INTERVIEW WITH ROB CAVESTANY OF
The Bay Area thrash metal literally hit back when Testament, Exodus, and Death Angel embarked on the six-week tour crisscrossing Europe. Metal-Rules.Com had a pleasant opportunity of sitting down with the founder and guitarist of Death Angel, Rob Cavestany, to discuss various topics. The band’s recent album titled HUMANICIDE got the Grammy nomination, which was the well earned and deserved trophy for them after been around since 1983. Death Angel has visited Finland a number of times over the years. When arriving at Finland recently, the Bay Area thrashers faced one of the hardest and wildest ferry trips as the massive storm hit. Ladies and gentlemen – Rob Cavestany and Death Angel. (This interview was conducted on the 10th of February 2020 in Helsinki Finland)
Interview by Arto Lehtinen and Marko Syrjälä
THRASH LIKE A HURRICANE
First of all, we have to ask about the last night. We heard that when you were on the way here by ferry, a massive storm hit hard on it, and many of you fell ill. So could you tell us a little bit about the last night, what happened and how dangerous the situation was?
Last night? The ship was fucking rocking hard, but I got lucky because I anticipated. I don’t like going on ships and stuff. I get seasick very easily. I didn’t know it was going to be as bad as that, but just in case I made sure I drank a lot of liquor and made sure I was going to pass out good. Right when it started getting really fucked up, I was like to bed. I pretty much slept through the whole thing. I didn’t get affected by it that much. When I woke up in the morning, glass was smashed all over my cart. Everything’s smashed everywhere. Bottles and glass. I fucking slept through that whole thing. It was amazing. It was very lucky for me too that because I would’ve been having a really bad time.
So you missed all “the fun”?
Yeah. Some others didn’t get so lucky.
Because of the storm, the entire Testament backline got stuck in Stockholm, and they had to borrow stuff from you and Exodus to play their show in Helsinki. How did you manage to get everything together so quickly?
Testament’s using our drums and Ted’s guitars and maybe some of Gary’s guitars or Lee’s and the backline. They’re using ours and exited stuff combined because they have nothing.
However, it’s great that you managed to get it to work because you all have a long shared history.
It depends on what kind of relationship we have. If you’re on tour together, it’s going to be a really fucked up situation if you say no. It’s going to be very awkward, especially if you’re the opener or the headliner on their tour. Probably as long as you weren’t total fucking assholes to us, then, of course, it would be cool. This makes it much cooler because we’re friends, of course. Anytime, anytime.
WHEN BAY AREA STRIKES BACK
You are long-time friends, but this is the first time when all three bands have toured together?
It’s true. We’ve toured with Exodus. We’ve toured with Testament many times, but never the three of us.
How did you manage to put this package together now, or should I ask why it took so long to make this happen?
I guess just our schedules worked out at the same time, where somebody wasn’t in the studio or on a different tour. I guess it’s been trying to happen for a long time, but it just depends on… Everyone has a different schedule, and your schedule is planned out so far in advance. That just makes it impossible to get together. We hardly see each other at home whatsoever, because one guy’s over here, over there. It finally happened.
Death Angel has continuously been on tour after HUMANICIDE came out last May. Actually, the tour started one month before in the States, right?
That was a long time ago. We toured with Sepultura, with Overkill and we did a headlining tour recently with DevilDriver. Yeah, it’s been a lot of traveling.
I guess that playing a lot of gigs is something you have to do to keep things alive nowadays because albums are not selling enough anymore?
It’s basically the only way. Albums are not selling enough to earn a living, fuck no.
We interviewed Exodus drummer Tom Hunting a couple of years ago and asked.” Because the albums don’t sell anymore, do you ever feel that now you’re a kind of traveling merchandise seller?” – He said, “yes”. Do you agree with him?
No, I’ll disagree with that. You could have that feeling or that attitude, but I technically if you break it down where your income is coming from. That is what’s happening. I don’t want to look at it that way. I’m not a traveling merchandise seller. That’s why we hire a person to sell the merchandise. I’m a traveling musician, and we sell merchandise to exist, to survive. But we have done that in the past. I’ve sat there and sold our shit, where we had to. We did that many times, but not anymore, “Laughs”.
