“Metal-Is” – November, 2000 // Chi Interviewed

Chi Interviewed by J. Bennett (Metal-Is)
16 November, 2000


Metal-Is: Where are you right now?

Chi: I’m in Vegas.

Metal-Is: Ouch. Sorry about that.

Chi: You know, I feel the same way. I went down to the tables and watched everyone play, and I
couldn’t even bring myself to place a five dollar bet. I’m just not into it. I don’t know –
I don’t see the pleasure in throwing your money away.

Metal-Is: It’s so… not fun. I think Las Vegas is the most miserable place I’ve ever been to.

Chi: I don’t know, man, Reno is the poor man’s version of Vegas, and I think it’s even worse.
We just played Reno, and I went straight to my hotel room, went out and got some Japanese food,
and went straight back, did the show and left. It’s really depressing. I think I wrote a piece
about it being a bunch of overweight, armless women or something. Something about it freaks me
out – wearing glamorous hats and shit like that. I started writing some weird Burroughs-type
shit. Reno is totally overwhelming to me. I mean, you know in your heart you’re not going to
win. I know people who are like, “Well, I’m just gonna bring a hundred bucks, and I plan on
losing it. It’s worth it if I can kick it at the tables for a couple of hours and they comp me
out a couple of free drinks.” I mean, I drink for free every night. Then I see them at the
table, they’ve got 600 dollars’ worth of chips in front of them, and it goes in, like, ten
minutes. I think it’s the speed that gets me, the actual speed of losing. I watched our tour
manager get cleaned out of 400 dollars in, like, two minutes. Boom, boom, boom, and it’s over.
I’d rather take my kid to Disneyland than blow it at some stupid table. At least your kid gets
an experience out of that. I’m all about experiences.

Metal-Is: Speaking of experiences, you guys blow up more and more with each album. Is
everything moving at a comfortable pace for you, or is it overwhelming?

Chi: No, I think everything’s moving at a really nice pace. Things don’t really feel that much
different to us. Musically, each record kind of leads into the next one. I think we’ve set
ourselves up where we’re in a really good position. If this album does do really well, it’s
good, because we still have the freedom to do what we want musically. We’ve never compromised
ourselves musically, so no one can really take anything away from our integrity.

Metal-Is: What did you want to accomplish when you went into the studio to record ‘White Pony’?

Chi: I don’t think we had any kind of game plan; we had no idea what it was going to come out
like. We just knew that we didn’t want to cover the same old bases, you know?

Metal-Is: Tell me a little bit about ‘the devil house’…?

Chi: Ah, the devil house. You know, it’s this house in LA, and I guess Chuck Berry lived there
for a while. Korn lived there for a while, and they said that there was some pretty spooky stuff
going on there. So we went there while we were recording ‘White Pony’, and it was pretty spooky
– mainly for Chino and Abe. They had the downstairs part, and they said they saw some really
weird shit.

Metal-Is: So you think it was haunted?

Chi: Yeah, most likely. When Chino was doing his vocals, he ended up going to a hotel for a
little bit. I don’t know if it was the house, or the partying, or what, but he was just like,
“I’m going to a hotel.”

Metal-Is: What I’ve always liked about you guys is that you seem to have an excellent
understanding of dynamics, as far as going from hard to soft, quiet to loud, is concerned.
I think with ‘White Pony’, you’ve capitalised on that aspect more so than on your previous

Chi: I agree. I think that going from ‘Teenager’ to ‘Elite’, or something like that, we’ve
taken all of our strengths and really worked on them, you know?

Metal-Is: And whereas the Deftones were lumped in with the Korns and Limp Bizkits of the world
before, this record has gone a long way toward separating you from that – in a good way.

Chi: Absolutely. I think we’ve always tried to separate ourselves from being part of that
scene. We’ve taken a lot of steps to not be a part of any sort of scene.

Metal-Is: Tell me about your latest single, ‘Back To School’, which wasn’t included on the
original release of ‘White Pony’, but is included on the re-release. It’s obviously an idea
that you came up with after ‘White Pony’ was first released…

Chi: You know, ‘Back To School’ came about in a strange way. Toward the end of the recording
process, our A&R guy asked us to take the chorus of ‘Maggit’ and turn it into something else.
So we worked on it, but never really finished it. We were like, “Well, we’re already pretty
much done with the album, and have it in our heads as completed, so we’ll just save this song
for a soundtrack.” But someone at Maverick got a hold of it, and everyone there flipped out,
and was like, “This is gonna be the new single.” Well, how can it be the new single if it’s not
on the album? And they were like, “We’ll re-release the album!” and I was like, “I don’t

Metal-Is: You didn’t want your fans to have to buy it twice.

