“Pollstar” – December, 1997 // Chino Interviewed

December 22, 1997 Pollstar Interview

YOU MAY NOT HEARthe Deftones onmainstream radio or see the band onprime-time MTV,
but somewhere deep inthe pits of abrasive heavy metal rock,

there is a success story building.

The Sacramento-based band has spent most of its time on the road since signing with
Maverick Records in 1994 and releasing its debut album, Adrenaline. The group is now
seeing the fruit of that labor with sales of its sophomore release, Around The Fur.
That record debuted on the SoundScan chart at No. 29 and has since sold nearly 90,000
That’s not bad for a band that started as a group of kids just looking for some fun.
Deftones singer Chino Moreno told POLLSTAR he was skateboard buddies with drummer Abe
Cunningham and guitarist Stephen Carpenter when they were about 10 years old.
Carpenter’s whole life revolved around skateboarding during those years but everything
changed in an instant when at 16, he was hit by a drunk driver. He ended up trading in
his skateboard for a guitar and with the settlement he got from the accident, he bought
a roomful of band equipment. “He put it in his garage and we just all started basically
teaching ourselves how to play,” Moreno said. After going though a few bassists, Chi
Cheng became a permanent member.
It was two years before the band had its first real gig in a local club. From there, the
guys started to build a fan base in the Sacramento area — but they took their time.
“We didn’t really try to play all the time and go out there and shove our music down people’s
throats,” Moreno said. “It was more like we’d always try to just get better and write
better songs and then go play them just to see what people thought.”
When the band felt confident enough, it expanded its gigging-area to San Francisco and
Los Angeles. It was a seemingly dead-end gig in L.A. that got the Deftones their big break.
“We were closing for some band,” Moreno said, “and after that band played, everybody left.
There was probably only five [or 10] people there. It was really grim. But we decided we’d
just play our normal show.” Someone in the audience who had a connection to Maverick Records
was impressed. The next thing the guys knew, Maverick was asking to see a showcase.
In a small studio space, label prexy Freddy DeMann and A&R exec Guy Oseary came to see what
the Deftones had to offer. “We played three songs and they just said, ‘We want to sign you
guys right now,'” Moreno said. The band was shocked.
Of course, about that time, other labels starting swarming. But Moreno said the others didn’t
have the absolute confidence that Maverick showed. “Maverick was just like, ‘We just dig
the vibe of your guys’ band. You guys have good songs and we want to sign you,'” he said.
“There was no beating around the bush. It was just straight forward and that’s what we
really liked about them.”
As soon as the Deftones inked their deal with Maverick, they were sent out on the road.
Though the band members have grown to believe in relentless touring, hitting the road so
hard in the beginning wasn’t what they expected. The way they saw the music industry, a
band put out an album, got a hit single, and then toured behind it. The opposite turned
out to be true for the Deftones. “We put out records to support our live show,” Moreno

Without the rush the guys get from performing live, they couldn’t be inspired to live
life on the road, Moreno said. The band fires off a dose of its heavy metal energy and
then “that energy doubles as the crowd gives it back to us and then we keep feeding off
each other. It usually just keeps building into this big ball of intensity. By the end
of the show, it’s just psychotic,” he said.
With the release of Around The Fur, there is an industry buzz surrounding the Deftones
but the band is keeping its focus. “Sometimes the hype can scare you a little bit.
It puts more pressure on you when you have more hype behind you,” Moreno said.
“I don’t think anybody in our band thinks that we’re the greatest thing in the world.
I think we all realize that we have a lot of talent that we’ve tapped in to but we
still have so much more to go. And if people start labeling you the next big thing,
it almost sets you up next year to be last year’s thing.”

“Guitar World” – October, 1997 // Stef Interviewed

Guitar World
October 1997

By Jen Wiederhorn



The Deftones’ Stephen Carpenter slams the accelerator of his spiffy rental car and passes a
pair of pokey commuters. Drummer Abe Cunningham and I hold on for our lives as the car lurches
forward. “People in Seattle don’t know how to fucking drive,” the guitarist growls as he
swerves back out of the passing lane. The purpose of this high-speed escapade is to hit Tower
Records and buy an adapter that will enable Carpenter to plug his MiniDisc player into the car
stereo. “I can’t wait for you to hear this shit,” he exclaims as he hurtles the car into a
parking space. He and Cunningham eagerly trot into the store, and reemerge a few minutes later,
grinning broadly. They’ve got the booty.

“Check this out,” says Carpenter as he pops the disc in the player and pumps up the volume.
A deafening flurry of jagged guitar shards bursts from the speakers, followed by propulsive
drumming and haunting, melodic vocals. As the song kicks into overdrive, and the roaring riff
is greeted by a volley of equally roaring vocals, Carpenter begins to tap his hands
spasmodically on the steering wheel. In the back seat, Cunningham bobs his head intently,
as if watching a live concert, and when Carpenter stops, at a light, Cunningham flashes
Carpenter the Beavis and Butt-Head salute, and the two exchange high fives.

“I just can’t help it,” says Carpenter. “We sit in the car all the time freaking out and
listening to our new stuff. I love to play it for anyone who will listen, because I’m so
happy with the songs we came up with.”

He has plenty to be pleased about. At first listen, the band’s yet untitled second album
feels somewhat akin in spirit to Helmet’s Meantime, which came out of nowhere in 1992 to
kick-start a generation of short-haired, skateboard-toting rebels who liked their music as
ugly and abrasive as their road rash. In an era of post-alternative pop music, Deftones seem
primed to steer rockers in a new direction by combining the savagery of metal, the aggression
of punk and the moody temperament of alternative acts.

Like their 1995 debut, Adrenaline, Deftones’ new album contrasts hushed atmospheres with raging
fury, but this time around, they have eliminated much of the middle ground and pushed the
extremes, making the soft parts eerily poignant and the loud ones frightfully intense. In
addition, the band have experimented freely with samples, and one track even features Max
avalera (ex-Sultura) playing a Brazilian tribal instrument that makes an odd twanging sound.

“I really love hard music, but I don’t want what we do to be solely hard,” says Carpenter,
leaving the car and returning to the basement of Stone Gossard’s Litho Studio, where Deftones
are recording the album with producer Terry Date (Soundgarden, Pantera). “My favorite part
about my band is [vocalist] Chino [Moreno]. His voice is almost like our second guitar,
so it’s not just straight, but the beauty of it all comes from the vocals and how they
connect with everything else we do. If we wanted to only be heavy, that would be so easy
to do.”

