“Weekly Dig” – November 2003 // Chi Cheng Interviewed

Whisper Sweet Nothings In Your Bleeding Ear
by Ted Kehoe

Chi Cheng battled a nasty cold in Texas to talk with me about porn, flying, and the Nuge:

TK: Do I even want to ask you about your new governor?

Chi Cheng: He’s a little alpha male for me. It’s like having a pumped-up Ted Nugent for governor.

TK: How does the band get along having such individually different musical tastes?

Chi Cheng: There can be tension and fighting. Everyone brings their own piece to a song,
but sometimes it’s hard to get someone else into something they’re just not feeling.

TK: You’ve played with some notable artists on previous records. Anyone you dream
of playing with?

Chi Cheng: Willie Nelson. He’s an amazing songwriter, guitarist and singer.

TK: How much porn is too much?

Chi Cheng: It’s intrinsic to the individual. When you affect other people negatively,
I guess, like kiddie porn. Stefan’s into this series, “There’s Something About Jack.”
Pound-for-pound he’s got the biggest cock in porn. Stefan’s got volumes 1 through 20.
I’m like, how much of this guy’s cock do you need to see? I guess that’d be a good
example of too much porn.

TK: How about one honest-to-god rock decadence story?

Chi Cheng: Not for me personally. I’m kind of a rock nerd. My brother threw a TV out
a ninth story window with Stefan’s encouragement. Stefan’s the little devil on your
shoulder. And my brother was his drunken pawn.

TK: Without naming names, Deftones called out some major metal bands. What was that all about?

Chi Cheng: Chino talked some shit to a magazine. I guess the lesson is, “if you don’t
have something nice to say . . .” In his defense, when he was talking, he was talking
as a music fan. They asked him, and you get tired of biting your lip all the time.
We’re all Metallica fans, Korn fans. I mean, we’re always expected to be like, “Oh,
I have great respect for everybody as artists. Creed’s the greatest band ever, or whatever.”

TK: What would you choose for a superpower?

Chi Cheng: I’d have to say flying. I have constant dreams of flying. That’d be pretty dope.

TK: The band, and you personally, have a literary bent. Reading anything good?

Chi Cheng: I always have couple of books going. I’ve got Saul Williams’ new book of poems,
and Chuck Palahniuk’s new book. He’s a crazy motherfucker.

TK: Why so long a break between albums?

Chi Cheng: It’s touring. You get people complaining and I’m like, “Motherfucker, we were in
your town a couple of months ago. We’re not sitting around on our asses.” And this last
album we were really meticulous about. Our idea for the next one is to put together a fast,
beautiful album like Around the Fur.

TK: What else did you dream about doing besides being a rock star?

Chi Cheng: Teaching, maybe. I’d be happy doing anything. I get tired of the whole “tortured
artist” thing. You think this gig is rough, try working at fucking Dairy Queen for a week,
then tell me what you think.


“Seattle Weekly” – November 2003 // Frank Delgado Interviewed


Deft Ones
Deftones reach out beyond the nü-metal ghetto.

by Andrew Bonazelli (Seattle Weekly)

THERE ARE MILES and miles of treacherous acreage between Rock and Roll Lamesville
and Four Star Rock City. The Deftones have been subletting a cramped 1/1 in the
outlying suburbs of the latter for years, but damn do they get off on slumming.
Yeah, their undisputed status as Best Nü Metal Band in the World is only slightly
less dubious than Miller High Life being the “champagne of beers,” yet the Sacramento
quintet is capable of exhibiting grace, power, beauty, and intellect, minus the genre
handicap. They’re also capable of accepting a plum slot on the knucklehead cash cow
Summer Sanitarium tour opening for now-sucky Metallica and forever-sucky Limp Bizkit
and Linkin Park, only to let outspoken vocalist Chino Moreno clumsily eviscerate the
literacy-challenged headliners in Revolver (“Two bands that wouldn’t exist if it weren’t
for me, straight up”). They’re also capable of making the absolute best out of that
unworkable 3 p.m. slot opening for notoriously impatient, beer-bellied Seek & Destroyers.

“You know what’s rad?” Deftones DJ Frank Delgado posits via phone from Sacramento.
“Playing for, say, 20,000 kids in the middle of the day and opening with a Depeche Mode song
[“To Have and to Hold”]. That’s probably the first and last time you’re gonna hear a
Depeche Mode song at a Metallica show. It was fun winning over their fans.”

With every album, the Deftones quietly inch further out of their pioneering, if
retrospectively wack, sphere of rap rock influence and closer to joining Tool in
representing big-concept metal in the pantheon of artists they truly cherish: Beth Gibbons
of Portishead, Björk, Mogwai, and Tricky. Fourth album Deftones (Maverick) is a conflicted,
sloppy, inconsistent, but ultimately vital evolution into a world where suffocatingly black
balladry coexists with battering-ram metal. What the record lacks in continuity and sequencing
expertise, it compensates for with sparks of rambunctious intellectual creativity, much of
which stems from Delgado’s atypical samples and scratches.

