“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.”