Even when the band’s vocals are reflective and ethereal, however, the basic structure of
Deftones’ songs are dark and abrasive, and most of the guitar parts grind with menacing power.
But unlike the Trent Reznors and Marilyn Mansons of the loud rock community, Deftones aren’t
motivated by animosity or self-hatred. “Our music is about love and good experiences,” insists
Carpenter. “It’s not about pummeling your neighbor and smashing everything. It’s so funny
because our music makes people want to destroy shit, and that’s not what we’re trying to do.
I’m not saying we’re violence-free or anything, but it’s violence caused by love. There’s a
fine line between love and hate, and I’d like to think that’s where we lie.”

In part, the Deftones’ willingness to wander beyond the parameters of heavy rock stems from
Carpenter’s penchant for pop music. He may have grown up on thrash metal, but has since
developed a love for Morrissey, the Cure and even Depeche Mode. In fact, the band is currently
working on tracks for upcoming Duran Duran and Depeche Mode tribute albums. “I’ve got three CDs
in my packpack right now and two of them are Depeche Mode,” admits Carpenter. “I love their
music because it’s emotional and driving, and it makes your heart pound. Their music inspires
me to do happy things, stuff that just feels good. I love heavy music, man, but its so embedded
in me that I don’t have to listen to it anymore. A lot of metal bands are too pussy to act like
pussies, but we’re not afraid to really express ourselves.”

At present, Carpenter is sitting on a black couch, moddling on an unplugged SP guitar. Even
while he’s in the middle of answering questions his left hand crawls around the fretboard
like a bind spider. “I’ve played just about every day since I was 15, but I don’t practice
anything technical,” he says. “I just fuck around on the thing. Sometimes I try to come up
with a riff, but mostly I’ll be sitting in front of the TV just moving my fingers around.”

There was a time when Carpenter wasn’t so passionate about playing music. As a middle-class
kid growing up in Sacramento, California, he was completely obsessed with skateboarding, and
had little time for studying or even sleeping, let alone practicing guitar and writing songs.
“I’d skate to and from school, and then go out and skate all night, and I’d do that every day,”
says Carpenter. “I loved chicks like any other guy, but that wasn’t my thing. I wanted to

Carpenter’s dreams of skating glory came to an end at the age of 15 when he was hit by a
drunk driver while skating, and wound up in the hospital for two weeks. ‘the guy was doing
like 60 miles an hour when he slammed into me, and I wrecked his car,” says Carpenter.
“I never saw, heard or felt it, and I’ve never had any pain from it, but physically, I should
have died. It’s weird. I woke up in the street and I felt totally normal other than the fact
that my leg was snapped in half. It was a definite changing point in my life in the way I
looked at things, but when it happened, I was so ungrateful for being alive that I was pissed
off that I couldn’t skate because I had just learned to do this fresh-ass trick. The first
thing I said when I realized I got hit by a car was, “Damn. How long before I start skating
again?” And they said, ‘It might be some time.'”

He laughs, and plays a few fretboard-tapping licks before continuing. “After a couple of weeks
went by, I realized I could have been dead, and from that point on I didn’t care about
skateboarding anymore. I still love skateboarding now, but it’s not the way I wanna spend all my
time. Now, I just want to have a good time and live. I haven’t turned into a fraidy cat or
anything. I just want to do the most that I can with the time I’m here, and have as good a time
as possible.”

A week after Carpenter was released from the hospital, a friend came over with a guitar, and
Carpenter accidentally played his first chord. At the time, he was watching the Ratt video
“Round and Round,” and saw Ratt guitarist Warren DeMartini crash through a ceiling onto a
dining room table and strum a power chord. He imitated the simple finger positioning,
and lo and behold, when he strummed, it resembled music. “it only took me a couple of weeks to
get to where I could fake it and sound like I kind of knew what I was doing,” he says.
“I learned by playing along with Anthrax, S.O.D. [a sort of thrash supergroup made up of members
of Anthrax and M.O.D. GW Ed.] and Metallica, and I didn’t learn anything besides a power chord
until I had been playing for about four years.”

About an hour after sitting down for the interview, Carpenter and his bandmates take a break
to watch a skateboarding and rollerblading competition on ESPN. They break out a tall fragrant
bong, and proceed to light up while they watch. If you didn’t know they were in a band, you
might think the members of Deftones were textbook-case underachievers whose main social outlet
is hooking up to smoke pot, watch TV and talk shit. The assumption wouldn’t be far off the
mark. The band members’ chemistry is as strong as the weed they smoke, and it’s that bond that
makes their music sound so charged and cohesive.

“They play together like they’re related, and they think the same way,” says producer
Terry Date, who worked on both Deftones albums. “Lots of times with bands, you’ll get certain
people who want to do one thing and certain ones who want to do something else. These guys
pretty much always want to do the same thing. There’s not too much disagreement about how
they’re going to approach something.”

“We’ve definitely learned how to get along and communicate, but we also know all of each
other’s buttons, and we can make each other made, pretty much at will,” says Carpenter.
“Some of our beset shows have happened on nights when we’ve been just shy of having fistfights
before we go on. By the time we hit the stage ,it’s been so built up, we must go crazy. And
then afterwards, we’re having the beset party because we’re all so happy about playing a great
show.” He cackles and packs another bowl. “We fight about the stupidest shit who drank the last
beer ,what song we’re gonna open with, who’s been leaving shit around the bus – stuff
like that.”

Carpenter, Moreno and Cunningham attended the same high school, and although Carpenter is
three years older than the other two, he knew Moreno from the local skate scene. When Moreno
found out Carpenter played guitar, he set up a jam session with Cunningham, and the seeds of
Deftones were planted. “Me and Abe took the bus over to Stephen’s house one day after school,”
recalls Moreno. “Stephen was sitting on his porch, and he had this wireless guitar on. All the
cabinets were in the garage, and he was sitting on the porch rocking out.”

“I was a clean-cut 15 year old, and he probably thought I was some punk kid or something,”
adds Cunningham.. “There was a drum set in the garage, but the garage door was closed, and he
wanted me to go in there and play while he stayed on the porch. I’m like, ‘What a prick. he
doesn’t want to jam with me, he’s out on the fucking porch.'”

