“Radio One BBC” – March 27, 2000 // Chino Interviewed

Deftones Interview
Broadcast 27th Mar 2001

Chino Moreno and Abe Cunningham from The Deftones took a break from their UK tour to join
Mary Anne late one night on the Rock Show to talk music, play some of their favourite tracks,
and answer some of the questions you e-mailed in for them.

Click here hear the whole interview, or read the highlights below and click on the questions to
jump to that section of the interview.

You are half way through a tour, how’s it been going?
One of them, the Hamburg show, was the lowest point of the tour. We all just broke down, missing
our family, it was the only bit of the tour I can think of that was sad….We started drinking
at 10 in the morning – it was bad. Ever since them it’s been getting better.

So how to your recover from that?
I don’t know how. We bounced back pretty good, the shows have been getting better and better.
You cannot predict how you are going to feel. I love music and I love to play music, but to do
it every day as a job you look at it differently.

Tell me about our support acts Tap Root and Linkin Park
Honestly, I don’t listen to their music at all. But, I think our fans, especially the younger
ones, dig it. Whether those bands will admit it or not they are the epitome of Nu-metal. They
are good bands, I’d take them over a lot of other stuff. If you listen to the stuff I listen to
it’s different.

Track 1 – Howard Jones ‘No-one Is To Blame’
The story is Abe and I had a crush on the same chick, and I thought it was my song with this
girl, and Abe thought it was his song with her.

Chino, You liked to impersonate Morrissey as a teenager.
Morrissey is so damn swarve, I don’t understand why people cannot see that. People think I’m
joking about that, but I straight up love that man….I went to school in the 5th grade dressed
like Boy George. It was a predominately black and Mexican area where I went to school, and
people were looking at me like ‘what the hell is he doing’. I love his persona and his
boldness, and I love that about Morrissey.

Which is your favourite Smiths song Chino?
I’ve got a lot of them. My favourite Smiths album is ‘The Queen Is Dead’ and a song off it
is ‘I Know It’s Over’

Track 2 – Quicksand ‘Dining Alone’
We took them on tour with us in the States, we got them back together as a band. That was one
of my favourite tours of all time

You’ve collaborated with so many people in the past, but there is rumour that you are going to
collaborate with Mogwai.
The first time I heard that band I was imagining what it would be like if I could sing over some
of their songs – obviously a lot of their songs don’t have vocals. They are just really lush and
pretty songs, I could hear tons of melodies over them. At the Leeds festival last summer I met
one of the band, he came over and started talking to me. I didn’t know who he was and he told me
he was in Mogwai, so I just like fell to my knees and said ‘I love your band’. A couple of
months ago they sent me a track of a song they want me to put vocals on.

We’ve had many e-mails asking why are you supporting Limp Bizkit at their Milton Keynes gig,
when you are the far better band?
I don’t look at it like that. I look at it like we are playing a show. People don’t admit they
like Limp Bizkit, I said something to the crowd last night (in Manchester) about Limp Bizkit and
everyone stated booing. But I know for a fact that all those kids would go to see Limp Bizkit
play, and they probably own a Limp Bizkit album, they have to – why do they sell so many
records….I don’t dislike Limp Bizkit’s music, the same way with Linkin Park, it’s very
formulated and predictable and I think it’s good for what it is. It’s like a party youthful
record, and I look at it like that. I haven’t actually heard their new album….If I had a
choice I’d much rather play Milton Keynes with Tool, a band I do listen to, but I don’t think
it’s a bad thing we are playing with Limp Bizkit, I think it will be fun.

Track 3 – Kool Keith ‘Sly We Fly’

Chino, tell us a bit about Team Sleep, your side project
I need to finish it because I’ve been working on it for so long…The closest thing I can
compare it to is the song ‘Teenager’ on the album ‘White Pony’…It’s real mellow, something you
can put on your headphones and fall asleep listening to.

Everyone wants to know when are you going to record new stuff?
It’s really important when we put out music that it’s really good. We were asked to record
tonight’s (live) show and put it out as a live album, but that had no interest for us…
So when we go home we are going to start writing as much stuff as we can before the summer.
Then hopefully in the fall go in the studio and start recording

Track 4 – The Cure ‘The Catch’

“The PRP” – March, 2000 // Abe Interviewed

Interview with Abe Cunningham

PRP: Although “White Pony” has been embraced by the fans and hailed by the critics as one of
the great albums of last year, yet in terms of sales it hasn’t seen you take the leap many had
expected, with the album recently falling off the Billboard charts and not yet selling platinum.
How do you feel about that?
Abe: Every record we’ve done except for the first one there has been hype about being the next
big thing. We don’t care, we don’t give a shit about what people expect. Its the biggest record
we have ever had and we do what we do at our own pace. Doing it this long, we are happy with
ourselves. The music business is a strange business.

PRP: Nearly a year after its release, what songs have really stood out for you on the “White
Abe: I like it all. I love playing “Feiticeira” live though.

PRP: What has been the highlight of this past year? What with Rock In Rio, Grammy, key to city,
Abe: The whole year man. All these years we’ve been waiting for 2001 to come. It’s been amazing
and it’s not over yet. It’s been great and I can’t really highlight anything. Just the fact that
we can still do it.

PRP: So how did it feel to win the Grammy?
Abe: Even just being nominated we were amazed. It was totally out of the blue. It was exciting,
but more so for our parents.

PRP: Since the release of your third album, yet again, another host of new bands have appeared.
Do you have any favorites of the current crop?
Abe: I don’t really buy any of those records. I like to listen to older stuff but I really like

PRP: How does it feel to have Linkin Park support you despite the fact they are more
commercially successful right now?
Abe: I think its funny. I couldn’t give a shit. They have never been over here
Linkin Park are a band that you either love or hate and they got a lot of shit.

