“Metal-Is” – August, 2000 // Chino and Stef Interviewed

Chino and Stef interviewed by Metal-Is


At this moment, Chino walks in and announces, “Oh man, I hate doing interviews with Stephen.”
He glances at the guitarist and barks, “Don’t look at me, fool! I’m serious, I’m gonna
fucking punch you!!”
“Don’t even ask me to hit this joint, motherfucker! I’ll burn your eye!” Stephen retorts.
Let the fun begin…

METAL-IS: I understand Stephen is the metalhead who didn’t get his own way on ‘White Pony’

Stephen: It’s not like a new side of Deftones that I represent. I’ve been representing that
since I started playing.

Chino: He’s pretty much always been straight metal. Maybe from an outlooker’s perspective,
it might look like we all kinda have a little bit of metal in us. We do, but Stephen is the
metal master. When I was little, Stephen was this kid across the street sitting with his
guitar on the porch, rocking out to Dokken or whatever the hell he was listening to. I think
Stephen has helped pioneer heavy metal to where it is at this present day. Listening to our
old records now, I think they sound modern. Our first record was written when we were 16 or
17 years old, and now those records are what popular music pretty much is: heavy, rappy,
groovy kind of tunes. Those are the songs that we hardly ever play any more. That’s what’s
hyped now. I think we’ve always been a little ahead of our time and people are catching on
to ‘Around The Fur’ now. Obviously, we could’ve went in and done another album that was
more straightforward and commercial, commercial being more rap/rock sounding. We took a
chance in making a more obscure, self-indulgent album.

METAL-IS: ‘White Pony’ isn’t the kind of album you listen to and go, “This will be the next
Limp Bizkit and sell 7 million copies.” I think your new sound has more in common with bands
like A Perfect Circle and Nine Inch Nails, who also focus more on soundscapes, texture and
depth. .

Chino: I agree. Our goal has never been to go that (Korn/Limp Bizkit) route. We’ve always
taken the slow route. We’ve had many chances that could have gotten us more in that direction,
the ‘Party, man!’ atmosphere. Although we are some partying motherfuckers, within our music,
we’re able to go all over the place.
For us to make one silly song like ‘Nookie’, which to me is a good and silly song, we’d know
exactly what it would be: one silly song that got us on the radio. When we take pictures, we
know better than to mess around. We’ll joke around sometimes and try to take homey-style
pictures, but we know that if we joke around like that, that’s the picture they’re gonna use
in the magazine. Everybody wants that character and that image from us, but we don’t give it.
We’re pretty much humble people, and that’s the perception we’ve always tried to give people.
We’re just normal people who like to do music, and that’s what it all comes down to.

METAL-IS: It’s an interesting point you make. At the time of the release of ‘Around The Fur’…
you were lumped in with the Korn type of bands, but while that scene gathered around the
‘Family Values’ package tour, you took a different route and went on the Warped tour instead.
It seemed like you were purposely avoiding the whole Korn scene.

Chino: Yeah, it was a conscious decision. We turned down the ‘Family Values’ tour just to
stay out of that little genre. It was all because of a simply reason: I don’t want my career
span to be shortened because one of those other bands make a whack album. As the Korn and
Limp Bizkit albums get staler and staler, sooner or later people aren’t gonna care any more.
They’ve made it so much of a genre, a big thing, and people are gonna get tired of it in
a short time. It’s a phase and when they burn out, we don’t wanna go down with it.
We basically already have our shit over here running, and if we sell as many records as them
or not isn’t really important. What’s important to us is the longevity of our career.

Stephen: Added to that, we don’t want to be what you expect. As a band, it’s not exciting to
be what the audience expects you to be. When we write our material, we know what our audience
likes and we know what we like, and we’re able to take what we do and bend it in ways that
people didn’t expect. It’s not the most different shit in the world, but it’s not what we
could easily give you or what everybody puts us in a position to do. It’s like, ‘Oh, they’re
rap metal’, so people expect that when they read about it, but when they actually hear us,
they go, ‘It wasn’t anything like that.’
I was reading in this (points to the presentation of Deftones in the festival programme),
they refer to Soulfly, Limp Bizkit and Korn, and how we can make you jump up and down like
those bands. But a lot of bands do that for an audience. They just threw in those names in
there, because they’re the names that keep getting thrown around with us all the time. Why
not instead write, ‘They’re a great band and you’ll have a good time, so come check it out’?
We’re not here because we wanna be cool with all the other bands. We’re already cool with
them and we know almost every band people keep talking about with us. They are our friends
and we appreciate that, but we’re doing our own thing. If you like us, cool, let’s have a
good time together. But don’t like us because of the other guys.

METAL-IS: There’s another major difference between you and the Korn style bands. They all
act like entrepreneurs, with Fred Durst of Limp Bizkit even saying that he’s a businessman
and not a musician. Once they make it big in America, they stay there and milk it for all
it’s worth, putting out a new album every year and totally ignoring Europe.

