Death Angel's return was like a 50-ton metal chunk falling from the sky and impacting right in the middle of the heavy metal community. 'The Art of Dying' stirred quite a bit of controversy amongst the elitist that could not separate Death Angel from 'A Frolic Through the Park' and the new album. Personally, I am astounded by this musical monster where every new track carries itself ferociously to the end. There is a mark contrast of the Death Angel of 20 years ago, when in their teens saying "I'm Bored," and today the frontman Mark Osegueda bursting with exuberant enthusiasm for the present and a very promising future.
Interview with Mark Osegueda at Wacken Open Air on 8/7/04.
Metal Update: I remember from a long time ago back in the 80's when I first got into heavy metal I saw King Diamond on Headbanger's Ball. He was flying around for "Welcome Home" for the album 'Them.' I thought this was so different, so strange, I loved it. I fell in love with heavy metal. I saw your video, the "Bored" video. I kept watching Headbanger's Ball for them to play it again so I could figure out which band it was. The sad thing is that I never owned any Death Angel albums for 20 years. Well, I guess it is not that long ago, more like 12 years. When I picked up 'The Art of Dying' at a store here in Germany, I was like whoa!!
Mark Osegueda: [claps his hands together] Yes!
MU: And it is not very many albums that can take and grab you right from the start and hold you through [to the end]. Your album can do that, and all the way through.
MO: Thank you very much.
MU: It is fantastic the way you guys use your voice as music, and how the guitars meld with the voice to accent it. It is just wonderful. Compliments out of the way, how is it, 20 years later that you guys are so strong?
MO: I just think that it's the joy and love of playing together. The joy of music and that we appreciate what we do. We use music truly as a vessel for us to release any emotional feelings that we might have. So, it is truly what we believe. I think that is one thing that sorely lacks in certain bands in metal. They just try to use their anger, and they just try to make themselves appear invincible. We touch on that aspect as well, but we also try to show a bit of vulnerability of the human spirit. I think that might separate us a bit.
MU: Well, that is important; having weakness is not a bad thing. Knowing that you have a weakness, and then doing something about it to make yourself stronger.
MO: Absolutely, for that makes the individual stronger as a whole, and that attitude makes us stronger as a band.
MU: There is a theme on a lot of the songs on 'The Art of Dying' that talk about being strong, but having emotion, being human, hope for humanity. Where do you see heavy metal and its fans in the context of what is going on in the world today? Like with [USA President] Bush doing the bad things in Iraq; the Israelis killing children, Palestinian children [blown up] with hellfire missiles.
MO: I think that it is interesting that in times of war, pretty much from what I have gathered in the short life that I have been around, that when there is a Republican in office [as President], that seems to be when more intense music becomes more popular again. I think it is because the times are so intense that people need something to grasp onto. I think that is what metal has always been around for. I don't mean to say that when a Democrat is in office that music tends to get pussyfooted. But, it tends to . . . metal and hardcore punk are a blatant protest against a state of oppression, state of the world. And it is a mighty vessel because it is such a powerful type of music and I think that is what people need to cling on to. And it seems to do well, unfortunately in times of trouble and severe ignorance.
MU: You guys live in the US mostly?
MO: San Francisco Bay Area - all of us.
MU: Were you guys originally from the Philippines?
MO: No, actually everyone in the band was born in San Francisco. Our parents were [from the Philippines].
MU: One of the musicians was not able to join [in the reunion]?
MO: Gus Pepper, the original rhythm guitarist. He is no longer in the band. He couldn't do it, as far as obligations were concerned. He has moved on. He hasn't played music in years. His lifestyle has changed. He now lives in the Philippines.
MU: He was on ACT III?
MO: Yeah, and we had asked him out of respect for our history and out of the name of the band. We asked him first if he would be interested [in joining for the new album]. And we pretty much knew what his answer would be. And, he did say, "No, thank you." He was the best. And we moved on. We did not have to audition anybody. We knew our friend Ted, since, hell, prior to our first album, 'The Ultra-Violence.' He was always a fan; he was always a friend. He always played with bands around that time. He always came to every Death Angel show, every one of our Organization shows, every one of our side project shows when we played in San Francisco. And when it came to relearning the Death Angel stuff when we reformed, he knew some of it better than us. We truly did not have to audition anyone. It was kinda like a stutter step and then we moved on. In all honesty I think the band is a much stronger with Ted, then if Gus had chosen to rejoin the band. I truly do.
MU: You guys are fired up.
MU: You guys are passionate about your music. It is like you say, "It is a labor of love."
MU: And I understood that. It is the same for me in living life. Just living life in whatever you do and for me it is loving music and my job. I pull the passion from loving the music into being able to live well.
MO: That's beautiful. That's cool.
MU: So where to go from that? Yeah, so where do you go from that?
MO: To tell the truth, as long as we are affecting people in the way that we want to...yeah, I think we are more than half way to where we want to be. The goal with us is to keep on being sincere not only with us, but with the fans. And, just write what we want to do. Just be honest in our lyrics, and honest in our release of music. I think that is going to happen, we are already started writing for our next album. It is just going to be more of the same. I just think that it is an honest and sincere release. Those that want to come along for ride can, and those that don't for the moment just don't get it.