PRP: At theprp.com we ran a feature asking bands such as Machine Head, A Perfect Circle,
System Of A Down and more what their fave albums for the year were and “White Pony”
consistently appeared more than any other album. It seems that amongst artists you are the
most respected band out there. How do you feel about that?
Abe: That’s the best thing in the world, better than selling millions, to have the respect
of your peers. It’s very cool.

PRP: A lot of younger bands who’ve toured with you like Taproot and Glassjaw have said its
like a dream come true, how does it feel to have such an impact on these groups?
Abe: Yeah, we’ve done the same thing too though, touring with bands we grew up listening to.
You listen to a band and you hope their cool people and not pricks. Treat people how you want
to be treated.

PRP: There has been rumors circulating lately that Maverick Records may shut down sometime in
the not too distant future, are you guys confident with your future on the label?
Abe: I heard that they gave it some more time. Either way it wont affect us.

PRP: With “Change (In The House Of Flies)” making TRL, the following singles never quite lived
up to the success that “Change” had. Do you find this frustrating?
Abe: No because you have to understand that we never have had any radio play before. So its all
a success. We built everything we have on touring. Our worries are elsewhere, we are beyond that.

PRP: How many other singles do you plan to release from the album and are there any other
tracks being eyed as potential candidates?
Abe: To us, the whole record could be singles. For the label its a whole different story, they
could consider it to be a dead record now.
PRP: A lot of people would love to see “Knife Party” as a single.
Abe: That was supposed to be the first single so who knows.

PRP: It seems that with Warren Entner managing you guys and also putting together the Faith No
More tribute record, it would be a perfect fit for you to show up on the tribute. Have there
been any discussions about this and which Faith No More track would you like to cover if given
the choice?
Abe: I think their songs are too perfect to be touched, why fuck with it. We talked about doing
some really early stuff off the very first record. “RV” is what we came to and then we decided
to fuck it, there’s a lot of bands on the album we aren’t too keen on.

PRP: Does it anger you that whenever you release an album, your style of music becomes copied
quite quickly by other acts?
Abe: I mean everyone copies and we’ve certainly copied bands too, I think its how you take it.
You cant just TAKE IT, you got to run it through your heart and soul and give it your own pace.
Bands should try to get their own fucking thing.

PRP: Where do you feel the band will head with your new album and have you been writing any
songs recently?
Abe: Anywhere, that’s the beauty of it. We set ourselves up to do whatever we want and people
can’t expect anything. We have so many ideas but mainly we are just trying to find different
sounds rather than the simple standard instruments. We haven’t written anything yet, its all in
our heads.

PRP: How much of a shock was it in seeing Chi without his dreads and how have the fans reacted?
Abe: No, it was great. He came in the next day and we were like god, it was quite a shock. Those
dreads stunk, I felt sorry for his wife and kids.

PRP: With Chino cutting his dreads, Stef cutting his long hair, Chi cutting his dreads, what
dramatic appearance change do you have in mind?
Abe: I’m growing mine long! Like back In the old days, it’s been a long time.

PRP: Speaking of the old days, what can you tell us about you old band Phallucy?
Abe: We did a record almost eight years ago but it was never finished. We were home last month
and I got together and we talked about it and we went and finished it, mixed it and it sounded
really good. We are going to put it out just on the internet on a site we are going to make for
it. It’s just kind of cool and interesting. Even eight years later it’s still sounding good.

PRP: This summer it seems like you’ll be doing an Amphitheater tour with Godsmack in what seems
an unlikely partnership. Are you excited about this tour?
Abe: Initially we were like fuck that and there will probably be a backlash from people but I
couldn’t give a fuck. Lets make it in to a positive thing, it doesn’t need to be negative. Why
not tour with Godsmack, it’s one tour and I think it could be a good thing. I’m not a Godsmack
fan but we can still have fun, its summertime.

PRP: You’ve yet to hit Australia or east Asia yet. Any plans to?
Abe: We were going to be playing Japan but I don’t think that’s happening now. We’d love to get
to those places but its more to do with the dollar down there and also the yen. It’s all to do
with our management and basically it’s to expensive to go at this point but we cant wait to get
to those places.

PRP: With the amount of covers you guys have both recorded and played live, will we ever see a
covers album?
Abe: Yeah, maybe when we have time. It’s not at the top of our minds.

PRP: You also have a number of acoustic songs that fans, particularly on the net, cant get
enough of. You could really shine on something like MTV unplugged. How would you react to that?
and is that something you have ever thought of in terms of performing acoustically live?
Abe: Yeah we just did this thing called “Music In High Places”. A show that takes bands around
exotic locations and we did four acoustic songs on this lava flow. I think the songs translate
really well, even the heavier shit.

PRP: The rumors of the band touring with Tool or Weezer never seem to cease, are possible tours
with these acts any closer to a reality yet?
Abe: Same as it is. Rumors.

PRP: Apparently you have a home video in the works. Any firm plans for that and if so what kind
of footage can we expect?
Abe: Well the digital bath video is out. The cool thing is we did it all ourselves. We all have
cameras and stuff, most of it was my footage. We hired a friend to edit it. Chino and I went to
school with this kid and he went to film school and now he has backing for this company to do
documentaries and stuff. The last tour we did in the states he came out and documented most of
that. This is different from the home video that we will put out though before the end of the
year though.

PRP: With many of the band having their own outlet other than the Deftones, do you feel this has
a negative or positive affect on the band.
Abe: I think its healthy. It makes us tighter and relieves some of the pressure.

