“Peta 2” – September 2003 // Chi Cheng Interviewed

Responsible for sparking the nü metal wave or the alt metal explosion, or the … fine, whatever you’d like to call it, the Deftones nailed it back in 1995 with “Adrenaline,” and continued their infectious layered sound with three more Maverick releases, all of which have proved their lasting power. They’ve switched things up a bit, adding more density and melody, but the rarity is in their steadfast trademark sonic tirade. There’s no ambiguity, no confusing them with the current radio fare, no mixing up names or histories. But as much as we admire the integrity and grit of the band itself, it was bassist Chi Cheng, the soft-spoken, non-mammal-eater, who caught our attention. We decided to give him a call, check in, and—naturally—talk vegetarianism.

Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to us. So, I understand that you’re practicing a mostly vegetarian diet. What prompted you to make the switch?

I’d read a book in college called No Denial, I think, by Neil Cohen. … I was already kind of leaning that way and that just turned me off … the way most animals are treated … and I never really went back.

Did you see some graphic pictures or …?

No, no I never saw any graphic pictures, I just read about the treatment of … chickens and cattle and everything else and was, like, I don’t really care to have a part in that.

So you’re touring now. How easy is it for you to find vegetarian food while you’re on the road?

Ridiculously easy. I tell you what, touring in the early ’90s as opposed to touring in the 21st century as a vegetarian is a whole lot different. … Morning Star [Farms] is making just about anything you can possibly conceive of … Oh, God, their [vegetarian] buffalo wings …

Yeah, Morning Star Farms is awesome. Do you ever talk about vegetarianism to your friends or your fans? Is it something that you bring up or is it just something that you are and you live?

I think it’s a personal thing and I think that it’s a decision that should be made as an individual. I think anything that anyone else can do in life to sway another person should be by example. … [I]f somebody wants to ask me about it or something then I’m more than happy to explain it to them. … [A]nd the woman that I’m with now, she’s been vegetarian about as long as me—14, 15 years, something like that. … I’ve never been with a vegetarian, neither has she, so it’s actually really, really nice.

So is there something that you think will encourage other people to go vegetarian?

I think if you guys put me and my woman in an ad—naked. … I would love to do an ad for you.

We do lots of naked things, that’s for sure.

Yeah, I noticed.

Well that sounds exciting!

Yeah, let me know so I can train a little bit.

Are there any other animal rights issues that you’re interested in? Fur or maybe animal testing, animals in circuses?

I’m pretty much against all cruelty to animals, to be honest with you. ? I was raised for a while on a ranch. I had 41 acres and I spent a lot of time with horses, cattle, dogs, birds of all kinds, peacocks. ? I’ve kind of preferred animals over human beings. ? I mean, I can have compassion for all human beings as a Buddhist, but it doesn’t mean I want the sons of bitches around me all the time, ya know?

Yeah, I think animals have a certain innocence and sincerity to them that … you don’t always find in other human beings.

Humans are the [worst] of all animals … the cruelest. Animals [aren’t] really premeditated that way. … They’re very much true to their nature as opposed to human beings. We tend to fight our own true nature, which could potentially be alleviated by more meditation. We really need a Buddhist president.

Especially nowadays … So do you think that alternative fans in general seem to be more sympathetic toward animal rights and going vegetarian these days? There seems to be a sort of trend.

I think that because of the way that they think and perceive things that they’re more apt to just go in the general direction. … Socio-political issues, animal rights. … I can see a correlation for sure.

I completely agree. Well, thank you so much for your time with us.

Yes, thank you so much!

And for offering to help us out in the future. We will definitely brainstorm this idea of yours a little bit more.

Yeah, me and my woman—that would be great.

Look for this on PETA2.com in the near future. Have you been to our Web site yet?

No, to be honest, I’ve sworn off computers, but I’ll get online and check it out.

Definitely … we’ve got some great interviews on there with lots of musicians. Common, Midtown, Saves the Day, Serj Tankian from System of a Down, The Clipse …

Oh, you got Serj on there? Is he vegetarian?

He is, and he’s very much against factory farming and the industrialization of animals.

Oh, me and Serj are tremendously good friends … he’s a fantastic person.

He was really great to talk with. Hey, thanks again!

All right. OK, have a good day!