“Drummer Magazine” – 1997 // Abe Interviewed

(Issue #6)

By Randy Sanders



Hangin’ in your hometown with your band budz – getting ready to start a world tour which will
land you on bills with Pantera, White Zombie and Dick Dale among others, sounds like a cool way
to kick off the summer! Eve since being signed to Madonna’s label, Maverick, Abe Cunningham and
his band Deftones have already shot a performance take for the movie, “The Crow – City of
Angels”, opened for Anthrax, Korn, Ozzy and finished recording their debut album with producer
Terry Date, (Soundgarden, White Zombie, Pantera). I talked with Abe from his home in

What are you doing hanging out there in Sactown? Are you recording, practicing?

We have a couple more weeks at home. We’ve been on the road for pretty much the past year,
straight. We’re just kicking it, ya know?

Taking a vacation?

Yeah, just for a little bit. We’ll go out for the summer time, head to Copenhagen for one show,
come back and start the Warp Tour for about a month, then go onto the Pantera and White Zombie

What style of music do you listen to that would surprise a fan of your music?

Oh, everything. I was raised on so much different music. You know, everything, I can’t even
pinpoint anything. Like my music right here, I can pull out like … Queen, Neil Young,
anything, Prince, I listen to just about everything.

Do you listen to any avant garde stuff?

Umm… (Pause) like how avant garde? Oh, Coltrane, Miles Davis, Omette Coleman.
Yeah, I have a bunch of Miles right here, actually. We tend to play a lot of heavier music,
and I think that a lot of people think that’s all we can play. I think when we do our net album
we’ll try to change some stuff.

Oh, you are?

Not so different.

Maybe go outside a little bit?

You always would like to, you know, keep yourself refreshed. We have so much different stuff
that we can draw from. We have a lot of emotion in it, ya now?

How did you guys get together?

I knew our singer from middle school and high school. We just stayed together, we were friends.
Our guitarist Stephen, he grew up in the same neighborhood as Chino, our singer. He knew that I
played drums and we were looking for people to jam with. He introduced the two of us. We were
about 16 at the time… We’re just friends, kinda’ doing it for fun, ya know?

So did you start playing the local Sactown clubs?

Yeah, you can only play so many places around here, so many bands play. You can only be in every
week, or every month, whatever. So we sort of went down to the Bay Area and stuff, Berkeley and
San Francisco then making little trips down the coast to L.A. and San Diego. You know, just
trying to broaden ourselves, and so we wouldn’t burn ’em out here either.

Tell me about the record label you’re on.

Maverick. Yep. They’re great!


I mean, ya know, relatively small label but… I mean, obviously, look at them they’ve had
great success with the bands on their label. There’s not that many people on the label, ya know
what I mean? There’s umm… Candlebox, and Alanis Morissett, Madonna… They’re great! Totally
supportive. When we first signed our deal, I didn’t expect to have as much freedom as we did,
ya know? All they ever did was give us suggestions, ya know, check this out, think about this.

So it’s kind of like being on an indie label with the support of a major?

Yeah, exactly.

How did you get signed?

They wanted to fly us down )(to L.A.), so they rented us gear, …..we flew down for the day,
and Guy and the president, Freddie, came out, just the two of them and we played ’em a few
songs and they said stop, when do we sign? And we’re like, totally excited at this point!

Totally stoked.

Oh yea, no doubt! we played a bit more and then went back to the office and talked to them for
awhile… and that was pretty much it. Ya know? It just sort of happened. We had offers from
different labels, I hope to think that we made the right choice, and I think we did.

When you guys are off tour, like now, do you talk daily?

Oh, yea! Oh my God!

You’re all into it?

We’re tied together. We’re like brothers, ya know what I man? You get home and the first thing
we’re all doing is calling each other up! It’s like, what’s up? We[r getting antsy. We’ve only
been here for two weeks and …oh, man I’m ready to go!

Tell me about doing the record.

When we did our album it was like, this is our first record ya know what I mean? It’s like, not
thee word scary, but I think everybody was a bit, intimidated. It was the first time we were in
a beautiful studio. It was like, Shit! This is our first record, or whatever. All that was on
our mind. We did the record with Terry Date. He lives up in Seattle. He’s donee all kinds of
people. He’s done Pantera records, he did the first couple Soundgarden records, he did a White
Zombie record, it was great! Anyway (playing) live is beautiful, but you can have so much fun
in the studio if you’re not, you’re not… Ya know. It’s perfect if you can juts cut loose if
you want. Ya know what I mean? But I think a lot of people are… Especially being newer bands
and stuff kinda’ get… I mean, I’m not saying everybody does, but you get a little bit
intimidated for the first time.

Do you listen to stuff you did on thee first one and say, “Oh, man, I wish I’d have played
that differently”?

Oh God yeah! I play so much differently now, just from being on the road for the past year.

Are you a real meter-type player, or are you more into what’s happening with the licks?

I don’t know, I’d have to feel it out as far as the band goes. I mean yeah, the meter of course
is important. As I get older I can totally see my brain maturing.

How old are you?

Twenty-two… But you get older and you start thinking the song, …..what’s there for the
song. I’m growing, you know as we go on.

Is this what you want to do the rest of your life, play the drums?

Umm, I would love to, if I could. I’ve always been interested in sound too, ya know? Recording.
Our guitarist and I, we would have a studio that could operate on it’s own. Ya know what I mean?
But I would love to see how far we could take this. Right now the things are going so well, and
we’re having a blast. Everybody’s happy together. If I could play drums for the rest of my life
I would love to. Yeah, sure. Ya know, see how far we can take this.