Needless to say, the trio jammed itself deaf, and decided to form the band in 1988.
They bought a bunch of equipment with settlement money from Carpenter’s skateboard accident,
hooked up with a bassist whose name has long been forgotten, and performed their first show a
few months later. “It was completely hilarious,” says Carpenter. “We were playing a barbecue,
and our bass player at the time showed up all late. When we were laying his strap would come
off, and he didn’t have enough sense to take the cod up through the strap and plug it in, so
he’d keep stepping on the cord and unplugging himself. And he wouldn’t notice, so he’d just
keep playing and nothing would come out.”

Several other bassists followed before the band settled on Chi Cheng because of his decent
gear and long hair. With their lineup complete, Deftones started writing originals and soon came
up with a four-song demo. Two years later, the tape landed on the desk of an A&R man at
Madonna’s label. Maverick, and Deftones were signed shortly thereafter.

Since releasing Adrenaline, Deftones have toured relentlessly, opening for such acts as
Korn, L7 and Ozzy Osbourne. During that time they’ve built up a loyal following by performing
explosive live shows and sticking around to party with fans after the gig. “We definitely don’t
want to act like rock stars,” says Carpenter. “We try to be approachable, and we like to hang
out with the people who listen to our music.”

“It’s cool to kick with people,” adds Cunningham. “They get to know you, and then they come
back to see you again next time. Plus, you wind up with friends all over the country.”

Of course, when your music is as emotionally turbulent as the Deftones’ is, you wind up
meeting some pretty strange folks.

“I don’t care abut people who dye their hair funny colors or wear weird clothes, because
that’s just someone being an individual,” says Carpenter. But there was this one girl who
got Chino’s name autographed on her stomach, and then she went out and had it tattooed on
there. That’s one of the craziest things I now, because that’s real. That shit’s gonna last

It’s entirely possible that the girl already wishes she could have the signature removed from
her midriff. After all, Deftones have had a change of heart about the imprint bands like Korn
and Rage Against The Machine have left on their career. At first, being compared to other
alt-rock heavyweights was flattering and helpful but it has turned into an albatross that
the band finds hard to shake.

“I hate it because we’ve always just done what we’ve done. We’ve never tried to be like Korn in
any way,” says Carpenter with a hint of annoyance. “We were all friends before either of us got
signed, and we don’t even sound like them. We appeal to the same kind of audience because we put
on intense shows and so do they, but you’re retarded if you listen to both bands and still
compare them to us. The only thing we’ve got in common with those guys is an energy thing,
and the fact that we’re all friends.

“We once played a show in Bakersfield, which was where Korn is from,” continues Moreno.
“Their producer was at the show and he really dug our band, so we gave him a tape. A couple
of days later, the Korn guys called and said, ‘Dude, we like it, we want to lay shows with you
guys.’ So we went to L.A. and we both played. That was right when they were starting to get a
buzz. They actually opened for us at that show. The whole thing is really annoying because a
lot of times we’ll be talking to a journalist, and then the press will say we’re talking shit
about each other, and we’ll have to call each other up and straighten shit out. And it’s really
stupid because we were friends even before all this bullshit happened.”

Like many of today’s grassroots metal bands, including Korn, Type O Negative and Corrosion of
Conformity, Deftones have been virtually ignored by MTV and rock radio, despite their diehard
following. The only major media attention they’ve gotten came last year after an all-day
concert in Tempe, Arizona, where a riot began during the band’s set. The story was subsequently
covered on the nightly news as well as Real TV, American Journal and Hard Copy. “We’re just
doing what we always do, and it was a typical audience for us,” recalls Carpenter.
“They were jumping around and diving and shit, but the security guys were being real fucking
dicks and hitting people and putting them in headlocks. They pulled the plug on us after four
songs. The crowd went crazy and started jumping on stag and smashing everything. We got whisked
away backstage and then kids started burning shit and climbing the light rigs and everything.
We didn’t cause the riot we just happened to be there when the shit went down.”

With the interview completed and the ESPN skateboard competition over, Deftones return to their
apartment to pick up some supplies before returning to the studio. While Cunningham searches
for some photos and paperwork, Carpenter checks the answering machine. A confused voice
crackles from the speaker: “I’m trying to reach the Deftones, but it sounds like some dude
smoking a bong.” Carpenter laughs and, after much prodding, pushes the outgoing message
button, and indeed, there’s the deep, gurgling sound of a water pipe in action. “We wanted
to hook the sound up to our front doorbell so that every time someone rings the door, they
could hear it. We’re still working on that.”

The new Deftones album doesn’t swirl with psychedelic wah-wah, or pulse hypnotically like many
drug-influenced records, but the jarring rhythms and jittery riffs do suggest the wide-eyed
paranoia sometimes caused by too much pot.

“I never thought we’d make a drug record, but this one definitely is,” says Carpenter.
“We didn’t set out to do it or anything, but w were getting high just about every day,
and that definitely had an effect on things.”

Not that a Deftones studio session is like a weekend with Motley Crue or anything. When
it comes to getting down to business, they are true professionals. But when the workday
is done, the band members like to let loose. “We party all the time. Have a good time,
fuck it,” says Carpenter.

“I’m the vominator. I’m always puking,” Cunningham offers.

“I hardly ever puke,” replies Carpenter, but then he recalls one memorably messy evening.
“The day the Alanis record went Number One the first time, Maverick threw a big-ass party
at the label, and we basically drank all the drinks. By 10:30 that evening I was one-eyed
and staggering. And I came into the hotel room we were staying at, and I just threw up a
pancake like three feet big.”

“You were sleeping in it, too,” chimes in Moreno. “I went, ‘Stephen, get up, you puked!’
And you went, ‘I did?’ and fell right back to sleep. He didn’t even care. I was getting
ready to go out again, and he woke up, and he was all, ‘I want to go too,’ and he had puke
hanging from his chin. I was like, ‘Fuck you, get in the shower. You’re going to sleep!'”

Carpenter mulls over the incident and smiles “I guess I just wanted to keep drinking.”

You can talk about riff structures and vocal cadences until you’re blue in the face, but at
the end of the day, what really distinguishes the Deftones from Korn and Rage Against The
Machine is the band members’ motivations. Deftones are into the energy, excitement and
creativity of rock music, and could care less about image and angst. The only reason they
play with so much more intensity than many of their colleagues is because, for them, volume
is a symbol of liberation.

