“Blitz” – July, 2000 // Abe Interviewed


Abe Cunningham interviwed
in “BLTZ” July,2000


The “White Pony” was delayed several times. Was a hard job to release
your new album?

Abe: All the work with the new album took more time than we initially
expected. But in the end we are very satisfied with the result, and
that’s the most important. This was a hard album to make, comparing
with the “Adrenaline” and “Around The Fur”. We had some problems with
vocals recording and some other details; everything took much more time
than we had foreseen, but now the album is done and we’ll make a
worldwide release, “White Pony” will be released everywhere at the
same time. Now starts the enjoyable part, we’re very amused.

Did the pressure influenced your work?

Abe: I know we felt a bit pressured in the past, but this time is
not the same, just a little bit. Today, in the US, there are so many
bands in this new rap/rock wave, most I think dispensable. It’s an
nbelievable excess, if you turn on some radio or MTV it’s always the
same thing. And the Deftones always made what they like, in their way,
what turned us a bit selfish, but…it’s not that the intention, or
the idea I wanna give about the band, but the truth is that we always
did what pleased us, without worrying about what others think, and that
was what we wanted to do this time. We felt pressured, that’s true, we
can’t deny that, but we made what we wanted, nothing else.

“White Pony” is different, but it also maintains some links with the
past and at the same time brings new feelings, right?

Abe: I think that our purpose was to make something beyond everything.
It seems to me that some bands are satisfied with the music style they
found and they just stick with it, but there’s also a monetary satisfaction,
because what happens with them is that they found some genre of music, and
then have a lots of success and money and after that they prefer to follow
the same ideas and release, some way, the same kind of record. We never
wanted to do that, we always wanted to grow and I think we did it. This
record has obviously some signals that allow us to relation it with the
previous two, but we felt a change, and we knew that our fans and deftones
listeners waited for that kind of change. It’s something important, is
feeling that someone’s listening to our music, and that makes us to give
them something different. This is a different record, we’ve searched to
extend our references, diversify music and take it to unexpected targets.
We wanted something new.

“White Pony” starts with “Feiticeira”, a portuguese word. How that happened?

Abe: What that means? -(after explanations; Feiticeira= Witch)- It’s funny.
We took that word from a magazine that we were reading about Brazil, and
we knew it was a game-show name or the host’s name, a beautiful woman.
That was the only reason we used that word, but that’s good because now
we already know what it means. Makes some sense, maybe she was a witch…

“White Pony” is somehow violent?

Abe: Some songs are really violent, “Feiticeira” is a kidnapping scenario
imagined by Chino, in where he’s kidnapped by a woman and she hid him on
the back of the car, and on the chorus she opens the trunk, take a look
and tell him that everything will be right over, and on the end she kills
him. But there are also some personal songs on this album, but Chino wanted
to have fun writing more hallucinated stories, about weird situations, and
that to me seems to be a very positive aspect on this album. On “Adrenaline”
and “Around The Fur” we were young, and we were growing up, we were on that
boring phase, we tried to understand the world and ourselves, but now we
travel around all the world, and we already saw lots of stuff, so our state
of minds is different. Most of the lyrics are really dark, some have a sexual
theme. As a matter a fact, I think that sex have always been on our music,
but is sex viewed from his barkiest side, more dirty, it’s something
weird…I don’t know, but there are also love songs, although we don’t
really know they are…

“Digital Bath” is, probably, the most atmospheric song until now, and
“Teenager” a weird track but at the same time the most beautiful moment
of “White Pony”, how far could go Deftones creativity?

Abe: None of us really knows how to write songs, we just know what we know,
we don’t know serial ways and we neither follow the traditional
verse/chorus/verse. None of our songs follows rigorously that kind of rule,
its exactly the inverse, and that reflects in everything. For example Frank’s
appearance is interesting, because he really doesn’t make scratch, he worries
more on adding new textures and new read levels to songs, and this kind of
work gives a more atmospheric touch to each song. This was what we really
wanted to do.

The absence of any order on your songs, makes us to remember Sonic Youth
and some “anarchy” on their songs. Do you agree?

Abe: It’s a good interpretation, I enjoyed it a lot. When I was younger
I listened a lot Sonic Youth, and I still have Sonic Youth’s records that
I like to take with me when we go on tour. They have always been atmospheric,
some kind of galactic. I like that impression, I haven’t listened it before,
but they are a cult band, I’ve lots of respect for Sonic Youth,
so that’s a great praise.

“Korea” is a track that shows that Deftones still rock. You still
preserving your musical preferences?

Abe: I’m sure about that. We all listen to different kinds of music,
and between all genres we still love heavy metal, from the softest to
the hardest. For us, metal will always be a reference.