“I think we’re all trying to pull in the same direction,” he asserts. “We’re just pulling in
different ways, and we don’t even know what that direction is. Early on, even on [debut album,
the now passé metal/hip-hop hybrid] Adrenaline, there were [those kind of] dynamics; it’s just
that we didn’t know how to harness them—the highs, the lows, the angry, the soft, the harsh.
I think we’ve gotten a lot better at taking one of those elements and just riding with it,
as opposed to shoving them all into one song.”

So goes the latest incarnation of Deftones, ignoring the faux tuff “Get the fuck up” antics of
imitator Bizkit in favor of nightmare-world lullabies “Lucky You” and “Anniversary of an
Uninteresting Event,” both of which have more fragile emotional discord than mentor Korn’s
entire, notably codependent catalog. During the tortured “When Girls Telephone Boys,”
Moreno shrieks “If you’d like that we can ride on a black horse, a great new wave Hesperian
death horse.” Fatalistic equine imagery in a future circle-pit mainstay? What sort of imbalance is this?

“I think I like writing the crazy, heavy shit just as much as Stephen (Carpenter, guitarist)
does, and I know Chino does too,” Delgado claims. “Like ‘When Girls Telephone Boys’—that’s a
pretty heavy song, and I’m right along in there with Stephen playing samples throughout the
whole thing. There’s kind of a breakdown solo, but it’s not like a guitar solo: It’s actually
me. It’s hard to make Stephen’s downtuned guitars work with samples and Chino’s crooning, but
that’s the learning process, making things work.”

Vague terminology to be sure, all this “learning process/making it work” rhetoric. But after
numerous questionable moves—a wack, largely acoustic, New Age-y MTV Hawaii set, Moreno’s honest
but bitter-sounding Revolver interview, the ensuing Sanitarium cheapness (“Me and Chino didn’t
want to do the tour coming out of the box with a new record,” Delgado admits)—Deftones are
indeed “making it work,” kind of. They believe their still-young audience will baby step with
them through polysyllabic, dense metaphors and trip-hop-spiked metal. They believe the fans
will accept a national tour that features openers as diverse as hesher veterans Clutch and as
anonymous as Portishead torchbearers Denali.

According to Delgado, Deftones’ opener picks are “pretty representative of the new record. We
wanted to try and bring out bands we think our fans would like and have fun with. You can go
out with whoever’s hottest on the charts, but everyone sees right though that, you know what
I mean? And we’ve done that. You have to do that in this business. It’s give and take.

“If our fans were 14 or 15 when they caught on to [1997’s] Around the Fur, they’re 20 now,
and they can appreciate the growth we’ve made. Some may be there for the pure aggressiveness,
others for the sheer beauty. And if they’re new to this, welcome.”

“Metromix” – November 2003 // Chi Cheng Interviewed

Chi Cheng Interviewed

Metal head musings
Deftones on the Governator, Madonna and ‘ghettolicious’ Grammys

By Ari Bendersky (metromix)

With a slew of mediocre nu-metal bands popping up, stalwart metal mongers
Deftones have managed to stay on top of the heap artistically, if not commercially.
Currently on tour supporting the band’s new self-titled album, bassist Chi Cheng spouts
about the Governator, Madonna and ghettolicious seats.

M: You’re from Sacramento. How do you feel about Arnold moving into your neighborhood?

CHI: He’s a bit of an alpha male for me. He’s kind of a pumped-up, mildly more intelligent
version of Ted Nugent, and I’m kind of scared of him. He’s a little too “I’ll drive my
Hummer into your living room and hunt deer with a crossbow” kind of guy.

M:You guys posted a bunch of bootlegs on your Web site and your record label, Maverick,
made you pull them. Did you get a personal lashing from Madonna, head of Maverick Records?

CHI: ShE sure didn’t, but if she wants to, she can. We tend to do things for our fans that
aren’t necessarily the most industry-friendly thing to do. [Record execs] have their jobs
and we have ours. Music is our job. We put [the bootlegs] up, they weren’t happy. We took them down.

M:How was winning a Grammy for Best Metal Performance?

CHI: They put us in these super ghettolicious seats that weren’t on the floor. They told us the
ceremony was running late and if they called our name we’d need to get up there as soon as
possible. We thought we weren’t going to win because everyone who was winning was on the floor.
Then, when they called our name, we had to jump this railing like ‘hood rats.


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

October 2003
Las Vegas Review-Journal


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Did you see some graphic pictures or …?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yeah, I noticed.

Well that sounds exciting!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yes, thank you so much!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All right. OK, have a good day!

“Hit Parader” – 2003 // Deftones Interviewed

“Total Guitar” – August 2003 // Deftones Interviewed