“Micstand” – 2001 // Chi Interviewed

"Chi Cheng"
TITLE: Aesthetic Nuances
BY: Matt Peterson

©2001

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www.deftonesworld.com
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In Eastern thought, the duality of yin and yang expresses partial contradiction.  Yin is dark, 
while yang is bright.  Imbalance of the two is recipe for catastrophe, but the rotation of the 
two—yin becoming yang, yang becoming yin—represents synchronicity and unity in multiplicity.  
Chi Cheng, charismatic bass player for Sacramento, California’s Deftones, is a man who has based 
the philosophy of his creative career around such an exquisite coexistence of opposites.  
By braiding his interests and soldering an inseparable connectedness among them he has achieved 
a dynamic exchange and eliminated the potential of static.  His playing stresses the emotional 
and pours forth with a sincerity of feeling and action.  His fingers move across the strings 
organically--he never uses picks--and without fear of what the musical moment will deal him.  
Ultimately there’s no compulsion to control what is happening—he simply allows his mind, body, 
and soul to fall betwixt and between the notes that he makes. 

In 2000, soon after unleashing the stellar White Pony with the Deftones, Chi released his first 
spoken word album of poetry entitled The Bamboo Parachute.  Proceeds from his album were 
dispersed to various charities including WEAVE--a non-profit agency that specializes in domestic 
violence, sexual assault prevention and victim assistance--and WIND, a music program for 
homeless teens.  Chi spent last summer with the rest of the Deftones as they co-headlined an 
8-week stint with New England heroes Godsmack.  In the midst of the tour, I had the opportunity 
to catch up with Chi and learn the latest about his solo projects, as well as happenings with 
other members of the Deftones.  A true humanitarian and just an all-around good person, Chi is 
one-fifth of the reason why the Deftones seem forever destined to stay embedded within the 
evolving musical landscape they’ve single-handedly discovered. 

MICSTAND: How’s Chino doing now that he’s been cleared to sing again?  Was he in a lot of pain 
when it first happened?  (Chino Moreno—lead singer for the Deftones--was stricken ill in the 
midst of the tour with a vocal impediment and the band was forced to cancel some shows.  
These cancellations marked the first missed shows for the Deftones in over a 10-year touring 
career). 

CHI: He paralyzed one of his vocal chords and the other one was barely moving.  He was just a 
wreck.  We’re just happy that he’s able to sing again.  If that boy couldn’t sing that would 
really be a bad thing.  We’re just happy that he’s up and doing it again.  

MICSTAND: How did they treat it?  Was it just rest combined with not speaking? 

CHI: Yeah, they did that combined with some kind of shot in his throat and he’s on medicine 
everyday now too. 

MICSTAND: Wow—we’re sorry to hear that.  We wish him the best and a speedy recovery.  
The last time we spoke, Chi, was right around the release of The Bamboo Parachute.  
Based on how that was received, do you have any immediate plans to do another spoken word album? 

CHI: Yeah, actually I’ve recorded a live reading.  It’s kind of funny—you know, live readings 
are always a lot better.  I don’t know what to do with it yet.  I’ve got it recorded and I’ve 
got copies of it.  I did everything on The Parachute myself and I kind of want to give this 
one to a label, or something—just have somebody else take care of it.  

MICSTAND: Have you done any actual spoken word tours, or do the shows happen more spontaneously 
than that? 

CHI: I’ve been talking about maybe doing a tour—me and Serj from System Of A Down have talked 
about maybe doing a tour one of these days.  He’s really into it.  But right now it’s just 
shows in California, you know what I mean?  I’ve just been doing live readings in California, 
but I’d love to take it a little further. 

MICSTAND: Have you heard the new System album yet? 

CHI: Yeah, I have.  I think it’s really good, man.  I like the fact that they just seem to be 
getting crazier and weirder—more neurotic, or something, ya know.  

MICSTAND: Will we ever see a Deftones/System tour? 

CHI: I would love to, yeah. 

MICSTAND: How was the tour that happened a little while back with Incubus and Taproot? 

CHI: I thought it was really good.  Taproot was great and they’re young and energetic and cool.
Incubus is a group of really nice guys.  I thought the whole tour was really good—it was amazing.  

MICSTAND: I’ve been fortunate enough to experience the Deftones in a few radically different 
sized venues.  I caught you guys at The Palladium in Worcester, which seats around 2-3,000 or 
so, I’ve witnessed your work at Great Woods for a sold-out Ozzfest date, which was about 
20,000 people or so, and then you’ve played 9-10,000 seat arenas.  What size crowds do Deftones 
prefer to play to? 

CHI: You know, honestly I think we prefer places where we can get in a little closer to the 
audience.  This tour has been a lot of sheds, which is sometimes a drag for us because seating 
is not really what we jive on, but we can have a good time anyways.  But we prefer to get close 
to the kids, maybe three to five thousand, or something like that. 

MICSTAND: I wanted to ask you about this current tour.  Obviously Deftones have a very 
different flavor & vibe than Godsmack—how did this pairing come to be? 

CHI: They had approached us about it and we were thinking about doing our own thing, but we’ve 
done so many headlining tours already in the States.  And they were like, “Look, what would you 
think about doing a co-headliner?”  They were just really, really nice guys and really cool 
about everything.  It’s a lot different—both our bands—and so hopefully people have an open 
mind.  Hopefully you can see something different and just enjoy it, ya know.  

MICSTAND: How have the crowds been? 

CHI: They’ve been pretty good.  I think that we’ve been able to win over a couple of Godsmack 
fans and I think vice-versa. 

MICSTAND: In an interview that Abe did a little while ago he said that, in the beginning, 
some members of Deftones had some reservations about touring with Godsmack.  Was that true for 
you? 

CHI: I don’t think it’s that we ever had any real reservations, so much as it was that we were 
just like, ‘What if we did Outkast, At The Drive-In, Queens of the Stone Age,” ya know what I 
mean--some crazy package of our own.  But that just didn’t happen, ya know. 

MICSTAND: The At The Drive-In record, which was obviously huge last year—was that one of your 
personal favorites? 

CHI: Yeah, I’ll be honest, I love that record.  I listen to it all the time.  I just saw one of 
the At The Drive-In guys and I couldn’t even talk to him because I was just like, “You fucking 
jerk!  You going to break up again?”  (Laughs jokingly). 

MICSTAND: What else were you listening to last year that you felt was strong? 

CHI: Not anything in the contemporary music scene really, except for like Aimee Mann—I love 
her.  Any time Willie Nelson puts something out, I listen to it.  Nothing new—I’m not really 
into new music. 

MICSTAND: What did you think of the new Tool album? 

CHI: I thought it was good—I thought that was a good album. 

MICSTAND: Last week I caught the episode of Music In High Places that you guys did for MTV.  
How was that experience? 

CHI: It was all right—it was pretty cool.  We had some reservations about that too.  At first 
they just wanted us to sing totally acoustic and we were like, ‘There’s some songs that we can 
translate into acoustic songs, and there’s some that just don’t—they can’t ever be done 
acoustically.’  But it was a good experience—anytime we can play our music is fine. 

MICSTAND: Have you guys ever entertained the idea of an acoustic album—is there much of an 
interest in acoustics within the Deftones? 

CHI: I don’t think so, not really. 

MICSTAND: On a recent episode of MTV’s Cribs I actually saw Steph at the home of Chester 
from Linkin Park.  Are all of you guys friends with Linkin Park? 

CHI: Yeah, we’re all friends with Linkin Park.  I mean, Stephen lives in LA and the rest of us 
live in Sacramento, so he’s a little closer on the scene than the rest of us.  
How was Chester’s house—was it cool? 

MICSTAND: Yeah, it was cool, but on the same episode they featured the construction of the 
Osbourne’s new home and obviously nothing can hold a candle to that—it was just sic. 

CHI: I’m sure that was totally off the hook. 

MICSTAND: I’m sure you’ve heard some of Chino’s Team Sleep material—tell me a little about that. 

CHI: It’s good, man.  You know the (Deftones’) song “Teenager,” it’s kind of in that vein.  
Real moody, but each song has a different flavor to it.  He’s not really done with it vocally, 
but musically it’s a really strong album—it sounds good.  

MICSTAND: When’s he hoping to get that out there? 

CHI: Early 2002, or something like that. 

MICSTAND: Is there a musical moment thus far—either a particular song or album—that you are 
most proud of? 

CHI: I don’t know--I can’t really think of anything.  I’ve never heard our albums—I’ve never 
put our album on ever.  None of them, I’ve never listened to any of our albums.  I come in, 
just do my part, write whatever I can, play on it and then close the book on it and don’t 
really listen to it.  

