“Pollstar” – December, 1997 // Chino Interviewed

December 22, 1997 Pollstar Interview

YOU MAY NOT HEARthe Deftones onmainstream radio or see the band onprime-time MTV,
but somewhere deep inthe pits of abrasive heavy metal rock,

there is a success story building.

The Sacramento-based band has spent most of its time on the road since signing with
Maverick Records in 1994 and releasing its debut album, Adrenaline. The group is now
seeing the fruit of that labor with sales of its sophomore release, Around The Fur.
That record debuted on the SoundScan chart at No. 29 and has since sold nearly 90,000
That’s not bad for a band that started as a group of kids just looking for some fun.
Deftones singer Chino Moreno told POLLSTAR he was skateboard buddies with drummer Abe
Cunningham and guitarist Stephen Carpenter when they were about 10 years old.
Carpenter’s whole life revolved around skateboarding during those years but everything
changed in an instant when at 16, he was hit by a drunk driver. He ended up trading in
his skateboard for a guitar and with the settlement he got from the accident, he bought
a roomful of band equipment. “He put it in his garage and we just all started basically
teaching ourselves how to play,” Moreno said. After going though a few bassists, Chi
Cheng became a permanent member.
It was two years before the band had its first real gig in a local club. From there, the
guys started to build a fan base in the Sacramento area — but they took their time.
“We didn’t really try to play all the time and go out there and shove our music down people’s
throats,” Moreno said. “It was more like we’d always try to just get better and write
better songs and then go play them just to see what people thought.”
When the band felt confident enough, it expanded its gigging-area to San Francisco and
Los Angeles. It was a seemingly dead-end gig in L.A. that got the Deftones their big break.
“We were closing for some band,” Moreno said, “and after that band played, everybody left.
There was probably only five [or 10] people there. It was really grim. But we decided we’d
just play our normal show.” Someone in the audience who had a connection to Maverick Records
was impressed. The next thing the guys knew, Maverick was asking to see a showcase.
In a small studio space, label prexy Freddy DeMann and A&R exec Guy Oseary came to see what
the Deftones had to offer. “We played three songs and they just said, ‘We want to sign you
guys right now,'” Moreno said. The band was shocked.
Of course, about that time, other labels starting swarming. But Moreno said the others didn’t
have the absolute confidence that Maverick showed. “Maverick was just like, ‘We just dig
the vibe of your guys’ band. You guys have good songs and we want to sign you,'” he said.
“There was no beating around the bush. It was just straight forward and that’s what we
really liked about them.”
As soon as the Deftones inked their deal with Maverick, they were sent out on the road.
Though the band members have grown to believe in relentless touring, hitting the road so
hard in the beginning wasn’t what they expected. The way they saw the music industry, a
band put out an album, got a hit single, and then toured behind it. The opposite turned
out to be true for the Deftones. “We put out records to support our live show,” Moreno

Without the rush the guys get from performing live, they couldn’t be inspired to live
life on the road, Moreno said. The band fires off a dose of its heavy metal energy and
then “that energy doubles as the crowd gives it back to us and then we keep feeding off
each other. It usually just keeps building into this big ball of intensity. By the end
of the show, it’s just psychotic,” he said.
With the release of Around The Fur, there is an industry buzz surrounding the Deftones
but the band is keeping its focus. “Sometimes the hype can scare you a little bit.
It puts more pressure on you when you have more hype behind you,” Moreno said.
“I don’t think anybody in our band thinks that we’re the greatest thing in the world.
I think we all realize that we have a lot of talent that we’ve tapped in to but we
still have so much more to go. And if people start labeling you the next big thing,
it almost sets you up next year to be last year’s thing.”