HUMANICIDED GRAMMY NOMINATION
What was a big thing for Death Angel recently was the Grammy nomination which you got from the album HUMANICIDE. It’s a fact that it might not help sales a lot, but just getting recognition must be a great thing for any musician or artist, right?
That’s true. That is true, and it feels good. We work fucking hard, hard, hard work. We put our whole life into everything we do. Of course, it definitely feels good, and I hope it leads to better things, but that felt good to get recognized like that for the Grammy nominations. It felt amazing, and it was a shock. Never thought in my life that that would have happened.
How did they pick you up for the nomination? Was it a particular song or?
For the Grammy nomination, it was for the song “Humanicide”.
You got a nomination, but after all, Tool won the Grammy
Yes. As we expected. Yeah. Absolutely, but it was a great thing. It felt good for us and not only us. Our families, our friends, our fans because we made everyone feel part of it. It’s like when you have a favorite team in sports and when they’re doing good, and everyone feels like they’re in it, they’re involved. We represented our fans and the Bay Area and thrash metal. As far as we’re concerned, actual real fucking metal, compared to with the other nominees. I don’t know. There’s here and there. Definitely, that Tool song is not very metal. Tool is a great fucking band. I’m not trying to put them down. They’re incredible musicians. I think they’re fucking amazing. For the category, our songs, to me, sound the most metal for sure.
WORKING WITH JASON SUECOF AND LINEUP TALK
You have worked with Jason Suecof on several albums. Are you going to work with him in the future, or are you going to try to do something else?
I’m not sure. I’m not saying that we won’t, but I’m not saying that we’re… We’re for sure. Of course, at some point, we probably got to mix it up and try to work with other people. I had a great experience in the last four records too.
But you have found a great way and chemistry to work together with him?
Yes, exactly. Yeah. We make good chemistry together because we co-produced together the whole time, but we’ll see.
Musically HUMANICIDE is kind of a logical continuation for the last three Death Angel albums, but musically it’s another step forward. What kind of things influenced you when you start to write the music for this album?
Somehow, I just let it go wherever it will go. I don’t try to predict what’s going to happen. When I just sit down and start writing, it just really depends on my mood at that moment. Then whatever starts coming out when I play, it’s really unpredictable. I’m not trying to do anything in particular. It’s just really happening in the mood and these days… A long time ago I’d say that we were more influenced by other music, other bands. At the start, you’re like fans of Iron Maiden and Metallica and everything. You’re like trying to sound like them, because you’re just trying to discover your own sound, and you just try to sound like what you like. I guess that’s still happening, but that’s happening more in the background. For me, if I’m writing, it’s more of like my mood, or it’s just more of an expression of things that are happening to our lives and our band and us. Then it comes out into music. I don’t really know how to explain it. I’m not trying to think of more of a sound as much as I’m trying to make the sound of my mood, or of the experiences that were whatever we experienced. Things on the road, the tour that we’re coming from: the crowd, the feeling of the crowd. I just try to imagine the crowd hearing that song or how it’s going to move people, and just start playing the guitars. See what happens.
Nowadays, you and Mark write most of the song, whereas the other guys are not involved that much. How come?
Me and Mark, we’re the songwriters. I love writing music, and that’s our sound is. I don’t really know what to say. I just like to write. All of a sudden there is all the music and everybody, they believe in the songs that Mark and I write. It’s just how our chemistry works. On this album, though, Ted has the first contribution in the song “Alive and Screaming”. You threw down in there. Maybe we’ll see some more contributions like that.
What if you compare your songwriting between the early days and the present, what’s the most significant difference? And do you still have the same influences in mind what you used to have back in the day?