Chi: Yeah, exactly. I was really not into it, because it sounded like a cop-out.
It sounded like we were trying to get kids to buy it again. I’m not into that. So I was like,
“If you can work it out so that all the kids who’ve got the album can download it for free,
or can somehow get the song without having to purchase, then knock yourselves out.” ‘Cause,
you know, it’s good to see your label all fired up about something. So, you want ‘em to be
like that.

Metal-Is: But at the same time, you don’t want to screw your fans.

Chi: Well, our fans are the most important part, you know?

Metal-Is: I heard your cover of Sade’s ‘This is No Ordinary Love’, and it sounds fantastic.
Do you have any other covers or unreleased songs planned for any of the singles coming up.

Chi: No, not yet. It was a hard album to do, to be honest. Everything we got – that’s it.
We got through it without killing each other, which is a big accomplishment for us.

Metal-Is: A small victory. What is a ‘Bamboo Parachute’?

Chi: Pretty non-functional. (Laughs) No, I don’t know… it’s both maybe an ascension and a
descension. It’s a non-functioning metaphor, something that’s supposed to help you out, but
maybe not really.

Metal-Is: It’s the Dada of metaphors.

Chi: Yeah, you know… naw. I could definitely come up with better, but it was the one I
happened to like at the time. I was like, “Bamboo Parachute – yeah, good enough.”

Metal-Is: So it’s a book of poetry.

Chi: No, it’s actually a spoken word CD. I’ve been selling it through deftones.com, at the
store there, and at shows. It’s about 25 different pieces, no music, just spoken word.
I don’t know how to explain it. A lot of people have been digging different ways into it,
so it’s interesting to me. It’s really cool to have people’s feedback.

Metal-Is: Is that something you always wanted to do, but it didn’t come together until now?

Chi: Yeah, well, writing is definitely something that is more natural to me and something I
do quite a bit better than music. I have all these books sitting around – I’ve been writing
for like 12 years – and I have like four, five or six books sitting around on my bookshelf.
I just kinda look at ‘em and think, ‘I don’t really have time to get all these published,
but I’d like to do something with them.’ I’ve got all the means to do a spoken word album,
so I just did it in, like, two or three mornings – something like that.

Metal-Is: Do you have any plans to make it available in stores, or do you want to sell it
strictly at shows and online?

Chi: Right now, I’m just doing everything myself. I’m not signed to anything, as far as that
goes. It’s my own punk rock way of doing it. It’s starting to get a little blown out of hand,
so if I could get somebody to put it out, that would be cool. I heard Ani DiFranco is starting
a label, something like that. I’m more into doing something like that than trying to work with
a publishing company. I would never want it to be a huge deal or anything.

Metal-Is: Maybe you should send a copy to 2.13.61 (Henry Rollins’ publishing company)…

Chi: You know, I was thinking about it, but this work is pretty weird shit. Rollins is pretty

Metal-Is: Yeah, he usually doesn’t get too weird. It’s very much life experience type of stuff.

Chi: And it’s got the same thread that runs through it. It’s pretty angry. It’s pretty good
stuff, mind you…

Metal-Is: What have you been listening to lately?

Chi: Let’s see…Willie Nelson, ‘Milk Cow Blues’. I love Willie, I think he’s great. Willie’s a
madman. The only other two other artists I’ve been playing a lot lately are Aimée Mann – she
did the ‘Magnolia’ soundtrack. She just kills me, man. Her songs are like listening to The Cure
when they put out ‘Head On The Door’. It’s just so good and so depressing, it makes you happy
to listen to it. She used to be in that band ‘Til Tuesday, but that’s not a good replication
of what she’s doing now. She’s really great. I’m a huge fan. The other one is Elliot Smith,
and that’s about it.

Metal-Is: Tell me something about the Deftones that would surprise your fans.

Chi: That we actually like each other, despite all the fighting. We actually care about each
other quite a bit. I think our fans pretty much know everything about us; it’s kinda scary.