“LA Review Journal” – October 2003 // Abe Cunningham Interviewed

October 2003
Las Vegas Review-Journal 


A lot of rockers have talked about the Deftones' 2000 album, "White Pony," with the 
kind of reverence that musicians usually reserve for classics. "White Pony" was rare 
at the time, for mixing lush and dark subtleties into hard-core rock wailings. 
Its followers included mainstream acts such as Linkin Park. 

But the success of "White Pony" gave the Deftones pressure to bear in making a sequel. 
Regardless, though, the band's founding percussionist, Abe Cunningham, says the Sacramento, 
Calif., group followed its usual, slow-paced course, while recording the group's fourth 
album this year, the harder-charging "Deftones." 

" `White Pony' -- a lot of people hold it as our masterpiece, and I love the record," 
Cunningham says. But "all we can do is try and make ourselves happy." 

Cunningham, 30, says other bands write dozens of songs before picking a few to put on an 
album. But not the Deftones. 

"We write barely enough for a record, and we do a lot of trash-canning along the way. We 
work slow, at a snail's pace -- maybe a geriatric snail. A lot of that is trying to get 
the best out of it that we can." 

Cunningham says his band most proudly considers itself to be a touring outfit. And he says 
so far it has paid off for the Deftones to take its time in the studio. Releasing four 
albums in 10 years is no different than director Quentin Tarantino writing and directing 
four films in the same time period. 

But, he says, maybe when the current tour ends, the band will write a quicker collection of 

"This time, I think we're gonna try to write a new record and record it fun and fast," 
he says. 

Cunningham, a husband and a father of two, is known as one of the band's more jocular 
players. He jokes in this interview about how well the Deftones get along, since forming 
15 years ago. 

"We're like cockroaches. We're a band that's been around for 15 years," he says. "We've 
been through so much together for so long, it's like brotherly love, where you can hit your 
brother in the face and still get along." 

He doesn't find his record label, Madonna's Maverick, very funny lately. Maverick executives 
recently forced the band to remove 49 bootlegs of concerts, recorded during the past 11 years, 
that the Deftones had put on its Web site. 

"Bootlegs -- they've been around since cassettes," Cunningham says. "It's a beautiful thing. 
I thought it was killer, and that we could put our stamp (of approval) on it. But (Maverick 
executives) weren't too happy with that. (Expletive) them. They're trying to protect their 
investments, I suppose, but geez, that's hardly something they should feel they need to control." 

Cunningham says the band ought to get the bootlegs to fans, anyway: "We'll figure out something. 
We'll sell 'em out of our bus if we have to." 

Did the Deftones hear from Madonna on the matter? Nope. 

"I haven't seen her in many, many years, except in People and Us" magazines, he says. But 
"I'm sure she wouldn't have a problem with it."

“Peta 2” – September 2003 // Chi Cheng Interviewed

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Chi Cheng (second from left) contemplates life with the Deftones.

Responsible for sparking the nü metal wave or the alt metal explosion, or the … fine, whatever you’d like to call it, the Deftones nailed it back in 1995 with “Adrenaline,” and continued their infectious layered sound with three more Maverick releases, all of which have proved their lasting power. They’ve switched things up a bit, adding more density and melody, but the rarity is in their steadfast trademark sonic tirade. There’s no ambiguity, no confusing them with the current radio fare, no mixing up names or histories. But as much as we admire the integrity and grit of the band itself, it was bassist Chi Cheng, the soft-spoken, non-mammal-eater, who caught our attention. We decided to give him a call, check in, and—naturally—talk vegetarianism.

Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to us. So, I understand that you’re practicing a mostly vegetarian diet. What prompted you to make the switch?

I’d read a book in college called No Denial, I think, by Neil Cohen. … I was already kind of leaning that way and that just turned me off … the way most animals are treated … and I never really went back.

Did you see some graphic pictures or …?

No, no I never saw any graphic pictures, I just read about the treatment of … chickens and cattle and everything else and was, like, I don’t really care to have a part in that.

