Mark Osegueda: Death Angel Still Clawing to Reach New Heights
Death Angel's Mark Osegueda was the latest guest on Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio program. The singer discussed the band's upcoming North American headlining tour and the excitement leading up to it as Death Angel have spent a lot of time on the road as a support act.
Osegeuda understands the work that needs to be put in to be able to headline a tour and is hopeful that by opening for other acts they have opened up the band's audience and attracted new fans. Perhaps what he's most eager to do is explore the differing sounds of Death Angel, giving the set list a fine sense of pace that affords some breathing room amidst their usual thrash onslaught.
Now over 30 years into their professional career, Death Angel still see some similarities between now and back in the day, enthused that the younger generation has retained the signature "thrash look" and are forming new bands paying homage to the genre's classic sound, validating the music the Bay Area icons have made.
Read the full chat below.
You've got this tour with Exmortus and Hellfire and it's your first time headlining in North America in quite a while. What does the ability to headline a tour signify about Death Angel right now?
We're really extremely excited to finally get back out there headlining North America, which includes a lot of Canadian dates, so it's going to be awesome.
For the last few years, we've really been concentrating on our live performance and supporting a lot of larger bands and hopefully expanding our crowd. A lot of promoters have been reaching out and people really wanted to see headlining shows — we've be getting a lot of messages via social media and of course, snail mail and the whole bit.
We finally listened and we're going to get out there and give it our best. We're approaching it the right way and put together a lineup of what we feel kind of represents the underground that we came from and it's going to come across very well. We've been at this for many, many years and headlining just means a lot to us because we can give our core fans a lot longer of a show and get more in depth with the sets than a lot of the support slots that we get.
Mark, you were a kid in the Bay area during the formative years of thrash metal. What's similar and different about the kids you see at your shows now?
The similarities are incredible to me. These thrash kids and thrash teens look like we did — they're dressing like we did. The crowds are just as physical and just as violent nowadays, but they're very helpful to each other. Not only are they fans of the band, but they're forming bands of their own at this age and a lot of these bands reflect the same sounds and styles that we did.
The main differences would obviously be the clubs we played in that are no longer available. The [younger generation] has easier access to bands they're curious about. With us it was a lot more difficult and just a lot more time consuming to hear bands that you've caught wind of and with technology they can see it's right at their fingertips.
Relevance is extremely important when it comes to the longevity of a metal band. What makes Death Angel even more relevant now than ever before?
Well thanks for saying that and I hope that stands true. We definitely try to keep in touch with what's what's going on in the thrash metal scene today and the metal scene in general. We keep our fingers on the pulse and I think what makes it easier to do that is shows like yours, festivals in Europe and there are now finally festivals like that in the U.S., which brings different genres of metal together.
We still do have an anger inside of us that is not really covered in any way, shape or form. We're still very pissed off about a lot of things in the world and there's heights we've yet to reach that we are still clawing for [laughs].
Originally Death Angel records were blasts of adrenaline and youthful enthusiasm. How has learning the art of finesse made this band even more intense?
We as songwriters — Rob Cavestany and I — have grown very much and our relationship, not only personally, but as songwriters, has grown a lot stronger.
Not only just with an album, but with a song or with a live set list, you need space to breathe. There is breathing space for us and it might slow down for a moment or give you that moment to breathe, which is going to make the heavy parts that pop out or the fast parts that pop out just all that more intense.
When it comes to the beats per minute or when it comes to intensity from a clean singing moment to a very gruff, powerful screaming moment and up to a high scream, you need that breathing space. We've grown enough to know that now and it just makes it more intense for the listener and it's more pleasurable for us as well.
You tend to write lyrics only after hearing the music. How does music speak to you in terms of dictating a lyrical direction?
It's definitely a feeling. I don't put pen to paper until the song is in my hands or until I at least have the basic structure of a song. I literally just lock myself in the room and listen to it over and over again.
That's what starts putting images into my mind, lyrically. Usually the melody comes first and I'll try to do something that plays off of the guitar riff, but just doesn't match it. There's a give and take and it adds to the riff or the riff adds to my vocal melody and then I'll just really feed off that. The riff almost paints a picture and it tends to be an angry or violent picture, [laughs] which inspires the lyrics.
As a lyricist, what will you be paying attention to throughout the course of an Presidential election year that's likely to be even more disjointed than the last?
I don't even have to look too far [to see] it is very much disjointed. What I look for is subtle nuances in what people say that build walls between a society within that society. I see how people manipulate — people in positions of power manipulate their words to unfortunately pit people against each other, which is the last thing we need.
It seems to be such a focal point for me and I read between the lines constantly. I try to choose to bring unity of some sorts between people and I find the disgust in the people that try to divide people. That's what I tend to focus on in election years.
Thanks to Mark Osegueda for the interview. Grab your copy of Death Angel's 'Humanicide' album here and follow the band on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Find out where you can hear Full Metal Jackie’s radio show here.
Death Angel 2019 North American Tour Dates
Nov. 16 - Seattle, Wash. @ Club -Sur
Nov. 17 - Portland, Ore. @ Hawthorne Theater
Nov. 18 - Vancouver, British Columbia @ The Rickshaw Theater
Nov. 19 - Edmonton, Alberta @ Starlite
Nov. 20 - Calgary, Alberta @ Dickens
Nov. 21 - Regina, Saskatchewan @ The Exchange
Nov. 22 - Winnipeg, Manitoba @ Pyramids
Nov. 23 - St. Paul, Minn. @ The Amsterdam
Nov. 25 - London, Ontario @ London Music Hall
Nov. 26 - Toronto, Ontario @ Lee’s Palace
Nov. 27 - Montreal, Quebec @ Piranha Bar
Nov. 28 - Ottawa, Ontario @ Brass Monkey
Nov. 29 - Quebec City, Quebec @ L’Anti Bar & Spectacles
Nov. 30 - Brooklyn, N.Y. @ Saint Vitus
Dec. 1 - New Bedford, Mass. @ Vault @ Greasy Luck
Dec. 3 - Lancaster, Pa. @ Chameleon
Dec. 4 - Baltimore, Md. @ Otto Bar
Dec. 5 - Richmond, Va. @ Canal Club
Dec. 6 - Athens, Ga. @ 40 Watt Club
Dec. 7 - Tampa, Fla. @ Brass Mug
Dec. 8 - Orlando, Fla. @ The Haven
Dec. 10 - Lafayette, La. @ Grant Street
Dec. 11 - Houston, Texas @ Scout Bar
Dec. 12 - Austin, Texas @ Come And Take It Live
Dec. 13 - Dallas, Texas @ Tree’s
Dec. 14 - Tulsa, Okla. @ The Shrine
Dec. 15 - Enid, Okla. @ 1927 Event Center
Dec. 17 - Albuquerque, N.M. @ Launch Pad
Dec. 18 - Mesa, Ariz. @ Club Red
Dec. 19 - West Hollywood, Calif. @ Whiskey
See Death Angel in 2019's Best Metal Songs... So Far