MICSTAND: What about the spoken word album, did you listen to that? 

CHI: No, never heard it.  Recorded it, made sure it was edited OK, and haven’t really ever 
listened to it.  I just can’t stand to listen to my own shit.  It’s just too weird for me, 
or something.  Well you know—you write.  It seems kind of ridiculous—the idea of making 
money on something that I would do anyway.  So it’s all kind of surreal.  

MICSTAND: Have you formulated any further ideas about maybe releasing something in print? 

CHI: Yeah, absolutely.  Hopefully when I get back home I’ll do a reading in San Francisco 
and invite down Black Sparrow Press and City Lights Books and see if I can get a deal going 
with one of those guys.  Because obviously it’s a lot different in print.  So yeah, I’d love 
to put out a book. 

MICSTAND: Now, Deftones represent a lot of different things to a lot of different people—what 
does the idea of Deftones represent to you? 

CHI: I think it’s mainly a unity-type vibe.  We’re such different people and we all have 
these goofy side-projects that we’re always doing and it’s not because we’re dissatisfied 
with the band, but because we’re all such creative people.  We don’t like to sit on our 
asses when we get home and so we have all these side-projects, but I think that the 
side-projects are never really quite as strong as the Deftones and it’s because we all put 
something into it.  And it needs to be that way. 

MICSTAND: What do you think it says about our musical consumption as a society, the fact that 
White Pony was at the top of so many artists’ and critics’ lists last year, yet the sales of 
the album fell shy of matching that praise?  It’s impossible to deny that White Pony is as 
good as they come, so why isn’t it selling 2.5 million copies in a week like N’Sync?  As a 
society are we just fucked? 

CHI: You know, I really have no idea and I don’t worry about it.  I can’t be disappointed 
because we wrote a good album.  I feel like we did write a good album, so I don’t really care.  
I never set out to be the biggest artist in the whole world anyhow.  And if we had sold a lot 
more, I suppose it would have been fine—maybe we would have had a little more freedom to get a 
little crazier with our production when we tour, or something.  It’s just weird to think of 
music as product and I think that’s a bad fucking way of doing it.  We never set out to do it 
that way, so if it didn’t sell 10 million albums, or 7 million albums like a lot of our peers, 
I just don’t really care. 

MICSTAND: Why is it that you make music—what drives you? 

CHI: I don’t know at this point.  (Laughs) I think we just like it.  I think it’s a gift and 
I think being able to play it is a really cool thing, let alone going into a studio.  
It’s still exciting for us to make music. 

MICSTAND: I hate to use the word ‘best,’ but what makes the “best” art? 

CHI: I have no clue—I think it would be something different for everyone.  Passion, I suppose 
would be the best thing—as long as your passionate about it.  If you have love for it.  I 
think it’s just a good thing to do it—that’s the best form of it. 

MICSTAND: Do you remember what first made you pick up an instrument? 

CHI: My brother—he bought me my first bass.  He had a guitar and he didn’t have anyone to 
play with so he was like, ‘Look, we’re going to be in band together and I’m going to buy you a 
bass.’  And it sounded good to me.  I think I was 14, or something like that—it was a long, 
long time ago.  

MICSTAND: This obviously doesn’t have anything to do with the music, but tell me about your 
recent decision to cut your hair. 

CHI: It was a lot of personal reasons.  Kind-of a change, I suppose. 

MICSTAND: You’d been growing your locks for what—16 years? 

CHI: Yeah, it was right around there—16, 17 years.  

MICSTAND: In his episode of Behind The Music, Lenny Kravitz said a lot of weight is held in 
one’s locks, do you agree with that? 

CHI: Yeah, it’s definitely a piece of you and it becomes a spiritual thing.  I buried them in 
my backyard—my son and I buried them together.  

MICSTAND: Have you been reading anything lately? 

CHI: I’ve been reading a lot of Henry Miller. 

MICSTAND: Did you ever receive the Miller book that I gave to Heidi to pass onto you? 

CHI: Yes, thank you so much, man.  That fucking book is dope.  Stand Still Like the 
Hummingbird—that book is rad.  Yeah, I’d read Miller’s stuff before but I had never read that 
book and I think that one’s amazing.  I think that anyone in the entertainment business should 
also read The Smile At the Foot of the Ladder.  I think it affirms why you do anything in 
entertainment—you should be doing it for the sake of doing it, rather than creating it to be 
consumed.

“Dr. Drew” – 2001 // Chino Moreno Interviewed

Deftones frontman Chino Moreno
by Blair Fischer

www.deftonesworld.com

-----------------------------

As expected, the latest Deftones album, White Pony--the title of which is a veiled reference 
to one of frontman Chino Moreno's guilty pleasures--has exploded on the sales chart. Less than 
a month after its release, the album has already approached gold status and is almost guaranteed 
to be the quartet's best-selling record to date. Pony, which is loaded with savage imagery and 
dark soundscapes, is a welcomed respite from the balls-to-the-wall aggro metal that's been 
saturating the market ever since, well, the Deftones released Around the Fur three years ago. 
Currently, the group is embarked on a U.S. summer tour with dates scheduled through mid-August 
before they take the long flight--a big Moreno fear--to Germany for a European jaunt. Moreno---
the voice of the Deftones and author of their grave prose---took five minutes off to answer a 
few not-so-serious questions. 
drDrew.com: What's your favorite thing to do when no one else is around? 
Chino Moreno: Play video games. 

drDrew.com: What's your favorite bodypart? 
CM: My hands. 

drDrew.com: What's your greatest fear? 
CM: Dying in a plane crash. 

drDrew.com: If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? 
CM: Probably my face. 

drDrew.com: What was your worst day job? 
CM: Working as a cook. 

drDrew.com: What's your idea of perfect happiness? 
CM: Being alone. 

drDrew.com: What's something you're good at that's totally useless? 
CM: Video games. 

drDrew.com: What was your most memorable celebrity encounter? 
CM: Meeting P.J. Harvey. I met her backstage a few years ago at this show in--where the fuck 
were we?---Denmark or something like that, and I bugged the fuck out. 

drDrew.com: Who would you like to trade places with for a day? 
CM: A woman. 

drDrew.com: Who's your favorite fictional character? 
CM: Darth Vader. 

drDrew.com: What historical figure do you most identify with? 
CM: Joan of Arc. 

drDrew.com: What song best represents the soundtrack of your life? 
CM: "Disintegration" by The Cure. 

drDrew.com: What is your motto? 
CM: If you tell yourself you're the shit, then you are the shit. 

drDrew.com: When you were a kid growing up, who did you imitate when you stood in front of the 
mirror? 
CM: The Incredible Hulk. 

drDrew.com: Name a book you've read recently and liked. 
CM: The Long Hard Road Out of Hell by Marilyn Manson. 

drDrew.com: Name a film you've seen recently and liked. 
CM: American Beauty. 

drDrew.com: Name an album you've heard recently and liked. 
CM: Meshuggah's Chaosphere. 

drDrew.com: Finish this line: "If we can send a man to the moon, then why... ?" 
CM: "can't we build planes that don't fall out of the sky." 

drDrew.com: What will you remember most about the '90's? 
CM: Sitting alone in a room with Madonna.

“Metroactive Music” – December 2001 // Todd Wilkinson Interviewed

The Sleeper Will Awake 

Todd Wilkinson and friends--who just happen to be in the 
Deftones--assemble a more-restful Team Sleep 

By Darren Keast 

BEFORE HIS current tour, Todd Wilkinson had never played his guitar in front of more than a 
few friends. In his first full-fledged interview a few months ago, he confessed he was pretty 
sure he'd be paralyzed with fear if he ever did make it onto a stage. He wouldn't even confirm 
then that he was a musician per se. 

"Yeah, I've never played a live show in my life," he says from his home in Sacramento. "All 
I've done is make melodies with my guitar on a four-track, and the next thing I know, I'm in 
a studio with [multiplatinum metal producer] Terry Date making a record." And his band, Team 
Sleep, plays the Cactus Club in San Jose Tuesday (Dec. 18). 

So what is this--the major-label rock industry rolling the dice on a raw talent whose demo tape 
won some contest? The Make a Wish Foundation fulfilling a terminal cancer patient's big dream? 
The only reason Wilkinson, a soft-spoken group-home worker with a guitar-playing hobby, is 
getting any love at all from the recording industry is that his best friend since high school 
is Camillo "Chino" Moreno, lead singer of "nu-metal" torchbearers the Deftones and now one-third 
of Team Sleep. It also helps that Wilkinson's roommate is Deftones DJ Frank Delgado, who in 
turn is best friends with DJ Crook, the band's third member. 