“bassstreet.com” – December, 2000 // Chi Interviewed

Chi Cheng interviewed by by Alan di Perna (bassstreet.com)


Crossing a grassy square in funky downtown Sacramento, Chi Cheng pauses outside a circle of
homeless kids who are seated on the ground, pounding out a tribal beat on a few hand drums.
Most of the kids are in their early teens and have the dusty, hippie—gypsy look of people used
to sleeping rough and eating whenever they can panhandle enough change for some fast food.
Smiles of recognition light up their faces when they see Cheng. They proudly show him some new
drum beats they’ve been working out. It turns out that Chi funnels some of the money he makes
as bassist for the Deftones into a music program for Sacramento’s homeless youth. He’s bought
these kids the drums they’re playing, and a portable cassette recorder to document their
musical progress.

“When people see homeless teens they right away think: ‘drug addicts‹trouble.’” says the
dreadlocked bassist. “But these are good kids. If life had turned out a little differently,
that could be you or me there in the park.”

Cheng is an unusual guy to find playing bass in an aggressive new-metal band like the Deftones,
whose latest album White Pony is currently enjoying huge success. A practicing Buddhist,
Cheng also has a fascination with Beat Generation writers like Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs
and Allen Ginsberg. He has recently put out a spoken word disc, Bamboo Parachute, culled from
the stockpile of poetry he’s written over the years.

“All my views are hippie views which are not necessarily shared by the rest of the band,” he

Cheng was majoring in literature at Sacramento State College when he first joined the Deftones.
“The guys put out an ad for a bass player around 1989,² he recalls. “I was in college, and I
think Chino [Moreno, the Deftones lead singer] and Abe, [Cunningham, the band’s drummer] were
maybe 15 or 16. They’d already been together for a few years. I remember things like, ‘Chino
can’t come to band practice, because he got grounded. He got bad grades.’ I’m really proud of
Chino’s work on White Pony. I knew him when he was a little kid. And now he’s what I consider
an amazing singer.”

The Deftones were signed to Madonna’s Maverick label in 1994. Their first two albums Adrenaline
(1995) and Around the Fur (1997) both went gold and attracted favorable notice in the metal
community. But all this pales in comparison with the Top 5 ascendancy of White Pony, which
finds the band mixing a wide range of musical styles with their core metal sound.

“My own influences are different than the other guys,” says Cheng. “I’m a big fan of world beat,
jazz and reggae. On our single “Change (In the House of Flies),” there’s kind of a dub style
bass. But it’s subtle.”

In many ways, Cheng provides the perfect foil to Deftones guitarist Stephen Carpenter’s power
chord menace. “Stephen’s the technical guy,” says Chi. “I just like to plug in and play. I’m
like a punk rock artist in that regard. I use all Fenders‹mostly P-Basses, and I’ve got a
Fender Tele bass. The Fender Custom Shop puts a lot of love into the basses they make. I can
tell the difference. I beat on my instruments a lot, and they always stay in tune!”

Cheng says he was won over to Fender basses when the Deftones played the Warped tour in 1995.
“I saw Sergio from Quicksand take a Fender, swing it around his neck and throw it across the
stage. It bounced off a monitor. He picked it up, put it back on and it was still in tune. And
I was like, ‘That’s it. I gotta have Fenders.’”

All members of the Deftones praise Madonna for sticking with them through the lean years that
preceded White Pony’s rise to the top of the charts. “She’s an amazing woman,” says Cheng.
“Real intelligent. Really fierce. I think she tends to belittle a lot of men. She can make a
man feel small. But I think it’s good for a man to be in the presence of a woman who’s so
powerful and intense about what she’s doing that it’s a humbling experience.”

With Cheng going around making statements like these, and the band’s multi-ethnic makeup,
observers have cast the Deftones as a politically correct alternative to some of the more
overtly misogynist and homophobic acts in the current rap/metal arena.

“I think we’re so self-involved that we don’t even compare ourselves to any other bands,”
says Cheng. “Maybe we’re part of this new metal thing. When I think in those terms at all, I
think of us more like Tool or Rage Against the Machine.”

But has Cheng seen a change in the audience’s makeup since the Deftones hit it big?

“I don’t know,” he laughs. “I keep my eyes closed on stage the whole time.”

“Circus” – December, 2000 // Chino Interviewed

circus magazine
december issue


chino moreno

“basically threre are just 2 diffrent feelings,
love and hate.”

special interview by gabriella

the deftones are a unique blend of music and one of
the reasons for it might be the fact that they all and
especially singer Chino Moreno are into a variety of
music. for them variety is the spice of there sound .

“I always liked a lot of different music. some people
said im open minded and some said i have no musical
taste at all and listen to almost everything. i
couldnt care less, i guess it depends on how you want
to see things. for some people the glass is always
half empty while for somebody else it might be still
half full. personaly i think you cant have to many
influences, its great to be open minded. i dont want
to paint myself in to a corner and just have one
single musical influence.”

but even if he thinks alot of influences are important
for the deftones, when it comes to feelings are
concerned, for chino there are just two major
feelings, but he dosent just see it black and white,
he also realizes there alot of different shades of
gray in between.

“bacially there are just to different feelings , love
and hate . everything else , every other feeling is
somehow connected to one of them. Love and hate are
the two basic feelings and im capable to change from
one to the other really quick, like in a song.
sometimes i go through both moods in one song, not
just one spot a couple of times .”

Chino explains that he doesnt see himself has the
front man just because he is the singer,he rather sees
his voice as a fifth instrument of the band something
that blends and completes the song of the deftones.

“it’s really easy for a singer to destroy a great
song, that’s why i dont like to see myself has a
singer but rather has a instrument with in the band ,
the fifth instrument in a great band.”

maybe that’s one of the reasons why, while he puts
alot of effort in the lyrics, the lyrics are something
that comes last when there writting songs. for him its
not the lyrics that are important, the feeling he gets
across is what really counts for him.

