SONIC REDUCER Knowing felines the way I don't, I'd venture that most pussies squander a life or three every time they step out the door and off life's balcony railing in search of their next fleshy plaything. But San Francisco vocalist Mark Osegueda of Death Angel is giving all those fur balls a run for their Meow Mix: the self-described "pretty resilient cat" who quit the music game and moved to New York City after Death Angel's fateful 1990 tour-bus crash in Arizona was in the studio June 24 with his other, punk rock project, the All Time Highs, laying down scratch vocals at Fantasy Recording Studios in Berkeley when he got a hit by a bit more than a scratch.
"Holding a scream for a long time, you get a head rush because of the lack of oxygen. You almost feel really woozy, but usually my adrenalin is going so much onstage that I'm OK," the affable Osegueda, 38, tells me from Sun Valley, Idaho. "Instead I was standing in a little isolation booth in the studio, I had a head rush, and I passed out and fell forward, and a mic stand caught my eye."
The micless pole tore into Osegueda's eyeball. "I was really, really fortunate that it didn't hit the center of the eye it hit the white area of the eye and took out a big chunk of it," he says. "So I'm dealing with pain and discomfort instead of vision problems, which is nice because, had it hit the center of the eye, we'd be having a different kind of conversation now!"
When he came to, Osegueda grabbed his eye out of panic, knowing he had done something "pretty severe and pretty wrong." Delirious and separated from his bandmates, who were continuing to play through the song elsewhere in the studio, Osegueda confesses that he was tempted to just take a nice little nap right where he fell, before he stopped himself, thinking he might have suffered a concussion.
Leaping up, he ran to the bathroom to splash water on his eye, worrying all the while about the All Time Highs' show that night at Merchant's Bar at Jack London Square ("I didn't want people bumping into my face!") and unable to make out exactly how wounded he was. Once the rest of the group took a look at Osegueda's peeper, they immediately took him to the hospital, where he had the bizarre experience of attempting to explain his gouge: "So I'm holding this high note, right ... ?"
On the phone from the land of the spud, Osegueda is in shockingly high spirits for a guy who has experienced such trauma to his eye (if I were in his boots, I'd never look at mic stands quite the same way again). But the vocalist says the eyeball, while still really red, is getting "way better already" as he recuperates among his bandmates in Death Angel the group he's been in, on and off, since age 15 with pen and paper in hand, writing lyrics for the band's next Nuclear Blast long player and letting the healing continue.
Moreover, the entire experience is nowhere near as horrific as Death Angel's 1990 bus crash, which derailed the career of a band set to become Bay Area thrash's next Metallica. "To this day, that bus accident was one of the most traumatic days of my life," remembers the singer, who injured his foot though he was nowhere near as badly hurt as drummer Andy Galeon, who had to undergo major reconstructive surgery for a year.
Galeon, thankfully, "now looks wonderful and plays like a workhorse!" says Osegueda, who plans to make like the aforementioned beast and hurl himself back into the thick of the two-year-old All Time Highs with a show at Annie's Social Club on July 6. "The best description of us is AC/DC meets Minor Threat," he says gleefully.