So you’re touring now. How easy is it for you to find vegetarian food while you’re on the road?

Ridiculously easy. I tell you what, touring in the early ’90s as opposed to touring in the 21st century as a vegetarian is a whole lot different. … Morning Star [Farms] is making just about anything you can possibly conceive of … Oh, God, their [vegetarian] buffalo wings …

Yeah, Morning Star Farms is awesome. Do you ever talk about vegetarianism to your friends or your fans? Is it something that you bring up or is it just something that you are and you live?

I think it’s a personal thing and I think that it’s a decision that should be made as an individual. I think anything that anyone else can do in life to sway another person should be by example. … [I]f somebody wants to ask me about it or something then I’m more than happy to explain it to them. … [A]nd the woman that I’m with now, she’s been vegetarian about as long as me—14, 15 years, something like that. … I’ve never been with a vegetarian, neither has she, so it’s actually really, really nice.

So is there something that you think will encourage other people to go vegetarian?

I think if you guys put me and my woman in an ad—naked. … I would love to do an ad for you.

We do lots of naked things, that’s for sure.

Yeah, I noticed.

Well that sounds exciting!

Yeah, let me know so I can train a little bit.

Are there any other animal rights issues that you’re interested in? Fur or maybe animal testing, animals in circuses?

I’m pretty much against all cruelty to animals, to be honest with you. ? I was raised for a while on a ranch. I had 41 acres and I spent a lot of time with horses, cattle, dogs, birds of all kinds, peacocks. ? I’ve kind of preferred animals over human beings. ? I mean, I can have compassion for all human beings as a Buddhist, but it doesn’t mean I want the sons of bitches around me all the time, ya know?

Yeah, I think animals have a certain innocence and sincerity to them that … you don’t always find in other human beings.

Humans are the [worst] of all animals … the cruelest. Animals [aren’t] really premeditated that way. … They’re very much true to their nature as opposed to human beings. We tend to fight our own true nature, which could potentially be alleviated by more meditation. We really need a Buddhist president.

Especially nowadays … So do you think that alternative fans in general seem to be more sympathetic toward animal rights and going vegetarian these days? There seems to be a sort of trend.

I think that because of the way that they think and perceive things that they’re more apt to just go in the general direction. … Socio-political issues, animal rights. … I can see a correlation for sure.

I completely agree. Well, thank you so much for your time with us.

Yes, thank you so much!

And for offering to help us out in the future. We will definitely brainstorm this idea of yours a little bit more.

Yeah, me and my woman—that would be great.

Look for this on PETA2.com in the near future. Have you been to our Web site yet?

No, to be honest, I’ve sworn off computers, but I’ll get online and check it out.

Definitely … we’ve got some great interviews on there with lots of musicians. Common, Midtown, Saves the Day, Serj Tankian from System of a Down, The Clipse …

Oh, you got Serj on there? Is he vegetarian?

He is, and he’s very much against factory farming and the industrialization of animals.

Oh, me and Serj are tremendously good friends … he’s a fantastic person.

He was really great to talk with. Hey, thanks again!

All right. OK, have a good day!

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“Hit Parader” – 2003 // Deftones Interviewed

“Total Guitar” – August 2003 // Deftones Interviewed

“Reuters” – July 2003 // Abe and Frank Interviewed


Deftones Stir Up Suspense for Fourth Album 
By Margo Whitmire 

LOS ANGELES (Billboard) - After gradually building their fan base for several years, 
the garage-skater-band-turned- Grammy-decorated Deftones have returned to the upper 
regions of The Billboard 200 with their self-titled fourth album. 

To build anticipation for the music, the band's members say they decided to carefully 
shield the album from outside ears until its May 20 debut. 

"We tried to build an anticipation that you can't get these days," drummer Abe Cunningham 

With three albums and more than 10 years as a band behind them, their Maverick/Warner Bros. 
project came easily to the group's members. 

"It's definitely not forced when it comes to creativity," says turntablist Frank Delgado, w
ho spins on the heady, beat-laden jam "Lucky You." 

