“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.”