A fan who won a pair of tickets to Death Angel's December 1 show
at Oakland's Omni called the club to confirm just prior to the show, and got a recording that told him that due to an accident, Death Angel would not be able to play. Death Angel not showing up for a hometown gig is absolutely unheard of; this had to be BAD…
I visited guitarist Rob Cavestany in his San Francisco flat
two weeks later, to learn the straight dope on this and other matters pertaining to the band. Although he remembers every detail of their accident and the hours after, and has been badly shaken by the ordeal, he's recovered enough to be able to whip out an acoustic guitar and sing me a rather beautiful song he wrote, inspired by a Christmas Ale called Winter Welcome.
The band was on the last leg of a short tour of the Southwest,
leaving a gig in Tucson and headed for one in Las Vegas in their RV. Cavestany recalls: "We were in the middle of absolute nowhere, in the desert, when at about 7:30 in the morning the driver lost control of the RV and we went off the road into a ditch. The RV flipped on its right side and slid for 175 feet. Andy [Galeon, the drummer] was sleeping in the back, and he landed on his head on the window, which shattered."
"We were all groggy because we we'd just had about three hours
sleep. We got up and were checking out that we were all ok. We started smelling gas and so we climbed out the window over our heads, because the RV was lying on its door. We wrapped Andy in some blankets and passed him up through the window then we sat by the road to wait for the paramedics to come."
"It was so far out in the middle of nowhere that it took an hour
for the paramedics to get there. They told us when they heard it was an RV wreck they figured there'd be bodies strewn everywhere - RVs tend to just go to pieces in a wreck. We'll never tour in one of those again!"
"They took Andy in a helicopter to a hospital in Las Vegas. We
took turns staying in the hospital with him, so he'd have company." Although Galeon had extensive injuries on his upper face and head, his sight and hearing were unaffected and he recovered rapidly and went home a week and a half after the wreck. His brain, always an important organ, was mercifully unchanged - when I called him a few days after he got home, he was talking and laughing exactly as he always has done. In fact, he couldn't wait to get back to playing and touring, and agrees with the rest of the band that the first order of business is to play the Bay Area dates that they had to miss because of the accident.
"We were all set up to record a live album at the Omni show"
Cavestany relates. "We'd been intending to do a live album for some time now, and we have to do it at a home date. We'll record the shows when we get a chance to play them. Who knows, maybe it just wasn't meant to happen then, maybe we would have played terribly or something." And put out a terrible live album, eh? "We already have a terrible live album." Huh? Cavestany looks at me and dives over the side of the couch to get a tape from the table. "You haven't heard about THIS? Look at this!"
It's a Death Angel live tape, on Enigma. Brand new, titled "Fall
From Grace", recorded live at the Paradisio, Amsterdam, 9 July 88, featuring songs from the band's two Enigma releases, "The Ultra- Violence" and "Frolic Through The Park". But Death Angel left Enigma more than a year ago in a flurry of lawsuits, and signed with Geffen, who put out their latest record, "Act III". So how can this be?
"I don't know!" sputters Cavestany, gesturing wildly, "I have no
idea how they thought they could do this. It's completely illegal! We always have input and final approval of every aspect of every record, from the playing and production right through to the album cover art. We didn't even hear about this until we saw it in the store! It sucks! The production is terrible, the vocals fade in and out, the thing starts out with us tuning up onstage! And that's a great title, too, huh - 'Fall From Grace'? What do you think they're implying by that? To top it off, we found that in a record store in Tucson, and later that night - BAM!"
What a shitty day... Wierdest of all, the band had just hours
before the crash been joking about how they would have to have a major calamity like a wreck to get any publicity for "Act III". "In all the years we've been touring, we've never talked about crashing, it's like a voodoo thing to bring up" says Cavestany.
The other issue besides the accident that everyone wants to know
about is why the new single and video, "Room With A View" has been released under the initials D.A. rather than the name Death Angel. "I can't believe there's so much controversy about that" Cavestany says, rubbing his head thoughtfully. "We didn't think people would pay that much attention to it. We've been calling ourselves D.A. for years now, anyway. And Death Angel is a name - you know, we started this band 8 and a half years ago, when we were in our early teens. It fit us then, but now it's so restricting."
"The name Death Angel seems to imply hardcore thrash gloom-and-
doom death metal, and we're not like that at all. If I were presented with 10 records, and one of them was by a band called Death Angel, and I'd never heard of them, I'd stick that one on the bottom! We keep the name for continuity's sake, but D.A. fits us better."
So will the next album be released as Death Angel or D.A.? "I
don't know. It's really hard to say anything right now. We had just been making all these plans for the future, ideas about where we wanted to go from here, and then we got in the accident and now - who knows? In a way, it made perfect sense to have a major accident right now, it really fit the story line. We've been pushing so hard for 8 years and just not getting that far, and getting so frustrated with not being where we should be after so long, it was time for something climactic to happen! I don't know, maybe we just aren't a good band, is that it?" Huh! If Death Angel is a lousy band, I'd better quit my job as a reviewer, cause that would mean I have no taste… And what about the audiences who sell out their shows and go flat out belly-up apeshit whenever they play, even when the shows are barely announced, let alone publicized?
Speaking of which, the fan who called the Omni on December 1 and
heard that Death Angel didn't play wound up staying home. But over a thousand people filled the club that night for a hastily arranged benefit show for the band. Forbidden played a blistering set in honor of their friends and touring partners, and Kirk Hammett and Jason Newstead - with the readiness to lend a hand to bands they like that has always characterized Metallica - jammed on a bunch of Motorhead covers with members of Heathen and Tesla. Strips of butcher paper were tacked to the walls for friends and fans to scribble get well messages to Galeon - "Hey dude! Keep Rockin!" and so forth.
No problem there - everyone in the band is itching to renew the
attack on the consciousness of the world. After they get back onstage in the Bay Area and make the GOOD live album, they have a Japanese tour planned with Loudness in March, and then hopefully become international superstars by sometime in the Summer… If this is "Act III", you sure as hell can't say the play ain't been fraught with drama…
- Sadie O.
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