it, 'cause 3 is a charm. I'd like for him to do it, 'cause
it's the third record with him and he's done good on the last two.
Tobbe: What is the most important factor
when you enter the studio this fall?
Ted: To have the songs finished. You know, basically
once you have the songs finished and then recording, you know, it comes
pretty easy. Once you have the songs and everyone's well rehearsed and
you go in there, it's still a little bit of work, but not so much if
you're already well rehearsed on it. I think Jason knows we don't wanna
repeat ourselves, so he's gonna hear the songs and go "Okay.".
And we're all gonna hear the songs and "This is what it is. Let's
just make it better.". We're not gonna look at The Dream Calls
For Blood, because that would be pointless, you know what I mean. The
Dream Calls For Blood sits on its own. Just like Relentless Retribution
sits on its own, you know. The stuff we're coming up with is cool, so
I'm kind of excited to see it when all the vocals and all the other
bells and whistles come in.
Tobbe: I will know in 6-8 months what it's
Ted: We're shooting at end of March or early
Tobbe: Is there sometimes a sense of hopelessness
when you are recording an album, because we all know that you nowadays
will have to make your money on ticket sales, festival gigs and merch?
Ted: You know what. It does cross our mind.
I know a lot of bands think that way and they go "Why don't we
just release singles and EPs", but you know what, we're gonna stick
to what we always do and record albums. You know, we grew up buying
albums and the band, even from back then 'til now, wanna record an album.
We wanna put out a CD. We wanna put out vinyl. There is gonna be people
who buy 'em, the physical copy. There's gonna be people who's gonna
buy it and download it on iTunes, and there's just gonna be people who
just rip it. I mean, there's nothing we can do about that, but the main
important thing is if you have a good song. That's
the most important thing and we always put our blood, sweat and tears
and money into it.We're not gonna cheat ourselves from that or cheat
the fans, 'cause there's still fans out there who wanna listen to the
album. I mean, I know there's a lot of bands out there who go "Let's
release an EP here and release an EP there.". If that's what they
wanna do, cool, but we wanna put out albums. Of course it'd be nice
if people all bought the albums, but you just gotta adapt to the times,
you know. But we're not gonna lose sight of writing on a good album.
Tobbe: But downloading's been going for
15 years and is not a new thing anymore.
Ted: It's been going on for a while, but you
know what, there's pros and cons out there. The con is, yeah, everyone
don't pay for it really. The pros is; A lot of people hear it! You just
hope that they'll like it and they go to the show and enjoy it.
Tobbe: Is it sometimes frustrating to never
really get that big break for Death Angel? Because, you're not a small
band, but you're on the edge of becoming a bigger band and I think you
personally think that you deserve it.
Ted: I've talked about that with Rob and it
is frustrating, but maybe it's a good thing. Maybe all that frustration
is making us write good music. You know, maybe like we're so frustrated
like [Clenches his fists.] and it just shows in the music. So maybe
that's a good thing, maybe it's a bad thing too, 'cause I mean, I think
this band deserves the break, you know. But that's a good question,
man. But hopefully one day. We're still gonna keep going at it 'til
we can't no more.
You've been in Europe for 3 weeks now and you'll be here for 2 weeks more
and you've been playing bigger and smaller festivals and venues of different
sizes. Is it difficult to constantly change between those things. I mean,
to recharge your batteries to play for smaller crowds?
Ted: Well. It's a lot easier to play festivals
because you get a shorter set. And it depends on what time you are on
the day. But it's good. It's a good mix-up, 'cause it keeps you on your
toes, like play 45 minutes on a big festival and tomorrow you play an
hour and a half. It's a good breakup and we like that. I mean, if it's
constantly all festivals, then you get used to that, and if all you
gotta do is headliner, then it tires you out, so it's more of a good
exercise, you know. And you know what, it's good for us too. It's a
good cardio. To us, if we have a stage we could play and people that
are into it show up, so be it, man.
Tobbe: What do you think Death Angel will
be able to prove in the coming years?
Ted: Well. We always do what we do. We're gonna
always write the music that we write. I think we've already proved that
the band could continue when we lost the original members and we got
Will [Carroll, drums] and Damien [Sisson, bass] [in 2009] and we've
done 2 albums with them. I think those 2 albums solidify that "Okay,
they're here, and they still could move on.". So right now, I think
we've proved that. You know, we wanna grow as people, as musicians and
as a band. The only thing we gotta prove is to ourselves that we gotta
write a record and we gonna put out what we put out and if people like
it, they like it. If they don't, they don't. What could you do, right?
So as long as we like it and we're proud of it, we stand behind it.
So we've got nothing to prove, we just gonna do what we do, as we've
always been doing, as you can see.
Tobbe: You've had a solid lineup now for
6 years. What makes it so perfect? As it seems to be when you look at
Ted: Well, we're all on the same page, kind of
musically and with the goal for the band and the fact that we're able
to tour. You know, the other lineup, they had families and they had
kids and it's kind of hard to break away from that to tour like we do.
It's not like you make the greatest money. We've seen a lot of people
who left bands because of family and I totally understand that, you
know. Who are we to say that the band is more important than
Will and Damien are just willing to go out there and tour. They're there
to help to get the band musically to the next level and to the success
of the band. So I mean, we can just go "Dudes. We're going on tour
for a year." and they go "Let's do it!". Like I said,
with the other members, you know, we'd go "We got this tour plan."
and - "Well, I can't really do it.".
Tobbe: That's hard.
Ted: It is hard, so there were times we said
"Okay. Then we'll just wait.". "But when could you do
it?" - "I can do it around this time frame." and you
go "Oh.". That's hard.
Tobbe: And then the other guy can't do it.
Ted: Yeah, there were times. Like "I can
do it this time. Cool." and the other guy would go "I can't.
Not that time. But this time." and the first guy goes "No,
that's a bad time for me.". So it was hard. And they're great guys,
great musicians. Andy [Galeon, former drummer] and Den [Dennis Pepa,
former bass player] were fabulous musicians and fabulous songwriters,
and Will and Damien, they're fabulous musicians and songwriters too.
It's just different and they're just the ability that the band could
move forward, like touring without no "Oh well, I can't",
Tobbe: That's what a band depends on nowadays.
Ted: Yeah, touring. That's it yeah, basically.
of the DVD A Thrashumentary