“ I want to express my feelings, I want to express
what I feel with out actually having to spell it out,
with out actually having to sing the words, I dont
want to use the words to express myself, I think the
music should express it all. i have always been a huge
cure fan especially when Robert Smith was really
abstract and cryptic, like in pornography , were the
lyrics were really cryptic but definetly intense and
everybody understood and felt what he was trying to

the deftones and korn are often counted to be in the
same genre and are labeled as the new californian
metal explosion, but chino sees it quite differently,
especially when it comes to the lyrics.

“ I think our lyrics are rather introverted and
sometimes really complex, alot of people describe
Jonathan davis this way but i dont think our lyrics
can be compared . the lyrics of korn are quite
different, for example if you hear jon singing about
something you know what he means, hes not talking
around something he’s getting straight to the point
while i rather give you a feeling of what im trying to
say. I perfer using metaphors, and give you the
general feeling about what im trying to say it isn’t
necessarily something that has anything to do with my
real life, it isn’t necessarily nothing more than the
feeling that he’s to obvious and transparent.

I like the way my lyrics are, there a bit different
but maybe that’s the reason why i like them its ok if
people don’t like the lyrics everybody should have
there own opnion about them.

“our albums have alot of different senario. you might
just feel real relaxed and then the mood changes and
shakes you up. it might be a bit uncomfortable
sometimes but at the same time there is a certain warm
feeling around and it dosen’t let you down and hugs
you. I think it’s something really rare its certainly
not something you find all that often.”

Just like their lyrics, their sound is everything else
than obvious, it does take some time to get in to
there albums and find all the little tidbits and parts
who are almost hidden away, but who’re still
responsible for a lot of deftones magic. with the
deftones the beauty of a song is often not obvious and
only visable in between the lines. Chino gets right to
the point and sums it up with simple words.

”we’re trying to be as decent as possible and as effective as

the deftones singer doesn’t quite understand that for
a lot of people everything has to be obvious and plain
and he seems to be rather fed up with having to
explain the role of frank delagdo .

“a lot of people keep on asking which role frank plays
in the band and why he’s in the deftones. They seem
not to be able to understand that you dont hear the Dj
straight away. We all work together and everybody in
the band is important but we dont need to please out
egos with solos. “

Egos and commerce are certainly not something the
deftones place a lot of value in they even refused the
headlining spot at the prestigous family values tour.
something a lot of bands would kill for but for the
deftones other reasons were far more important.

“we really wouldnt have fitted in and it wouldnt have
been our thing. we thought about it but then decided
not to do it. it just seems to be such a big circus
and some many different bands, we wouldnt go on tour
with so why tour with them for family values? i think
there are to many things involved, too much politics
and to much money.”

“DetNews” – November, 2000 // Chi Interviewed

“Heavy rocking Deftones are flying high with ‘Back to School’ tour,
a critically praised album and … Adam Sandler”

By David Dodd / Special to The Detroit News



Seated on adjoining couches on the set of an Adam Sandler MTV special
this week, the Deftones joined the rubber-faced actor in an acoustic
version of the band’s 1997 hit “Be Quiet and Drive.”

It was Sandler — whose new movie, Little Nicky, opens today nationwide
— who requested the jam session with the Sacramento quintet, the hottest
high-energy rock band in America right now. The band plays Cobo Arena tonight.

“It was a great time,” says Deftones bassist Chi Cheng, via cell phone
from the band’s tour bus in Atlanta. “I couldn’t pass up the chance to play
with Adam Sandler — he’s demonic!”

It’s only appropriate that Sandler plays the son of Satan in the film,
for which the band wrote two soundtrack songs.

“I won’t lie though,” Cheng continues, “he messed me up the first time
he started riffin’ off because he’s really good. I totally lost my train of
thought where I was. It was pretty funny.”

The Deftones are riding a wave of critical acclaim with their latest
effort, White Pony, a collection of 11 tracks highlighting their sinister
vocals and scorching guitar riffs .

Their first single, the hauntingly infectious “Change (in the House of
Flies),” released several months ago, remains near the top of the modern-rock

“We had a lot of good times in the recording studio,” Cheng recalls,
“but we also nearly killed each other. There was a lot of tension because
we all felt so passionately about this album — we really wanted to outdo
the two albums we’d done before, and we felt those were two really strong albums.”

Only in their late 20s, the Deftones have already been together for
13 years.

The core band members — Cheng, guitarist and vocalist Chino Mareno,
drummer Abe Cunningham and Stephen Carpenter on strings — were friends as
kids. They traded in their skateboards and video games for guitars in 1987,
playing California clubs as a foursome.

The band soon added hip-hop DJ Frank Delgado on the turntable, featuring
him on both their records and stage performances. The Deftones’ first national
release, 1995’s Adrenaline, introduced Mareno’s cryptic yet appealing vocals
to a larger audience.

On the current leg of their 36-city Back to School tour, the Deftones have
enlisted two popular bands — Incubus and Taproot — to open for them.

“That’s what it’s all about,” Cheng says. “It’s easy to go out and really
lead a tour and hire some band to open for you, but we wanted to have an
entire night of great music, so the tour’s been great so far. Incubus is an
amazingly complementary band to us, and Taproot’s been really cool.”

But it’s the Deftones that everybody wants to see.

The band’s music and muscle have been in high demand. In addition to the
Sandler movie soundtrack, they’ve re-released White Pony with a new track,
have a single featured on the upcoming video game MTV Sports: Skateboarding
featuring Andy MacDonald, and are watching their second single, “Back to
School,” play all over the airwaves.

Cheng, who’s a book lover, has also released a spoken-word CD — Bamboo
Parachute — featuring the works of many top writers.

