Ruben Mosqueda of Oregon Music News recently conducted an interview with vocalist Mark Osegueda of San Francisco Bay Area metallers DEATH ANGEL. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Oregon Music News: How much say did you have in the direction of [DEATH ANGEL’s 1990 album] “Act III”?
Mark: Geffen pumped a lot of money into that project. It was our first major-label record; we had a lot of say in it but so did Geffen. Originally we wrote about ten songs for the album we said, “We’re ready to record.” They wanted to listen to what we had and they said, “No, no, no. You need to do some more writing.” We went back and wrote another five songs and brought them back to them and they kept pushing us. We did get frustrated with Geffen, but in the end we must have written something like 30 songs during those sessions. I think by Geffen pushing us like that we came up with an incredible album that we’re very proud of to this day. It was due to the budget that they gave us that we were able to move up from a Davy Vain to a Max Norman. We grew up listening to “Blizzard Of Ozz” and “Diary Of A Madman”, so to get a guy like Max was incredible. Working with Max was phenomenal. He has a great ear and as you know, is an amazing producer. Max was able to bring out the best in all of us. Working with Max was the first time we were pushed in the studio.
Oregon Music News: The year after, in 1991, DEATH ANGEL broke up. What led up to this?
Mark: We started off so very young. We garnered a lot of attention, which led to us being signed to Enigma Records and then Geffen Records. We didn’t have a lot of experience; we found our attorney in the yellow pages. We looked in the yellow pages and saw a guy that was an entertainment attorney and we said, “That’s our guy!” (laughs) We didn’t know any better at that point. In short, we signed a bunch of bunk deals. It’s not a bunk deal if you’re the label. We signed a lot of bad deals and that haunted us for the first part of our career. When it came time to generating decent money, we weren’t seeing any of it. All that money was going to litigation; that ate at the band from the inside out. It was hard, we were packing venues while on tour, generating good money, but when we’d come home from the road we were living with our parents. Nothing added up. It ate at the core of the band. At the height of our rise we had a bus accident. For me, that was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I went up to the guys in the band and I said, “I’m out.” The guys decided that they wanted to continue without me and they formed THE ORGANIZATION. It was a departure from DEATH ANGEL but they did that for a while.
Oregon Music News: DEATH ANGEL reunited for Thrash Of The Titans, which was a benefit for Chuck Billy of TESTAMENT who was battling cancer. Prior to your appearance at that benefit, had you guys talked about getting the band back together?
Mark: It had been brought up a few times before, but I blatantly turned it down. It was brought up by the guys several times but I turned it down. I had closed the book on DEATH ANGEL. It might be selfish, but when I closed the book on metal, it died. I have since learned the opposite: Metal has gotten massive since we broke up. I’m more proud now than ever that I play in a metal band. I think sometimes you have to get the hell away from something to appreciate it and know just how much it means to you.
Oregon Music News: The reunion led to “The Art Of Dying”, which was a terrific effort after being away for a while. That album certainly removed any doubt that you were back.
Mark: (laughs) That was the plan, but I’d be lying to you if I said it was an easy album to write. People hold this band and the name very close to them; we put out those three albums and then we were gone. No one held the name DEATH ANGEL closer to them than us. There was some pressure in writing that DEATH ANGEL record. We have five different interpretations of what a DEATH ANGEL album in 2004 should sound like. We weren’t always necessarily on the same page but in the end we put out a great record.
Read the entire interview from Oregon Music News.
Photo credit: Stephanie Cabral