» Ted Aguilar - Death Angel
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Interview conducted June 5 2019
Interview published June 21 2019

"You're gonna get crucified doing the same thing and you're gonna get crucified doing something different."

Just one week after the release of California thrash metallers Death Angel's new record Humanicide [Out May 31st], Metal Covenant met up with one of the band's guitar players Ted Aguilar at Sweden Rock Festival.

Tobbe: Your new album was just out and right from the start, in the title track, Mark [Osegueda] sings "All hope is lost!". Is all hope lost?

Ted: Well, it seems like it, with the way the world is going nowadays, you know. There's a lot of crazy things going on in the world. I mean, it can be anything. It's just a combination of everything and if it keeps going the way it is; yeah, it seems like all hope will be lost.

There's people out there fighting for other people's right, and for the planet, and for everything, and it just seems like it's just declining. That's what it seems like, you know. But luckily we have music to kind of like, you know, step away from all of that for a little bit.

Tobbe: So what kind of other lyrics do we get on Humanicide?

Ted: It depends on who you talk to, you know. When Mark and Rob [Cavestany, guitar] write lyrics I don't necessarily ask them what's it about, 'cause, you know, for them it's either personal or it could be real-life stuff. I remember when we were in the recording studio: Mark would do these tracks and he goes "Check out these lyrics!" and I'd read them, and when I listen back to what he's done: you know, it's just one of those things where I look at him and go "I can relate that.". I never ask him; it's just like a personal thing.

Some of the songs, like Aggressor and Immortal Behated, I mean, I look at it from a different view. You know, Mark looks at it from maybe a personal view and I look at it, you know, we're big Game Of Thrones fans. [Laughs] So, Aggressor could be Cersei Lannister maybe, or Immortal Behated, again another Game Of Thrones reference, everyone's hatred for her and her hatred for everyone else. So I look at it from that point of view.

But then you have songs like The Pack, which is about unity today. You know, we have a fan club called The Pack. It's basically dedicated to our fan club and hard-core fans, but it's more like "Let's get together and unite. We're stronger than anything.".

Tobbe: About Game Of Thrones: What do you think about the ending, or let's say, like, the two last episodes?

Ted: Wow! [Laughs] Put it this way: I get why a lot of people are mad. It seems like it was rushed, but, I accepted it. I mean, I'm sure everyone wanted their ending: Jon Snow being the throne, Daenerys being the throne. And everyone has these theories of maybe Tyrion might have the throne, or Sansa, or whatever. Or Jamie killing Cersei.

You know, there's so many theories out there. People are just mad because they didn't have it how they want it. But the way it ended, the last episode: after I watched it, I processed it for a couple of hours, and I like it in a sense, because that kind of ended that whole thing of no one being born to the throne, like the king, and then his son get the throne, but what if that son doesn't want it? A perfect example: Jon Snow. He's the rightful heir, technically, but he didn't want it; he knew himself, so.

But I like the fact Bran got it, because they all voted. That was the beginning of democracy. That's what I liked about it. If you're gonna end it; end it that way, you know. That's what I got out of it. You know, people you see online, it's just crazy. At the end of the day it's just a TV show. [Laughs]

Tobbe: Unsurprisingly most of the music on the new album is intense. Would it have been foolish to expect otherwise?

Ted: I think with this album there's some intense songs, but there's also songs in there like, like I mentioned, Immortal Behated, and Revelation Song. It's a lot of variety in this album. We still kept the heaviness and the brutalness, but we like mixing it up, as you can tell with Humanicide, very brutal. Then you have probably the most brutal song Death Angel wrote, the second song, which is Divine Defector.

Then you have that more rock 'n' roll Motörhead type, I Came For Blood. You know, we like to mix it up, but at the end of the day it's, you know, a Death Angel record of today, you know what I mean? It was a moment captured in time. I'm not gonna try to sell you and say that you got to buy this and that; all I know is it's a Death Angel captured in time.

Tobbe: Using those mid-tempo tracks I think is good for the variation, but could the fans also, like, take an album of 10 intense Death Angel songs, really?

Ted: Every album we put out, we always get criticized: "Oh, there's not enough variation. Oh, there's not enough speed. And this and that.". So I mean, we're a band that likes to throw a lot of different things. We like to be musical, we like to throw a lot of melodies and really craft our songs. You're gonna get crucified doing the same thing and you're gonna get crucified doing something different. I rather get crucified doing what we want and doing what we have to do. You can't please everyone, you know.