"There's no doubt about it--the attention we're getting has nothing to do with me and Crook," 
Wilkinson chuckles, but "it's an opportunity to have people hear our music, so I'm not going 
to feel guilty about it." 

The idea for Team Sleep blossomed out of an acoustic reworking the Deftones did of "Be Quiet 
and Drive," a track from their gold record Around the Fur. Moreno enjoyed the respite from the 
full-frontal electric guitar onslaught mandatory for most Deftones' songs, and the gentler 
melodies allowed his delicate voice to fill the remaining space. 

Also liking the chance to work by himself, Moreno started composing songs with portable 
electronic equipment in his hotel room during Deftones tours. 

"He puts his rough ideas on a tape and sends them to Krook," Wilkinson explains. "I send my 
own tapes to Crook, with melodies and some basic guitar things, and then he puts down a beat 
and takes stuff from both tapes. In theory, Chino then gets the tape back and puts down vocals 
from the road, but so far he's been too busy." 

Moreno describes Team Sleep's sound as "droney" and influenced by British trip-hop moodsters 
Massive Attack. So far, the only two tracks available are instrumentals from the Team Sleep 
website (http://www.teamsleep.com/): "Kool Aid," a sparse number with real drum sounds, and the 
more processed and programmed-sounding "Ligeia." 

"Crook uses his turntable on both," Wilkinson explains, "but you'd never know it, because 
there's no scratching." The effect is similar to his friend's DJing technique with the 
Deftones, which Delgado describes as spinning for atmosphere: "Like he was listening to what 
we had done for 'Ligeia,' and he goes, 'This needs something else.' So he walks over to his 
record collection--he has thousands of records, most of them really weird--and grabs one with 
crowd cheering on it, like from a bullfight or something. The rhythm of the crowd chanting 
fits right with the track." 

The ambient feeling of both cuts is a definite divergence for Moreno, but given the Deftones' 
particularly rabid and well-informed fan base, Team Sleep is assured of moving a respectable 
number of copies of whatever they release. Wilkinson seems bemused by the rise of his friends'
band from humble beginnings in Sacramento in the early '90s, playing in front of a few hundred 
people every weekend to magazine covers, Grammies and teenage fans who document his every move 
online. 

"I even heard there were some pictures of Chino's kids on the Internet," Wilkinson says. 
"Someone tracked down photos of them somehow--that's some serious shit. I guess the Internet 
has brought out the little stalker in everyone." 

He takes in stride the reversal of fortune his friends have experienced, going from cooks at 
Mexican restaurants and hole-ridden Vans sneakers to world tours and hole-ridden Vans sneakers. 

"It's a trip to me, because when we were in high school, there were always rich kids, and 
compared to them, we didn't have any money," Wilkinson recalls. "So we had kinda messed up 
clothes you know, but in a way, we were like, 'Fuck that--I'm better than everybody. Who cares 
about money?' 

"It was kind of a conceited attitude, too, but we always felt like, 'I'll do whatever I want to 
do.' So to see them blow up, it's not like they got bigger, it was like everything else got 
smaller. Like a gold record--that's not even a big deal anymore. Or like Grammys? Whatever, 
fuck it."

“Sacramento Bee” – December 2001 // Chino Interviewed

Team Sleep strikes a 'def-ferent' tone
By Chris Macias -- Bee Pop Music Writer

During the Deftones' off-season, its West Sacramento rehearsal spot houses a slumbering pile of 
road cases and drum heads. But on a recent evening, a spacey combo of delay-driven guitars, 
vocal croonings and drum loops spanked off the studio's walls. The Deftones, Sacramento's 
Grammy-winning hard-rock band, will begin work on its new album at the space come January. 
In the meantime, the studio is the stomping grounds for Team Sleep, singer Chino Moreno's side 
project.

The buzz about Team Sleep has been brewing for more than two years, yet the band is only now 
reaching the public. Team Sleep's debut album will be released in March through Tone Def, the 
Deftones' boutique label on Maverick Records, and Team Sleep is previewing its works-in-progress 
on a current West Coast tour. On Sunday, the band performs with old-school Sacramento favorites 
Phallucy, the recently reunited alternative-rock band. (For a profile of Phallucy, see last 
Sunday's Encore.)

While the Deftones' bombastic hard rock is a sonic punch to the gut, early reports said that 
Team Sleep was more like a soothing endorphin rush, a down-tempo affair dominated by 
synthesizers and trip-hop drum loops. But Team Sleep has been beefed up recently, both 
sonically and through an expanded lineup.

The project originated as a trio with Moreno at the helm, along with DJ Crook, a turntablist 
and drum machine whiz kid originally from Los Angeles, and guitarist Todd Wilkinson, a buddy 
of Moreno's since their days at McClatchy High School. Over the past few weeks, a few local 
musicians have been added to Team Sleep's touring camp: bassist/keyboardist Rick Verret (who 
also performs with the band Tinfed) and Hella drummer Zach Hill. Phallucy guitarist Sonny 
Mayugba also performs on a couple of Team Sleep's newer tunes.

So what started as a moody, studio-based project has blossomed into a full-tilt band, with a 
few cranked amplifiers to boot. As Team Sleep's rehearsal rolls near the midnight hour, the 
group's sonics seem to reference the Cure's droning "Pornography" album, but with a firmer 
stomp on the distortion pedal. Is this the same outfit that Moreno described as "really ambient" 
in a 1999 interview with The Bee?

"It's grown a lot, especially in the last couple weeks," said Moreno, taking a rehearsal break 
on the studio's couch. "It didn't really start off as a band. It started off as three dudes who 
wanted to make some music. A lot of it was made in my house with a drum machine, and it kind of 
morphed into what it is now, which is a band.

"We had all these guitars and it's kind of hard to play them quietly all the time," Moreno added. 
"And when I brought Zach in -- he's seriously one of my favorite drummers -- we started clicking.
And he plays pretty hard, so to match his intensity I just sing a little harder and play a little
harder."

So far, Team Sleep has about 12 tunes in its repertoire (a few working titles include "Solid 
Gold," "King Diamond" and "Bling Bling"). Its album -- which was recorded in Seattle, Atlanta 
and Sacramento -- is just about done, save for a few vocal tracks and other fix-its which should 
be completed by year's end.

A few cameos have rounded out the project, including contributions from Helium's Mary Timony and 
Mike Patton of Mr. Bungle and formerly of Faith No More. Patton's vocals form the core of 
"Kool-Aid Party," a spooky tune with lurching drum beats and jittery synthesizers.

"All of the lyrics are still a mass-suicide type of thing, but (Patton) sang it like a lonely 
sailor song," said Moreno. "It's kind of cool how he took the idea and twisted it all like that. 
It was fun to be able to work with him."

Still, translating many of Team Sleep's tunes for the live stage has been challenging, 
especially since the band hasn't logged much rehearsal time. So, does Moreno feel ready on the 
eve of Team Sleep's debut tour?

"Not really," he said. "But my whole thing is that I'm doing this for fun, and you know what, I 
just want to go out there and have fun with my friends. That's what it started off as and 
that's what I want to do. I don't want to stress on it."

Though tentative plans had been made for Team Sleep to tour the East Coast in 2002, it's likely 
that the band's West Coast tour will be it for now. For the time being, though, the Team Sleep 
project has given Moreno a prime opportunity for him to explore some textures and musical 
adventures that might not fit with Deftones.

"After doing Deftones for a while, I couldn't wait to do a whole set of mellow (stuff)," said 
Moreno. "But at the same time, I can't deny that heavy music is a part of me. Deftones is what 
I love to do and what I will always do. (Team Sleep) is a leisure kind of project, a fun 
project, and I still have a life outside of music. But Deftones stuff is coming closer and 
closer, and once (Deftones guitarist Stephen Carpenter) gets in to town, that's all I want to 
concentrate on."

And then Team Sleep will have to give it a rest.

* www.deftonesworld.com *

“Columbus Alive” – August 2001 // Chi Interviewed

The Deftones’ pony ride (© COLUMBUS ALIVE)

When bassist Chi Cheng steps off the arena rock stage, he heads to a poetry reading

by Brian O’Neill 

The Deftones’ White Pony was one of 2000’s most forbidding and minimalist discs. Yet, despite 
the downtuned gloom (and scant radio play), the band walked away with their first platinum 
album and a Grammy award. 