I think it’s happening subliminally. The things I’m listening to is it’s going in, and it’s just mixing up. Then when I’m writing, I’m not thinking of one thing or the other. It just blends together, and whatever I started playing is probably from something because I listened to something, but I just don’t realize it. It’s just coming out. Sometimes I’ll write something based on a certain part. Sometimes there’ll be a certain drumbeat that I like. A certain tempo and I kind of a feel of the beat, and then I’ll write parts around a beat that I like, just from the drum part. Sometimes I’m just trying to think of how Mark’s going to sound when he’s going to sing over what I’m going to write or something. I’m just picturing what his voice might be, but I have no idea what he’s going to do. In my mind, I’m just trying to imagine Mark’s voice coming in on top of that, and then I just do it like that. Sometimes I’m not thinking of anything. I’m just feeling a certain way, and that feeling is just starting playing the guitar, and then I’m just recording what’s happening. Then later, I listen to the parts and stuff that I just played and then, “I like that one part here.” I just start to build the song off of one of the riffs or one of the parts that I wrote. It’s just like that.
There’s the classic lineup of Death Angel, Ted Aquilera joined the band for the reunion lineup in 2001, and the current group completed in 2009 when drummer Damien Sisson and drummer Will Carrel joined the band ranks. So, this is a kind of Mark III version of the band.
That’s exactly what it is.
If you think about the current lineup and how you work together as a band – How have things changed compared to the early days?
For one thing, we’re older than we were. That in and of itself makes a difference. With age, hopefully, comes a bit more of the wisdom, for the experience of so many things that you learned. You did wrong or did right and especially wrong things. You learn from that, and you just try to pay attention, and you’re always trying to progress and do better and not make mistakes. Now we just kind of have much more teamwork. People are responsible for a variety of different roles in the band. It’s not only just writing the music. Ted handles a lot of our production, and he’s dealing with the touring, everything about the production, the crew. He gets involved with all that stuff. That, in and of itself, is a huge job. He’s dealing with all the details about all that stuff. Meanwhile, I’m working on the musical side of things, and Mark’s doing his frontman thing, and writing lyrics and stuff. I just think we function more smoothly now, and we kind of know what to do a little bit more. We’re not just running around crazy like not paying attention to how we were when we were younger, but it was fun doing it like that. You just can’t keep doing it like that once you grow out of that.
When Death Angel started to play together, you were all really young guys. Everyone in the band was still a teenager.
Exactly. A lot of the differences mostly come from the age of things and how you handle yourself. Compare yourself when you were 15 years old, how you functioned. It’s different, but it was a great time.
Death Angel has recorded several cover songs during the years, and one of those is KISS classic “Cold Gin”. I’m just curious, how you ended up choosing that song?
Because we’re huge KISS fans, huge KISS fans. It’s a pretty well-known fact about our band that the reason we exist is because of KISS, and we wanted to do a tribute to the band that we loved so much. I don’t know how we picked that song of all the songs. It’s kind of funny because we’re all under-age, we couldn’t even drink at that time. We’re singing a song about cold gin”. That’s pretty funny. That’s why, just because we loved KISS so much.
There’s a great version of Black Sabbath’s “Heaven and Hell” by Black Sabbath on the DREAM CALLS FOR BLOOD album. You’re probably huge Ronnie James Dio fan as well?
Yeah. As I’m I, as we all are huge Dio fans. He’s one of the greatest. There’s also very interesting cover on the EVIL DIVIDE. Then we covered “Wasteland” by The Mission UK. Do you know the band, The Mission UK? They’re an old gothic rock band. We used to listen to them all the time, even in the ’80s. We loved The Mission UK. The guitar player from The Sisters of Mercy. We covered their song. As far as recorded covers, we have also covered “Trapped Under Ice”. It’s on a Metallica tribute album, so we’ve done a few.
FROLIC THROUGH KUUSROCK
This is, in fact, the fourth time Death Angel has performed in Finland. Do you have any memories of your first visit to Finland in ’88 in Oulu with U.D.O and the others?
With U.D.O and… Which festival was that?
It was called Kuusrock Festival.
“Cruz Rock” festival. Didn’t Stevie Ray Vaughan play there? He was. That was a two days thing, right? Stevie Ray Vaughan played the other day. That’s one of the things I kick myself the most because, at that time, I wasn’t really paying attention to Stevie Ray Vaughn. I was just so into metal that I wasn’t tripping off of his blues. Shortly after that, he becomes one of my favorite guitar players of all time. I just love and worship his playing, and we fucking could have maybe met him or seen him, and I just didn’t even realize it.