"But it gets hard because we know what we don't want to do--but we don't know what we're going to do." 

moving steadily uphill 

After nine months of studio time with producer Terry Date, the Deftones find their music to 
be as "exciting as it ever was," Cunningham says. "Our path has been steadily uphill. 
Ten years later, it's better than ever." 

The band's signature backdrop of Stephen Carpenter's frenzied guitar and Cunningham's 
powerful drums blends melodically with lead singer Chino Moreno's voice. 

He excels on such songs as "Anniversary of an Uninteresting Event" and first single, "Minerva." 

It is a move that seems to be working for radio, because "Minerva" is now No. 10 on the 
Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart. 

"They've written an album that is representative of what their core fans would want," 
Warner Bros. marketing executive Robbie Snow says. "But it allows them to grow their audience as well." 


Aggressively marketed internationally to retail with price and positioning and in-store 
visibility, the new album is featured in TV spots on MTV, MTV2, and Fox Sports. 

Before embarking on the hotly touted Summer Sanitarium tour with Metallica, Linkin Park, 
Limp Bizkit, and Mudvayne, the Deftones are currently playing small clubs across the U.S. 

"The club dates allow them to maintain credibility with their core audience, as their 
hardcore fans can still see them in an intimate environment," Snow says. 

Starting out as a bunch of high-school kids playing in their hometown of Sacramento, Calif., 
the Deftones consider themselves "first and foremost a live band," even recording their first 
CD, 1995's Adrenaline, almost completely live. 

The fourth time around, the group is able to better appreciate the process. 

"Just making the music is our favorite part of what we do," bassist Chi Cheng says. "Whether 
it's live or in the studio, we're just excited to make music together." 

Delgado adds, "Being able to have an outlet to be creative and then being able to travel 
around the world to do it is the best." 


“Q” – July 2003 // Deftones Interviewed

“Chart Attack” – July 2003 // Chino & Frank Interviewed

Deftones: Attack Of The Gearheads
By: ChartAttack


Call it love, infatuation or just plain dorkiness, but not unlike your fabulous 
writer here, the Deftones can be quite the technical geeks when it comes to music. 
Discussing the finer points of their latest self-titled album, singer Chino Moreno 
and sampling/keyboard dude Frank Delgado got all gear-head-talk with ChartAttack. 
They seemed to enjoy it over the typical, "I hear you like emo" shit as seen in 
every other article about them including another story I wrote on 'em...

ChartAttack: This effort was quite a while in the making.

Chino Moreno: I normally wouldn’t want to spend a year making a record, but that’s 
how it worked out. I think it was worth it. 

ChartAttack: "Deftones"...Why go for the self-titled idea a la Rancid, like, four 
albums into your career? 

Chino Moreno: It wasn’t really an idea we thought of. It was just our only option. 
We usually have a title before the record’s done or while we’re working on it and 
everyone’s like, "This is it." The one we did have wasn’t agreed on by everyone so 
it was just thrown out. We could only agree on a self-titled album. 

Frank Delgado: It was the last option. We had a few titles early on, 
but I think it’s pretty fitting. 

ChartAttack: Do you think that this album puts anything vastly different into the 
Deftones sound? 

Chino Moreno: Well, there was nothing really outstanding in the way we set out to 
write. It was pretty much the same way as White Pony. 

ChartAttack: I’ve heard rumour that you did try something unique this time around though. 

Chino Moreno: We didn’t use any tape on this album, which isn’t something we’ve told 
too many people. We went all digital. Well, at one point halfway through the project 
we dumped it all down to tape and back to digital. We started it all at the rehearsal 
space instead of tearing our gear apart and taking it to the studio. 

Frank Delgado: We brought Terry [Date, producer] down to our space which is nothing 
special but it was more than what we had in the past. It really helped the writing 
process to write, record, listen back and check things out. 

Chino Moreno: We wanted to try it and we made it work. We used a third of the stuff 
from the rehearsal space right on the album. 

ChartAttack: You went with digital recording and then switched to tape? That seems weird. 