And, oh, yeah, the band recently was given a key to their California

“There are so many avenues to explore,” Cheng says. “We don’t want to
limit ourselves at all.”

As for tonight’s show at Cobo, the biggest venue on the current tour,
Cheng says: “It’s huge, it’s scary, it’s kind of a big place, but we’re
really excited, we’re really energized. Detroit has always been good to us.”

“Rock Express” – 2000 // Chino Interviewed

Interview: Chino Moreno, Master of White Ponies


rockexpress – 2000

I skateboard and have always carried my ‘board on tours. Stephen likes cycling
and, for the past two or three year, has been bringing his own bike on tour. He goes
out and finds a skateboarding ring and ride and I occasionally go with him. Chi likes
reading and spends all his time with books, Abe… I don’t really know what he is up
to but on the last tour he spent all his time talking with his wife on the phone
because she was expecting a baby. (chino)

It is the fourth year since THE DEFTONES’ second album, ‘Around The Fur’, had
come out and, finally, its supplant is upon us, entitled ‘White Pony’; its title, at
least, continues the theme of the previous one — regardless of what singer Chino
Moreno had and is claiming — although it switches the gender and instead of the female,
the male genitalia gets a cryptic focus on. The title of the new album had also been a
source of a rumour than Moreno officially changed his name to ‘Pony 1’ but it got blame
settled on a pseudonym ‘Pony Wong’ he had used for guesting on Sevendust’s ‘Home’ album.

In meantime ‘Around The Fur’ was voted the Best HM Album of the year (1998) by
Brit-readers. The bend toured for over two years, as they had done following the release
of the debut album ‘Adrenaline’ (1995), although found time to contribute songs to the
soundtracks to the movies such as ‘The Crow: City Of Angels’ and ‘Escape From LA’ (1996,
both), plus cover songs ‘The Chauffeur’ (Duran Duran tribute) and ‘To Have And To Hold’
(Depeche Mode tribute, both 1998) and it was expected that Moreno’s side-project Team
Sleep would have had some of its atmospheric music released.

But no, it has been put on ice for The Deftones’ sake, to finish the third album
and tour it. At least one Team Sleep songs has survived to the laser of a CD player,
‘Teenager’, a trancey-psychedelic cut; the rest of ‘White Pony’ slots in between the
band’s known sound of fury (‘Street Camp’, ‘Fieticeira’), more adventurous (‘Digital
Bath’, ‘Knife Party’, ‘RX Queen’) and ultra-heavy (‘Elite’)… There are not many guests
although Maynard James Keenan (Tool, A Perfect Circle) trades vocals with Chino on

If you are fan of the band and would like to have their complete works then you
have to search hard and long to locate a copy of a ‘Live’ mini-LP that had been issued
in two countries only, France and the USofA, between the first two albums and deleted
soon after. When I complain to Chino about this he explained it as a record company bonus
to the fans who had showed support for the band in their earliest days.

Touring, the band is known for long and hard playing all over the world but, it
might be a bit more difficult now as a couple of members have children, bassist Chi
Cheng and drummer Abe Cunnigham. Guitarist Stephen Carpenter is the fourth member of
the band that originated near the Korn’s place — Sacramento, California.

A great gap between studio albums…

Chino: We had a few false starts and had to abandon recordings because we went touring…
And then, when we started work on vocals we came up with a couple of new songs and then
few more which has delayed the process a bit. But, we got everything under control and
the album is ready to be heard by the world.

The delay wasn’t due to your searching for the right song ideas, as some might have suspected?

– No, that’s never been our problem, we’ve always had too many ideas… We kept on coming
with so many ideas in a studio that it was incredible… Every day we thought to replace a
song or two we had already recorded. It was mad and we had to stop and concentrate on
finishing some of the ideas we had put down. Even then, nothing was finished until the
master-tapes were delivered to the record company.

Which is going to be followed with a lot of touring, as usual?

– Yes, and our first stop is Europe, ahead of the album comes out… We know that’s been
a long time since the last tour and it is going to be difficult to be away from home for
such long periods of time but it needs to be done. We know only too well that our playing
live sell our records as that is the only way we can promote our music. We have never relied
on MTV or radio to get our music across and the only way left to us is to play live.
People come and like what we do and then tell their friends. That is the most valuable,
the word-of-mouth.

Live, they are…

THE DEFTONES, the Californian’s capitol Sacramento natives, earned their reputation by
playing loud, intense and extreme shows that were perfect for crowd surfing, stage diving
and general moshing. But, on this night, there wasn’t much opportunity, the main reason
being the volume that was far from what this band has been known for; instead to be of the
Spinal Tap-ish patented ’11’, it was more like an ‘8’.

We thought it could be customised due to the new material being spacier, more complex,
more structured, but no, the lower volume prevailed until the very end when we had a sonic
explosion that reminded us why we got into them in the first place. Tours that followed their
first two albums, ‘Adrenaline’ and ‘Around The Fur’, used to be like prescribed in one of
their old songs, ‘Nosebleed’.

All the known elements are on ‘White Pony’ — the cutting guitar of Stephen Carpenter,
the driving bass of Chi Chueng and Abe Cunningham raging on his drumskins, but it has all
mutated. ‘Elite’ could be the hardest song of their career but it is restrained force, there
is more of withheld aggression that the actual aural menace. ‘The Street Carp’ is a rare song
that bridges between the past and the now, ‘Change (In The House Of Flies)’ is atmospherically
heavy, ‘Pink Maggot’ sounds like an anthem designed for the stadia…

Chino Moreno sings and screams, crouches, twists and stretches his body in an attempt
to maximise passion of his vocal expression in front of a star-lit backdrop; a horse outline
was also projected on it indicating a new song without Moreno needing to introduce it.
He avoided addressing us, apart few well placed ‘Thank you’s’ and letting us on his post-stoned
daze as he had spend the day and played a gig in Amsterdam. His state didn’t affect the
performance of favourites like ‘Headup’, ‘Around The Fur’, ‘Root, ‘Be Quiet And Drive
(Far Away)’…

There was also not much for the DJ Fred Delgado, who used to be a regular onstage
contributor, to do. The Deftones, as the flashed sign reminded us several times, are
undergoing a metamorphosis that is taking them away from the crossover they established
themselves with. At one moment the stylised lettering on the backdrop read ‘DE ONES’.
Well …getting there.