I mean, go back to even Frolic Through The Park [1988]. There's a lot of variations in that album. And Act III [1990] was the album that kind of solidified, like "We can go in any direction.", you know. I mean, there's songs on this album for everyone, like: if you don't like the mid-tempo tracks, then listen to songs like Divine Defector or Humanicide.

Tobbe: Humanicide has a front cover that's kind of similar to Relentless Retribution [2010] and The Dream Calls For Blood [2013] as well, and do you wanna create some kind of connection by displaying those three creatures so that people will think "Oh, these three creatures are, like, Death Angel's."?

Ted: Well, it's not a concept thing, you know what I mean? Each album has its own story. I mean, yes and no. Relentless is more like wolves in sheep's clothing and what they've gone through. Then The Dream Calls For Blood is more, if you read between the lines, like battling, like, no matter what you do in life you're gonna have to spill blood. Nothing is easy. So they've gone through that. And Humanicide is more like: if things are going the way they're going, then these are the only species that's gonna be alive.

You know, like: they survived what went on. So they are all the same wolves, but they just have their own story. It's nothing, you know, connected. It's like: every year you're a different person, you know what I mean? Like, you go through something one year, then another year you go through another thing, so. But I like the wolves.

Tobbe: You didn't have them on the last record.

Ted: I mean, we thought about it, but then things changed when the lyrical content started coming. The Evil Divide [2016], you know, when we saw it we were like "It doesn't feel like the wolves need to come back.". So we wanted to do something different 'cause of the vibe of the record. Then when we started writing Humanicide, that's when we knew: "Oh, it sounds like a pretty aggressive album, the lyrics are pretty [snaps his fingers], 'I think the wolves need to come back.'".

Tobbe: About your live performances. You play a lot of newer stuff in your set and you refuse to be some kind of nostalgia band.

Ted: I mean, there's some bands who do that. There is nothing wrong with that: if that's what you wanna do. But we like pushing our new stuff. I mean, we release records, we're happy with them, I think we're writing the best ever, and we're proud of each record we put out, so we wanna push the new stuff, you know. Of course we do play some old stuff, but we try to at least play one per album, hopefully. Maybe a couple per album, but more of the new stuff. I feel like the only way to, kind of, survive is to progress. You know, to evolve.

I mean, there's bands out there who, you know, release a record, play one new song, everything is old. I mean, that's cool. I get it. But then you just stay in this little box, you know. It's hard to explain, but for example: Everyone in the '80s, they're not all there anymore. Some of them are, like, either retired from that style of music, passed away unfortunately, or moved on to other things where, you know, some of the people of today, who'll hear your new stuff like it, but can't relate to the old stuff, you know what I mean?

But, you know, we have to evolve. I love the new stuff and I love the old. I mean, if it wasn't for the old stuff, there wouldn't be new stuff, and if it wasn't for us playing new stuff, we wouldn't be able to play the old stuff, you know what I'm saying?

Tobbe: As we talked about earlier, Death Angel's music is often intense, but what kind of music do you listen to personally, away from Death Angel?

Ted: Oh, man. A lot of pop. Like the other day, me and Rob were talking and Rob was listening to Alicia Keys. Yesterday, on the ride from Denmark to Sweden, I listened to all three of Bruno Mars's albums and Tom Petty. You know, just newer pop stuff, and older pop stuff.

But, you know, I just put my iPod in Spotify on shuffle and whatever comes about comes about. It could just be from NWA to Slayer. Whatever comes about, you know. I listen to it all.

Tobbe: So if you would personally write and record an album, if you would try to find a different outlet, what would come out of that album?

Ted: Wow, that's kind of hard, 'cause I don't wanna sit there and go "I wanna write this type.". I just got to write, you know what I mean? But in a perfect world, I'd wanna write something like… I'll give you an example which I really like: A band I've been listening to a lot lately, Hardcore Superstar. I like how they're bringing back that '80s feel.

You know, the front man, and the look, and the good-time rock 'n' roll. I would like to write that style of music, other than Death Angel. I already have my pleasure of playing heavy metal with Death Angel; I don't wanna do another heavy metal band.

I'd do more like what Hardcore Superstar is doing. That good old rock 'n' roll. Let's have a good time. You know, like, a lot of girls. You know, that whole like "Wow! That looks fun.". I'm getting older now; I just wanna relax and have fun, and you know, playing metal, you're getting a little achy on the knees, and elbows. You know, maybe I just wanna enjoy it.

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