Chino Moreno: We were already on digital, so it was easier to stick with it. We did the 
dump down to tape just to get that hiss and warmth… that was it. The only reason we bothered 
with it. Digital was just easier when we were working out of the rehearsal space. 

Frank Delgado: It was definitely a challenge to get this album coming out the way it did 
under the constraints we placed on it. 

ChartAttack: Do you think you’ll do something like that again in the future if it was so helpful? 
Chino Moreno: Who knows though, maybe for the next album we’ll try to do it all on an 8-track! 
We’ll try to be The White Stripes and do it on six track in five days… with one track broken!

“Chicago Sun-Times” – July 2003 // Chino Interviewed



"Hard rock to the core"

July 25, 2003 


It's been 15 years since vocalist Chino Moreno, guitarist Stephen Carpenter 
and drummer Abe Cunningham started jamming together as high school students 
in Sacramento, Calif., and eight years since the group (which is completed by 
bassist Chi Cheng and DJ Frank Delgado) debuted with 1995's aptly titled "Adrenaline." 

That disc and 1997's "Around the Fur" marked the Deftones as one of the most 
aggressive of the so-called "rap-rock" or "nu-metal" bands, but it was with 
2000's platinum-selling third effort that the band showed the breadth of its 
musical vision. "White Pony" incorporated dense layers of psychedelic/noise guitar 
(think Pink Floyd meets My Bloody Valentine), added grinding industrial textures a 
la Tool, and alternated Moreno's savage screaming with more melodic, moody and 
ethereal interludes. 

The group's self-titled fourth album continues in this experimental vein, and it's 
another strong collection of swirling, layered and subtly nuanced hard rock. Following 
a rare club performance at Metro the week the disc was released, the Deftones are 
performing at 3 p.m. Saturday at the Hawthorne Race Course in Cicero as part of 
Metallica's Summer Sanitarium Tour. 

I spoke with Moreno shortly after the album was completed last spring. 

Question. Tell me about making this album. 

Answer. It happened over a long time--it was a couple of years making this one--and it has 
a different sound than "White Pony." You've got three albums behind you, and you don't 
want to follow any of the same formulas that you used on any of those other records, 
so there's a lot more thinking involved. It wasn't over-thinking. I'm just glad there 
are deadlines, because then the album has to be done! If it wasn't for the deadline, 
the mother-----r would never be done, because we'd just want to keep on working on it! 
It's also cool because this record happened over a time in our lives--the year and a half 
that we got to spend actually living our lives. Since we got signed in '95, we got put out 
on tour, and at the most we'd get a couple of months off here, a couple of months off there. 
But we pretty much stayed on tour and then went in to make records. This time, we got to 
get off the road and go home and kick it. I got to go home and live in my house, drive 
in my car, do s--- that normal people do. Clean my pool. 

Q. But you wound up jumping into a number of side projects during the down time. 
You formed Team Sleep and made an as-yet-unreleased album with some unlikely collaborators, 
including former Faith No More vocalist Mike Patton, ex-Hole bassist Melissa Auf Der Maur 
and former Helium guitarist and vocalist Mary Timony. 

A. But that was also a good thing--a totally useful thing. I know for myself, I can only 
watch so much f---ing television! You can only rake so many leaves until there are no 
more to rake. 
We were all kind of involved in our things. Stephen was making music with B-Real 
[of Cypress Hill]. It's just that Stephen lives in L.A., and the rest of us still live 
in Sacramento. We made this specific time off so we didn't even have to think Deftones. 
We all did anyway, but it was nice to take a break. 

Q. When you write with the Deftones, you add your lyrics after the song has already come 
together, right? 

A. It's always been that way. I'll just hear something and feel a certain thing and start 
singing. I let the music create it, whatever mood it may be. But the music is already 
pretty much written. 

Q. In the past, you were often playing different characters in your songs, adopting roles 
like David Bowie or Peter Gabriel might. I'm thinking of a tune like the kidnap fantasy 

A. There was a lot more of that on "White Pony" than on this one. This one was more stream 
of consciousness. Playing parts was more on the earlier records. That was a time in my life 
when I was kind of bored, and I just wanted to be somebody else. 

