Death Angel Interview with Rob Cavestany
Death Angel’s eighth album ‘The Evil Divide’ has just been released. We had the chance to catch up with founding member and sole songwriter Rob Cavestany to chat about the album and Death Angel’s future plans. Rob was genuinely excited about the record but also opened up and was quite critical about some of the earlier Death Angel material. I think he might have been a bit too harsh on himself but read yourself below what he had to say.
Marc: Your new album ‘The Evil Divide’ will be out in a few days. What can you tell our readers about the new album?
Rob: It’s the eighth studio album of Death Angel. It’s the third album with this solid line-up that we have established and that I love so much. It’s my current favourite Death Angel album. I truly have a special feeling about this album. There was a severe amount of heart and soul poured into it as we always do but there was something different about this record. I am really hoping that you guys can feel it.
Marc: My first impression is that ‘The Evil Divide’ is a classic thrash metal album with a modern sound. However, there are a few songs like ‘Lost’ and ‘It Can’t Be This’ where you show another side of Death Angel which is slower, groovier and incorporates other influences. Did you plan these songs to come out like this or were they the result of your creative process?
Rob: A little bit of both. I thought that the band had developed to a point where we could let it go a little more so to speak and allow more freedom in the writing, stylistically, and add more variety to the spectrum of sound we like to play. These kinds of songs, which you described correctly I’d say, they’re not straight forward, fast thrash songs. We love all kinds of music and all kinds of different styles even within the genre of rock or metal. It is just about the timing of when to express it, when to allow it to creep into our sound and onto a record of ours. The last couple of albums we were more in the mood to be straight forward and in a darker, angrier place in our lives personally. Each album is just naturally expressing where we are in our lives individually, personally and collectively as a band. It just reflects in the music that is written and it just came out this way. I was very happy that the time was right to open the floodgates a bit more and let it happen, hoping that it would happen in the right way, that we would love it and also that it would come across the right way for our listeners. We’re hoping that’s where we are right now.
‘Each album is just naturally expressing where we are in our lives individually, personally and collectively as a band.’
Marc: ‘The Evil Divide’ is the third album in a row with the same line-up including your producer. How has that influenced the album and the way you worked together?
Rob: It definitely leads us to be more creative and to be more expressive. The songs on the new record require this emotional depth and focus. Being that we’re more comfortable with each other and know each other a lot better, it manifests itself in the music that we make together. I think the style of the songs on the album is more about catching this unified vibe together and more of an emotional expression, even in the production. We made the sonic production of the album to be more organic sounding to fit the songs that feel more organic. It’s amazing. I just love it. I look at all the players involved as colours that you gonna use and paint in your landscape, they’re just much richer and deeper and blend together better. Therefore, the vision that I imagine we come up with is much more detailed and in-depth. This is the kind of music my heart and soul is into. Of course I love brutal, fast and intense music and that’s throughout the album but the fact that we can go so much deeper on that album is just incredible. Creatively it’s so much fun. I love the space we’re in and the team that we have.
Marc: Has the way you write songs changed over the years?
