Heart of Steel: Interviews

Death Angel's Dennis Pepa

Interview by Keith McDonald

Death Angel were one of those young, talented metal bands to come out during a time when MTV's Headbanger's Ball was still a credible outlet for up and coming bands. Death Angel had their most success with Act III, an incredible metal offering. Yet, the band broke up soon after, continuing on as the Organization, which didn't last very long. The band reunited not long ago and has released a new studio album 'Art of Dying' via Nuclear Blast America. I had the opportunity to speak with bassist Dennis Pepa who gave me the lowdown.

How and why did DA reunite?

It all started with the Thrash of the Titans show (the Chuck Billy benefit). For years after we broke up people kept asking us to do shows here and there. A lot of the offers were for great bills and pretty good money. But we never even considered it. We really didn't want anything to do with DA any longer. But when we got a call from the Testament camp telling us about the TOTT show for Chuck Billy we couldn't say no. We always have been great friend with Chuck and once we heard the bad news we knew we had to pull it together and help him out. From there things started to fall into place for us. Shortly after we officially reunited DA.



How would you describe your music to someone who has never heard of DA?

That's a real tough one. I would say "Bay Area Thrash". In the lines of old Metallica and Exodus. And if you haven't heard of the Bay Area Thrash scene and you listen to metal, do your homework; there is a lot of metal history in the 80's Bay Area scene.



AlbumcoverTell me about the recording process of 'Art of Dying'.

We had Brian Joseph Dobbs produce the album. We recorded the album in San Francisco at a studio called San Francisco Sound Works. The studio is pretty impressive. We recorded all on Pro-Tools but ran the signal through an SSL board. I believe that gave it allot of it's warmth and took the edge off of the more common digital sound that Pro-Tools is known for. We spent about 2 months in the studio tracking and about 2 weeks mixing. Dobbs made us sound amazing!



Will you record a live CD/DVD in the near future?

A limited addition digi-pack will be released of The Art of Dying. This will actually include a live DVD, which was taped from a show in Prattlen. As far as a live CD, we have nothing planned as of now for one. Maybe sometime in the future.



What are the tour plans?

Well so far we have a handful of shows on the West Coast of the states starting in May. Then we're off to Europe to do festivals (BANG YOUR HEAD Festival, GRASPOP FESTIVAL, With Full Force Festival, Tuska Festival, with hopes of more). In between the festivals we play a few shows with Life of Agony as wells as headline a few shows ourselves. In the fall we have tentative dates in Japan and Australia with Testament. After that we have a tour lined up in the US but I'd rather not say who it's with right now because it might change. But there you go. That's roughly what we have lined up. I hope we could tour for at least a year and a half for this new album.



Who handles the songwriting and from where does it come from?

Different songs come from different places. While Rob is still the main songwriter of the Band we all contribute to the new material. I think the time we had apart let us grow as musicians in our own way. We all had different projects and they we all different styles from each other. When we finally got back together we all had different elements to bring to the table to write this new batch of songs.

Death Angel


What ever happened with 'The Organization' project and are those albums still available?

To make a long story short - We put 2 albums out and toured like mad for them. During the Savor The Flavor tour we finally called it quits. We had lots of baggage left over from the Death Angel days as well as our musical tastes and interests were growing far apart.



How much did MTV and 'Headbanger's Ball' help the band?

Actually it helped A LOT! MTV is a very powerful tool. Back then you didn't have the Internet to look for information about your favorite bands. So the only this was Magazines and TV. A lot of people saw us on Headbanger's Ball. Including people that never heard of us before.



How much has the metal scene changed since you came out?

The metal scene is completely different today. Back then you never heard anything heavy on mainstream radio. Today metal is commercially accepted music format. It's actually stupid to me (at least in America). These bands are heavy versions of the Back Street Boys and they play shit music!



How much has the music industry changed?

I think the Internet is a blessing to music and musicians. It put all the major labels in check and helped the indies to out a huge dent in the music world. It's still a shitty business to be in though. It's cut throat and you can't really trust or rely on too many people, so that portion of the business hasn't changed at all.



What do you think of some of the newer metal bands out there and do you dig any of them?

Actually, I don't follow the newer metal at all. I'm starting to since we got back together. I'm actually not very impressed with what metal has to offer today. It lacks a certain genuine sound to me. All the new bands sound alike with exception. But over all I can do without it. I like my metal aged I guess.


What's the future for DA?

Tour, Tour, Tour, and Tour! Record the next album and Tour, Tour, Tour, Tour more!

Death Angel's Website