Maybe he was not metal enough for you, then “Laughs.”
I wasn’t even paying attention, and I was like, “Fuck.”
When you were young, you probably thought that everything else was shit but thrash and speed metal?
Kind of. Your mind frame is like that.
The debut album ULTRA-VIOLENCE was a really brutal, straight forward and aggressive metal album and everyone seemed to love it. Regarding the second album FROLIC THROUGH THE PARK, it felt that you were kind of trying to break boundaries with it. There were reggae or jazz influences and even some funky stuff on the album. It was a mix of many different styles and genres.
Funky parts “Laughs”. Well, we were listening to a lot of Faith No More and Red Hot Chili Peppers. We wanted to incorporate some sounds into our music. To me, that’s our kind of strangest album. It’s the most mixed-up sounding, weird.
Now decades later, would you agree with my opinion that FROLIC THROUGH THE PARK was maybe put together too quickly?
Possibly, yes. We didn’t really have any idea of pre-production or song arrangements. We were just doing part after part after part, just stuck them together. Plus, it was a kind of a thing happening, where this is the kind of thing where everyone in the band was trying so hard to contribute to the writing. I’m not trying to put anybody down or anything, but just looking back on it, that’s exactly what was happening. Everyone was just trying to get their song and get their part in. It’s kind of when you have too many cooks in the kitchen kind of thing. Everyone was doing it, and then no one was taking control of the situation to say, “Maybe that part shouldn’t.” It’s just like, “Why not? That’s my part. You don’t like my part. Okay.” Everyone’s parts in here now, and that was just crazy.
I know what you mean, and back in the day, you had a different relationship and chemistry in the band, and you probably couldn’t say “NO” to anybody without making enemies in the family?
Exactly right. Sometimes it had a magical moment. Some parts it worked, here and there, but a lot of other times it doesn’t work, but exactly, you can’t say no. You just have to let it happen because you simply couldn’t say “fuck you” because everyone has to work equally. There are good parts and bad parts to it. That’s why now it’s just kind of seems like it sounds more consistent, because we’re not having like all that pushing and pulling, and all these crazy five different styles of music in one song. Now I try to write; there’s still a variety of styles between the songs. Of course, you could hear the difference. Some songs are more brutal, and some are more rock. They seem to like each song stays together within itself. It’s not like five songs in one song.
I remember your old interview from ’88. You had just released FROLIC THROUGH THE PARK, and there is a song called “3rd Floor” on the album. If I remember correctly, the song was about your friend who was at the hospital, and you went to see him. But there was some level or floor in the hospital that you were not able to get, and that song is about that?
It is. That was the psychiatric ward. We were like, “How can we not get to the third floor? What’s with that?” Then they said, “That’s a psychiatric ward. You don’t go there.” We were like, “We got to write a song about that.” That was a good inspiration.
ACT III – BUT THEN…
If FROLIC THROUGH THE PARK was a bit confusing release, everything got fixed on the next album ACT III. It was a perfect metal record by any measure. Death Angel raised on the whole new level with that album.
This is true because then we had a fucking serious producer, Max Norman. That era is where I learned the most of everything. That’s where we went from turned from a boy to a man, going through that album. Every that we had to experience from, even from the record label, Geffen records. We went to a major label and working with max Norman, and they weren’t just allowing us to do whatever. They are making us write and write and write so much and like, “Okay. That’s pretty good. Let’s hear more songs, more songs.” I was getting so fucking pissed. I was like, “You already have plenty of songs. There are fifteen songs. That’s enough songs.” They’re like, “No, better songs. We wrote like 30 songs for that album, but that taught us how to work hard very, very hard. Much more than we thought we were doing before.
Maybe you had learned to be more critical of yourself then?
Exactly, that’s what it was. Since then, now we don’t have to write 30 songs because once I’m realizing songs like, “Okay, I just cut it already.” I don’t even waste time with the rest of the band, because I already could tell like it’s got to be better than that. Rather than just writing too many songs and half of them are no good. Once it’s already going that way, I just really need to love what I’m feeling and then present it to the band that we work on it with everybody.