Stephen: Just yesterday we were doing an interview with some fanzine kids, and they were
asking us why it takes us so long to put an album out. It was the same things that you
just mentioned: we go to play everywhere people like our music. We’re not just going, ‘Buy
our record!’ We actually try to go everywhere where our fans are. I sometimes wonder how
long it’s gonna take us to do our next record, ‘cause we’re gonna visit all the places
we’re already been to on this past record, plus all the places we haven’t been to. We
haven’t been to South America, Mexico, Eastern Europe or Russia and we plan to go there,
too. We sell records there and we wanna play to our fans. We like the interaction with the
fans, they set us off, and we react and then they go off, ‘cause we go off. That’s what we
really like, that’s as much of the music as playing it live.

METAL-IS: Stephen, you’ve admitted that ‘White Pony’ is the result of you compromising.
You were aiming for a more full-on metal sound, where as Chino was leaning towards the
more mellow aspects of Deftones. Now that you have some perspective on it, what are your
feelings on the album?

Stephen: The compromise is just that. There was no compromise in what I played. All the stuff
we play, I would play that anyway. It’s already what I like, and it’s not like I dislike it.
I have a profound love of shit like Meshuggah and Fear Factory, and many bands of that
calibre that came before then, like Pantera and Metallica. It’s not like I just got into
it and I wanted our record to sound like that. I listen to ‘Around The Fur’ a lot and I
think I already have been given a chance to do that, I don’t feel like I’ve been slacked
on it. Goddamn, that’s some heavy shit!
It wasn’t like I didn’t wanna play the shit on the new album. We’re a band and everybody
had a lot of input on this thing. It wasn’t just me compromising, it was a lot of us
compromising on parts. It was more noticeable, ‘cause I’m so used to doing what I do. I
really like the heavy shit, so I make it vocal and I’m not afraid to say, ‘What the fuck!’
As much as I have a passion for the heavy shit, everyone else has a passion for that other
shit as well. That’s a compromise of us all being friends.

METAL-IS: Chino, since ‘White Pony’ is a more mellow record, does this mean you won’t be
doing your side-project, Team Sleep?

Chino: No, I’m still gonna work on it. On this whole touring cycle, I’m gonna be writing
and putting stuff together, so possibly within a year, I can have something out. It started
off as something really small, but a lot of the songs are coming out really good and I like
them a lot, so… it’s just another side of what the Deftones are. Stephen has his own thing
on the side, Kush, with some of the guys from Fear Factory. Everyone has their own outlet.

METAL-IS: And Deftones is where you find your common ground?

Chino: Yeah.

Stephen: No, Deftones is the battle ground! We’re not a band any more, we’re all friends.

Chino: We all win, though. We’re all fighting the same battle and once we get there, we know
we all got our way, and there was a good song there. There’s nothing more to say and no
more argument, ‘cause everybody won.

Stephen: No one walks away after we write a song and goes, ‘That sucked!’ The process sucked,
but look at that shit now.

METAL-IS: In the beginning, Stephen wrote pretty much all the music, but now you all
contribute. Do you work on material more as a unit these days?

Stephen: Well, it’s really no different. A lot of the new stuff is still mine, Chino just
happened to play guitar on a lot of the stuff he made. When he came to the table with ideas,
he came with actual guitar parts, so he was already part of what was going on, as well as
him creating it. There’s a lot of stuff on here that stems from me, and me and Abe. Even if
I came with the whole thing, it still had to go through every one of us. It’s still raw, and
I never come to the table with the perfect song. I come with a whole song and somebody takes
a riff away and they go. ‘The rest of the shit is kinda whack, but this riff is tight.’ Then
we make a song out of that riff.
The one song on our new album that came all the way from someone is ‘RX Queen’. That’s all
Chino, he made the whole motherfucking thing. We all liked it and we didn’t even have to
battle with it.

METAL-IS: Do you seek fights because you know something good will come out of it?

Stephen: No, it’s just part of our natural fucking behaviour with each other. Knowing each
other for as long as we have, our pleasure is to get the worst from each other. I don’t mean
the worst as in making a person be the worst they can, but how far can you really push
this motherfucker before they say, ‘Alright, I can’t believe I let you get like this!’?
Then we come together again. We push each other’s buttons and when you actually start
breaking down, that’s when we really start laying on you, to the point where you’re about
to break down and cry.

METAL-IS: In the case of ‘RX Queen’, did you think, ‘What’s going on? We’re not fighting,
and it’s still working’?

Stephen: No, we fought on it. At first, I didn’t wanna play on that song.

METAL-IS: Do you have any interesting plans ahead of you? Any collaborations?

Chino: I’m on the new Soulfly album, but I ain’t gonna be doing any more collaborations.
I have an idea that I wanna do, and it’s another argument in the making. I wanna put together
an album with all our covers, ‘cause we’ve done a lot of covers, especially of new wave shit.
I wanna record a couple more covers and put them all on one CD.

Stephen: Here’s the predicament: what he said is his side, and my side is the same, but
I don’t want to put out the ones we’ve already got out. I wanna make a whole record of
new covers. That’s the dispute. I believe my dispute is the better side, but time will tell.
When it’s actually been filtered through all of us, I know I will come out on top, ‘cause mine
is the better idea. The whole world got the old shit, so why do they wanna hear it again?

METAL-IS: When the pair of you talk together, you sound just like brothers.

Stephen: We are!

Chino: I’m just too high right now to argue with him.

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