Invited to join post-grunge hit-makers Godsmack on tour, the Deftones played Polaris 
Amphitheater last weekend. Bassist Chi Cheng checked in with Columbus Alive about the band’s 
unexpected commercial success, avoiding the pigeonholes of musical genres, and his poetry side 
project.

Columbus Alive: In interviews before White Pony came out, you seemed confident that you made a 
good record, but you also seemed to wonder how your fans would take it, because it was a 
departure from the norm. Of course, it’s become your most popular record. Do you think your 
fans are more open to the new stuff than you thought initially? 

Chi Cheng: I’ve always given our fans a lot of credit. I figured most likely that anything we 
thought was good enough to record, they would feel the same way, and they did. There are a lot
of extremes on the album, and we took it a little further than we’ve taken it on our other 
albums. We felt really happy about it, but we were hoping that our fans would progress with us, 
and they did.

CA: The Deftones seem to be garnering more critical acclaim than any of your peers. I don’t 
know how much attention you pay to critics, but you and System of a Down are the two bands the 
more cerebral fans and critics seem to praise. 

CC: Yeah, and I really appreciate that. We’ve done a lot to stay out of being in any kind of 
scene, or any sort of musical genre or box. We’ve taken a lot of tours that were contrary to 
what a lot of people wanted us to do, or what would have made us more popular. We’ve always 
taken an approach to the left. I think it’s paid off. We never set out to be the biggest band in 
the whole world. I see a lot of guys blow up overnight and they’re huge, 
but that was never our goal. Our goal was to write music that was interesting to us and that 
we enjoyed. It’s cool that people dig it.

CA: You and Godsmack make an interesting pairing. All the rock bands coming out now seem to be 
filtered through either the Alice in Chains ethos or the Faith No More ethos. On this tour, 
you’ve got two bands that reflect those two ideologies on one bill. I imagine it leads to you 
and them having slightly different fans.

CC: Yeah, which I think is a good thing, maybe they can win over some of our fans and hopefully 
we can win over some of theirs. If people have an open mind, it’s a cool show. We were thinking 
about doing another headlining run. We’ve already done two or three in the States—just 
headlined and headlined. Godsmack called us up and offered the co-headlining thing, and it 
just seemed like a good idea. We wanted to get out there and tour this summer before getting 
down to writing the next album. We wanted to be out there in front of our fans, but we figured 
we’d do it with someone else—just make it easy. This offer was the best one we had going, so we 
took it.

CA: Do you foresee this being your last tour run before going into the studio?

CC: We know that we’re going to be gearing up to write. This is our last tour for this album, 
most likely. We’ve got a string of weekend shows through September and October, and we’ll 
probably take November off and start writing.

CA: Is writing something you do when you have ideas formulated, or do you not think about that 
when you’re on the road.

CC: We pretty much write when we get off the road. Touring is just a big party!

CA: Tell me a little bit about Bamboo Parachute, your spoken word CD. Are you still selling it?

CC: Yeah. I think people can still get it at Deftones Worldwide [the band’s website]. But I 
haven’t brought it out on the road on this tour. It’s kind of a hassle, because I’ve done 
everything myself, you know what I mean? Sometimes I’m just entirely too drunk to do the 
numbers myself. I’ve got another one recorded already. It’s a live reading I did in Sacramento. 

CA: Is it in the same vein as Bamboo Parachute?

CC: I think I only read one thing off Parachute. I write so much, but I hate all my old work, 
so like, a day later, I’ll hate the poem I wrote before and I’ll have to write a new one.

CA: Making the jump from poet to lyricist is not that huge of a stretch. Do you and (Deftones 
vocalist and lyricist) Chino ever think about collaborating?

CC: They’re pretty separate. He’s an amazing lyricist, which I really appreciate. 
So I’ve never really felt like I’ve needed to pawn off my poetry on him. He likes it a lot, 
but even for him it would be some weird shit. I don’t think it would happen. I don’t think he 
could be as passionate about it if it didn’t come directly from him. I appreciate that.

CA: Other members of the Deftones have musical side projects. Have you ever considered that, as 
opposed to the spoken-word thing?

CC: I’ve tossed some ideas around. It’s always cool to play with some other cats. But like 
everything else we do, I wouldn’t want to do it unless I could do it really well. I don’t 
think I’m a good enough musician to do a side project. I’ll just stick to the poetry.

August 23, 2001 - www.deftonesworld.com -

“HeraldNet” – 2001 // Abe Interviewed

Deftones kept bickering to minimum on new CD 

By Alan Sculley 
Special to The Herald 

The Deftones' 2000 CD, "White Pony" gave the Sacramento band a commercial breakthrough, 
producing a hit single in "Change (In the House of Flies)" and becoming the first 
million-selling release in the Deftones' career. 

But perhaps the bigger story if interviews following that album are any indication was 
that the "White Pony" project created considerable turmoil within the group. 

In particular, singer Chino Moreno and guitarist Stephen Carpenter were said to be in a 
pitched battle over the direction of "White Pony," with Carpenter wanting a relentless 
hard-rocking CD, while Moreno favored including more change-of-pace material alongside the 
group's familiar furious rock assault. 

Moreno, who had started to learn guitar, also began writing music for some of the material, 
a move that, according to some reports, amounted to the singer invading Carpenter's musical 
turf within the band. 

Deftones drummer Abe Cunningham, though, chuckled at how the situation was portrayed. 

"If you ask me, it's the same argument that's been going on since day one. It's kind of funny,
" he said. "I think they (Moreno and Carpenter) made more light of it with 'White Pony,' the 
creative differences. There have always been creative differences in our band. That's what 
makes any band be a band. 

"Stephen has always been more the metal guy, more the heavy guy, and we all love that type of
music, too. Chino's been into the more '80s (music). ... Early on that's how they got pegged, 
even though the whole band enjoys all music." 

Cunningham said life in the Deftones, if still not entirely smooth, was a bit more peaceful 
during the making of their new self-titled CD, the fourth release by the group, which in 
addition to Moreno, Carpenter and Cunningham, also includes bassist Chi Cheng, and DJ and 
keyboardist Frank Delgado. 

"There was definitely a lot more camaraderie during this time," he said. There's definitely more 
patience on everyone's part, especially theirs," Cunningham said, referring to Moreno and 
Carpenter. "And there are so many ideas in this band collectively that it's just about everyone 
being open. It's not always easy. We're pretty brutal on each other, too. We're constantly just 
verbally bashing each other all day long, but it's more of a brotherhood. It's almost done out 
of love, really." 

The release of the CD "Deftones" comes three years after "White Pony," a period that included 
the usual stretch of extensive touring, plus, for the first time in the band's career, several 
months of time away from any Deftones activities. 

Not only did the band members take time to relax and recharge, Moreno, Carpenter and Delgado 
all took time out to work on side projects. Moreno formed a group Team Sleep, while Carpenter 
wrote and recorded music for a side project called Kush. Delgado, meanwhile, worked on tracks 
for a project called the Co-Defendents. 

Cunningham saw nothing but positives in the outside activities of his bandmates. 

"It's great," he said. "It's healthy, all these different outlets. Some people think it might 
be threatening to the core of the band, but I think if you ask me, it's beautiful. You meet some 
different people. It makes it better for us. We've been playing together for so long now, it's 
beautiful to see a different way to do it." 

The Deftones formed 15 years ago in Sacramento, Calif. The first seven of those years were spent 
writing, refining and developing the band's sound, while searching for a workable record deal. 

In the mid-1990s, the group finally found a match in Maverick Records, the label owned by Madonna. 

Two initial CDs, "Adrenaline" (1995) and "Around The Fur" (1997), coupled with relentless touring, 
set the stage for "White Pony," which in addition to going platinum earned a 2001 Grammy for best 
metal performance.

“deftonesworld.com” – July 2001 // Rodleen Interviewed

Rodleen interviewed by Nuno Rolinho (www.deftonesworld.com)
July, 2001

------------------------------------
------------------------------------

NUNO: how did your appearance on the white pony happen?

RODLEEN: At the time I lived up near Santa Barbara on Rincon
Point.  I came to Larabee Studios in West Hollywood
that week to check out Rob Wasserman (an incredible
bass player who plays with Bob Weir, amongst others)
master his solo album with Dave Aron (Snoop's
producer).  These were the same studios that The
Deftones were recording their album in.  Up in the
lounge above the studios someone played a recording of
mine from a show I had recently done.  Just me my
guitar.  Anyway, the guys heard my voice and asked me
to sing on the album.  I didnt know what to expect. 
The Deftones were new to me, and I didnt even know
what kind of music it was going to be.