But a song like “RX Queen” means that Deftones didn’t gave up melodic ways?

Abe: This record is as melodic as possible, we had that concern. Because
melody his an element that touch people and grab them. Melody allows also
a better lyrics perception and vocals, and that’s visible on this album,
because on the previous ones, melody influenced people to whistle and sing
our songs, here it allows a better comprehension on the vocals and what
Chino’s trying to say. It’s an important element for us.

Can you explain the psychedelic way used on “Change (in the house of flies)”?

Abe: It’s hard to explain from where it comes. The other day someone told
me that this record could be some kind off “Dark Side Of The Moon” for the
2000. Pink Floyd’s influence pleases us so much. What we’ve done was to
move back until the 70’s, when bands made that long records, almost like
performances, then people put some headphones and listened lots of strange
noises and peculiars effects. We also tried to make that. I think that this
is a great record to listen with your headphones, you’ll understand better
the different textures involved on each track. I don’t know how this idea
of making the “White Pony” came from, it only happened because we like music
a lot and we remembered to tried that.

Chino’s lyrics are so vague. Do you agree?

Abe: We all like to keep this mysterious side, it forces people to ask herself
and try to find who are the Deftones. And that’s not impossible, and our idea
is really that. It’s nothing so obvious like “I did it for the nookie”,
people have to think for real, and that is positive, it’s healthy when people
reflect. I look at the “White Pony” as a kind of self affirmation about the
actual music scene. I know people were expecting a different album, but I
want you to know that we expected to make something like this and nothing
like “Adrenaline”. I’ve a lot of fan respect, but I know that they knew
that this was what we could gave to them.

Chino’s voice was also a target of your change?

Abe: Chino’s voice is fantastic, cause it’s really good when he decides
to scream everything to the outside, but it’s also beautiful when he decides
to sing. It is an amazing thing, and that allows to use his voice for much
different things. Much of what you hear on “White Pony” is Chino’s voice,
but there are some effects. Our producer, Terry, was really good on that,
cause he advised us to never abuse on effects, and he was right. We only
used effects in some parts. Working with Terry along this years gave us a
better relationship, and that allowed Terry to relax in some of his work,
and he turned to some of those effects in some songs, and that’s just fine.

What’s your relationship with Terry Date?

Abe: We have a good story with Terry, and that’s natural. After a long
period working together, it’s natural that people share everything. When
you take so much time recording an album you live so much situations, you
start to know peoples sides, the sad, the angry, everything…This time,
and because we already worked with him, we wanted to try different things
and we related with some different people, producers linked to such different
music worlds, but in the end we felt that the idea of working with a
strange was scary. Terry knows us and also our work, we didn’t wanted to
wait for someone that knew us and our music like he knows, so we turned
back to him.

What about Maynard’s appearance on “Passenger”?

Abe: It was amazing, cause Tool are a band that we respect completely.
Their music is fantastic, and at the same time they aren’t the kind of
band that you are always fed up because they are appearing every where,
they aren’t obvious at all. We had the opportunity to meet him, we hung
out and we were surprised when he told us that he loved Deftones. It was a
great relationship that worked very well, we liked to go on tour with Tool
or Perfect Circle.

Contradiction is the right word for the “White Pony”?

Abe: This record is, in fact, contradictor. But that’s good, cause it
compels people to think a bit for a better understanding. Nowadays there’s
so many genres of music but some are just dispensable. With so much stuff
in this rap/metal scene, for example so much bands, many are just the same
without nothing to say, and that doesn’t mean that I doesn’t like some of
the work that is done is this area.

Internet and Deftones, that’s getting serious?

Abe: The Deftones glued right to the Internet, it’s being an excellent way
of promoting our music. Beside that I love the idea of communicate with any
part of the world at any moment. The Internet is an outrageous way, it’s
powerful as well. With our album it took a while, but now it’s all on Napster.
Not just the “White Pony” tracks but also some b-sides that we recorded for
the “White Pony”. We recorded some extra songs for our fans, basically, and
now everything is out there. I don’t feel threatened by that, I believe that
our fans download the songs on Napster and then they will buy the record.
I think Napster could be a good thing, cause people search for music, and
could hear stuff that they never listened before and also listen just for
curiosity and find interesting things. What I really liked was that rarities
and extra stuff were not there, it was a surprise for our fans and they
stole that from us. That’s a shame.

On tour or in the studio?

Abe: The stage is the most important. It’s fundamental and that’s where we
like to be. We started a new tour on the US but then we’ll visit Europe again,
this time we hope to play on different places, where we never have been,
there’s a lot of places to discover, like Portugal…
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