Hayward, CA—March 2017… Death Angel made its mark as a seminal San Francisco Bay Area thrash metal band in the 1980s, then broke up at the end of the decade. Fortunately, the band reformed in 2001 and has been touring and recording ever since, issuing its eighth studio album, The Evil Divide, in May 2016. San Francisco native Ted Aguilar took over rhythm guitar duties when the band reformed. Long a fan of TASCAM recording gear, Aguilar continues to rely on the company’s products.
“I’m a gear nut,” admits Aguilar, “and I’ve always used TASCAM gear. When I think of TASCAM, I think of great sound. I started with a 424 4-track PORTASTUDIO, then got a 424mkII and a 488. I still have my 424mkII, and it still works. Now I’ve moved to the Digital PORTASTUDIO DP-24, which is digital and gives me 24 tracks and very nice effects. I thought I’d be overwhelmed by the additional features but the DP-24 still feels and works like a PORTASTUDIO.”
Although Aguilar could work with a DAW, he much prefers the PORTASTUDIO way of working. “I’m an old school guy,” he professes. “I like to push faders when recording or when I get an idea. I tried all the cool computer stuff but I always kept coming back to TASCAM PORTASTUDIOs. They make it easy to lay down an idea, and I feel comfortable working with them. Once you get to know the DP-24, it’s pretty much plug-and-play. You don’t connect it to the Internet, so you don’t worry about viruses. And with a PORTASTUDIO, you tend to think about the music as a whole rather than editing notes one at a time. I don’t want to lose that human element, which is really important.”
Aguilar also finds that he can stay focused on his work with a DP-24. “When you have a PORTASTUDIO, you’re not distracted by the Internet,” he observes. “When I’m working on a computer, an email comes in, or I check Facebook—and I lose a bunch of time. With the DP-24, I just work on music, and I have no cares in the world. It’s just about the music.”
Much of Aguilar’s time is spent on tour, and he takes a secret weapon with him. “A long time ago, I got a CD GT1 Guitar Trainer. I still have it, and I’m glad I kept it. But now I have the new GB10 Guitar/Bass Trainer/Recorder. It lets you load MP3s to an SD card, then loop them and slow down the loops without changing the pitch. I use it to warm up for an hour before a show. I load our songs on the SD card and run my guitar through it. It’s great for warmups!”
Everyone in Death Angel loves vinyl records, and the band acts accordingly. “We collect CDs, and we embrace streaming, but at home we listen to vinyl,” Aguilar explains. “We’ve been putting out vinyl since the band reformed in 2001, so we didn’t just jump on the vinyl train. We all collect vinyl records. Our drummer, Will Carroll, is the biggest vinyl freak; he has something like 3,000 of them.”
It should come as no surprise, then, that the bandmates are excited about the new three-speed, belt-driven TEAC TN-400S turntable. “We love the new turntable,” enthuses Aguilar. “It’s great! Will Carroll DJs often in San Francisco, and it really bugs him when someone DJs with a laptop. Maybe he can convert some of them to the TN-400S.”
In addition to Death Angel tours and sessions, Aguilar has plans for updating his studio and releasing new projects in 2017. “This year, I want to gradually make my studio all TASCAM, and I want to do entire demos here, including mastering. I don’t want to use a computer except for email and surfing the web. Will and I are planning to get together here and do demos for some other projects, including a crazy death metal project. We’ll record it on the DP-24, using good microphones, so it sounds great, and we’ll release it on vinyl. People will buy it!”