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Death Angel Interview

A Conversation with Guitarist Ted Aguilar


Death Angel

Death Angel

Nuclear Blast
Bay Area thrashers Death Angel return with Relentless Retribution. Since their last album they’ve had some lineup changes. Gone are bassist Dennis Pepa and drummer Andy Galeon, replaced by Damien Sisson and Will Carroll. Guitarist Ted Aguilar gives us the scoop on the band’s latest CD, their upcoming tour plans, his musical background and other topics.

Chad Bowar: You've had some lineup changes since the last album. What led to the previous members' departure and how did Damien and Will come to join the band?
Ted Aguilar: Dennis (Pepa) and Andy (Galeon) left due to personal and financial obligations and the freedom to explore other genres of music. Midway through the Killing Season touring cycle, they weren’t feeling it any more.

I’ve known Will for 20 plus years. Our first 3 bands growing up were together. We knew he would be the perfect guy to replace Andy. He’s been in the Bay Area scene for a long time and played in bands like Vicious Rumors, Old Grandad and countless other bands. Will is an amazing drummer. He can play pretty much everything under the sun.

Damien is also from the Bay Area music scene. Like Will, he played in countless bands around the scene. Potential Threat, Points North, Hail Satan (Mercyful Fate tribute band with Will). We also knew he would be a great fit for Death Angel. He’s a very skilled musician and he can play that bass.

Was the writing and recording process for Relentless Retribution the same as the typical Death Angel album?
In the past, Rob wrote pretty much 90 percent of the music. Den and Andy sometimes come in with songs already written and/or would collaborate on the songs Rob wrote. For this record, since Den and Andy aren’t with the band any more, it was vital that Rob wrote all the music since he is the sole remaining songwriter left out of the original 5. Every riff on the album is written by Rob. Mark wrote the majority of the lyrics (9 songs) and Rob wrote lyrics to 3 songs.

How did you decide on Jason Suecof to produce?
We were throwing out names of producers who would be good to produce this next record of ours. Jason Suecof’s name came up. I’m familiar with Jason’s work from the Roadrunner United CD he was a part of. Rob played us a CD from a band called August Burns Red (who Suecof produced) and we were just into the sound of the production. The guitars were sizzling and fierce. The drums sounded huge and overall it sounded metal! We felt that his production approach would go perfectly with the songs we were writing.

What was his producing style like compared to other producers you've worked with?
Jason has a very different style of working than a couple of producers we’ve worked with. He’s very demented and relaxed! When it comes down to tracking a song, it’s time to seriously track and it’s pretty intense. Once tracking for a song is over, it’s time to take a breather and relax, give your fingers and mind a break, watch a little TV, browse the web and all the good stuff. At the same time, he’s cracking jokes and his funny, yet demented sense of humor gets you laughing and smiling.

Overall, it felt more like play time than work time. It felt like having a good friend record you. Very comfortable. But on the same note, he really pushed us to be more aggressive then we’ve ever been. He pushed for faster tempos on the drums, pushed Rob and I to come up with more technical guitar parts, Damien with more technical yet groovy bass parts and Mark with more aggressive singing. He knew the songs we were writing and the vibe we were at and brought out the best in all of us at that time. He has an incredible ear for vocal melodies and guitar melodies. He’s also a ripping guitar player. He does a guest solo on the song “Truce.”

How would you compare this album's sound to your last couple of releases?
The last two releases are great and have strong moments and staples, but this one is more personal to us. This album I would say is more aggressive than the last two releases. It has more aggressive riffs, drums, singing and the production is much more in your face.

How do you and Rob divide the guitar parts?
When Rob is done writing a song, I usually learn the basic skeleton of the song. After that, I usually try and come up with counter guitar parts for certain section of each song. Sometimes the song needs counter parts and sometimes it doesn’t. It depends on the song. When I write a part, Rob and I would go over and see if the part works or not. It’s an ongoing process. Nothing is set in stone until the song is finally mixed and mastered. After that, Rob usually picks out what he wants to play and what I would play.

What's the early response to the album been like?
It’s still early in the game, but the responses we’ve read and heard from the press have been great and positive. We also threw a listening party in San Francisco for friends, family and fans and the reaction has been mind blowing.

What are your upcoming tour plans?
Our plan is to tour relentlessly, and tour as much as possible for this record. The plan is to tour up until the summer of 2011. Depending on how the record does, the touring cycle could even be longer. Tour, tour and tour. At the same time, we want to write the next record during this touring cycle.

When will you be doing a U.S. tour?
We will be doing a headlining tour of the US in Feb 2011. We have some pretty good bands on this tour: Lazarus A.D., Early Man, Bonded By Blood and Hexen. We can’t wait to go out and do a proper headlining tour. The band hasn’t done a proper tour since Act III.

What country has the most rabid/loyal Death Angel fans?
Hard to say what one country has the most rabid/loyal fans. Germany, Holland and Mexico to name a few. Some parts of the US (San Francisco, Chicago, New York). But I’ll let you know after we come back from South America

Where haven't you played live that you'd still like to get to?
There are so many places that we would love to go. We’re finally going to South America in October. It will be the band’s first time down there. We heard so many great things about South America. Not only have we heard that the fans are wild, rabid and so into music, but the countries and cities are beautiful. We’re so excited to get down there. Also like to get to China, Indonesia, Singapore, Taiwan, the Middle East, South Africa, and Morocco. The list goes on and on.

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