Rob Cavestany (DEATH ANGEL) on Skulls of Wrath

Welcome to Skulls of Wrath.

Today I feature my interview with Rob Cavestany, founding member and guitar player for the Thrash metal band 'Death Angel'.

The band got their start in the early 1980's in the Bay Area, coming up alongside, or rather apart of the emerging thrash metal scene.

 Death Angel, alongside Sepultura are set to play three shows in New Zealand in May 2018.

D: How’s it going with yourself and death angel, I assume you’re keeping yourselves busy these days? 
R: Oh god yes- beyond. Keeping busy is an understatement with Death Angel that’s for sure. We keep busy, my man.
I’m over here, actually, writing our next album right now- as we are in beween tours, before we come down there, and so this is the time to get creative and write. So, I’m in the writing mode, right now, and just getting a little exciting boost, thinking about our upcoming tour down there, as I’m doing press today. So, That’s actually coming in kind of a nice little break out of the studio to talk about our live shows and get all pumped up.

D: How does that all work these days- the writing process and everything like that? 
R: If kind of comes in different ways, and I like to allow it to happen that way, so it doesn’t get sterile and get stuck in the, like, some kind of step pattern.
I just like to keep the organic feeling in the writing process, so I really just try to trust in the Gods of Music to give me some love and let it happen. So, generally in the early stages, I’m just going to go into my studio and pick up my guitar and just play and just see what’s happening that day. What kind of things are coming out, without trying hard or even thinking what so ever.
If I’ll get lucky, then something will spark right there and I’ll just keep flowing with it. Like, if I get an idea, I’ll record it, I mean, when I’m doing this I’m recording everything I’m playing. I have my Pro Tools rig set up in my studio, so I realise that something might happen and I won’t remember what I just did or anything so definitely I don’t mess around and let something slip by without it getting recorded so that’s definitely a big part of the strategy.

And then, I’ll listen back and see if anything sticks. If so, I’ll just start building off that. Then, next level, if nothing’s coming out in that way step out, take a breather, then come back in and playing with beats, so I’ll have like various ways to create beats in my Pro Tools and then I’ll start playing with different beats and jamming to drum beats, and maybe that sparks something. Usually something will get going after some point in time so then at that point I just start building- putting things together and seeing what might come next, rearranging things- that’s kind of the cool thing with Pro Tools now, is that you can easily / digitally rearrange things and listen back to how structures sound without having to keep on recording it over and over again. So, I’m putting things in different orders and checking it out.

At that point it starts taking off, and I just roll with it. Unless, nothing’s stoking me, in which case that session was, oh well. But the way I see it, I just gotta keep going to the well and seeing what happens. Pretty much [that’s] how I get started.

Then from that point on, when I’ll get a full on blue print of an entire song- basically a skeleton of the entire thing, then now I’ll try to mass a few songs- which that’s the part I’m at right now, where the next thing I’ll do is go down to our actual rehearsal studio- where our gear is set up and met up with Will [Carroll] our Drummer and play him the stuff and hopefully we’ll get all excited about what we’re listening to and come up with some ideas and stuff. He’ll get behind the kit, I’ll turn on my Amp and we’ll just start jamming on the stuff so we can see what kind of feel we get as human beings reacting to each other and try to record some of these ideas and then each guy [in the band] comes in one by one and starts to check out what we’re doing and that’s pretty much how we piece it together.

Then [we] get this music to Mark [Osegueda- vocalist] and let him have a field day with lyrics. We’ll get together when he’s got lyrics and I’ll try to record what he’s got, and we’ll go over that and start manipulating melodies and ideas, coming up with… just feeding off each other, creating and having fun with it.

Sometimes it’s more awesome than others, sometimes it comes easier and it’s fun. Sometimes it’s challenging and it’s being difficult but that’s what you have to deal with when you’re dealing with hoping that something’s going to come from nothing. It’s quite a fun process.

