Mark Osegueda: Death Angel Still Have ‘Hunger That Struggling Bands Have’
Death Angel frontman Mark Osegueda was the latest guest on Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio program. With a dark new album, Humanicide, to discuss, the singer tackles issues with society and the world at large, the Murder in the Front Row thrash documentary and how he still has an aggressive side, but the angst comes from a different place than during the band's early days.
Metal often questions the ills of society. What makes specific social and political issue click with you that they became a source for lyrics?
I mean, it has been a struggle for me dealing with what's been going on for the last 15 years [laughs] with people who control the power, but right now it's more apparent than ever to me. It's not just here in the [United] States, it's all over.
There is this divide and conquer power play that I think a lot of world leaders have right now and the more disturbing part for me is that a lot of people that don't have positions of power actually eating it up or falling for it. That's the main one and that also just being coupled with the fact that I think a lot of people are turning a blind eye to global warming and animals becoming extinct and endangered.
Humanicide has guest musicians, acoustic elements and even piano. How does that sort of diversity make good songs even better?
We always try to push our little envelope [laughs] under the thrash umbrella but with this, it's a community; metal. So we liked having guest musicians on this and as this is the fourth record we've done with producer Jason Suecof, he does his fourth guest solo on this record. It's in a song called "Revelation Song."
Then there's a song called "Ghost of Me," which we got Alexi [Laiho] from Children of Bodom to do a guest solo on. Or a couple actually, Rob [Cavestany] and Alexi switch back and forth.
At the tail of the song called "Immortal Behated," we have a woman playing a piano alto with Rob playing acoustic over that. And the woman's name is Vika [Yermolyeva], and she's Ukrainian, now residing in Germany. She has a lot of followers on YouTube. She takes metal songs and puts a classical twist towards them and that's how we discovered her. She did her version of "Dethroned," one of our earlier songs and Rob and her became friends, and then the next thing you know, he's been approaching her for a collaboration, and then finally, time worked out with everything.
We like things like that because it just brings dynamic to the songs — it gives your ear breathing room and then when the heavy part hits again, you know, it smacks you in the gut.
Young metal bands often run on aggression and alienation when they start. What fuels your musical attitude now after everything you've experienced in life?
That definitely isn't I guess the teenage angst anymore, but there's still angst, and anger that is driven by the fact that we haven't in a sense achieved a lot of what a lot of our peers and contemporaries have achieved. So, we're still out there, we're on the road, we're fighting tooth and nail.
Sometimes we're scraping by to make it to the next gig. So we still have that hunger that struggling bands have. I think that's the best thing that keeps — we keep that aggression in our feet in the ground, and it's still with that "us against the world" attitude because we don't think we've achieved, I wouldn't say what we deserve, but what we want to achieve still. We're just gonna keep working hard until we do and I don't know if we will, but that hunger of wanting that is what's always gonna fuel our fire.
Murder in the Front Row: The San Francisco Bay Area Thrash Metal Story is almost like a coming of age film. Why is it important that a movie like this captures that story?
It was such a special time to be around as a band or a fan. The difference between the two at the time was just that one was onstage and then another slight difference was some of the people that weren't onstage eventually formed bands within that time frame and became a peer.
It was a magical time that needs to be explained cause it was such a significant change in music. It was pretty much when heavy metal went from the New Wave of British Heavy Metal meets punk. It became thrash metal [then] the beginning inklings of death metal and black metal, so, it was just right there the springboard for it and such a special time that cannot be repeated. I think this film is gonna represent that in such a beautiful way.
Yeah, and the coming of age is absolutely right. Absolutely right. This style of metal is significant because to this day, how many odd years later, there are younger bands still forming and trying to learn to play this music and/or touring and playing this music and releasing relevant records.
Let's talk about your touring, what makes you appreciate touring now compared to back in the early days?
Ironically the difference between now and back in the day with touring is I actually appreciate it much more now. In the early days, things happened to us pretty much quickly and we didn't know anything else because some of us were in high school and some literally just out of high school, that was all we really knew. So when we were apart from it, when the band had broken up for a bit I had thought if I ever have a chance to tour like that again I'm gonna savor every moment.
Now when it's happening, we do savor every moment because we know what it's like to not have it. That in itself is a driving force. Other than that it's just for the love of playing live. It's gotten this band, we formed this band for the sole purpose of we love playing live. Of course we love creating, we love recording, much more so than before - but playing live in front of people and feeding off of people's energy and giving them energy to feed off of, that's the purest fuel I know for appreciating and loving what we do.
Mark, a lot was always made about Death Angel being originally a band of cousins. In what way is being a band an even stronger family bond than that?
Wow. It's because - basically the suffering you go through, you conquer. [laughs] that would be it. The trials and tribulations you go through, while you are on tour, you see your way through it together and it's overcoming the pitfalls. That's the tightest glue that there is. That's proven right now with the lineup that Death Angel has now, we've toured more than any lineup Death Angel has ever done. This record, Humanicide, will be the fourth record with this lineup and it'll be the most records ever recorded by one Death Angel lineup so we feel more united than any lineup prior. Historically speaking.
Thanks to Mark Osegueda for the interview. Death Angel's new album, Humanicide, is out now on Nuclear Blast and can be purchased here. Follow the band on Facebook to stay up to date with everything they're doing and Find out where you can hear Full Metal Jackie’s weekend show here.
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