Q. So what are you talking about on "Deftones"? 

A. The Earth. 

Q. The lyrics seem to be a lot more optimistic. In the single "Minerva," you sing, "God 
bless you all for the song you saved us." Where is that sentiment coming from? 

A. I just think there's some beautiful s--- going on right now, but there's some really 
f---ing shady s--- going on, too. But there are some really simple things--like a woman's 
voice or hearing someone sing a song--that can just instill this feeling of ecstasy. It can 
be the simplest thing, but everything can build on that. 
I don't want to preach to anybody. My opinions are my opinions. I just want to sing about 
romance and good s---. If anybody listens to that song and gets a message, that's a positive 
thing. I don't want to have to explain what that song should mean; it should mean how it makes 
you feel. I'm pretty damn sure it will make people feel happy. 

Q. When you talk about mood, I hear an awful lot of Pink Floyd in your music. 

A. It is a total mood thing. I can't believe that more people aren't influenced by them. It's 
good to have songs where people can do whatever they want. Just because a band has been 
pigeonholed into whatever kind of scene--for us it's nu metal or whatever--I just hear sounds. 
I hear so much stuff going on around me, and I try to take it in. Not so much fit stuff in or 
cram stuff into another gear, but you can take something that started out over here and take 
it somewhere way away from this Earth. And Pink Floyd definitely did that. 

Q. Let's talk about racism. Did you ever experience any prejudice as a Hispanic in a scene that 
is dominated by white rockers and metalheads? 

A. In the beginning, almost every interview we did, that got brought up to us: "Isn't it weird 
that you guys play metal?" And I was like, "What do you mean it's weird?" For one, I don't know 
what it's like to be white, so I don't have anything to compare it to. I just like what I like. 
It's not like we're trying to be anything. I like all kinds of music--I listen to the Too Short 
tape and a whole a lot more. I take in any music. 
As far as like where I grew up, the [other Hispanic kids] called me "the white one," but they 
were cool about it. It's not like they were messing with me; they were just teasing me. 
The sun would go down and I'd see them go off to go do something--to get into trouble--and I'd 
just go the other way. I was into something different. Luckily, I had Stephen and a handful of 
other guys who were into music, playing it and listening to it, and we all just kind of came 
together--all the kids who were into skateboarding and listening to different types of music. 

Q. Do you think the Deftones have kept their hardcore metal following despite the experimentation 
of the last two discs? 

A. Definitely. I thought we'd lose that audience when we did "White Pony." We still hear from a 
lot of people who ask, "What's your new album like? Is it more like 'Around the Fur,' more hard 
and heavy?" And I'm like, "It's hard and heavy, but it's also nice and sweet sometimes, too." 
But that's how our records have always been. If people really listen to "Adrenaline," it had 
some of the melodic stuff, too, but there was also a lot of the knucklehead s---, like me 
screaming and being pissed-off at everybody and thinking everybody was out to get me and s---. 

Q. How do you feel when the band is categorized as "nu metal"? 

A. Nobody wants to be pigeonholed, man. To me, it's just metal. 

Q. Well, one of the things that distinguish the genre is that it's much more influenced by hip-hop. 

A. The whole world is, man. There are Eminems all over the place! I see 'em every day on every 
corner. To me, that's really what I grew up in, the urban s---, and when I see everybody else 
trying to be like that, I'm like, "How is that fun to be like?" I'm glad I don't live in the 
neighborhood any more, know what I'm saying? I don't get it how people want to be so down with 
the ghetto. It shaped the person I am or whatever, but it's certainly nothing to glorify.