MU: Yeah, I have noticed a lot of people saying that it is not a Death Angel album, and that it is not thrash. And like I said I just got into you guys, and bought all the Death Angel albums. I found the Swarm LP, and listened to it and it is very good. The lyrics are a little bit of a different tone.
MO: With Swarm, it was more of sheer rock and roll thing as far as the approach to it. We wanted to put out a rock record. That was kinda it.
MU: Yeah, that was a fun album. From all those albums, and the Swarm album, though I haven't been able to get a hold of an Organization album yet, it is Death Angel. It is. The guitar sound, though it may have been played a bit looser.
MO: Yeah, much [looser].
MU: So, when people are saying that it is not Death Angel; I am looking at them, and asking myself what are they listening to?
MO: The thing about Death Angel, even when we were together the first time around, every album was an entity onto itself, even before. We never wrote 'Ultra-Violence II,' and we never planned on it. All our albums in sequence have been different from the ones prior and it is going to continue to happen and that is a part of being Death Angel.
MU: We need to evolve.
MO: Yeah, and we are not afraid to.
MU: What is life without transforming yourself? You might as well be dead and in the ground.
MO: I agree.
MU: Some of the songs say [there is] hope for humanity. A lot of the songs you are singing on, but I think there are two songs that somebody else sings?
MO: Yeah, absolutely. Rob sings on "Word to the Wise;" Dennis sings on "Land of Blood;" and Andy actually sings on "Spirit."
MU: "Spirit" and "Word to the Wise" are more ballad type songs.
MO: "Spirit," Andy wrote it about his father. His father passed away about, maybe a month before recording the album. And it was very personal to him. He wrote the lyrics, and originally I was supposed to sing it, but he gave me a demo of him doing it with the melody. The more we listened to it, we just thought that . . . sure, I could have done an interpretation of what the lyrics meant to me, but I think the most sincere interpretation is going to be done by Andy because the lyrics are so personal to him. And with a little bit of coaxing we got him in there, and it turned out exactly how it should have.
MU: At first, I listened to the album millions of times; that was all that was in the CD player for weeks. I didn't know it was a different singer. I just thought that you were somehow changing your voice just a little bit. It fits very well. The part where he [Rob] sings "Word to the Wise;" "Shame on those that have wings and do not use them to fly." Again, another motivation, I have had my wings and I've used them before, but sometimes we forget about yourself.
MO: Absolutely, and we do need a constant reminder because I think a lot people...I mean everyone is guilty of it. It's easy to take things for granted. And the first thing you are going to take for granted is yourself. I think everybody can use a bit of a reminder. And that is Rob's cry out, and that he honestly truly thinks there is hope out there. He just recently became a father. I think that has helped inspired him to have more hope in the world and humanity in general because he wants a better place for his son to grow up in.
MU: Yeah, absolutely. My father has less of a hope for humanity.
MO: Which is very understandable. It ["Word to the Wise"] is more rather than a hope for humanity, but for Rob, in a sense, a plea.
MU: There needs to be a call and somebody needs to step forward in the world, and say enough is enough, people. And, let's stop killing each other, and let's start living. Where is our utopia?
MO: Yeah, right.
MU: What are we working for?
MU: Anything that you want to say?
MO: In all honesty, I just want to say thank you to everyone, anyone out there for their support. And, nobody will have to wait 14 years for another Death Angel album, again. And also, if anyone has a chance to come see us live, go out of your way to do it because it is one thing I think we thrive at is live performances because we truly appreciate and we are passionate about what we do.
MU: I don't want to end on a sour note, so after this [question], we will get you back to something positive. How did the set go today? I noticed on "Devil Incarnate" that at first it wasn't grooving together exactly right. Later into to it, you got it down right. Do you want to say what happened there?
MO: One thing that is interesting about playing outdoor festivals is sometimes the sound of the monitor tends to dissipate. So a lot of it might be contributed to just getting use to the echo as it comes out into the air. But other than that, I just had a wonderful performance.
MU: I was up there taking the pictures and I used all 256 Megabytes on my memory stick during the set. The sound while I was up there was just fantastic and I could see that you guys were really enthused. All my friends who have seen you guys live have said like I said, that you guys are on fire. So keep it up, please.
MU: I love the new album and I look forward to the next.
MO: Me, too.
MU: And to see you in a small club or a large venue whatever happens [best] for you. So, keep it going.
MO: Absolutely and thank you.
Death Angel - 'The Art of Dying'
Death Angel - 2004 Concert
Death Angel - 2003 Concert with Anthrax
Death Angel - 2003 Concert with Halford
Death Angel - Thrash of the Titans
Death Angel - 'Act III'
Interview and Photos: Nathan Goetz [ firstname.lastname@example.org ]
Metal Update Editor: Laura German [ email@example.com ]
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