When ACT III came out, fans and critiques loved it, but at the same time, Death Angel was compared to Metallica because of the two “metal ballads” you had on the album. But for sure, “A Room with a View” opened many new doors for the band?
Yes. MTV video, stuff like that.
Was that MTV thing more a curse or a blessing for the band?
Blessing, because we just got so much better as a band. We got better at songwriting, producing, arranging. As players, just gaining more control over what we were doing. Not just doing what again… It taught me how to write and make records, I think. I took that experience from then on and then just keep trying to get better and better at it. I love ACT III. I love everything, “Room with a View”, “Veil of Deception”. They’re really nice songs, the way that they came out. Then people say, “Why don’t you play that? When are you guys are playing “Room with a View “or writing a song like “Room with a View” now?” And I have answers for that. Even though I love the song, it doesn’t belong to the set. If it’s there, the set’s going to get so soft. It’s like people are thrashing so hard. There’s no room for that right now. In a headlining tour, only we would something like “Room With a View”, never in a show like this? That’s going to be fucking throw off the whole wrong feeling for the nights. It’s all power in this kind of a bill. We just haven’t even been doing encores. We’ve been playing all the way through, and then just that’s it. Not coming back for doing the… Good night, then come back. We just play straight through and keep it more intense. Another thing about it is it’s very challenging to play live. It’s got a lot of harmony background vocals, and it has to sound right to do it. If we’re not going to make it sound right, then we’re not even going to attempt it, because it’s just not going to come out so well. Now we have so many more songs that there are other songs to choose from than that. Once in a while, we play “Veil of Deception”. Once in awhile, I’d rather play “Veil of Deception”. It’s a little more group snooping or moving. Again, never say never. Plus, the style of it. It’s a very eighties kind of ballad style. The style of it isn’t really in this time and space to do that.
You had a significant following with ACT III, a great label, and the right people behind you. It was close that you didn’t make it really big. I mean, REALLY BIG!
Sure, it was.
LIFE AFTER DEATH ANGEL
Everything changed dramatically in 1990 when you had that horrible bus accident, and Andy Galon injured critically. The band continued for a while with other drummers but suddenly everything was over, and Death Angel split up. So, do you still think about those things like, what it could have been it this and that didn’t happen?
I’m forced to because it always comes up in interviews. Other than that, I choose not to think about it because “Why sit there and think about horrific experiences in the past?” I’m just happy that we’re alive and was able to move on from that. Actually, in brief, it wasn’t the band’s fault. It was Destiny, of course, mostly about the timing. Then the period of time changed really fast, nobody knew about it.
Death Angel went through serious personal drama, but also the whole music climax changed really fast in the early ’90s. Suddenly traditional metal, thrash, and speed metal went away, and death and black metal stepped in. I guess several thrash metal bands started struggling and vanished away at that time.
That’s true, that’s true. It was a strange destiny. I just tried to accept it for what it is. Here’s what happened and everything. Everything happens for a reason. At the moment, you can’t understand the right sometimes, but it does happen for a reason in some way.
For you, you weren’t the only band who suffered from that, but it must have been a horrible time?
It was pretty brutal.
I’ve read in some of your interviews where you were not in the death metal thing because you never liked that vocal style. You preferred more something like James Hetfield’s style.
Yes, yes. That’s true.
THE ORGANIZATION AND OTHER PROJECTS
After Death Angel split in 1991, and Andy had recovered from the bus accident, you formed a new band, The Organization, which was basically Death Angel, but without Mark Osegueda. Was it a serious band or more like a therapy band, just doing something together as a band?
No, it was very serious for us. We love that band. I put all my heart and soul into that. At that moment of time, that was very big a reaction to us, about like what happened to us from like everything that happened. Then when we got in the bus accident and all that shit, and when our band ended because of that. It was just a really dark cloud about everything. It attached itself to thrash metal. I just didn’t want to deal with any of it. I didn’t want anything that reminded me of that bad nightmare, which meant anything to do with thrash or Death Angel or anything. We still wanted to play music, though. But then Mark moved to New York. He just had to get the fuck out of here. He was just didn’t want to think of anything about it. He just went to the extreme and moved to the other side of the country. He got married and just was fucking out of here. We still wanted to play music. We just said, “Let’s just play whatever we wanted to play.” Something which is not thrash metal, and not Death Angel. This is rock and blends of music that we love… That was just us letting out all our other kind of style of music that we were not really doing in Death Angel, but we liked to all this different kind of stuff.