“Mean Street” – July 2003 // Abe Interviewed

July 2003 -Cover Story - Mean Street Music Magazine
DEFTONES: Nu Metal Mavericks

"That we still haven’t killed each other after fifteen years is pretty big.” – Chi Cheng

By: Mar Yvette 


It’s a chilly May evening in Detroit and as the sun begins to set, the motley crowd of 
generation Y-ers lined up at the foot of the gum-flecked, tag-scrawled steps of St. 
Andrews Hall continues to swell, zigzagging around the block like some ravenous snake 
anxious for its meal. A few guys at the front of the line hi-five each other, congratulating 
themselves for waiting in line since sunrise while the burly, tattoo-laden security crew 
cautiously look on and guard the door. Though no one is allowed in until showtime, the sonic 
ferocity of sound check emanates from within the thick brick walls, offering the eager throng 
a tantalizing preview of what’s to come. Playing tonight at the small yet legendary venue, 
where everyone from Lou Reed to Nirvana has played, are the Deftones, music’s undisputed kings 
of nu-metal. Part of the group’s brief “guerilla tour” preceding this year’s Summer Sanitarium 
Tour, the performance is, as drummer Abe Cunningham later says, a warm-up of sorts. “We’ve been 
off for almost two years and haven’t made a new album in almost three, so the whole point of 
the tour was to play for a thousand people or less.” 

Indeed, it’s been a while since audiences have seen a live Deftones show or listened to a 
full-length album of new material. And as Cunningham sees it, the hiatus was a long time coming. 
“This is the first time we actually took a break for ourselves since we’ve been around. And 
we’ve been around since ’88! You have your whole life to record your first record, know what 
I mean? But ever since we recorded [debut album Adrenaline], it’s been just a constant cycle 
of record, tour, record, tour. This is the first time we actually said, ‘man, let’s kick it for 
a while, go home and just be normal before we write songs again.’”

Sound check has finally finished (in fact, the designated time for this interview was pushed 
back an hour and a half) and stepping onto the group’s massive tour bus is like entering a 
tranquil sanctum, a stunning contrast to the fervent swarm gathered just a few feet away. 
Guitarist Stephen Carpenter is standing near the bus’s entrance, rapidly typing away on a 
laptop and downloading songs like “Car Wash” onto his iPod while several people sit around, 
talking and laughing in hushed tones. Past the bunks, lounging at the back of the bus are 
Cunningham, singer Chino Moreno, bassist Chi Cheng, and turntablist Frank Delgado, each of 
whom is trying to determine the source for Delgado’s own current laptop quandary. Evidently, 
“the damn thing won’t work” and Delgado is getting frustrated. “We bring things like our 
computers [when touring], so it’s kind of annoying when they’re screwed up like this one is 
right now.” 

Watching the guys in a setting other than the head-banging roar and bright lights of the stage, 
one would never guess that they are one of -- if not the --most respected hardcore rock bands 
to emerge within the last two decades. Though their sound has most often been billed as nu-metal, 
it is a description acquired much more by default than by definition. “They call it all kinds of 
things [alt-metal? ethereal-core?], but I just say it’s hard rock,” offers Cunningham, enunciating 
“hard” and “rock” as though each word constitutes its own sentence. Among the first groups to 
juxtapose masculine bombast (heavy riffs and earsplitting wails) with feminine gentleness (dreamy 
tones and melodious vocals), the Deftones have generated countless imitators in their wake and 
have influenced other successful bands like System Of A Down. 

It was back in 1988, amid the suburban landscape of our state’s capital, when high school students 
Carpenter, Cunningham and Moreno first got the notion to jam together. Playing anywhere they could 
– the obligatory backyard parties and dive clubs -- they slowly began to generate a local buzz and, 
after going through several different bass players, they found a permanent bassist in Chi Cheng. 
For the next several years, the group continued to develop their sound and harness their strengths, 
eventually recording a solid four-song demo. Ultimately, it was this demo that caught the attention 
of Madonna’s newly christened label, Maverick and in 1995, the Deftones quietly exploded onto the 
scene with Adrenaline.