NUNO: what do you think about the song "knife party"? I
mean chino wrote it, and it means something for
him...what does it mean for you? suicide perhaps?

RODLEEN: When I sing knife party with Chino, I am floating
around the room forever.  The song is psychedelic. 
And, honestly, it does always put me in a
sensual/sexual feel.  When Chino asked if I would sing
on his song, I asked what it was about.  He replied
that it is a song about his fantasies, his sexual
fantasies.  But, wow.  I never thot of it as relating
to death.  Now that you mention it, certainly it is
dark enough to represent a passage of some sort of
death.  Hey, Im all for opportune spiritual rebirths.

NUNO: do you sing on that song? or it's just "screams"?

RODLEEN: We were up in that lounge at Larabee, and Chino asked
if I wanted to 'sing' on this song.  As he began to
play it, I said, let's just go down in the studio
right now and see how it hits my soul.  My voice came
out in this operatic screamsing.  Never before had I
known it.  I love how we are always learning new
things in life, and that different people inspire us
to express and reveal our arts in different ways.  So,
an answer to your question:  I call it operatic
screamsinging.

NUNO: how is your relationship with the guys?

RODLEEN: Like brothers.  They are my brothers.  And their wives
and children are respectful and kind.  I have a love
for the whole crew.

NUNO: what's your favorite deftones song (behind knife party)?

RODLEEN: Honestly, Im not great with names of songs and all. 
But I would have to say the one song that I love with
a passion that rides me -superduper doped up high
like- everytime I hear it, I jump.  It's the one that
goes "Why dont you just get sic!  Get sic!"  Cause
"get sic" is my last name.

NUNO: what do you think about the deftones as a new rock
band?

RODLEEN: They rock in a true way, a new way, which involves the
audience.  Integrating the whole into a participation
on levels of motion/emotion and pure performance;
somehow Chino gets out there and gives and gives and
receives and receives.  Something amazing and
powerful.  And then, with this TeenSleep, it is as if
they can keep changing; as if change is what they are.
 Which is cool and really something special.

NUNO: what's your favorite band?

RODLEEN: I dont play favorites.  I love good live shows, and I
love to sing and make music.

NUNO: do you have a band, or some kind of side project?

RODLEEN: Lately Ive been extremely busy working for Jubilee and
Perry Farrell and Jane's Addiction, on a
administrative/coordinating level.  I want to be
singing more in the future,
and I will be.

NUNO: do you have some special friends like chino, i mean
"star people"?

RODLEEN: Yeah.  I know lot's of star people.  And I wouldnt
even say that star people have to be celebrities. 
Tho, I do brush shoulders (and wings) with many
celebs.

NUNO: what do you think about today's music scene?

RODLEEN: It feels to me like it is on the verge of change in a
massive and global way.  I think the actual music
'scene' itself has been almost dormant, but I feel the
inner cult i vation of some hugely beautiful span
about to emerge.

NUNO: one last question, a tricky one...what's your
opinion about chino, as a sex symbol?

RODLEEN: The way he moves and moves his crowd of fanatics IS
sex.
...Tonight I heard teamsleep... It told a story
when I listened to it tonight over the phone. 
Methodic.  Creepy.  Creeping up at me then without
words one song sounded like birds flocking and rain
and fire, then into the earth.  Happy stuff, too. 
Hits my gut, championing and grabbing the soul.  I
want to sing it.  I heard children's laughter, too,
echoing in the forefront sounding like over time and
through water.  It was Crook's kid.  But everything
else was real...

---------------------------------------------------
---------------------------------------------------

“Exotic Magazine” – July 2001 // Chi Interviewed

Chi Cheng interviewed by Exotic Magazine, July 2001

- www.deftonesworld.com -

**********

The Deftones sneak up on you. A lot of bands lure you into the 8-bars-of-quiet followed by 
8-bars-of-Cookie-Monster-metal trap, but this Sacramento-based quintet doesn't care if you 
have a short attention span for their free-form dynamics. Within songs like "Pink Maggit" 
and "Passenger" from their latest album White Pony, there are long passages of hypnotic, 
sultry space. Meaning: The requisite rage they interject is that much more jarring and potent; 
hell, it's almost like they care. 

Originally inspired by Bay Area kitchen-sink metal from Mike Patton's Mr. Bungle and Faith No 
More, there isn't much that could be called "trendy" about the Deftones, save for a few of their 
collaborations. "Passenger" features vocals by Tool frontman Maynard James Keenan, who also 
co-wrote the song with Deftones vocalist Chino Moreno. 

"It's about being the passenger in a car with a girl who's taking you around the world, 
literally, sexually, in a whirlwind of time," Chino explains. "I can barely tell where I end 
and Maynard begins." 

The ascent for Moreno, guitarist Stephen Carpenter, turntablist Frank Delgado, bassist Chi 
Cheng, and drummer Abe Cunningham has been a subtle, but steady, climb as well. Their 1995 
debut, Adrenaline, sold a half-million copies with virtually no help from a radio world still 
trying to hype the damn grunge thing. Tireless touring worked up a healthy buzz for their 1997 
follow-up, Around the Fur. Alternative radio played "Be Quiet And Drive (Far Away)," and MTV got 
on board with the video for "My Own Summer (Shove It)." 

With stints on the Warped and Ozzfest tours solidifying their stature, the Deftones hit the 
next level with the critically-acclaimed Pony. This not only established them (somewhat 
begrudgingly) among the metal moguls as new messiahs, but Spin, Rolling Stone, Alternative 
Press and the rest of the big boys stood up and barked as well. But the biggest bone was their 
song "Elite" receiving the "Best Metal Performance" Grammy Award this year. 

But wait, there's more: The band is kicking off an eight-week US tour, which includes a stint 
headlining Rockfest at Columbia Meadows on July 14th, with Godsmack, System Of A Down, and 
Saliva. Exotic spoke with 30-year old bassist Chi Cheng from his Sacramento home before his 
band hit the road for the next leg of their tour. 

Exotic: How do you think the band has evolved musically from Adrenaline to White Pony? Has 
it been a natural progression? 

Cheng: It was all a natural progression; it's never been contrived...we never really talked 
about it. The only thing we talk about is that we don't want to do the same thing twice. 
So when we write things we go, "Oh shit, that sounds like this band or that band," or "That 
sounds like the last album; don't do that." I mean, it's always going to be our voice 
musically, but I think we're all pretty much just trying to impress ourselves and do something 
different for us. 

Exotic: You guys have been media darlings the past year... 

Cheng: Which is weird. We've always pushed it and pushed it, and now that we're getting all 
this critical acclaim we're like, "Uh, okay. It's not really what we were shooting for, but 
right on." I mean, everyone's always like, "Shit, man, if you guys have been around for 12 
years, how come you've only got three albums out?" 
When you're from Sacramento, or the Bay Area, you're in it for the sake of playing music. 
It's not like your brother's cousin is an A&R guy and you're going, "Let's get signed." 
We were more like, "Let's try and write good songs and hopefully we can get a small following 
and cop some free beer out of our promoters." 

Exotic: How did the song "Passenger" come together with Maynard James Keenan? 

Cheng: We're friends. When we were on the Ozzfest, Maynard was like, "Look, once you're done 
with Ozzfest, come on down here and we'll fool around together." And I was hoping he was 
talking sexually, but I guess he just wanted to make music (laughs). 

Exotic: Do I print that? 

Cheng: Yeah, yeah, print it. But you know, we figured, "Well, shit, it's amazing that he wants 
to work with us." So we were already blown away. Right on, let's do it, what an honor. We've 
always respected the way Tool has done things. Nobody goes, "That's new metal," it's more 
like, "Oh, that's Tool." It's indigenous to their own nature. He never intended to sing on 
anything. He just wanted to see how we wrote and give us ideas about how Tool does things, 
just because he's interested in bands. So we went down to work with him, and we already had 
the music for "Passenger" done. We were playing (while) Chino was out getting a beer or 
something; he wasn't in the room. Maynard was listening and he said, "Why put things in 
4/4 when you can go 3/4 or 7/8 or something like that?" And then he just grabbed the mike 
and started singing, and it was like [sigh]--you know what I mean? And Chino had come back at 
that point, so they started trading off and doing their thing. 
We didn't ever really intend to use Maynard on the new album, because every band is like, 
"Okay, here's our token celebrity guest appearance, our celebrity crutch for the album." 
We didn't really want to go that route. But when we actually recorded it, we couldn't get 
Maynard out of our heads. And I said, "Look, dude, just call Maynard and ask him to come in 
and do the song." So Maynard came in for two days: wrote, recorded, done. 