Very often your official festival dates (such as Reading in 1998) are preceded by a club
show; why do you need to do that or are you using such shows instead of rehearsing?

– We did that club date because we wanted to, there was no need. It was a thank you to
our fans, on one hand, and an opportunity for people who have never seen us in such a
small place to witness what we can do, on the other hand. And also, whenever we played
London it was a big show; even our first one, it was in a 2500-capacity venue; that
(club) show was in front of 500 people only.

– And true, we never rehearse, it has never been our style. We soundcheck and that’s
about it. We should know the songs because we wrote and recorded them.

Your tours last years; how do you amuse yourself during such stints?

– I skateboard and have always carried my ‘board on tours. Stephen likes cycling and,
for the past two or three year, has been bringing his own bike on tour. He goes out and
finds a skateboarding ring and ride and I occasionally go with him. Chi likes reading
and spends all his time with books, Abe… I don’t really know what he is up to but on
the last tour he spent all his time talking with his wife on the phone because she was
expecting a baby. These two are family people and when we are off touring they spend all
their time with their loved ones.

And you, what do you usually get up to during your downtime?

– We all live lives we want to. If you wanna homelife you can’t have it on the road.
There are times when I wish I was at home but when I’m at home I wish I was on the road.
But, there is a balance and everything we do is to that effect; we don’t go on the road
and say ‘To hell with our homelife!’ It doesn’t work like that and you have to take care
of everything.

– But, the grass is always greener on the other side. What we are working toward is to
have a revolving gate with green grass on both side. That’s what we are working toward
to have and to keep everybody equally happy. We like to keep it like a big party and
have everybody enjoy himself.

Collaborating with other people, Soulfly for instance, what do you look for in it?

– It is always great to work with other people because every band works differently
and you can learn something from other people’s way of writing songs. There is no better
or more effective way but it is inspiring to see other people. There are so many ways to
do music but the main reason for working with other people is to have a good time. That’s
why we do our music; if I thought that working with somebody would be stressful, I’d never
do it. I’ll only work with people I admire and feel comfortable working with.

Don’t such excursions cause any frictions in the band?

– No, not at all and everybody is happy when somebody else’s got to do something different.
The band didn’t come with me on the Soulfly record because there was no time. Max planned to
have so many guests but he simply ran out of time. The thing with the outside work is that it
is okay as long as it doesn’t affect the work in the band. If I was not focused on what was
going on in the band, they’d tell me. This band is the priority and everything else is a
bonus. Otherwise we wouldn’t be were we are.

How unified do you feel as a band? I’m asking because few times I spoke with Chi he told me
that he didn’t feel committed to the band 100% and wished to start teaching?

– He is one person in the band who is… when he is with the band, he’s with the band;
when he is not with the band he is doing something else. His interest isn’t music only
but he wants to go to college, he wants to teach… I don’t hold it against him but he knows
when he is with the band he needs to take care of the band and he does take care.

– We all are different people; Stephen and Chi are just the opposites: Chi would stay at
home every day if he could and Stephen would be on the road every day if he could. Somewhere
between these two are Abe and me which means that we all have to compromise. He knows it
and his compromise is neither lesser nor greater than for the rest of us. He can tell you
all day long that he wants to be a teacher and a parent and a husband and go home but, this
is as much of his life as that is. And we all make everybody as much happy as we can.

– We told him that if he didn’t want to be here he shouldn’t need to be. But he wants to be
here and he is. I think it is okay for other people to have other interests as long as they
know what are the priorities. It is understandable, I’d say. I think such tension make us
stronger as a band. It’s like not only him who has his own thing but everyone of us have own
separate lives from all this. The fact that we have known each other for so long and we all
know what we want to do individually, it has drawn us together to be able to work things out
and make everyone happy. Everyone would get what they want and we’ll still be able to do our
own band thing. The fact that everyone gets what they want makes us stronger because this is
what is creating the opportunity for everybody to do what they want.

Isn’t it a bit unnerving that you have such a state among the members?

– No; if you were unsympathetic to what anyone of us needs, this would simply fall apart.
That’s why we are so close because we understand each other’s needs. We’ve been friends forever
and friendship is what keeps us going. Nobody puts a foot down in this band in protest.
Nobody creates situations here and we are equal although we know we all have our own selfish
needs. But, for one to have such needs met we all have to work together.

Passionate metal from the kings-to-be

You are well respected but, recording a tribute to a band like Duran Duran, didn’t it worry you
that it might dent your reputation?

– No, not at all. It is fine to do things like that. We know what we stand for and what we do.
No, doing covers is fine by us and when we recorded that song we did it because it was a great
song. I liked them a lot and must have been the only boy to have liked them. I didn’t like their
pop stuff but slow songs were brilliant. That song, the vibe, the video for that song, it is a
bit dark song, I really liked it a lot.

– The rest of the members weren’t fans but when I played them the record they dug it immediately.
We had no problem with recording a Duran Duran song… that’s elitism, if song is good, it is good,
and there is no discussion.