“I’m at a point where I want to go off and have a good time, and I’m not going to be able to
run around or jump up and down to something mellow,” says Carpenter. “I basically play
energetic music because I don’t know how to dance, and that’s my form of dancing. I can
go on stage and rock out and be a total dork, and it’s all right. I like it to be really
loud because that’s where I get the most feeling out of it, where your ears feel like
they’re just vibrating from the intensity of it. All my friends go, ‘You’re deaf,’ but I’m not
deaf. I just like to feel that motherfucker hurt. Maybe one day I will be deaf, but I’m not
worried about it right now.”

“Plow Magazine” – 1997 // Chino Interviewed

PLOW snowboarding magazine
March 1997


“The Deftones” by Bob Hernandez

Their music has been described as being situated somewhere between industrial,
hard-core and rap. They’ve played with seemingly every band out there today, everyone
from Anthrax to L7. Kiss to No Doubt. And despite being ignored for the most pat by MTV
and mainstream radio, their album has sold remarkably well. Likewise, they’ve managed to
win over a huge amount of fans. Who are they? Is the suspense killing you yet? Sacramento’s
own Deftones have come a long way since their skateboarding (“That was our life back then”
they humbly admit), garage-playing days.

Describing their evolution as a “slow process,” Deftones – Chino Moreno (vocals), Stephen
Carpenter (guitar), Abe Cunningham (drums) and Chi Cheng (bass) – have been together for quite
some time now (seven and a half years), with three of the members friends since childhood.
One of the more curious elements of the ban’s history is their melting-pot of musical
inspiration. For starters, metal played a big part. And as Abe describes it, “the energy of it
all” was what appealed to them most. Chino, however, opted for something a little different,
revealing, “I grew up on all that (80s) new-wave pussy stuff.” And even though some of their
songs carry a telltale hard-core interlude, their only real hard-core influence came from Bad

For the band’s Maverick debut, Adrenaline, legendary producer Terry Date (of White Zombie,
Soundgarden and Pantera fame) was brought in, an aspect that initially made Chino a little
nervous. His anxiety about working in a major studio with a big name producer for the first
time was somewhat overwhelming. But Date helped Chino work through the rough times. As Chino
remembers, “At times when I’d be trippin’ out, I’d be like, ‘I can’t do this, Terry,’ he’d just
be like, ‘You know what, go ahead and go home, take the day off, rest, come back tomorrow, we’ll
do it.’ He was real supportive.” The end result was an album everybody in the band was pleased
with, adds Chino. “He wanted to make our record just sound like us, and not get too crazy, and
not try to [overproduce] it, just make it raw, make it how we are live.” The experience
strengthened Chino’s love of making music. As he puts it, “That’s one of the best parts of
being in a band, creating the music ….. that’s the funniest part.”

Adrenaline is an explosive mix of extremes, musically showcasing a savage and abrasive blend of
harmony and chaos. Chino’s emotional, melodic singing of abstract, “stream-of-consciousness”
lyrics only enhance the music, moving from passionate whispers to frenzied screams, as evident
in songs like “Minus Blindfold” and “7 Words.” Many have compared their sound to that of Rage
Against the Machine or Korn, to which the guys respond, “We just do what we do – you don’t have
to mention other bands.”

Touring extensively has been key to their success, but the guys now know that it’s not all it’s
cracked up to be. “It’s hard to keep healthy on the road,” reveals Chino. “You’re sitting around
all day long, you start to get bored, so what do you do? You’re drinking beer ….. you end up
not eating that good, because you’re drinking all [the time].” Abe adds, “The road can turn you
into whatever you let it. We’ve been on the road for almost two years [solid] now.” Road life
does have its redeeming moments, though, like when the guys visited Copenhagen, Denmark for the
Roskilde Festival. “I didn’t think that we really had any fans there,” begins Chino, “and when
we played, there were so many people singing along, people who probably didn’t even speak that
much English.” Abe continues the thought, “The kids, they were just so into it, they knew every
word. They’d bounce up and down in unison [to the music] rather than smashing the shit out of
each other.”

Ultimately, playing live is one of the gratifying elements of being int he Deftones. “You see
all kinds of people at our shows,” says Chino. “There’s punk rock kids, and rocker kids and
skateboarder kids. I think that’s fresh, to see them all together. You could tell they probably
wouldn’t be hanging out together at school, because they’re so different looking, but they’re
all at our show, and they’re all hanging out.” As for the future, it’s back to the studio in
March or April of this year to work on their next release. So, is this still fun for Chino and
the boys, I ask finally? “Hell, yeah,” he says, “otherwise I would not do it. I wouldn’t mind
getting a job, if I had to, if I wasn’t having fun anymore, that’s what I’d do. I would get me
a job.”

Let’s hope that doesn’t happen anytime soon.

“Drummer Magazine” – 1997 // Abe Interviewed

Abe Cunningham of the Deftones:

By Matt Peiken.

Of Heavy music were like fine wine, 1997 would go down as a sweet vintage. Let’s take an
inventory: Metallica “Re-loaded”, Pantera kicked out live brutality, Korn and Tool headlined
Lollopalooza, and the Ozzfesttour pushed up & comers like Coal Chamber,
Powerman 5000, and Machine Head into the main stream. On the down side, however, all this
activity overshadowed the best thing to happen all year to hard music: AROUND THE FUR from
Around the fur is an amazing record built on crushing instrumentals lines, schizophrenic
vocals, and lush, bottom-heavy rhythms.
Reflecting on the making of the album (the bands 2nd), Drummer Abe Cunningham says he
contributed as much with notes he didn’t play as with those he did. But before you banish him
into the less-in-more department, consider his upbringing: Drum corps, school jazz band, and a
lineage of musicians. While most touring drummers have ritten off home practice, Cunningham
still relishes the woodshed. And at 24, he’s already learned that strong musicianship has
nothing to do with showing off the masses.
As the Deftones continued their international sonic assault, Cunningham broke away to talk
about his of drumming, his passion for learning, and what you can and can’t hear on Around the


Mp: Sacramento, California has had its success stories here and there, but it’s not like there
a lot of places there to play and grow as an artist. Did you guys set out to break away from
Sacramento as quickly as possible, or did you have more humble goals?
AC: People think we’re this new band, but we’ve been around almost ten years now. I went to
school w/ our singer, Chino, and he grew up in the same neiborhood as our guiterrist, Stefan.
Skateboarding was kind of our common bond, but after a while we all started jamming in Stefen’s
garage. It was just the basic garage band thing, just friends having fun. We started playing
around Sacramento, which as his ups and downs, i guess. It’s true, there aren´t a whole lot of
bands either.
We used to play cover tunes in the garage just because it was fun. But way early on we started
writting our own music. You used to be able to see the same bands playing in the same places,
so any band that really wanted to branch out had to go to the Bay Area.
So that´s what we did, Berkeley Square, the Omni, the Stone. The whole Bay Area trash metal
scene was very big then. We were heavely influenced and inspired by that.