Though it was far from being an overnight sensation, the Deftones’ debut sold more than half a 
million copies based on word of mouth alone. Having built up a firm fanbase with their relentless 
touring (both on their own and opening for artists like Ozzy Osbourne and fellow Californians, 
Korn) it wasn’t long before expectations mounted for a follow-up album. Enter 1997’s Around the 
Fur, the gold-selling album which not only expanded the band’s musical range (thanks to newest 
member Delgado and his skills on the turntables), but it also propelled the group to greater 
prominence with the MTV and radio hits "My Own Summer (Shove It)" and "Be Quiet and Drive (Far 

After yet another endless jag of touring, in the summer of 2000, the group released White Pony, 
the platinum-plus selling album that erased any lingering doubts that the Deftones were merely a 
poster band for the post-Metallica, neo-hardcore movement. But rather than remaining in the secure 
territory of past success, the Deftones -- as had been their modus operandi from the beginning – 
tinkered more freely with experimental styles and synth-driven instrumentation, allowing Moreno’s 
well-known affinity for bands like The Cure and Duran Duran to seep through the sober sludge of 
dense rhythms and thick guitars. Interestingly enough, it was the unconventional nature of the 
album that garnered the most mainstream recognition, reaping the band’s first Grammy win -- something 
Cunningham doesn’t take too seriously. 

“It’s a pretty cool thing to win a Grammy ‘cause I would always watch that stuff growing up with 
my mom,” he says in his animated speech style. “I remember she would always get excited when the 
Grammys came on, so it’s a big thing, but I’m over it. I mean, it’s cool, but it’s on some shelf 
in my house, all dusty and fingerprinted like a motherfucker,” he laughs.

Now, nearly three years after the success of White Pony comes the group’s fourth full-length effort, 
simply titled Deftones. Debuting at #2 on the Billboard charts (it was #1 in Canada), the self-titled 
disc has been one of the most awaited hard rock releases of the year. A dark, hard-hitting assault of 
artistic perplexity, Deftones evolves well beyond the whisper-to-scream blueprint inked on past albums, 
but it isn’t afraid to embrace the band’s fundamental appeal: a hauntingly gauzy yet intensely raw 
soundscape of Moreno’s lyrical abstractions and chameleon-like vocals floating above a sea of 
tempestuous rhythms, unrelenting guitar gnarls and thudding bass lines. 

Like the eerily melodic first single “Minerva,” songs like “Hexagram” and “Bloody Cape” demonstrate a 
decidedly tighter yet no-less-abrasive sound. “Lucky You” surfaces as the most obvious nod to gothic 
80’ new wave while the closing “Moana” seduces with a haunting sparseness. Although Cheng says he 
considers the record merely “another Deftones album that’s not really distinctive from the other 
albums,” others might disagree. It is arguably the most lucid reflection of the band to date. 

Slouched over his seat with strands of disheveled hair peeping from underneath his baseball cap, 
Moreno says, “I think the album really represents us as a band and that’s why it’s called Deftones. 
But other than that, a title never really jumped out at us. We felt [the title] represented all of 
the songs, our band and the time we spent on it. We literally spent over a year making it, so…just 
being together every single day, going into the studio and spending all day just playing together, 
making parts, putting them together and making songs…it was all us.”

In the course of less than an hour, it becomes clear that though they are five very distinct 
personalities, the Deftones have built a genuine camaraderie with one another. How else to explain 
surviving the notoriously heated scuffles and rebounding from the dreaded brink of breakup?  It is 
an accomplishment that still amazes the soft-spoken Cheng. “That we still haven’t killed each other 
after fifteen years is pretty big,” he says pensively. “And I think we’re all really happy. I mean, 
there’s been a lot of ups and downs, but I don’t think that we have any regrets. I think we’re the 
closest we’ve been in a long time and I’m glad we’ve been able to get through it all together.”