Exotic: Has the Grammy Award spoiled you guys? 

Cheng: No. It's nice, you know what I mean? I put it up in my house and go, "That's nice." 
It was a huge honor; I'm not going to lie. It's pretty amazing, but I'm not going to let it 
affect me in any way...other than, I expect to get free groceries now. I go in and say, 
"Look, I've got a fucking Grammy. If I've gotta pay for this broccoli..." So, no, it hasn't 
changed me at all. 

Exotic: When do you think you might go into the next studio album? 

Cheng: Hopefully after the summer tour we'll get in there and start writing and getting things 
done. 

Exotic: Do you guys write anything on the road, or do you go into the studio cold? 

Cheng: We never write anything on the road; we're too busy getting drunk. We're not one of 
those organizational bands that's like, "Okay, cool, I'll meet you at 3:00 and we'll do the 
ProTools thing." Nothing like that. It's like, "Oh, hey, you're drinking already. Cool!" 

Exotic: Is there anybody in the band that parties harder than everybody else, or is it a tough 
call? 

Cheng: Yeah, yeah. [pause] It's pretty tough. Stephen's a pot smoker. I'm a pretty big drinker. 
The other guys are, whatever. 

Exotic: Favorite poison? 

Cheng: Oh, I don't like to discriminate. I don't think that's cool in life. I'm 
equal-opportunity. 

Exotic: This story is going to predate your July 14th gig in Portland. Certainly, being from 
Sacto you've been through Portland a bunch of times. 

Cheng: Hell, yeah. We played La Luna maybe 12 times. We love Portland. Any place where they 
serve beer in a theater is okay with me. 

Exotic: Any wild stories from previous gigs that you can remember? 

Cheng: We did a radio show one time where the stage got pretty wrecked. I don't remember...
I think it was...I was pretty drunk! This was a while ago, and Creed was playing after us. 
We're on stage, doing whatever, and I had split my eye--my eyebrow--open on the second song. 
And I wasn't going [sobbing], "Oh no, I split my eye open. I can't fuckin' play anymore." 
(But then) I was like, whatever, fuck it. So I was feeling kind of punk, right? 
So we're playing, I'm bleeding and drinking more, thinking it's a fuckin' punk show for me now. 
So I said, "Throw everything up on stage!" And people were like, "Excuse me?" And the band was 
like, "Hey man, shut the fuck up!" And I said, "Throw everything up on stage, you fuckin' 
pussies!" Oregon started pelting us, right? And then I felt bad, because our drummer got hit 
by a rock, and now he's bleeding, too. And I'm like, "That's not good enough! Fuckin' set it 
on fire or piss in it before you throw it on stage!" I mean, shit was comin' up in pee bottles 
and we're getting pelted...but we're finishing the song. I wasn't trying to start a riot or 
anything like that. I was like, fuck it, let's have fun. And the crowd was having fun, too; 
they were going for it. And we finished our set and walked off the stage, saying "Thanks a lot!" 

Exotic: So the stage is trashed. I'll bet Creed was thrilled. 

Cheng: Oh man, they were standing on the side of the stage, watching. And I walked off the stage 
and saw their faces, and looked at the stage--it's fucking ruined--and I'm like, "Sorry, 
fellas!" And I went back to the dressing room. Hooked up with a medic who was like, "Hey man, 
you need stitches." 

Exotic: Great reaction. Cut yourself open and then tell people to throw shit at you. 

Cheng: Yeah, so now I'm kind of hoping that Portland doesn't associate our band with throwing 
shit at us, because that was a one-time deal.

“Zeromag dot net” – April 2001 // Stef Interviewed

"The Deftones Say....Shut Up, You Don't Know Me"
Stephen Carpenter interviewed by Jason Pepe (Zeromag dot net 2000)

www.deftonesworld.com

---------------------

A lot has happened to the Deftones over the last decade. For years, the band played Northern 
California’s club circuit along side Sinister Sam, Seed, Salmon and Disorderly Conduct. 
Their sound was considered unique, refreshing and different by all of their peers. 
Then, in 1995, mega-label Maverick caught wind, signed the band and released their first album 
Adrenaline. It sold a half-million copies, garnered critical acclaim and got the band a loyal 
fan base. Two years later, the band released their second Maverick album, Around The Fur, which 
hit gold in no time. The band then hit the road, headlining clubs the Ozzfest and the Warped 
tour. Now, in the year 2000, the Deftones offer their third Maverick album White Pony. 
During the course of the albums recording, the Deftones never forgot about their fans. 
They designed a one of a kind internet CD release party and released a special limited edition 
of White Pony -- 50,000 in red and black jewel cases respectively. These discs will feature a 
bonus track and a different J-card. "It’s like a little gift to our hard-core fans," admits 
Stephen, guitar played for the band. "It’s our gift to the hard-core that are going to show up 
the first day." 
"The core of our fan base -- every fan is important to us -- but the ones that have been there 
since day one, for those people it our little way of saying ‘You’re cool’," says Stephen. "It’s 
a little extra something different, away from the norm. It’s nothing more than us saying thanks. 
It’s not like saying ‘Ha ha the rest of you people aren’t cool. You didn’t get them.’ It’s not 
like that. It’s just a little taste for those that have been here. They’ll know about it and go 
get it."
Another extra that is featured on White Pony is a track called "Passenger." The song is a duet 
with Chino (vocals) and Maynard (vocals for Tool & A Perfect Circle) doing a trippy call and 
answer thing. "We’re friends with Maynard," explains Stephen in regards to how the rack came 
to be. "He respects our music and we respect his. We wanted to jam and see what would happen. 
We actually went to just hook up with him just to bounce ideas off of each other and see how 
things would come out if we worked and did something."
"What he (Maynard) actually did with us -- we already had the music worked out and it just 
grabbed him," says Stephen. "He just got involved. We were already doing all kinds of other 
things, but that song was like the song out of all of the things we were doing that he just 
latched on -- it just triggered him -- and he just went for it. He just felt it and said this 
was the one."
"We did all kinds of stuff with him (Maynard)," reveals Stephen. "We’ve got a whole bunch of 
dat tapes that we did where we’re just jamming, you know. And it’s some tight, tight shit on 
that mother fucking shit. And that’s just what we did off of the cuff. That song (“Passenger”) 
is the one where, as far as his singing as the vocalist Maynard, that was the one that made him 
just jump out and it made him just lay it in right from the start." Definitely a song to spark 
one up and drive to.
Speaking of sparking one up, in recent months the use of marijuana for medical purposes has 
been gaining ground. Santa Cruz has pretty much made it legal, while other ventures have raised 
the eyebrows of many state and country leaders. Maybe the time has come to realize that it’s a 
plant -- just a bloody plant. "It (pot) doesn’t have to be praised by the world or nothing like 
that, it’s just got to be accepted," explains Stephen. "If we live in such a civilized society 
where we can say alcohol is legal to purchase after a certain age when everyone knows those two 
are the killers, and pot can’t? How can you say the same thing about marijuana when no one who 
gets high goes out and fights."
"All the down sides to it (pot) are completely outweighed by the up side," explains Stephen. 
"People would be a lot more peaceful, a lot more creative, because their going to be thinking of
worlds of stuff to create anything new and a bunch of innovators will be born and all local 
restaurants will come up. What’s going to happen? We’re going to eat. Eat and think."