MP: Were you a metal-head, yourself?
AC: I don´t know if i´d say that. I´ve always licked heavy music, but i have a real different
background than that. My dad was a bass player and my step-dad was a drummer. My first memories
of being around music are from watching my dad play blues gigs. When i started to play at around
seven or eight years, i dug out my parents music, like Beatles records and hendrix albums,
Mitch Mitchell is a great influence of mine, and i play along those. My mom was into things like
the Police. All of that probably influenced me as a drummer more than metal drummer.
Around the time i started playing, my dad sort of got away of the drums, i just sort of took
over is kit. I was so fascinated with it that i´´d just take it apart and put it back together
again. Then in High-school , i was in marching band and jazz band. I tried taking lessons for
about a month, but the teacher was a real jerk, and and that kind of gave me a bad taste for
normal lessons. But i used to come home after school and just jam for hours. And that still
something i crave a lot: just playing on my own. I miss it when we´re om the road.

MP:I´ve interviewed some drummers who say that they hate playing on their own, that they get
all the practice they need playing night after nigth on the road.
AC: Well that is a form of practice. What you´re doing is getting really good at playing those
same songs, and there´s a lot to be said on that. I´m sure my playing is tighter and more fluid
on our songs now then that when i first recorded them, mainly because i´ve had more time with
them and had time to experiment with other ways of doing things. But that doesn´t necesserily
makes me a better Drummer.
When you´re out on the road, you really don´t have time to sit down and work out some things
oyu´ve like to try. You basically have soundcheck and the show. So when i´m home and have some
time, one of the things i crave most is woodshedding bymysilf and trying to keep up my chops.

MP: Do you try to work out specific patterns or develop a specific part of your playing, or do
you just like playing what comes to mind?
AC: It´s really all off that. I go a lot on inspiration, even if its another drummer´s lick,
something i heard on a record or saw a nother drummer do, i might go home and pick it apart to
see if i can figure it out. Maybe it´s something i´m frustrated with and i just wont to work on
untill i nailed it. But now i pretty much go in and play what´s on the top of my head. it´s just
nice sometimes to in a room by myself and just play.

MP: Are there any drum parts on Around the fur that came directly from your woodshedding?
AC: You know, this really sounds cliché, because you always read interviews where Drummers say
there just playing for the songs, thats they´re more mature now or whatever. But really has as
lot to do with were i´m coming from now, and definitely where where i was coming from with this
At the time we did the first record, wich i really like and think is good, you can tell the
band was really young. we´d been playing most of the songs for quite a while, and we were just
so happy to be making a record that we didn´t really think a whole lot about making the song
better. I think maturity is the biggest siferrence between the two records. We´d been on the
constantky for two years we started the second record, so we where a lot more at ease in the
studio. I think that allowed us to look a little deeper into whate we wanted to do.
What came out of that is that we simplified things.
For me, I think it was just playing with more confidence, and not feeling like i had to fill
up all empty spaces. As a drummer, i wanted the songs to come through. There´s a diference
between playing what´s right for the song and the song dictating what´s right for it self, and
i think we let the song have theire way a lot more this time. The difference as really started
to come out now that were on the road, because i´m really playing some things differently that
i did on the record. Not it´s better or worse, it´s just different now that i´ve lived with the
song for a while.

MP: What were some of the main challenges in simplifying your playing in the studio? Did you
consciously hold yourself back from the embellishing certain parts, or was it very natural for
you to lay low?
AC: Any drummer would just love to open up when he can, so it was a conscious thing to pull
back. But it´s just that needed to happen
And it´s not that difficult when you´re thinking of the song first and foremost.
With the kind of music we play, the guitars are relly heavy and powerful, so it didn´t make a
lot of sense to try to compete with that. It also doesn´t leave room for me to put in all the
ghost notes and grace notes i usually like to play. I did a lot more ghosting on the first
record. But you can´t hear them, anyway, so i really just had to play solid and heavy. I wanted
the notes i do play to matter and help create a fell.

MP: You can definitely hear the difference in production between your first and second record.
The drum sound and the whole band now sounds a lot more thick and lush.
AC: Yeah, we spend a lot more time now thinking about those things and talking with the producer
Terry Date about different things we wanted to hear. Terry as just so much experince to offer
us, too. When he did our first record, he had just come from doing a White Zombie album for the
previous six months, and he was a bit burned out. This time, he took almost a year off before he
went to work with us. It was so nice because everyone was ready to do it, and Terry knew
exactly what would be right for what we wanted.He really it all together for us.

MP: Did you use a lot of different drums to get the sounds you wanted, or was it more
combination of mic´s in the room?
AC: We used the same kit throughout tha whole record, but i swapped different snares around
for practically every song. I think i´ve sort of rifened what i want in a snare sound now. I
always liked getting a nice crack, but the older i´m getting, the more i´m getting into that
fatter sound. Sometimes i like really loose snares. I´m always adjusting my snare tension,
just to try to blend that crack with the fat sound.
I used to like piccolo snares a lot, but now i mainly use a 6×14 snare that´s a 20-ply maple
with die-cast rims and four 1″ holes drilled into
the sheel. it´s become my main snare now because it´s sort of the best between the both worlds
for me. But i´m really happy with the whole kit. My drums come from Orange County Drum &
Percussion. They´re really well made, and they´ve got great tone.
We did a cool experiment with one song that didn´t make it on the album. we set two kits up,
one of them upstairs in the balcony of the studio and one below. I played the main track on the
kit downstairs, then went upstairs and played that kit, but still recording it with the room
mic´s from downstairs. I used two 19´ crashes for a hi-hat. It was just a really bizarre
experiment, but it was toward the end of our time in the studio and we didn´t had a lot of time
to play with it. It came out okay, though, and the song might make it onto B-side or something.