Marilyn Manson likes to think of himself as the best band in the world…

– Well, we were at an Awards ceremony when he won such a title and I thought it was cool what he
said in his acceptance speech — ‘Who else would have won?’ I like him, I think he is a swell guy.
He is definitely an interesting character who knows exactly what he is doing and when people talk
about responsibility of musicians I think of him. You may believe he is s calculating type but he
does his own thing and nobody else’s.

Precisely, he hasn’t influenced many other artists while Spineshank swear by you?

– That’s nice and I have no problem with it… I met the singer and he was really cool. It is nice
to inspire somebody to start making music like ours. As long as they don’t just copy our sound
and scream-sing-scream but try to copy the spirit of it, then it is fine. There must be some
depth and certain identity to it all. It is a big compliment whenever a band name-checks you
but we’ve never become big-headed because of it.

Very humble opinion for the difference from your old friend’s band, Korn, who couldn’t resist
to name the previous album ‘Follow The Leader’?

– Well, that’s the road they’ve chosen and the attitude… We haven’t been in touch for a long
time and I don’t know what’s going on there now. You’ll never catch me talking bad about any
bands and especially not Korn. People like to see it like a competition but it’s not like The
Deftones thing versus the Korn thing. It’s not like that with us, if I feel like dissing them
I’ll do it, in the press or in their faces.

– But, because they’ve got a new record out (‘Issues’) everybody wants to know what I think of
it. I guess it is understandable… I don’t wanna say anything bad about it but, you know what,
the record doesn’t suck but, to me, it is nowhere near as good as I think it could have been or
how their debut album was… I don’t get that feeling, that I got when I listened to the first
record, on the last three records. They are generally getting worse, the records are. But, as
far as that, it is much better than anything out there that is like it, how can I possibly say
something bad about it?

– If I compare Korn to Korn, I’d say it wasn’t as good, but compared to anything else in that
genre, it is miles better than the Coal Chamber’s debut album, for instance.

You contributed songs to soundtracks and I wonder what is your criterion?

– If we are not on it, it is not cool enough. I don’t think there are enough interesting movies
out there… Apart from that we usually don’t have any songs recorded that we could offer to
movies; I guess we could go and write one, if a project was interesting enough… We have a couple
of songs from the last record we didn’t finish and we could go back to that… If something
interesting comes along we’d take it.

But not something like ‘Godzilla’?

– Green Day had a song in it and I thought that was cool. It was in the true punk rock spirit,
go and fuck up the corporate thing. For me punk rock is rebelling against what everybody else is
doing. Green Day know who they are and are comfortable with doing such things. They are one of the
bands with the most integrity that I’ve ever met. They don’t care about impressing anybody.

– Something like ‘Godzilla’ for us…? I don’t like taking stands and if there is something good
we’ll do it. We’ll take any shit as it comes and don’t usually make any big plans.

– As far as The Deftones go, no big proclamations for us because we might change our mind and
look stupid.


“Metal-Is” – November, 2000 // Chi Interviewed

Chi Interviewed by J. Bennett (Metal-Is)
16 November, 2000


Metal-Is: Where are you right now?

Chi: I’m in Vegas.

Metal-Is: Ouch. Sorry about that.

Chi: You know, I feel the same way. I went down to the tables and watched everyone play, and I
couldn’t even bring myself to place a five dollar bet. I’m just not into it. I don’t know –
I don’t see the pleasure in throwing your money away.

Metal-Is: It’s so… not fun. I think Las Vegas is the most miserable place I’ve ever been to.

Chi: I don’t know, man, Reno is the poor man’s version of Vegas, and I think it’s even worse.
We just played Reno, and I went straight to my hotel room, went out and got some Japanese food,
and went straight back, did the show and left. It’s really depressing. I think I wrote a piece
about it being a bunch of overweight, armless women or something. Something about it freaks me
out – wearing glamorous hats and shit like that. I started writing some weird Burroughs-type
shit. Reno is totally overwhelming to me. I mean, you know in your heart you’re not going to
win. I know people who are like, “Well, I’m just gonna bring a hundred bucks, and I plan on
losing it. It’s worth it if I can kick it at the tables for a couple of hours and they comp me
out a couple of free drinks.” I mean, I drink for free every night. Then I see them at the
table, they’ve got 600 dollars’ worth of chips in front of them, and it goes in, like, ten
minutes. I think it’s the speed that gets me, the actual speed of losing. I watched our tour
manager get cleaned out of 400 dollars in, like, two minutes. Boom, boom, boom, and it’s over.
I’d rather take my kid to Disneyland than blow it at some stupid table. At least your kid gets
an experience out of that. I’m all about experiences.

Metal-Is: Speaking of experiences, you guys blow up more and more with each album. Is
everything moving at a comfortable pace for you, or is it overwhelming?

Chi: No, I think everything’s moving at a really nice pace. Things don’t really feel that much
different to us. Musically, each record kind of leads into the next one. I think we’ve set
ourselves up where we’re in a really good position. If this album does do really well, it’s
good, because we still have the freedom to do what we want musically. We’ve never compromised
ourselves musically, so no one can really take anything away from our integrity.

Metal-Is: What did you want to accomplish when you went into the studio to record ‘White Pony’?

Chi: I don’t think we had any kind of game plan; we had no idea what it was going to come out
like. We just knew that we didn’t want to cover the same old bases, you know?

Metal-Is: Tell me a little bit about ‘the devil house’…?

Chi: Ah, the devil house. You know, it’s this house in LA, and I guess Chuck Berry lived there
for a while. Korn lived there for a while, and they said that there was some pretty spooky stuff
going on there. So we went there while we were recording ‘White Pony’, and it was pretty spooky
– mainly for Chino and Abe. They had the downstairs part, and they said they saw some really
weird shit.