Again with multiple people writing. You have all these weird, different kinds of parts going all crazy all over. Within there, there are definitely certain songs I really, really like a lot more than the others. That was what we were doing at the time. Unfortunately for us, we just could never get out of the shadow of Death Angel. No matter what, people wanted to hear Death Angel. They’re just like, “It’s four of the five of you. Why don’t you play Death Angel?” Every show that we played, people were yelling for Death Angel songs. It was just crushing your spirit because you didn’t want to hear about that. We just wanted to move on from there, but we couldn’t. In the time it was crushing, and we just had to fucking… We couldn’t exist any longer. We were quitting. We were barely existing, and we had to go home and get jobs, so we could fucking survive. We went from touring ACT III with fucking two tour buses and a truck with all our products to a van, sleeping in our van, driving ourselves fucking in The Organization. We were totally back to square one, to the punk rock. We did it, and we loved it. We did it for a year. Two records, and we did it. After so long, it was just fucking exhausting, and like we just couldn’t get beyond it.
When the Organization split up, did you then have plans or any discussion about putting Death Angel together again in the future?
Not really, because after The Organization… many years happened until Death Angel came back. We weren’t thinking about putting Death Angel together. We just were like, “Let’s just go apart from each other, so that we aren’t being compared to Death Angel any anymore.” We just split apart and just did different things—a lot of different projects.
What did you do after the Organization split up? You probably never gave up playing at any point?
I had a band with Andy on drums and John Menor. He was a bass player of D.R.I at one time. He’s on the albums; THRASH ZONE and DEFINITION. He was a friend of ours in the Bay Area, and the three of us formed a band called Smokestack. We were just like playing funky, bluesy, melodic stuff. Not metal. Just a very different, bluesy and funky groove. We just had a lot of fun. By that point, it was also like every band that I was in, I put everything I had into it, and put my life into the music, in the moment of time I was into it. It was very nice because we weren’t trying to go on tour and get it. We were just having fun, and we were just playing local gigs all the time, day-by-day. We did a lot of parties. A lot of our friend’s parties just having enough fun time. For the business part of it. We were just only playing music and not worrying about trying so hard in the business part, which is the part that’s fucking eats you alive. It takes away from the music, and you just start paying too much attention, trying to get somewhere with your business. We weren’t even trying. We were just playing parties, working our day jobs, and having fun playing music.
Did you do any recordings with that band?
We have a demo. It’s very rare. Four or five songs. It’s really cool sounding too. I recorded it on my own Tascam analog recorder. I recorded it, but it came out really well, and there are cool songs on it. It was really nice, tasty playing that we were doing. It’s not metal, and I’m the singer in there, me and Andy singing. We didn’t try to push it very far. After a while, we just started to fizzle apart and go to work more. Then after that, we had then we had a band called Swarm. That’s when Mark moved back from New York, and then we started reconnecting and being friends again and hanging out. Then all of a sudden, “let’s write some music or something”. It was in the late ’90s. That was more of just kind of rock, straight-ahead rock. A little bit of metal sound in there, but not really. We were just kind of checking it out and not really… We were just trying to see, experiment where we were going to go and write and stuff, and see what happens. We were on tour with Jerry Cantrell in the United States. Alice in Chains’s, Jerry, when he had a solo band, Jerry Cantrell band. That’s when we got the call about Chuck Billy’s Clash of the Titans, Thrash of the Titans, which led to Death Angel getting back together.
That was in 2001?
Its nineteen years now. It’s a pretty fucking long time, though, for being in the next era. Considering we did all the stuff before that and now nineteen years since that. It’s pretty good.
THINGS NEVER HAPPENED
I’m curious to know if you were ever asked to join any other bands, maybe some well-known bands during the period when Death Angel didn’t exist?