MP: Did you play to a click? I´m asking because your timing seems really tight.
AC: No, i don´t use a click, I can; I don´t have a problem with it. We tried once, i think, but
we didn´t really need it. I don´t know if good timings come naturally to me or not, but i think
i trained myself for that without even realizing it. It starts by playing to records with these
bad-ass studio drummers on them, like Steely Dan records with guys like Jeff Porcaro. I don´t
know if they used clix or not, but their timming is right on, an i guess playing along to them
sort of taught me to be a stronger time keeper.

MP: Like training wheels on a bicycle.
AC: Tottaly. After you ride with training wheels, you take ´em of and you can ride on your own.

MP: Do you read music at all?
AC: A little, yeah. I used to be more into it during High-School, with marching band and
reading jazz charts. I have to admit i´ve pretty much slacked on that, but i´d love to get
back to it. I really want to , because it would be great to be able to work on some drum books
when i´m woodshedding at home. I think getting more into reading would really open up a lot of
worlds for me.

MP: You played in a few different musical settings before the Deftones. Did you particularly
want to play in a heavy band, or where you just happy to in any band?
AC: At the time, to go out and play our instruments hard, but i was mainly to be playing with
my friends. Threre was about a year an a half where i left the Deftones to play in another local
band, Phallucy. They were like the really big band in Sacramento. And they were a lot older
than me, i was maybe only sixteen at the time, so it was really cool.
But was really good friends with the guys in the Deftones. They they tried all these different
drummers, and every time someone wouln´t work out, i´d always go back to play with them.
And we´d just have so much fun together. It was something we´d all created together,
and it was always a blast going back. They finally said: “hey, we´re great together, you have
to come back”. So i did, and it´s been that
way ever since. Our focus back then was on the energy and having a good time. That´s what it is
even now. And we´re colectively into many different styles of music, we really don´t even
really listen to much heavy music, so who knows what our next record will be like.

MP: Did you ever play double bass?
AC: I tried to, but i just can´t do it. I use a double bass pedal, but it´s more for emphasis,
like a flam or a ruff, not hammer out 16th notes. I used to have a big kit, i used to hate
lugging it around, and it´s became sort of silly. So i got the double pedal, which has actually
been part of my setup for a long time now. I a way, i alomost regret it, because i grew up
playing on a single pedal and i used to have a really fast foot. Now i rely a lot more on the
double pedal. I just always know it´s there, so it´s a peace of mind thing.

MP: What are some things you´d like to do musically that have nothing to do with the deftones?
AC: I haven´t really thought that far ahead. I´d love to jam with different people. I play a
little guitar, too, and i´d like to explorethat some more. But more than anything, I´d love to
take drum lessons from somebody. Not out of a music store like i tried last time, but maybe
from a friend who´s a bad-ass player, like the tutor-and-mentor situation, who i could just sit
down with sometimes and pick things up from. No matter what, i never want to stop learning.

“Undecover” – 1997 // Abe Interviewed

The Mighty Mighty Deftones

By Paul Cashmere

Tranquil Sacramento, California is the home of possibly the world’s heaviest band, The Deftones.
The band is made up of two Mexicans, a Chinese guy and a white dude, all with common musical
tastes. The mutual friends formed around 10 years ago and were one for the first acts signed
to Madonna’s Maverick Record label.

They are also the headlining act for the upcoming Van’s Warped tour.

While making their first tour downunder, Abe Cunningham came into Undercover and caught up with
Executive Producer Paul Cashmere and Timdog.

You are not only a rock band, but now movie stars. Tell us about you part in the second Crow

Yeah that was kind of a funny thing. We actually filmed the whole part for three days, all day
long, 15 – 16 hours and they ended up editing it down to this one little section.
It was pretty cool, it was a while back. It was kind of exciting.

The movie was full of disasters.

Yeah totally. It was plagued, it was cursed. Brandon Lee was killed on the first one
and one of the days they were doing this huge stunt, where a guy falls off a huge skyscraper,
and the stunt broke his back. I think the whole movie was plagued. Nonetheless, it was a cool
experience just to see how the movies are made.

The other movie you were involved with was Escape From L.A.

Right. I haven’t seen the movie. I heard it was terrible.
We were just on the soundtrack on that, we just gave them the song.

Deftones are a very multicultural band. Two Mexicans, a Chinese guy and a white dude.

Where we come from, California, it is so mixed up,
Actually, the whole States is pretty mixed up.
I don’t think we really think of it at all.
More people make a bigger deal of it than we do. We grew up in a neighborhood were
everyone is mixed up. It’s just the way it is.
I suppose it gives us more to draw from. We are all Americans, but everyone has their
cultural backgrounds. I am the token white boy. People do make a big deal of that, but
I don’t care. It’s pretty good.

Musically, I can’t pick any cultural influences.

Music can be for anybody. It doesn’t have to be for a certain type of person. It’s
this beautiful thing and anybody can do it and that’s the beauty of it. We just happen
to be four or five guys that are racially mixed up, but that’s no big deal whatsoever.

Terry Date who produced your first album must have worked out well because he’s back for the
second album.

We were more impressed the second time. We got Terry from the Pantera records, the Soundgarden
records, all this different shit. He’s just made some amazing bad ass records, but on top of
all that, he is the most down to earth, most coolest, so mellow person to work with.
He is just nice. Some Producers come in and are more hands on, but he comes in and
engineers the records. He has an opinion, but he’s basically there to record the band.
We learned a lot doing the first record and come time to do the second one, we were more
mellow because we had done it once before. To me, the second record sounds so much better
than the first. It’s thicker and fatter, but we took a little more time with it and we have
a lot of ideas for the third one coming up.

How would you describe the sound of the Deftones for someone who has never heard the band?

It’s easy to say that it’s very heavy music, but it’s much for than that. We love all kinds
of music so we have so much to draw from. I just say come with an open ear, check it out.
You have to listen deep for the little thing s going on besides the heaviness of it all. We
are a heavy band, but we are a pop band too.

So what do you also listen to?

We all listen to the same styles of music, but we also listen to a lot of stuff that’s far off.
As a band Faith No More, Bad Brains, Helmet, Pantera. Everybody takes stuff from other bands.
If you are a writer or whatever, it’s how you take it. It’s not about stealing people’s shit.
It’s about taking it and then taking it somewhere else.

Tell us about your contributions to both the Duran Duran and the Depeche Mode tribute albums.