D: We’re speaking because yourselves and Sepultura are touring New Zealand in May- playing 3 major cities up and down the country- Auckland Wellington and Christchurch, which to be franks is a pretty big F’ing deal 
R: Well it’s a pretty big fucking deal for us too, my friend. We’re beyond excited to come to New Zealand for the very first time.
We’ve been around the block more than once, around this planet in our many decades of our existence and we definitely tour extensively so when we get the chance to play in a territory that we’ve never played before and much less- not one person in the entire band has even been to in their life. Needless to say. It takes the excitement to the next level and as soon as we heard that the tour was confirmed and none the less with our brothers, Sepultura, who- you know, they’re no slouch either.

The package, the shows, the only bummer is that there’s not more shows, because it just goes by in such a flash. That being said, we’re going to milk every moment of it, we’re just insanely excited- we’re always excited to tour and go play music somewhere in the world, other than the place that you’re used to, but this definitely is next level rarity and excitement so we’re gonna be, we’re going to appear 20 years younger than we actually are just because we’re just so freaking out excited down there.

D: Awesome, there’s a wee bit of a documented history between the two of you, I assume you have a good working relationship? 
R: Oh definitely.
We have a pretty good history with those guys, we played, I think the first time we played together was at the Dynamo Festival in 1990, so quite some time ago and we’ve crossed paths so many times since then, just on tour playing festivals together in Europe and even touring together- we did a 5 week tour together in North America, I think in 2013, it could’ve been. So, we’ve spent a lot of time doing all those shows.
We just get on great with one another. It makes it that much more fun because you’re actually friends, we have a really good laugh together and mutual respect, musically and personally, so it makes it all the sweeter. It would be sweet enough if we were coming there, even with nobody, but the fact that we’re going to meet up with those guys down there, yeah- good times are approaching.

D: Here in NZ, we have a young , up and coming thrash band, Alien Weaponry, whose story bears a few similarities to your own origin in the music world, with all that I was wondering if you had a bit of advice for Alien Weaponry, or indeed any other band that’s starting out? 
R: Sure, first of all, I’d like to say- “Alien Weaponry”? that’s awesome! When you said that I was like, I was thinking about that- it definitely stuck out so that alone is good because that’s hard to even have a cool name these days, so that’s really cool. And, well, I’m curious to check them out, so I will and thanks for letting me know about these guys.

So, some advice? The main thing really, is to try to stay grounded and realise you play music because you love music, because you’re going to encounter all kinds of things in your journey in life with music and you’re going to encounter the most amazing highs and the most painful lows.
If you’re going to be around for a long time, an example: us and/or Sepultura for instance, you’ll definitely be knocked on your ass more than once so you’ve got to persevere and realise that the root of why you do that, and why you’re even going through all this in the first place, and that’s because you love music, you love listening to music, and you love playing music and try to realise that in the depths of your heart and soul as you go through everything, easier said than done.

That being said, the obvious things, practice, practice, practice, practice your sweet little heart out as much as you practice, you need to practice more because it’s heavy competition out there and you’ve got to have your act together as good as possible, which means putting a lot of work into it.
Pushing your band, doing everything it takes to get your name out there and to get experience in the music world.

There’s no specific formula on how you do that, but you definitely need perseverance and inspiration. For me, those are the two main keys is that you need to find a way to stay inspired, because things that inspire you now might not inspire you tomorrow so when that starts to diminish and you might lose some of the juice and energy that you have, that it takes to keep going in this insane game of the music industry.

Then, the other aspect of just watching your ass when it comes to the business side of things, if and when you get to the level of dealing with a lot of business because it becomes a reality for your life, where it’s starting to consume a lot of your time, basically all of your time, so try to surround yourself with people you trust, be as careful as you can when it comes to paper work and things that has to do with the business side of it, but I don’t want to get too deep about that, you’ll have to live your own story in the music world. But, those are some main keys that I’d have to say.


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