Alex Haber of Heavy New York conducted an interview with guitarist Ted Aguilar of San Francisco Bay Area metal veterans DEATH ANGEL prior to their November 30 concert at Saint Vitus in Brooklyn, New York. You can watch the entire chat below. A few excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On the creation of DEATH ANGEL's latest studio album, "Humanicide":
Ted: "It's business as usual when we make a record. When we're done with a touring cycle for the last record, we always go into it with a clean slate. We never try to top the last record, because the last record is its own entity. You can't recreate that moment in time, so we start fresh. And the recording and the writing process has always been the same with the four albums with this lineup. It always starts with Rob [Cavestany, guitar], and he gets together with Will [Carroll, drums] and they hash out the ideas to get a basic skeleton, and he sends it over to me, Mark [Osegueda, vocals] and Damien [Sisson, bass] and we learn it and figure it out. Mark, usually when he writes lyrics for a song, he needs to hear the song in its form with guitars and drums. He goes off into the dark corners of the earth by himself with some headphones and pen and paper and just figures it out. Same process — we flew to Florida, had Jason Suecof produce it. It's the same thing."
On whether DEATH ANGEL has its own formula when writing albums or each album has its own strategy:
Ted: "It's been its own strategy. There's definitely a foundation of DEATH ANGEL. We're just building on it. I mean, you mentioned 'Act III' earlier and I was thinking about this the other day: 'Act III' was the album that set DEATH ANGEL to do whatever they want. You have songs like 'A Room With A View', 'Veil Of Deception', 'Discontinued' with some funk style, and you have 'Seemingly [Endless Time]' and 'Stop' and 'Disturbing The Peace', which is pretty thrash-anthem, and you have 'EX-TC', which is more of a rock song. It's pretty much all over the place, but consistent. That album set the foundation where DEATH ANGEL could veer off into different directions and not just stick to thrash only. We could have thrash, we could have rock elements on top of thrash, maybe some dark elements, acoustic elements. There's really no formula; we just writhe. The foundation is in our DNA at this point in the game. We're just adding ideas in this moment of time. Like, when I look back at each album, I look at it, like, 'Wow, that's where our headspace is at.' 'Humanicide', this is where our headspace is at. Who knows where the next album where our headspace will be at. But we always know — don't shake the foundation or don't try to rumble it or crumble it. I'm really happy with DEATH ANGEL. I like the style, even the '80s style. Even when we reformed with 'The Art Of Dying' and 'Killing Season', even the four albums we released with this new lineup, it's the same, but different, which is cool."
On "Humanicide" earning DEATH ANGEL their first Grammy Award nomination:
Ted: "It's definitely a childhood dream. We found out when we played Calgary in Canada at some place called Dickens Pub is when we found out. I mean, it was a shock. I celebrated it that day, but now, everyone's celebrating it in a different way. I'm looking at it as, 'All right, cool. We're nominated. We celebrated it. Fuck yeah.' But now I'm focusing on the task at hand now, the tour and whatnot, then, if we win the Grammy, cool, if not, the fact we're nominated is cool, but it doesn't change the way I play or what we do. Of course, I'm excited. It's a childhood dream. It's still in the back of my head. Until the Grammys come, I'm not worried about it right now. The fact that we're nominated, now I just need to focus on each show coming up and making it the best show possible for all of our fans."
On not letting DEATH ANGEL's Grammy nomination go to his head:
Ted: "Everyone's different. I'm not going to judge. Some people get caught up in it and that's okay. It's a great accomplishment; it's hard to get nominated for a Grammy, especially for a thrash metal band. I'm sure early on in the late '80s, early '90s, you had to compromise music to get a Grammy, maybe write a hit, but, with 'Humanicide', we weren't even thinking of a Grammy. We were just thinking, 'Let's write the best record and most intense record to come out of the gate and blow people away.' Blow us away and blow people away, and all of a sudden, whoa, we got nominated with 'Humanicide'. It just blew us away. I look at it like, 'Good, now let's go jam and let's go kick ass,' so hopefully what we do out there on the stage, out there on our socials, out there in whatever a band has to do in this era will help us win. I'm not just going to rest on my laurels and just say, 'Oh, we're cool.' That's not me. That's not us. We're in, let's just go kick ass."
"Humanicide" was released this past May via Nuclear Blast Records.
For the fourth album cycle in a row, DEATH ANGEL returned to producer and friend Suecof (DEICIDE, TRIVIUM) of Audiohammer studios for the recording and mixing, along with the mastering of the legendary Ted Jensen (SLIPKNOT, PANTERA) of Sterling Sound, who added the final touches and brought it all to life, with artist Brent Elliott White (LAMB OF GOD, MEGADETH) providing the ominous cover artwork.