Those are two bands that we love. Chino particularly is a big fan of both of those bands.
Vocally he gets a lot of style from those bands. He is way into new wave and shit, and the
English bands of that time. It’s also fun, because people wouldn’t expect it from us.
For The Chauffeur, the Duran Duran one, we tried to do it three or four years ago but we never
had time. We always wanted to do it, but when the tribute album came up, we just said we’ll do
The Chauffeur. For the Depeche Mode album To Have Or To Hold, we made it a real heavy song.
It was just cool to be able to do that. You can give it a different life.

You have a steady relationship with Max Cavalera.

We were always huge fans of Sepultura. We met Max through his step son Dana, who was a good
friend of ours and was killed a few years ago. That was what Headup was all about.
There’s a song First Commandment on his record that was about the people who say he was killed.
Max is a cool guy and I wish that band was still together but he is kind of like family to us.

On your song Headup, you feature Max and he sings the lyric “soulfly” which went on to become
the name of his new band.

We wrote that before his new band was together. About six months ago, we did a TV show in
Paris and Max came on and did Headup with us. He was in town doing some other stuff.
He announced that night, after we did the song, that his new band was going to be called
Soulfly. We didn’t know it, it was pretty wild. It was from our song, but it’s cool shit.

How has The Deftones progressed from one album to the next.

I think it’s a natural progression. We were on the road a lot, and it’s easy to make the
same record twice, but we didn’t want to do that, we wanted to take it somewhere else. We
needed to grow as a band. We wanted to get lose. Someone said it was just being comfortable
in the studio, just being tighter. You play every night constantly, but you can’t help it but
get better.

What does Around The Fur mean?

It’s a metaphor for life. Chino came up with the title. He was fascinated by the shadiness
of certain things. It is literally like a fur coat. Fur is beautiful on the outside, but on
the inside it is basically a dead animal. It’s like the good and bad in life and how people
can cover things up. Everyone thinks it’s sexual but that’s not what it was meant to be.

So what does Deftones mean then?

We’ve been around 10 years now. The first show we ever played was a backyard barbarque.
We were like 16. We were so excited, it was our first show. We had 6 or 7 songs but we didn’t
have a name. So we decided it was Def, and we needed a name so we called ourselves The Deftones.
It was like the 80’s, everything was Def then. Tones was almost like a classic ‘50ish band name,
like with all those bands that ended with ‘Tones. It’s been our name ever since, but then,
a name is a name. It’s the music that speaks. Metallica is a silly name too.

Who was your favorite band to tour with?

We’ve toured with so many different bands. One of the best was with Bad Brains.
They were still the original band then. They didn’t last long because HR
flipped out and cracked a kids skull open with a mike stand and they broke up.
But then, I mean Jimmy Hendrix flipped out too.

What’s happening for you tour wise?

We are going to a lot of places we haven’t been before. We are going to Japan after this.
We are just touring and writing new songs. We are doing Van’s Warped and will be back in
Australia in January for that.

When you play live, there are five of you.

Yeah, we take Frank with us. He’s a DJ. He plays on both records, but he doesn’t scratch
though. He adds aural texture, he adds ambience. He has the craziest record collection and
he picks his sounds. I mean, bands have DJ’s who scratch and that’s kind of cliche, but for
him its just another instrument, but instead of using a voice, he uses records.
He’s been on both of our albums, and he’ s been out with us for the last year and a
half straight. He’s basically part of the band. He is from Sacramento too and whenever
we played there, he would come down and play with us, so we just said, come out with us

What’s your advise to new bands?

A lot of people come up and ask us questions, which is funny because I think of us as a band
that is just coming up, but people are just starting to hear about us. We’ve always just done
what we do. You’ve just got to come from your heart. People think you just get signed and you
put your record out, and if you can get backing from a label that is cool too. It’s not that
easy though. It’s a weird business but you have just got to make yourself happy as a band.
If it makes you happy, you can just keep on going. At times, there are ups and downs, but if
its real and it comes from inside, you keep doing your shit and keep on going.

The Deftones are part of the Maverick label, owned by Madonna. Do you have anything to do with

Oh yeah. She’s the boss. She’s come out to three or four of our shows. She is the boss. She’s
not like day to day, but she’s around. I listen to Madonna man, we listen to so much music. I
have nothing but respect for her. She has created some serious shit for herself and we are able
to benefit because of her.

Who is your favorite Spice Girl?

I like Scary Spice.

“Metal Hammer” – 1997 // Chino and Max Interviewed

Metal Hammer,
September 1997

Chino and Max comments about “HEADUP”…

“Then of course, there¹s the track Deftones did with their close pal Max
Cavalera. Moreno explains the genisis of that special tune: ³It¹s a crazy
ass song. We all sat around and wrote in the studio and jammed some stuff
and came out with a really good song.
³The lyrics are all about his stepson (Dana Wells), who passed away not to
long ago. He was a good friend of mine, so it¹s a heay ass song,² he
explains. ³We don¹t have a name yet. Me and Max were talking about it
yesterday. The working title is called ŒHead Up¹.
We decided before we did the song what it would be about be about, and I
think we¹re going to dedicate the record to Dana. We¹re both singing on the
song, we kinda switch off lines, answering, yelling back at each other. It¹s
pretty cool. It was intense in the studio, just the aura that was in there
was beautiful. That came out really, really good.²
Max says about the song: ³The song we did together (³Head Up²) was very
special. They¹d lost a friend too. When me and Chino recorded the vocals we
were both on the floor and emotions were going everywhere. It was almost as
if we had Dana in the studio sitting between the two of us. We were raging
so hard, and I remember looking up and seeing Chino had smashed his nose and
there was blood all over his face. He had this expression on his face which
said, ³How much more energy can you put into a song?² It was unbelievable!
When I Put that song on I get goosebumps.²
Chino on Max: ³Man, he¹s one of the coolest guys in the world. He¹s just
inspiring. ³ŒHead Up¹ was the fist song we actually did vocals on. I hadn¹t
done any vocals yet and they were still doing the music, and he came up to
Seattle where we were recording to do it. We did it live with him before he
had to leave. Doing that just inspired me completely. He has so much
presence and spirit, you know. Everything he does is real and he just has
this certain thing about him, this aura, that he throws out, like ³This is
all me². When we were singing together I was like, ³Man, this is what I
wanna be able to do. I wanna show emotion like he shows it². It¹s raw and
it¹s for real. He¹s an all-round good person to be involved with². (MH Nov
³As soon as I get done with mixing this record. Me and Max are doing a
record together. We¹re going to start in the middle of July. I don¹t know if
it will be an EP or a whole album, but we have a few songs, and we¹re going
to record them with (KoRn producer) Ross Robinson and just put Œem out.
³It¹s kinda mine and his project, but we¹re getting all kinds of different
people to be on it – it¹s going to be a big thing, but basically our songs.
I don¹t want to say the peoples names yet, but it¹s going to be the shit!
It¹ll be way different than Deftones stuff. I want to do some real moody,
slow stuff, because people wouldn¹t expect that of me and Max. They¹d expect
it to be straight up and hardcore. So I wanna change it up here and there.”

