Death Angel hits Australia - and they are all fucking excited

To the delight of thrash fans across Australia, Death Angel's March 2009 tour was announced late in 2008, and we are seeing these guys on our shores this week. To talk about this tour, I had the opportunity to chat with band member Rob Cavestany.

Early in 2008 I had the opportunity to talk to Mark Osegueda about Death Angel's killer 2008 release Killing Season. During that interview, Osegueda told me that plans were afoot for this hallmark thrash band to get to Australia during 2009. To the delight of thrash fans across the country, their March 2009 tour was announced later on last year, and we are seeing these guys on our shores this week. To chat about this tour, I got the opportunity to talk with fellow band member Rob Cavestany.

The release of Killing Season yielded Death Angel almost universal critical acclaim. Where Osegueda has pretty strong thirst for approval, and follows critics' reviews pretty closely, Cavestany tries not to keep track about it, but finds himself doing it anyway. The way that the world reacted to Killing Season filled Cavestany with a proud joy.

'I don't know about artists that say they only make music for themselves,' he told me. 'I dunno about that. You definitely make it for yourself, but you can't help but hear things. The album was received quite well and it definitely makes me very, very, extremely proud and very happy.'

Death Angel have been doing their thing for so long that when they got back together after such a huge break, it wasn't really a shock to hit the road and tour quite hard. Perhaps because these guys were so young when they were touring the world, they all feel quite at home on a tour bus, and really look forward to getting back into that type of thing. It's an exciting time for them, and almost welcoming, when they hit the stages and hit the road. 

Nevertheless, touring at this stage of their lives, when they are older, more mature and have their heads in a slightly different space, has changed the way that they approach touring. As Cavestany told me, they keep themselves under control a little more.

'We're more responsible than we used to be as far as just generally all-out ridiculously partying and losing yourself night after night,' he said. 'Don't get me wrong: it was a lot of fun that way. When we were very, very young we didn't know much better. A lot of people would agree that they're that way in their life when they're really young. You're naive and you do what the fuck ever you wanna do and have a great time. You don't consider the future that much, and that thinking lends itself to having a really fun time,' he laughed.

But as far as their live performances go, Cavestany considers that Death Angel are far better than they ever were when the band was at the height of its fame.

'To see us live these days, we work far better than we seemed to back then. We're better musicians: we know how to do it that much more, know how to perform our concerts that much more professionally, to channel our energy and everything you have inside you to put out there. It was the situation where we didn't know how to do that before. We were just going fucking wild, as fast as we could. We weren't quite as tight musically as we are now.'

One of the biggest changes, though, and one that probably not many people tend to consider, is that technology has changed touring in a big way. In Death Angel's younger days, they would go out to Europe for five or six weeks and never come into contact with anybody at home: there were no mobile phones, and when you got lost, you really got lost.

'People have gotten completely lost for hours and hours at a time, and that was kinda weird,' Cavestany recalled. 'We'd line up with people and take turns to use a payphone to call home. Often you couldn't get an international operator and just give up: nobody would hear about you. When you're on tour now, you can't imagine how we even went on tour without cellphones.'

The result of today's technology is that a lot of the adventure of touring in weird and wonderful places has gone by the way-side.

'The internet and cellphones mean that you can even get lost anymore; you can get directions and all that kinda shit. Back then it was really wild without those communications. It's fun that we experienced that. It was a hell of an adventure on tour that way because it's a little bit scary. We were really young at that time, crazy guys disconnected from everybody else. I'm so glad we toured back then.'

Cavestany finds that where tours are still infused with the same excitement and anticipation as in the old days, it now happens in another way. The greatest thing is to go on the road for people that appreciate it. It's an amazing thing, we consider it a blessing, that we're able to have that opportunity. The fans just support us and it's an amazing, amazing thing,' he reiterated, blown away by the support Death Angel has had, and still has. 

But being more mature also has its drawbacks.

'There's one sense of a part of it that's a bit rough. The main part that kind of tears you up is those of us that have family at home now. Some of us have children at home, and wives. That's the hard part. It's really sad especially to leave your kids. They miss you and you miss them. It's hard for you when you're not around. But other than that it's just fucken great, it's our life and our career.'

Fairly recently, long-time band member Dennis Pepa decided to leave the band. Unlike other bands, Dennis and Rob are literally family: they've known each other since the days they were born, and they founded the band together, so not having him around has been weird for the guys. The fact that they are family, though, means that there is probably a level of deeper understanding on the part of the remaining members.

'At that point, by the time it came down to that we could sense, just living together on day-to-day basis on the road, and in the studio - you can feel the climate of the people around you. Unfortunately things led up to that point, it sucks, and I'm really bummed about it. At the same time, it was amazing that we lasted and stayed together this long. This lifestyle is not the easiest thing to live your life around; especially when you got a coupla kids, it's kinda hard to maintain this reality.'

