Songs to Live By: Death Angel’s Rob Cavestany

Rob Cavestany (far right) and Death Angel. Photo by Stephanie Cabral

Back in 1987 when Bay Area thrash crew Death Angel dropped their debut album, The Ultra-Violence, they made waves in an already crowded scene with their whiplash rippers — and the fact that at the time no one in the band was even old enough to legally drink. They cranked out two more ragers, 1988’s Frolic Through the Park and 1990’s Act III, before a 1991 bus crash seriously injured drummer Andy Galeon, which eventually led to the dissolution of the band. Then in 2004, a reformed Death Angel dropped The Art of Dying — a fucking stunning return to form that in no way should have been as good as it was. In the years since, the band has, inexplicably, gotten faster, thrashier and more vicious, as heard on the blistering title-track from their forthcoming ninth studio album, Humanicide (due out May 31st via Nuclear Blast).

Throughout Death Angel’s entire history, guitarist-songwriter Rob Cavestany has been at the core of the band’s creative output. We recently caught up with him to find out what he listens to when he’s not writing the riffs that will whip up any pit. Read on to find out what music the guitarist enjoys for every mood, from his wake-up attitude boosters to what he turns to when he needs to piss off his neighbors.

 

WHEN I’M PISSED OFF:
SLAYER – “ANGEL OF DEATH”

Flat-out brutal, aggressive, angry song. I’ve used the entire Reign in Blood album to piss off my neighbors that pissed me off in the past. Stuck my boom box in the window facing out at them and blasted it from start to finish. That’ll get the job done!

WHEN I’M FEELING DEPRESSED:
ALICIA KEYS – “DISTANCE AND TIME”

One of the things that sucks about this job is having to leave my family for extend periods of time to the point that I’m away from home 50 percent of my life. I miss them painfully especially after the three-week point. When this song shuffles onto my playlist, it somehow feels good to absorb the emotions and let the tears flow …

WHEN I GET UP IN THE MORNING:
STEVIE WONDER – “LOVE’S IN NEED OF LOVE TODAY”

Waking up is hard to do! I’m a totally nocturnal and this night owl needs to wake up nice and easy. This song introduces the day with a positive message and feels like a warm hug. Then I can progress into heavier music. Not a big fan of waking up to extreme music of any kind — I have to deal with that nearly every day on tour as it is. Bring on the night!

WHEN I GO TO BED:
NORAH JONES – “COME AWAY WITH ME”

“Snora” Jones, what would I do without you? Her voice is so smooth and sweet, her music and songs are like a lullaby and I’m a baby in the cradle. I use her records to chill and fall asleep on tour in my bunk, on flights and in my hotel room. Not the ideal music for a long drive if you are the driver!

WHEN I’M HUNGOVER:
ELTON JOHN – “MELLOW”

This song is like medicine. As the title implies, it is a mellow song that incapsulates relaxation. “The way you curl your toes, baby” — that line says it all. Actually, after last night I need to listen to this song right now.

WHEN I’M GETTING IT ON:
PRINCE – “EROTIC CITY”

Do I even need to explain this one? If you don’t get it, you must be the walking dead. My wife would agree so I know I’m right! We’ve had many a sleepless night with this song jamming through the speakers …

SONG I MOST WANT TO BE REMEMBERED FOR:
DEATH ANGEL – “VOLCANIC”

I’ve written and recorded lots of songs so it’s hard to choose, but this is a very personal song to me. Not a typical Death Angel track by any means but nevertheless it is. One of the rare ones that I recorded all the vocals for, too, it really hits home for me.

SONGS I WISH I WROTE:
QUEEN – “WE WILL ROCK YOU” AND “WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS”

I’d be fuckin’ rich! [Laughs] You can’t not hear that “stomp stomp clap” at every pro sporting event or any major event that needs something to pump up the crowd. Talk about a song that has hooks … just the intro beat alone is known by anyone and everyone. Not to mention Freddie Mercury’s voice and then Brian May’s signature guitar tone/style … Absolute genius.

SONG I WANT PLAYED AT MY FUNERAL: QUEEN “DON’T STOP ME NOW”

I’m not into planning anything about my funeral. Not yet! I don’t even want to think about it … “Don’t Stop Me Now” — Mr. Mercury would sing with such lively energy. OK, maybe that would be a good choice? Any song I can think of would just be sad, even if I didn’t choose a sad song it still seems sad. I hate feeling sad. I’d much rather be angry!