That’s a good question. A long ago, I got asked actually to join Ministry. I wasn’t feeling it. I wasn’t really into it. I didn’t want to just join someone else’s band. I liked writing music and doing my own thing, and I just wasn’t… Now that I think about it, that would’ve been cool. I kind of wish I did jump in there for the experience, At least for a tour. I wasn’t thinking of it. I thought once I joined that band, I had to stay there forever. I just didn’t want to sell myself into this world, where if I wanted to do my own thing. I just wasn’t really feeling it.
When did they ask you to join the band?
It was shortly after Death Angel broke up, though. It was somewhere around ’91. I think what ended happening was Metal Mike got in there.
The guy from Rigor Mortis?
Yeah. That guitar player ended up doing it. When I didn’t do it, and then I heard that he got in there. In that moment of time, I wasn’t really into Ministry so much or whatever. I wish I would have checked it out. It would have been cool, but I just didn’t do it. At one point, Jason Newsted, when he was putting something together, and he hit me up to play with him, but I don’t know. I wasn’t feeling it or whatever. It wasn’t my thing. Whatever he was doing, just wasn’t… He’s a great musician. It just wasn’t what I felt like playing.
Jason used to have a band called IR8 together with Tom Hunting and Devin Townsend around that time. Was it that project we’re talking about now?
It wasn’t that one. It wasn’t Tom. If Tom had been in there, that would have been more interesting for me. I love Tom. I’m just not so much. I guess I’m just one of those people that like-kind does his own band kind of thing. I haven’t really done that and played with other people.
THRASH – GETTING NOSTALGIA
During the past few years, a lot of thrash related movies, DVDs, stuff like that have been released. “Get Thrashed”, and Harald Oimoen got his own movie “Murder in the Front Row” out. Do you feel that “thrash metal” has become more like nostalgia for the ’80s teenage kids, who are a little bit older nowadays?
Probably, I guess so. It definitely is something, and it’s a very interesting story and got a lot of extreme stuff about it. It’s exciting and strange for people to like who doesn’t experience that. They just look at, “What is that?” I can understand that that would be happening. I’m glad that something’s happening and people that are able to discover and experience what it was and what it is.
If you think about the fans and audience’s reactions in concerts from your perspective as a performer – Do you see a difference between people in Europe and the States?
It is a big difference. I much prefer the European scene by far. One of the problems with the States is that they’re very short attention span and very trendy. People are very quick to leave one thing and go to the next. Leave one thing and go to the next. Something one year is already old to some people, especially the kids these days even are, “That’s so old.” You’re like, “That’s only last year.” They’re like, “That’s old.” That’s old? What do you think of me? Holy shit. That’s why what you said about the nostalgia thing. I can see it. I can understand because that’s the way people behave now. And it’s fucking awesome. I’ll take it like it’s understandably so. Look how old this music is and like it happens to everything in time. After so long it goes in the past, new things come around. The younger people, they don’t like old things. They like new things. Why did we like it so much in the ’80s? Because it was new and it was exciting, and it was a new thing. If that music was 30 years old, then we wouldn’t be listening to that.
There are still several bands and artists of the ’80s, who tour regularly, but they only play the hits and the same songs, year after tear. Although those bands still keep on releasing new music, they’ve still have chosen the safe path, and when we ask why they say it is the thing that people want to hear. Do you agree?
That is the case for some of the artists. I feel fortunate with us because we don’t totally only go that route. We mostly play our new stuff, and we did that from the start because I didn’t want just to be stuck playing only FROLIC THROUGH THE PARK and ULTRA-VIOLENCE only forever. If we did that to ourselves, we’d be stuck like that. We don’t have to do that. We’re playing more stuff from our later records, and the people like the combination of all. The younger people like our newer stuff even more than the older stuff because… There are two things about it, I think. For us, we didn’t go that way. We kind of do some old and some new, it’s a mix. We do most mostly the new stuff, but here’s the difference. I just try to hope that I’m right about this. I try to feel confident because we really – I think that it also matters what you’re putting up. If your new stuff isn’t as good then…
We didn’t say that! “Laughs”
There you have it. I’m not naming names. I’m just saying that could be the case. We believe in our newer stuff. I think our new music, the later stuff we’re doing is a fucking killer. We love playing it, and it comes across really well alive, and the people are loving it. Then we, of course, always play old songs too. We don’t only play new songs; we mix it up. The first song is “Humanicide”. The second song is “Voracious Souls”. We go back and forth and try to pick the best cuts for a certain night or a certain tour. We always stand behind our new stuff.