Cunningham agrees that the sometimes-volatile moments have been well worth the struggle. “This is 
our business that we created and we know that we can’t always suck it dry. I think we’re just 
learning that. We went backwards a lot, but it’s all part of learning. Our whole experience with 
this band has always been a very slow but gradual climb over the last fifteen years. If I were to 
sit around and bitch about anything, it would be bullshit because this is my dream, personally. 
It’s a pretty beautiful thing to be able to do – to travel the world and be our own bosses. 
I haven’t had a job, like a real job, in ten years. So to say anything negative would be totally 
ungrateful. ”

With no opening band on this particular tour (which will have wrapped up by the time you read this), 
the band has just about forty-five minutes before they have to put their shoes back on and get onstage. 
Wondering if there’s any musician they’d be willing to stand in line for all day, the guys mention their 
current favorites. “Right now I’m into Ryan Adams and Whiskeytown. That’s about it,” Cheng offers. 
“I’ve been listening to… uh…man, every time this question comes up I cannot answer it,” replies 
Cunningham. What about the new Justin Timberlake? (Going out on a limb.) “Ah, dude, I’ll rock that 
shit!” he exclaims. “That album is Michael Jackson like a motherfucker, but it’s pretty damn good. 
[Timberlake] actually came to one of our shows and we didn’t even know it. Who knows? Maybe he’ll be 
at the show tonight. We would love to kick it with Justin! ”

“Chart Attack” – July 2003 // Chino & Frank Interviewed

ChartAttack - July 21st 2003


- Deftones Not "Morose" -

The Deftones aren’t doing much to dispel public opinion that they’re 
the metallic equivalent of an emo band. They’ve been asked about their 
love of droopy singers like Morrissey a million times throughout their 
15-year career, to the point where it’s a virtual no-no to talk about 
emotions. Still, as singer Chino Moreno and keyboard/samplist Frank 
Delgado discuss the band’s self-titled fourth album, they can’t help but 
mention how feelings were an integral part of its production. 

"I didn’t really feel much of anything this time around… or so I thought,
" says Moreno about the album. "The mood I’ve been in for the past year 
and a half, I can see it now that I listen back to the songs. I can tell 
I was in a dark, drab kind of mood and when I hear these songs, it takes 
me right back to those moments. The record sounds really sad and I think 
it has a lot to do with writing in Seattle during the winter months. It 
felt really lonely and shitty up there. It’s cold, and Frank and I were 
the only ones there. When I listen back, I remember being right there." 

Finally getting a chance to showcase these songs live on the Summer Sanitarium 
tour with Metallica, Limp Bizkit and Linkin Park, Moreno says that each night 
is an adventure. He gets to relive each emotion as the songs unfold. 
Thankfully it’s not too upsetting for him. 

"I can’t describe how it feels to be singing these songs every night. It’s 
not horrible or anything, you just recall that emotion. It’s like how we’ll 
all go through a million emotions every day and another time you’ll recall 
exactly how that emotion was. It doesn’t make you sad or whatever, you just 
know right how you were at that point in time; a thought or feeling. It’s fun 
to be able to recreate emotions to make something happen, whatever it is." 

The band doesn’t see those emotional influences carrying over to their fans in 
the same way though. While many of the songs on this album were written to open 
up those emotive tendencies, the duo believes that everyone will take their own 
meaning from it. 

"We have our own ideas as to what songs mean, but it’s different for our fans, 
though," says Delgado. "They’ll draw their own conclusions and that’s totally 
fine. Those songs mean something particular to us and each person should develop 
their own ideas as well. Besides, some of our fans are drawn to the aggression 
instead of the emotion. They don’t care what the songs mean, they just want that 
heaviness. It’s a huge case of dynamics for everyone: the highs and lows." 

"Everyone goes through those in a day," adds Moreno. "The highs and lows, you 
smile or put your head in your hands a couple of times a day and I really hope 
that people find a part of that in what we do, especially if it helps get you 
through the day. I don’t want to say that we’re this morose band, though. We try 
to level things out. It took a year to make this album, so we lived the record, 
went through all of those emotions. They’re important to us." 

Moreno and Delgado stress that music is an emotional catalyst, so it will always 
strike some person. If that’s only the aggression, fine. If people feel the need 
to brood, that’s great too. Either way, music is just supposed to impact you. As 
Moreno says, this album is about "conveying an emotion over saying anything specific." 

"This time around the emotion is pretty dark, so the next record we’ll do during 
Spring Break at Daytona Beach. It’ll be the happiest record you’ll ever hear."