Jay Alexander met with the legendary Ted Aguilar of Death Angel when they played at the Underworld, London on December 11th. Ted has been with Death Angel for about 12 years and talks everything from musical influences to xmas parties! Read on and don't miss the excellent live review here on Scribes Of Metal.
Ted Aguilar (Death Angel) Interview
You’re almost at the end of your European tour, how’s it been going so far?
Tour’s been going good, fans have been really killer, they’ve been singing along to all the new songs, which is great.
I’ve been a fan since the beginning but personally only saw you live for the first time at Bloodstock 2013 - which was awesome! - How was that festival for you?
That was our first time playing (Bloodstock) and I think we were the second band on and the response was amazing - we weren’t expecting that kind of response - we just said ‘let’s go’ and when we played the crowd were really amazing and we were really blown away! You know we have friends in other bands that had played the festival and they’d said ‘you gotta play there’ and we’re stoked we did!
Do you prefer festivals or smaller venues like this (The Underworld)…I guess you get a different vibe from both?
Yeah, different vibe from both, so it’s kinda hard to pick which one’s better because the small shows like this are really intimate and the fans are so into it. It’s a smaller room so it’s really hot; it’s pretty grungy, like this… (Reference to the dressing room we are in – and yes – can confirm it’s definitely small, hot and grungy!). With big festivals the good side of it is you’re playing to so many people. But it’s hard to pick - I like them both for different reasons. But if I had to pick the festivals would maybe win by a hair because you’re reaching out to so many people.
You joined the band in 2001 for Thrash of the Titans, how did that come about?
I’ve been a fan of the band since ’85 and I’d followed them since the first album; saw them on every album – ‘The Ultra Violence’, ‘Frolic Through the Park’ and ‘Act III’, y’know I’d seen the live shows, got to know ‘em and I’d played in local bands in the Bay Area. When Death Angel were no more and Rob and Andy were in other bands, our bands played together, then when Death Angel decided to do Thrash of the Titans, Gus Pepa at the time was in the Philippines and Rob reached out to me and said “d’ya wanna do it?” and I was like “hell yeah!” so I had to go home and learn all the songs, we only had two rehearsals before Thrash of the Titans and - here I am today…
Are there any songs from the first three albums (before you became a member of the band) that you particularly like or even dislike playing?
I like playing them all. Ever since the band reformed the songs they’ve chosen to play – I like ‘em. There are songs on ‘Frolic Through the Park’ that I’m glad they decided not to play ‘cause they’re not my favourites, but so far the song choices that have been played throughout the years have been the ones I’m really into.
‘The Ultra Violence’ album was 25 years old last year – that’s quite a landmark!?
Yeah, last year to celebrate that we went out and did the album in its entirety; it’s an album that helped pioneer the thrash movement. I think it’s just as important as ‘Kill ‘Em All’ and just as important as ‘Bonded By Blood’ and because it’s so influential - we had to go out and celebrate it. We had a good time doing it and playing that album in its entirety kinda gave us the little boost and influence for the new album.
And the new album (The Dream Calls for Blood) has gone down very well…
Very well. Very, very well. We’ve never been happier as a band as we are now. One thing we all share in common is we love to play music. We all grew up to watching bands like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest where they wanna put on a show and interact with each other and playing our music together takes us there. We’re not a band to just stand around, people pay to come see a show and we wanna give ‘em a show.
Is there anyone that you haven’t toured with that you’d like to?
Plenty. Slayer. We’d love to tour with Metallica - that would be like the ultimate. There are many other bands; I like to check out other genres, probably touring with Trivium would be good, something outside the norm so we could reach a broader audience. Deftones, maybe Machine Head, Avenged Sevenfold, that type of thing so we could branch out of the thrash and reach out to different people that we can take our music to. But pretty much anyone who’d like to have us on tour we’ll do it!
What do you do in your down-time?
I play with my doggies; I have 3 Labradors - a white, a chocolate and a black and the black dog is named London actually, I named him after the city. I pretty much like to just do domestic stuff; I like to take time out from the band. A couple of the other guys - Will and Damien - have side projects they’re involved in, but for me - I like to be home, ‘cause we spend so much time on the road, that when you go home, you wanna be home. It’s important to have some down-time and recharge your batteries and not burn out so when you get back into the swing of things you’re like ‘alright - this is pure excitement’. You go home and you’re waiting to go on tour, when you’re on tour you can’t wait to get home, it’s one of those things…
What do you listen to other than metal?
Right now and on the last tour me and Mark were heavily into Adele. Her ’21’ album is amazing. I listen to Pink, I really like her music, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Bruno Mars - I do a lot of pop stuff and stuff that’s on the radio. Adele, Pink and Tom Petty are like ‘ahhh’ and you can feel it y’know. I’m into songs where – Adele has some of the deepest lyrics that you can totally relate to and the way she presents it and executes it makes you wanna cry. Songs where you can feel a connection and you can say ‘I totally feel you’. Pink and Bruno Mars are very clever in the way they write and I like their choice of topics and the way they write their melodies. I also listen to the classics, like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Metallica; I still love listening to a lot of that stuff …I could go on and on (laughs).
So, it’s that time of year and Christmas is upon us. Do you do the whole, big, family Christmas thing?
Yeah! I have a big family and it’s the best time to catch up with everyone – family and friends - over Christmas and the New Year because we NOT touring! From January through to beginning of December each year it’s hard to make plans because I don’t know what my touring schedule is like. It’s difficult but that’s why the album is called ‘The Dream Calls for Blood’ because there’s a lot of sacrifices and consequences that come from following your dreams and that whole album is about that – what you have to go through to achieve your dreams - it’s not always fun and pretty. We went through a lot as a band on the last album - some ups and downs. It was a long tour and the dream calls for blood - if we can survive that we can survive pretty much anything!
Finally, what’s in the pipe-line for Death Angel next year?
We’re starting up again next year with the ‘70,000 Tons of Metal’ cruise, from Miami to Mexico and back with a whole bunch of bands - we did the first one in 2011, which was awesome. Then we immediately go on tour with Children of Bodom; supporting them. Then there’s talk of going to Australia and South East Asia, South America and we’ll be back for December festivals, but - as of now - ‘Hell Fest’ is the only thing confirmed. So starting January, we’ll be busy right up until the end of summer, it’s a great thing to be so busy and we’re excited!