There are bands like Kreator who have done very well with the new stuff. They have managed to recreate the whole thing with their newer material, appealing to the audience, so they only play a few old songs.
We always do something old, at least one, at least. We’re never going to play a show without playing something from the ULTRA-VIOLENCE, never. We always do something from that album. If our set is too short, then we’re going to play ULTRA-VIOLENCE over ACT III. ULTRA- VIOLENCE is the first record. You got to go to your first record and especially the ULTRA-VIOLENCE. That’s the classic pure thrash of ours. I think the people would be most disappointed if we don’t play anything from the ULTRA-VIOLENCE.
It’s the same thing with Slayer. If they don’t play anything from REIGN IN BLOOD or Kreator from PLEASURE TO KILL, people are going to kill them.
Pretty much. I understand that. You go to the shows to hear certain classic songs.
FROM KISS TO OPETH
Our time is running out and, and we have covered almost all the subjects, but here is one more question. When you started listening to music back in the day – has anything has changed since then, I mean, for example, do you still have the love left for KISS?
Of course, I love KISS! I still love all the metal bands I liked back in the day. I don’t need to name those. Everyone from Iron Maiden, Scorpions, Judas Priest, Metallica. The gods. All of the gods of metal, the obvious ones. The main inspiration of metal. If those are the main bands that you are ever listened to when you were growing up, you can never outdo that in your heart. That’s always going to be the fucking number one for you. Then the newer ones, you just try to absorb it and check it out, but they never overtake Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin and AC/DC. That’s the rock that I love. The other bands, I like of newer bands, I like Mastodon. I think they’re good. And Refused I like and Children of Bodom, I like. But I’m from the old school. What I’m I going to do about it? Sometimes when I hear newer bands, I think, that they’re good and they’re great musicians. A lot of times, I just don’t hear an original sound that I’m going to be influenced by. I’m hearing in them what they sound like other bands. I more go to the source, which is the original bands. I think they had the real feeling in there. There’s plenty of; there’s plenty of Black Sabbath and Priest and Maiden albums for me to love. Mercyful Fate, of course. I think Gojira is good. I like their drummer a lot. I can’t say that there aren’t any newer bands that influence me, though. If I’m going to go in that direction of influence, then it’s going to bands like D.R.I or the more fun. You know, the fun kind of punk rock. Crumbsuckers, I loved a lot. The band from New York, Crumbsuckers. Agnostic Front, Cro-Mags. Verbal Abuse, Dead Kennedys. I love them a lot. These are all old bands. All the metal that’s in my playlist is the old metal. On our bus, that’s all we listen to. We’re listening to old metal. It’s the old stuff and even like “not” metal, rock. Everything from Rainbow and Deep Purple to fucking Blue Öyster Cult or just fucking KISS. It’s good stuff. I can’t really help it. But Opeth, I’ve recently come to like though. By seeing them live a couple of times, it blew me away. They’re fucking incredible live band. I fucking tripped off that. They’re not even that new, but for me, they’re newer. Of course, they’re newer than the other bands we’re talking about. To me, that’s, that’s kind of newer.
You seem to like Opeth now, but originally they used to have the death metal style. Back in the day, you didn’t like it because of the brutal style and the vocals.
A little bit. It was kind of taking me a while to get used to that, but more so now I’m getting used to it because I’m hearing it all the time on tour. After a while, okay. It’s growing on me a little bit. I still prefer the vocals that have a little bit more melody and something going, so I can understand the words and stuff like that. I like Satyricon, but again it’s not new. To me, it’s newer of something that I would be listening to these days.
We want to thank you for taking the time to have this interview.
Thank you guys
DEATH ANGEL LIVE PHOTOS FROM HELSINKI