“St Petersburg Times” – June 2006 // Abe Interviewed


Accentuate the positive
By Sergey Chernov

Staff Writer
For The St. Petersburg Times

Sacramento, California-based band the Deftones will perform in St. Petersburg on Wednesday.

The Deftones might have been through hard times lately, but has now regained its “Posi-tones.” The California-based alternative metal/post-hardcore quintet returns to Russia to perform its first concert in St. Petersburg this week.

The Grammy-winning band has already spent two years recording its next album, and in the meantime released “B-Sides & Rarities” in October. Although Deftones previously recorded all its albums with Terry Date as producer, the as-yet unreleased new album was to be have been produced by the legendary Bob Ezrin, responsible for classic albums by Alice Cooper, Lou Reed, Peter Gabriel and KISS, and, possibly most famously, Pink Floyd’s “The Wall.” However it was not to be, according to Deftones drummer Abe Cunningham.

“We ended up at this point where we’d done all of our records with the same person and we just wanted to change… to try something different, you know. We certainly did but I think at this point we can produce them ourselves, definitely,” said Cunningham speaking by phone from the U.K. before a Deftones concert in Glasgow.

“We started it with him and finished with, er… Pretty much ourselves, actually. But he helped with the beginning of it. [It was] a very long, long process. A lot of it has to do with just personal issues with him. A lot of inter-band fighting, you know. But it’s all good now, everyone’s happy. We’re rockin’.”

The album is basically finished, according to Cunningham.

“Actually it’s finished, it’s been all recorded and we’re finishing the final mix of it, you know, it should be out in October at least.”

With these matters now resolved, Cunningham lists a “Posi-tone” as his second instrument after his drums.

“It’s a joke,” he said.

“The past years have been not negative, but there has just been a lot of stuff going on in people’s lives, you know, so I just made a joke this time to say we are back and we have new and improved ‘Posi-tones.’ Positivity. You know, that was what it was, sort of. It was a joke.”

The Deftones formed in Sacramento in 1988, but did not release its debut album until 1995. The town which is the capital of California, where Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger now resides, is renowned for its rich music scene.

“It’s pretty diverse, a lot of different music, from Tesla to Cake to Club Nuevo… Deftones,” said Cunningham.

“It’s a nice little town there with a lot of different stuff going on.”

The band, which also features vocalist Chino Moreno, guitarist Stef Carpenter, bassist Chi Cheng and keyboard player Frank Delgado, still spends most of its time in its home town.

In 2000, the Deftones was awarded a Grammy as the “Best Heavy Metal Band.”

“It’s kind of funny,” said Cunningham.“We’re definitely a metal-based band, you know, I mean from the get-go, from the very beginning, but I think there are certainly many, many bands that are far more metal than us and deserve that category. It’s pretty wild.”

Cunningham grew up exposed to music with his father playing bass and his stepfather being a drummer.

“Everyone in the band, we enjoy all music, all types of music,” he said. “For me I like a lot of Jimi Hendrix and Cream, the Police, The Beatles, these are the things I used to play along to. And then later on bands like Rush and Metallica, everything.”

His current favorite, however, is a New York avant-rock band called TV On The Radio.

“They’re very very cool, I couldn’t even explain it, it’s all over the board. It’s a really really cool fun, with very cool melodies and very interesting music, it’s rad and very cool.”

From St. Petersburg, the Deftones will travel to Moscow where it will play on Thursday.

Cunningham said he was deeply impressed by Moscow when the Deftones performed at an oudoor concert there in June 2001.

“It was amazing, you know, it was very surreal to from when we started landing on the airplane, coming down. It was a place I wanted to go all my life, you know. It was very weird.

“We were there maybe three or four days, I think, and played only one show in Gorky Park and it was great. I was very excited when I saw we had a chance to go back.

“Especially because we’ve only been to Moscow, so we’ll be returning there and also [going] to St. Petersburg, so I’m looking forward to it very much. It’s very amazing. A lot of history. So much history.”