Rob: Some of it has changed immensely and some of it has stayed the same. The part that stays the same is when I write the entire song. I get in the mood and write and on that particular day it just comes to me and I write the whole song. Then I present it to the band we take it from there. I do that since the first album on half of the songs. Then the other part in the past came from us just hanging around. We were very young and we had a lot of time on our hands. We just hung out a lot. We would just practice, hang out, skateboard, talk, drink, smoke, whatever we’d do and go back and jam some more. There was a lot of free time and hanging out which lead to a lot of free jamming. A lot of the parts would come up that way. The other parts would come together when either Andy or Denis would write a part of the song and we would start collaborating on that. Or I just brought in a part of a song and we would throw around ideas until we got it together. There was a certain magic to it, a different chemistry back then. When I look back and hear the music and picture what we were doing I can see that in some cases it really worked. There were magical moments when the pushing and pulling of the different collaborators would come up really cool. That would have never happened without the collaboration. But for every moment it worked there was a moment where it didn’t work, where we we’re arguing and pulling in the wrong directions. There were too many cooks in the kitchen. We just forced it together and we didn’t really analyse it. We had no song writing and arranging skills at that time. Luckily we ended up where we did. We just found some stuff that sounded really good. So I can hear some parts that sound kind of alright and some songs to me have parts that are cool but overall it doesn’t go the right way. That’s all in retrospect, nothing you can do about it now and that’s cool because it exists and I wouldn’t change it for the world but I wouldn’t ever write it that way again now. Nowadays, the line-up has changed. Andy and Denis have left the band. So I’m the sole music writer now. The way we write now is that I mainly write the music and Marc writes the words. Sometimes, on some songs I write the music and the words. That’s the part that is the same as it ever was back then. With no disrespect to the other guys – it was what it was and now it is what it is – it’s a whole lot more focused these days because we don’t have all the pushing and the pulling and the arguing over the different parts. We were just frankensteining a song together so that everybody could have a say just for the sake of it. Now we just eliminate these things that may hurt somebody’s feelings. It’s just about coming up with the best song possible. The focus is so much more direct. The sound and the songs are just so much more coherent. I quite prefer the way our songs are coming out now, not because it’s me writing the music, just because it seems more focused to me.
‘I look at all the players involved as colours that you gonna use and paint in your landscape, they’re just much richer and deeper and blend together better. Therefore, the vision that I imagine we come up with is much more detailed and in depth.’
Marc: In between the two Death Angel periods you ventured into music other than metal. Does that still influences your music today?
Rob: Very much so. I am constantly listening to all kinds of music. To me I always related music to food or to movies. There are different flavours and different genres and different styles. I like food of all kinds of different flavours. I can’t just eat the same food or watch the show repeatedly. Therefore, in music there are a lot of different kinds. There is good stuff in every different genre. You just have to find it and get used to it and learn how to appreciate that flavour. You don’t have to but it’s out there and I choose to because I love variety. With that said I think the challenge is to let those influences be part of your music – because you naturally like it so it’s kind of flowing out of you – but to craft it into metal without losing the essence of thrash. If you push too far it starts not to sound right. That’s what I think happened in the older music of Death Angel on the first three albums especially. Not so much on ‘The Ultra-Violence’ more so on ‘Frolicking Through The Park’. There were some albums where we were really getting into all sorts of other music and were integrating that into our sound. Sometimes it was working and sometimes it didn’t really work. That’s the reason why some people don’t like some of these albums but then again it’s the reason why some people really do. The way that it is happening now, the more focused and cohesive sound, it is not just randomly sprinkled in in a crazy way. It’s incorporated and mixed and blended into the right part at the right time. Hopefully it is effective and gives us all kinds of different flavours. When we used to collaborate before we just added those other influences because Denis has his things that he really loves and Andy has his music he really likes and so do I. Between the three of us I’m probably the person that is the most connected with actual metal and thrash. Sometimes those guys were pulling towards things that were clashing with the kind of metal or thrash I was trying to do. This is where the discombobulated parts of the songs come from. All the other styles and influences are in our sound. I can’t help it. I’m just trying to concentrate on my song writing ability and arranging and producing to the point where it is evolving and improving. You’re not trying to add all those elements on purpose. It needs to happen kind of subtly and naturally.
Marc: So far you have just announced a few shows in the US and Canada for September. What are your touring plans?
Rob: That’s the kick off of the touring cycle. It’s definitely gonna be more than a handful of shows. More dates will be added. That tour is going to be a two-month tour. That’s quite a tour and it is with Slayer and Anthrax. I’d say that’s coming up strong. Currently we are in the process of booking. I’m certain that soon enough we’re gonna have more dates announced around the world.
Marc: Is there any chance to get some of the summer festivals booked?
Rob: We’re definitely not gonna make it for this summer. That’s the real bummer. We’re planning to hit summer really strongly in 2017. We’re just trying to choose our tours carefully. We just wanna make the most efficient moves. Definitely we’re shooting for quality more than for quantity. Still there’s gonna be a lot more quantity. We just wanna make sure that we’re gonna be represented the best way possible. That’s the goal. We’ll definitely be coming to Australia for this album but I don’t have any dates as of now.