(MH Sep 1997).

Thanks to Sly

“Bass Player” – 1997 // Chi Interviewed

BASS Player
May 1997

BASS Notes
Chi Cheng, The Zen of Metal


By Thomas Wictor

It’s hard to put the Deftones’ Chi Cheng into a neat little box – just as his band itself
defies categorization. Ostensibly a heavy metal outfit, the quartet from Sacramento, California,
is no clutch of head-banging, oafish thrashers. Lead vocalist Chino Moreno is a cryptic
lyricist who croons wistfully or screams as if he’s being boiled alive, guitarist Stephen
Carpenter alternates between ghostly, poignant chord phrasings and a percussive, blasting wall
of sound, and drummer Abe Cunningham supplies sophisticated, almost jazz-influenced parts that
are remarkably infectious.

In the midst of all this mayhem, Chi Cheng’s driving, minimalist bass lines serve as an anchor
– a stabilizing influence that helps to keep the music from blowing itself apart. On the
Deftones’ debut album, Adrenaline (Maverick), such principles as harmony and discord, light
and dark, and rage and resignation are presented not as contrast but as parts of a unified
whole. Tracks like the haunting “One Weak” and the disturbing “7 Words” swing relentlessly
back and forth between extremes of emotion.

In keeping with the Deftones’ yin-and-yang motif, hard rockin’ Chi is a self-professed Zen
Buddhist hippie who has studied Taoism, quantum mechanics, chaos theory, and shamanism.
Though he relates off-the-record stories of beery exploits and “playful” scuffles that would
make even the most rabid metal fan gasp a reverent “Cool,” he himself is a committed vegetarian
and Grateful Dead enthusiast. (“I don’t even listen to metal that much,” he grins.)

Chang met up with the rest of the Deftones while studying English at Sacramento State
University in the late ’80s. They began playing at parties and moved on to a local club scene,
while Chi held down several jobs in addition to tutoring advanced poetry classes at the college.
After the band began garnering increasingly higher visibility, Cheng realized he was doing too
many things at the same time. He decided to concentrate solely on the band’s intense new brand
of metal rather than “halfass” everything else.

“I wouldn’t really label our music now,” Chi says. “I would just call it passionate, it’s more
about intensity than any actual style or genre. We’re more about dynamics – songs fluctuating
up and down like roller-coasters – than being proficient layers. I’m honest enough to know I’m
not a great bass player. I’m not going to dazzle anyone with my playing. But I stick with the
groove and put down lines that are good, strong, and passionate. Ninety-eight percent of the
music out there now is lousy because it’s soulless; it isn’t alive. It has hooks but no fire.
And if it doesn’t have that fire, it just doesn’t click with me.”

Cheng believes his own approach to the bass can be traced to a fondness for reggae, soul, jazz,
and blues. “I read in a Bass Player review that I play a lot of 16th-notes,” he recalls. “I
think that comes from listening to Tower of Power. I’m such a fan of Rocco Prestia; his playing
is so insistent and tasteful. Also, I’m more concerned about working with the drums than with
the guitar. I rarely write a bass line to match a guitar part because I’m looking at the big
picture. If people listen to our album, they can tell it’s not just another heavy metal record
because the bass is doing something under the guitar instead of with it.

“Also, I play with my fingers instead of a pick,” Chi continues. “Finger players are outlaws in
the heavy music industry – but for me, a pick just puts you farther away from the instrument.
It’s more organic to play with your fingers. I’d have a much better tone if I used a pick, but
I refuse to do it. It drives our guitar player nuts, but I’d rather cause friction between us
and stock with slinky, organic lines than be just another metal player.”

On the road for the past two years, the Deftones have opened for such bands as Ozzy Osborne,
Pantera, Kiss, White Zombie, 311, and Korn – as well as headlined their own shows.
When performing live, Chi undergoes what he calls a “Jekyll-and-Hyde” transformation.
“On stage I vent everything,” he explains. “I’m extremely aggressive because it’s a wonderful
outlet. Some people paint, some do tai chi or poetry – this is our way of venting. I hope
people won’t see it as violence or anger, although if you catch our show you might think we’ve
got chips on our shoulders or had bad childhoods. It’s not an angry thing for us; it’s always
been a positive, sacred thing for us to play with as much passion as we can.”

Chi is similarly enthusiastic about the two ’57 Fender Precision reissues made for him by Alex
Perez of the Fender Custom shop. One is a standard P-Bass with a maple neck, the other has a
rosewood board and an additional humbucking pickup. According to Cheng, “Alex put so much
honesty into the wood that when I got the basses I could feel it. He dumped so much positive
energy into them it was amazing. You can actually feel the difference between an instrument
that was made on the production line and one that was built just for you.” For amplification,
Cheng runs two Hughes & Kettner Bass Base 600 heads through four Hughes & Kettner 300-watt
4×10 cabinets. He also plugs in a SansAmp GT2 pedal enroute to achieving his “simple,
uncluttered” sound.

Although Chi knows the Deftones are turning lots of heads, he credits his years of meditation
and self-examination with keeping his feet firmly on the ground. “Wherever I am is where I need
to be,” he shrugs. “I could be washing dishes or teaching English and I’d still be content. The
truth is many musicians play because they need the admiration of others to make them whole. I
mean, it’s nice that people appreciate our music, and we’re flattered by it – but I don’t need
to be told we’re the best thing since sliced bread. It’s the creating and playing of music and
seeing how it affects people that’s the beautiful, sacred part. That’s why I’m going to put
everything I have into whatever I do. I don’t ever really think about where I’m going to be five
or ten years from now, because it doesn’t really matter. Life is what you make of it.”