"The bottom line is, you can’t control something that everybody can grow," continues Stephen. 
"It will still be worth money even if you (government) said it was all right. Even if you were 
granted permission and had a legal right to grow it, somebody would still want to buy it. 
So how can you control that? You can’t tax it if you can’t control it."
Many people try to find themselves by going back to their roots, back to their ancestry. 
"I’m Stephen. I’m here now. Whatever my roots are it’s cool, but my roots don’t make me who I 
am now. I make me who I am now." And what makes up the "me", which intern creates the "I"? 
"If I don’t do what I want to do, I’m not ever going to be happy."
"I’ve never been one of those people that seeks out to really know my ancestry because I really 
don’t believe that it has any relevance to where I am and what I am," reveals Stephen. "I don’t 
ever want to rely on that (roots). It’s nice to know what you are (blood lines), but a lot of 
people always want to know what they are so they can put themselves into a category and I hate 
that."
Some find their paths through life’s experiences. Some find their paths through spirituality. 
Spirituality does not equate to religion. Religion is organized, while spirituality is more 
within ones self. Despite not believing in Christ, Stephen is a very spiritual person. "I still 
to some extent, from being raised Catholic, believe in the Catholic views," explains Stephen. 
"But I don’t really believe them because I know it’s such a brain washing control thing. And I 
don’t know other religions and all of the details of them, but any religion that you pay money 
to, there is no spiritual love there. Whether it be by donation or someone trying to raise the 
money -- it’s the same -- it’s not spiritual."
"The pyramids -- the story is told -- they hold the secret to our true origin, but that’s a 
story as far as I’m concerned," says Stephen. "I believe in science more than I believe in a 
story and even then I got too many questions to say I believe it for sure. I grew up a religious 
person and I’m not religious now. A lot of mother fuckers say that I’m crazy, but you know what, 
I’m the furthest thing from a crazy person. I definitely trip out and over think some things too 
much, but you know what, science can’t exactly prove where we’re from. And why is it that on our 
dollar bill we have a pyramid with an eye? What’s that? And it says ‘In God We Trust’. Who’s 
God?"
"Some years ago a friend was telling me about the pyramids and there is no human on this planet 
that built the pyramids," explains Stephen. "Who ever thought that the Egyptians built the 
pyramids, they’ve been smoking crack and their family before them have been smoking crack too." 
Rumor has it, some time ago, during one of the big pyramids expeditions a metal door was found. 
Next thing you know, the pyramid is shut down to the public. "That’s for real," continues 
Stephen. "They found a metal door in the middle of the pyramid that was unknown origin. 
It was years ago I heard that. I had already lost my faith, but when I heard that shit I was 
gone for good. I was like, man whatever." Just remember, it’s never too late to turn back, 
embrace Christ and the sacrifice he made for each and every one of us.

The whole alien / pyramid thing may sound a bit over the edge for some folks. That’s just fine, 
because the Deftones music has always gone over the edge. "We’ve always done it (gone over the 
edge) with subtly," explains Stephen. "It just seems more apparent now because more people are 
able to notice us now. I think people are looking at us more now than they’ve ever done that’s 
why it seems more apparent. You know, I listen to our new record and I hear the same band that 
I hear on every other record. I just hear it with a better production. That’s all I hear." 
Every band has their own unique formula for writing songs. Some have a sole songwriter. Some 
bite from other bands songs. Some simply find structure through jamming together. For the 
Deftones -- it’s a combination of all three. "We try to make stuff all together," says Stephen. 
"Sometimes I might have a whole idea. I may bring it and it might get demolished right off 
the bat. Whoever has an idea -- bring it. Chances are, someone is going to like it and someone 
isn’t going to like it. We just keep trying to go through things until we all find something we 
all like."
By writing in their own unique style, the band has created their own unique sound -- a sound 
that has influenced many bands and even influenced some of the bands influences. "That’s dope 
man," says Stephen. "It’s a good thing you know. When it first started happening it was kind of 
weird and we were just a young band ourselves as far as the world was concerned. Then I was 
like, that’s pretty fucking cool that people actually like our shit to that extent to want to 
actually want to play like our music, or even that our music would even make them want to make 
music."
"Even Max from Soulfly," explains Stephen. "We had a talk a long time ago. We’ve only known each 
other for a few of years. So we were rocking to our record Around The Fur because it was just 
coming out. It hadn’t come out yet but we already had our album and stuff."
"We were kicking it and he’s like ‘Wow, that’s the riff where I got this song from.’ You know, 
like telling me where he got his song from," continues Stephen. "Then we were like ‘No way, 
because that riff that you’ve got to put on your record, we got it from your other record.’ 
It goes in circles -- you know what I mean." 
As Stephen brought up, people like Max have been playing these New Metal / Groove-core riffs 
for nearly two decades. "The gods of it as far as I’m concerned are Faith No More," admits 
Stephen. "Faith No More was like one band out of so many that were doing it. I mean, look at 
Primus. Primus were rap-rock, but none of them were rappers. Primus is rap if you break it down. 
Like you said earlier -- Fungo Mungo man. That was one of my favorite bands. I don’t know what 
the hell happened to them." The last this writer heard of Fungo Mungo, they had signed a deal 
with Island Records, but that was years ago. 
"And as far as influences go -- not as far as the band, but me -- I wrote a lot of the songs in 
the beginning and back then they were real Primus influenced," explains Stephen. "But it was 
more metal based. I totally liked the band (Primus), it’s just that I never wanted to be like 
them. And the guys in the band all wanted to be original, so we made our own sound with each 
other. And to this day, we still don’t have one particular sound or style. We are always going 
to be original in what we do as a band." 
Critics and writers have dubbed the Deftones "innovators of New Metal." The band has been 
credited by these same people for helping start a whole new kind of metal. "Everybody’s like 
‘The new breed of metal’ and I’m like you don’t even know what New Metal is," says Stephen. 
"People talking about New Metal now a days makes me laugh, because they don’t even know what 
original metal was about to begin with, otherwise they would understand that what’s out now is 
not New Metal." I guess metal is just that -- METAL!

Sometimes success changes people. Sometimes the national spotlight morphs people into something 
they never were but may have wanted to be. Other times, it robs them of their very soul. For the 
Deftones, it’s only exposed them for what they are -- a bunch of young men pursuing their 
dreams. "We’ve definitely grown to where we’re at," says Stephen. "We’re all the same people 
we’ve always been. We do a lot of the same things we’ve always done and just doing it (playing 
together) for so long you always look for different ways to express yourself."
As seen on recent video footage and live performances, Chino (vocals) seems to have stepped up 
and raised the intensity level to an all time high. "He’s still doing everything that he’s 
always done," comments Stephen. "He’s more into it than he’s ever been. He’s got more emotional 
and mental freedom to deal with. He can just see things a little clearer and it makes him a 
little more psyched up to do things. He’s always been psyched, but it’s just gotten better."
When listening to any of the band’s three albums, there’s no denying that they’re all in your 
face. Their music always pushes the envelope of what’s the norm, of what’s expected. And so far 
as lyrics go, Chino always seems to take the strangest approach to the subject matters he 
tackles. So where does it (lyrics) come from? What inspires them?
"It’s from his experiences and generalizations of how he feels and sees things from his 
perspective," says Stephen. "He doesn’t sing things in a way where it’s like ‘Hey this is what 
you should do.’ It’s not like telling people to follow him -- it’s not preachy. It’s more of a 
release for him. He creates lyrics that make him sound good to himself and make him feel good 
to sing them. Just being himself. When he does his lyrics he wants to make what makes him feel 
good sound the best he can."
"In his lyrics, I think he’s saying to give respect because he gives it to you," says Stephen. 
"It’s like -- who are you to decide who I am or what I’m worth and not worth. That’s where he 
gets a lot of his inspiration." Now that’s turning a negative situation (being judged by others) 
into a positive situation (writing a song about your own trials). 
It’s no secret that the Deftones are huge video game fanatics. Hell, their promo picture is of 
four of the five members gazing at a video game while Chi (bass) is sprawled out in mid air 
like an Asian Superman. Seems they use video games to unwind and relax. Thus, it comes as no 
surprise that the band will be featured on a video game. Their song "Street Carp," the White 
Pony logo and extensive video images of band (taken from their EPK) will be featured in THQ’s 
new action game entitled "MTV Sports: Skateboarding Featuring Andy MacDonald". Slated for a 
fall release, the video game is being dubbed as "one of the most advanced skateboarding games 
ever."
The concept for "MTV Sports: Skateboarding Featuring Andy MacDonald" is for the player to 
choose one of thirty professional and fictional skaters, including 1999 X-Games Gold medal 
winner Andy MacDonald, Colin McKay, Danny Way, Rick Howard, Steve Williams, Jen O’Brien and 
many more. During the course of forty levels, the player has the option of combining any number 
of the sixty featured tricks in an attempt to skate into the top spot. This video game is 
slated to set new standards for its genre.
Now-a-days, many top bands release an EPK (electronic press kit) with their albums. For the 
most part, a EPK is a video sampler of the album. With the Deftones, the EPK is more of a short 
film than a video sampler. The film -- written and directed by Shawn Foster of Naked 
Productions and shot at Lacy Studios in downtown Los Angeles -- is based in the abstract, 
offering the viewer a chance to witness an eight minute journey through a morbid, yet erotic 
world. 
The worlds humans have to breath with the help of a tank labeled White Pony. If one chooses to 
take off their (oxygen / White Pony) mask, enforcers dressed in black appear out of nowhere and 
take the violator away, as was the case for the futuristic woman who, at the moment of orgasm, 
takes off her mask.
After watching this short film (EPK) and taking notice to the albums release date under a video 
screen and the White Pony labels on all of the oxygen tanks, I had to know. "What is White 
Pony?", says Stephen. "You know, it’s kind of what ever you want it to be. How ever you can put 
yourself into the equation. You know what I mean? We’re pretty neutral. It’s more like a freedom 
thing."
The film paints a vivid picture of a tainted world, yet if we look at our present day world, 
it’s nothing to brag about. I mean, we still have sickos lynching others for their skin color 
or sexual preference. I guess this fictional reality is not too far from the reality we all 
share. There’s always going to be someone trying to oppress someone else. It seems that it is 
in our nature to try and control and to judge others. Just because it’s in our nature doesn’t 
make it right.