Metal-Is: So you think it was haunted?

Chi: Yeah, most likely. When Chino was doing his vocals, he ended up going to a hotel for a
little bit. I don’t know if it was the house, or the partying, or what, but he was just like,
“I’m going to a hotel.”

Metal-Is: What I’ve always liked about you guys is that you seem to have an excellent
understanding of dynamics, as far as going from hard to soft, quiet to loud, is concerned.
I think with ‘White Pony’, you’ve capitalised on that aspect more so than on your previous

Chi: I agree. I think that going from ‘Teenager’ to ‘Elite’, or something like that, we’ve
taken all of our strengths and really worked on them, you know?

Metal-Is: And whereas the Deftones were lumped in with the Korns and Limp Bizkits of the world
before, this record has gone a long way toward separating you from that – in a good way.

Chi: Absolutely. I think we’ve always tried to separate ourselves from being part of that
scene. We’ve taken a lot of steps to not be a part of any sort of scene.

Metal-Is: Tell me about your latest single, ‘Back To School’, which wasn’t included on the
original release of ‘White Pony’, but is included on the re-release. It’s obviously an idea
that you came up with after ‘White Pony’ was first released…

Chi: You know, ‘Back To School’ came about in a strange way. Toward the end of the recording
process, our A&R guy asked us to take the chorus of ‘Maggit’ and turn it into something else.
So we worked on it, but never really finished it. We were like, “Well, we’re already pretty
much done with the album, and have it in our heads as completed, so we’ll just save this song
for a soundtrack.” But someone at Maverick got a hold of it, and everyone there flipped out,
and was like, “This is gonna be the new single.” Well, how can it be the new single if it’s not
on the album? And they were like, “We’ll re-release the album!” and I was like, “I don’t

Metal-Is: You didn’t want your fans to have to buy it twice.

Chi: Yeah, exactly. I was really not into it, because it sounded like a cop-out.
It sounded like we were trying to get kids to buy it again. I’m not into that. So I was like,
“If you can work it out so that all the kids who’ve got the album can download it for free,
or can somehow get the song without having to purchase, then knock yourselves out.” ‘Cause,
you know, it’s good to see your label all fired up about something. So, you want ‘em to be
like that.

Metal-Is: But at the same time, you don’t want to screw your fans.

Chi: Well, our fans are the most important part, you know?

Metal-Is: I heard your cover of Sade’s ‘This is No Ordinary Love’, and it sounds fantastic.
Do you have any other covers or unreleased songs planned for any of the singles coming up.

Chi: No, not yet. It was a hard album to do, to be honest. Everything we got – that’s it.
We got through it without killing each other, which is a big accomplishment for us.

Metal-Is: A small victory. What is a ‘Bamboo Parachute’?

Chi: Pretty non-functional. (Laughs) No, I don’t know… it’s both maybe an ascension and a
descension. It’s a non-functioning metaphor, something that’s supposed to help you out, but
maybe not really.

Metal-Is: It’s the Dada of metaphors.

Chi: Yeah, you know… naw. I could definitely come up with better, but it was the one I
happened to like at the time. I was like, “Bamboo Parachute – yeah, good enough.”

Metal-Is: So it’s a book of poetry.

Chi: No, it’s actually a spoken word CD. I’ve been selling it through deftones.com, at the
store there, and at shows. It’s about 25 different pieces, no music, just spoken word.
I don’t know how to explain it. A lot of people have been digging different ways into it,
so it’s interesting to me. It’s really cool to have people’s feedback.

Metal-Is: Is that something you always wanted to do, but it didn’t come together until now?

Chi: Yeah, well, writing is definitely something that is more natural to me and something I
do quite a bit better than music. I have all these books sitting around – I’ve been writing
for like 12 years – and I have like four, five or six books sitting around on my bookshelf.
I just kinda look at ‘em and think, ‘I don’t really have time to get all these published,
but I’d like to do something with them.’ I’ve got all the means to do a spoken word album,
so I just did it in, like, two or three mornings – something like that.

Metal-Is: Do you have any plans to make it available in stores, or do you want to sell it
strictly at shows and online?

Chi: Right now, I’m just doing everything myself. I’m not signed to anything, as far as that
goes. It’s my own punk rock way of doing it. It’s starting to get a little blown out of hand,
so if I could get somebody to put it out, that would be cool. I heard Ani DiFranco is starting
a label, something like that. I’m more into doing something like that than trying to work with
a publishing company. I would never want it to be a huge deal or anything.

Metal-Is: Maybe you should send a copy to 2.13.61 (Henry Rollins’ publishing company)…

Chi: You know, I was thinking about it, but this work is pretty weird shit. Rollins is pretty

Metal-Is: Yeah, he usually doesn’t get too weird. It’s very much life experience type of stuff.

Chi: And it’s got the same thread that runs through it. It’s pretty angry. It’s pretty good
stuff, mind you…

Metal-Is: What have you been listening to lately?

Chi: Let’s see…Willie Nelson, ‘Milk Cow Blues’. I love Willie, I think he’s great. Willie’s a
madman. The only other two other artists I’ve been playing a lot lately are Aimée Mann – she
did the ‘Magnolia’ soundtrack. She just kills me, man. Her songs are like listening to The Cure
when they put out ‘Head On The Door’. It’s just so good and so depressing, it makes you happy
to listen to it. She used to be in that band ‘Til Tuesday, but that’s not a good replication
of what she’s doing now. She’s really great. I’m a huge fan. The other one is Elliot Smith,
and that’s about it.

Metal-Is: Tell me something about the Deftones that would surprise your fans.

Chi: That we actually like each other, despite all the fighting. We actually care about each
other quite a bit. I think our fans pretty much know everything about us; it’s kinda scary.