Toning up for Chaos
Hard-working band promises all-out punk/metal assault
By ALLAN WIGNEY , OTTAWA SUN
THE YEAR was 1988. And a quartet of fledgling Sacramento-based musicians caught a break of sorts, when one member of the struggling band was hit by a drunk driver.
The resulting settlement brought the teens enough cash to deck themselves out properly in equipment fit for a loud and proud metal band.
Or so the oft-told legend of The Deftones’ birth goes.
Not strictly true, guitarist Stef Carpenter says with a sigh.”I got hit by a car when I was 16 and received a settlement when I was 18,” Carpenter recounts.
“But the band came later. And by the time we started The Deftones I had already spent the money and sold whatever equipment I’d bought. We started with nothing, like any band.”
Carpenter, vocalist Chino Moreno, bassist Chi Cheng and drummer Abe Cunningham were not completely lacking in resources, however.
For one thing, they had a budding sound that combined Moreno’s fearsome vocals with Carpenter’s punishing riffs in a manner that would shortly draw comparisons to contemporaries and occasional tourmates Korn.
For another, the young band had a determination to succeed manifested in years of non-stop touring that ultimately earned the band a distinguished place on Maverick Records and multi-platinum success.
“From the start, we just played as much as we could outside Sacramento,” Carpenter says of the band’s game plan for rock stardom. “We knew that playing shows was the only way we were going to reach as many people as we wanted to.
“I think it’s easier for bands starting out today. Now, you have the Internet; we didn’t have the Internet. Add that exposure to trying to play shows everywhere you can and you can make a name for yourself a lot faster. You don’t even need a record company anymore. But it’s probably a lot more competitive, too.”
Fortunately, The Deftones are past such concerns. Eleven years after the powerful debut album Adrenaline, the adventurous five-piece (keyboardist/turntablist Frank Delgado joined the band in 1997) is in no hurry. It’s been three full years since Deftones, the band’s latest album of new material; yet, Carpenter predicts we will not see the next one until some time this fall.
“We’re coming up on 20 years together as a band,” he says with a slight tone of disbelief. “So we’re getting old and stubborn. We’re becoming grumpy old men.”
Members of The Deftones have not been idle since the release of the self-titled album, however. When not touring as a band, each Deftone has pursued a variety of side projects.
Carpenter, in fact, completed an album with his band Stef — featuring members of Cypress Hill and Fear Factory, prior to the release of Deftones. Yet, to date, there has been no sign of said CD.
“I don’t know why it’s been held up,” Carpenter says with a shrug. “I’d like to see it come out.”
There is little sense of frustration in Carpenter’s comment. After all, the priority remains The Deftones.
And as his band prepares to hit Capital City during a brief Canadian tour designed to keep the hard-working quintet’s chops in order, he promises an all-out assault that will serve as a teaser for the next chapter in the Deftones story.
“I couldn’t even describe our show,” he says.
“I’m a bad barometer for describing our music in general, really. But we’re just excited to be able to go out and play. You know, we’ve been friends since high school, and the fact that we can still do this as friends is amazing.”
Hey, it all adds to the legend.