"That’s the truth," agrees Stephen. "I tell people all of the time -- ‘You’re welcome to be 
what you want in your life.’ If you want to be something within your own culture, that’s a 
beautiful thing too. But it’s a beautiful thing for other people to be with who ever they want 
to be with. What ever your shit is, do your thing. Do your thing, but do it with respect. 
You don’t have to do everything all out, just because you hate people or to spite people because 
you think your opinion is the best. Every culture has something good about it and people just 
take it all out of control."
at themselves. That’s where all of the problems stem from."
"You know, I’ve always grown up in Sacramento and hearing people say that it’s a dump," says 
Stephen. "They say that they have to get out and I say go ahead, it’s going to be a dump where 
ever you go. And the only reason I can say that is because I’ve been to San Francisco, I’ve 
been to LA, New York, Chicago and Paris and London and I can honestly say that I’m the same 
person everywhere I go. If I’m bored, it ain’t because of my surroundings. If there’s no party 
it’s because I’m not partying."
"People are always waiting for something to happen instead of making something happen," 
explains Stephen. "You know what happens when you make something happen? You get all of the 
people that were wishing something was happening coming to you. It’s not that you’re doing 
something else that no one else is doing. It’s that you’re doing something. Most people don’t 
ever do anything. They always just sit around and wait for something to fall out of the sky and 
hit them in the head. That’s not what life’s about. Just sitting around waiting, it’s (life) 
just going to pass you right by -- every last bit of it."
"And it’s weird, because when I was younger I used to think like that," reveals Stephen. "I 
didn’t know any better. I look back on my childhood and I’m not mad. I wish I would have known 
more or even better had the opportunity to know things better or even accepted what I heard." 
It sounds like Stephen has his head out of the fog and can see life clearly.
"I just started doing that really," offers Stephen. "I’ve been working on it for maybe only 
four years now. It was more like, I know I’m a good person and I don’t have to prove it to 
anyone. I don’t even have to be liked by anybody. I like myself and I’m going to do what I want 
to do. And by doing the things that you want to do and not worrying what anyone else thinks 
around you -- whether people say good things or bad things, just not worrying about it -- it 
frees your mind completely of all the shit that everyone deals with and you’re actually able to 
see and achieve things. You’re able to experience things."
"Experiences only come in life because you try to make them happen," explains Stephen. "If you 
don’t try to make them happen, it’s not going to happen. You might see someone else experience 
some shit or some shit might happen to you, but it won’t be what you want unless you go out and 
do it. And I know that just by trying it -- I mean, I didn’t always succeed in everything I 
tried to achieve -- but the fact that I know that if I keep trying and if I look at things with 
a positive attitude it will be positive."
"There’s always going to be a negative," admits Stephen. "You can’t have one without the other. 
But when I do have experience with the negative side of things, it’s so much easier to handle it 
because I have a positive attitude that I can step outside what is the negativity and look at it 
from another angle and go ‘that’s not so bad’ and handle it. Once again, I’m back in the positive, 
because I can role with it."
"And just remember, I’m not really psycho," admits Stephen. "Don’t take all of my alien shit and 
place it against me, because I’m not psycho. I speak solely for myself (aliens, pyramids, taxes, 
pot, culture). My opinions are purely mine and I don’t expect anyone to hear, adhere or be 
taught by my thing."
"The only thing to tell anyone -- and would love to tell everyone -- is to just be cool to one 
another, respect each other because we’re all just people. The bad people are good people and 
the good people are good people. Everyone has both good and bad in them. Before you look at 
someone and pass judgment because of what you see, before you even know them, look at yourself. 
The problems you see in them is what you see in yourself," finishes Stephen.

“guitar.com” – May 2001 // Stef Interviewed

Stef Carpenter interviewd by Guitar.com

May, 2001

www.deftonesworld.com

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Guitar.com caught up with guitarist Stephen Carpenter backstage at the Riviera Theatre in 
Chicago to talk about his band’s sudden success, the state of the pop charts, and of course, 
guitar playing. Carpenter also shared some playing tips with us in the two accompanying video 
lessons. 

Guitar.com: Your new album debuted pretty high on the charts.

Stephen Carpenter: Yeah it did…I expected higher ’cause I know our shit’s worth it. 
I don’t really pay attention to the charts, so I don’t know who was occupying it or not. 
I don’t know if there was competition or not, but obviously there was. 
Had the two people in front of us not put out records recently, we would have been number one. 
Number three is number one to us. If you put us in perspective to number two and number one, 
we’re pretty much number one in what we’re doing. So it’s pretty cool. 
It’s Britney and Eminem. “Hey man, you guys need to step down.”

Guitar.com: How do you feel about the current state of music? 

Carpenter: It’s weird. What’s really going on, we don’t relate to at all, other than the 
fact that there’s some loud guitars. There’s not even that much screaming going on anymore. 
If everyone was talking about us, let’s just say that it was the talk, and was on everybody’s 
mind –- it doesn’t effect what we’re doing. If there were suddenly 10 million people there, 
it would be the same thing for us, just more people. It’s not, “Oh, now we’re rock stars and 
let’s try to be cool.” It’s like, “OK, what songs do you want to play?” 

Guitar.com: You helped pioneer much of the heavy tone and guitar stylings that are currently 
very popular. How do you feel about that? 

Carpenter: I don’t really think about it. I don’t think that we pioneered anything that hasn’t 
been done. Before us it was Rage, before Rage was Faith No More. 
It’s not like we really pioneered it. I mean we’ve been around longer than Rage. 
We ain’t been around on the worldwide circuit as long as Rage –- we’ve been together 12 years. 
That’s awhile. But it’s not our goal to be famous, just to be successful doing what we like to 
do 

White Pony is full of the aggro guitar tones that Deftones guitarist Stephen Carpenter has 
been cranking out for years. But the experience of a few years on the road and three studio 
albums, has led to a few refinements in his gear, and a few minor changes in his playing style… 
read more

Guitar.com: Were Rage Against the Machine and Faith No More influences for you? 

Carpenter: Well, Faith No More for sure was an influence, not so much Rage because by 
the time Rage came around, we were already doing that same shit. 
We’ve never been a one style of music kind of band. If you listen to our records, 
each song is different from the last song and each record is different from the last. 
But the attitude and emotion that goes into writing our songs is the same all the way through. 
Our sound -– our core sound –- is always there. 

Guitar.com: How do you write your music? 

Carpenter: For me it’s not like trying to be a player more than I’m trying to hear sounds and 
songs, not some bugged out piece no one can figure out. We try to tweak music to where it isn’t 
so perfectly regular. We all know each other so well that before anyone tries to play, 
I know what they’re gonna play. So I change what I’m doing, to throw them off because 
I want them to change. I mean, I love bands like AC/DC but every song is the same. 
I don’t know how they remember what song is what. 

Guitar.com: Have you changed your guitar style much since Deftones started recording? 

Carpenter: No. The different thing now to even five years ago is tunings. 
Other than it’s my same physical approach to my instrument. 
If I find something good, will the rest of my band like it? If I come to the table with a 
thousand ideas, I could walk away with maybe three that everyone likes. As a player, by myself, 
I think everything I’m doing is great. I’m no virtuoso. I don’t know theory,
can’t play a solo to save my life. I don’t worry about it. To me music comes out 
from a sincere point in your person. Even if it’s the most simplistic part. 
If there’s sincerity you’ll know. 

Guitar.com: But critics and even the general public are always asking for something different. 

Carpenter: That’s what’s so dope about our fans. Our audience is a reflection of our taste. 
As a whole, our audience is one audience, but it’s comprised up of so many different kinds of 
kids that like different kinds of music. Someone will come up and tell you, 
“Oh I love this song, it’s your best song ever,” and somebody else will be like, “What?” 
That’s what’s so cool.