“HeraldNet” – 2001 // Abe Interviewed

Deftones kept bickering to minimum on new CD

By Alan Sculley
Special to The Herald

The Deftones’ 2000 CD, “White Pony” gave the Sacramento band a commercial breakthrough,
producing a hit single in “Change (In the House of Flies)” and becoming the first
million-selling release in the Deftones’ career.

But perhaps the bigger story if interviews following that album are any indication was
that the “White Pony” project created considerable turmoil within the group.

In particular, singer Chino Moreno and guitarist Stephen Carpenter were said to be in a
pitched battle over the direction of “White Pony,” with Carpenter wanting a relentless
hard-rocking CD, while Moreno favored including more change-of-pace material alongside the
group’s familiar furious rock assault.

Moreno, who had started to learn guitar, also began writing music for some of the material,
a move that, according to some reports, amounted to the singer invading Carpenter’s musical
turf within the band.

Deftones drummer Abe Cunningham, though, chuckled at how the situation was portrayed.

“If you ask me, it’s the same argument that’s been going on since day one. It’s kind of funny,
” he said. “I think they (Moreno and Carpenter) made more light of it with ‘White Pony,’ the
creative differences. There have always been creative differences in our band. That’s what
makes any band be a band.

“Stephen has always been more the metal guy, more the heavy guy, and we all love that type of
music, too. Chino’s been into the more ’80s (music). … Early on that’s how they got pegged,
even though the whole band enjoys all music.”

Cunningham said life in the Deftones, if still not entirely smooth, was a bit more peaceful
during the making of their new self-titled CD, the fourth release by the group, which in
addition to Moreno, Carpenter and Cunningham, also includes bassist Chi Cheng, and DJ and
keyboardist Frank Delgado.

“There was definitely a lot more camaraderie during this time,” he said. There’s definitely more
patience on everyone’s part, especially theirs,” Cunningham said, referring to Moreno and
Carpenter. “And there are so many ideas in this band collectively that it’s just about everyone
being open. It’s not always easy. We’re pretty brutal on each other, too. We’re constantly just
verbally bashing each other all day long, but it’s more of a brotherhood. It’s almost done out
of love, really.”

The release of the CD “Deftones” comes three years after “White Pony,” a period that included
the usual stretch of extensive touring, plus, for the first time in the band’s career, several
months of time away from any Deftones activities.

Not only did the band members take time to relax and recharge, Moreno, Carpenter and Delgado
all took time out to work on side projects. Moreno formed a group Team Sleep, while Carpenter
wrote and recorded music for a side project called Kush. Delgado, meanwhile, worked on tracks
for a project called the Co-Defendents.

Cunningham saw nothing but positives in the outside activities of his bandmates.

“It’s great,” he said. “It’s healthy, all these different outlets. Some people think it might
be threatening to the core of the band, but I think if you ask me, it’s beautiful. You meet some
different people. It makes it better for us. We’ve been playing together for so long now, it’s
beautiful to see a different way to do it.”

The Deftones formed 15 years ago in Sacramento, Calif. The first seven of those years were spent
writing, refining and developing the band’s sound, while searching for a workable record deal.

In the mid-1990s, the group finally found a match in Maverick Records, the label owned by Madonna.

Two initial CDs, “Adrenaline” (1995) and “Around The Fur” (1997), coupled with relentless touring,
set the stage for “White Pony,” which in addition to going platinum earned a 2001 Grammy for best
metal performance.