But Dennis's timing could have been better.

'Shit, it happened on my birthday!' Cavestany exclaimed. 'That timing was kinda bad, he dropped that news on my birthday. It was difficult. I mean, mainly more difficult on my heart and my soul because of that, because we're very, very close and just brothers. But at the same time I can understand everyone has their own individual life. It's our gang, the club, the brotherhood: it was the most difficult thing. But, you know, luckily time heals and does its magical thing and after the time goes by, you learn to let things go and move forward. We're excited about this new chapter with our new bass player.'

Death Angel's new bass player, Sammy Diosdado, is a hardcore punk-rocker, like Dennis, so his style and sound fits the band damn well. In finding a replacement for Pepa, the band did a lot of auditioning, and went through a lot of candidates. The key for the band was to find someone not just with the musical ability, but also with the right attitude and ability to fit in with the rest of them in the right way.

'You have to be able to fit in with the gang here, the club here - you gotta be able to hang. When you're joining, you're gonna be married to each other, so to speak, you gotta live with them and work with them and the whole nine yards. Sammy landed the role and fit all the criteria. It's great vibes hanging out with him.'

When I asked Cavestany whether they get along well with Armored Saint, he was so emphatic that I imagined him leaping out of his chair on the other end of the phone.

'Oh man, got a great relationship with Armored - does the bear shit in the woods?! My God!'

But his excitement about touring with Armored Saint doesn't stop just there, it's also the fact that they're touring Australia together with those guys.

'Yes, we're lookin' forward to that for our entire lives. We've been looking forward to touring Australia before our fans existed!' he laughed. 'We never made it out there, we're shit-hot excited to come out there with our friends Armored Saint.'

Cavestany recalled that one of the greatest shows they ever played was with Armored Saint on Metallica's Ride the Lightning tour, over two nights, at a place in San Francisco that doesn't exist any more: the Kabuki theatre. It was over those nights that Death Angel hit it off with the Saint and they've remained friends ever since. 

Interestingly, when I asked Cavestany what he was looking forward to most about the the tour, he was kinda stuck.

'The most? The most? Oh, well, let's see. You know, I'm actually bummed because it's going to happen so fast. We are just playing, playing, playing, playing and then go home. Everybody that we've known that's been in Australia has said you must see this, do this, go here. Yeah, I know I need to do that, but we're just gonna play a show, go to the next show and it'll be over in a week!'

After a bit of thought, he told me that there are three things things that he's the most keen on during his first visit here: the girls, the shows themselves, and the culture and its people.

'Oh the girls out there,' he laughed, 'you know, just the shows. To be honest, the shows themselves, I can't wait to hit the stage for the first time in front of an Australian crowd. Meeting the people, hanging out with the people, absorbing the culture and the vibe, mingling with the locals and soaking it up.

But if he could stay longer, then there are many other things that he could do, and he's wishing like hell that they had way longer here.

'I wish I could stay longer: there's a couple of things I could do. First, is to get out to the Great Barrier Reef. I'd get a real kick out of being able to go to the zoo out there. I love, love, love, love the Irwin family - Steve Irwin's a hero of mine. I've raised and bred reptiles and amphibians, with a house filled with reptiles and amphibians most of my life. I've bred Australian bearded dragons before, and my favourite Australian white tree frog: many of those. I love a lot of the herpetology of Australia, the nature and the animals are a huge thing to me. I don't know how much time I'm gonna have. It's killing me to be so close and not have the time.'

In terms of the upcoming shows, Cavestany told me he doesn't like to anticipate things because you never know what it's going to be like. When I spoke to him the band was just rehearsing and focusing on trying to kick arse, and create a seriously killer show for the fans.

He did tell me that they are fairly limited in what they can play, though, because of the time limits on their set.

'We're still shuffling stuff around. You'll get a taste of music from all our albums, but there's not enough time. If we were totally only headlining we'd play twice as long, but we've gotta do whatever we can get in. I believe we're doing 70-minute sets, so we'll give people the best of the 70 minutes of whatever we can play.'

Before I had to leave Cavestany to the rest of his interviews - something I didn't want to do because talking to this dude is amazing: he's so excited all the time, and I could have talked to him for hours! - I asked him if he wanted to add anything in particular. All he could really tell me was how excited he is.

'I mean, basically, you know, just get the message straight out there and thank fans for listening to us and supporting us throughout the years, and who are going to be supporting us by coming out to the shows. I just can not fucking wait to be there. You have no fucking idea how excited we are to come to your fucken beautiful, beautiful country. So come to the show: we always just walk around and hang out and have a drink with people. We have a great time and it's gonna be great!'

 

TOUR DATES

10 Mar - Tivoli - Brisbane

11 Mar - Billboard - Melbourne

12 Mar - The Forum - Sydney

13 Mar - HQ - Adelaide

15 Mar - Club Capitol - Perth