Deftones are one of the more unique and distinct acts in modern heavy music. One of the originators of the nu metal era, Deftones are not only still going strong, but are arguably at their strongest in the wake of their latest album, Koi No Yokan, released in November 2012 via Reprise Records. The band has been touring since the album’s release, and they’re currently trekking through the States on their second U.S. run of the Koi No Yokan Tour. I sat down with drummer Abe Cunningham and bassist Sergio Vega backstage at The Wellmont Theatre in Montclair, NJ. “We’re really getting into it now, and just having a good time playing all these new songs and going back over stuff in our catalog,” said Vega. “It’s exciting to have a new record that people are stoked on, and we’re super-stoked on.” While the band is loving every minute of their current tour, both Abe and Sergio expressed their excitement about their upcoming festival schedule, which includes stops in Japan at Ozzfest Japan and Metallica’s 2nd Annual Orion Music + More Festival. “When Metallica comes callin’…giddy-up,” Abe said jokingly, but with excitement. “I’m totally stoked.” Sergio simply stated – “I’m excited.”
Since their early days, Deftones have expanded their sound tremendously, and have broken through the confines of the stereotypical nu metal sound. The album is nothing short of phenomenal, and some of the best material of the bands’ career. It’s a sonic journey that takes the listener over peaks and through valleys with epic walls of sound. The album has an ambiance to it; an audio haze that puts you in a trance immediately after pressing the ‘Play’ button. Don’t let this description sum up the record entirely, though…it’s still heavy as all hell. “It’s definitely a rollercoaster of emotions,” Cunningham stated. Elaborating, Cunningham continued, saying, “We try to make records. Full, complete pieces. Hopefully you put it on, and you don’t take it off until it’s done.” When discussing the band’s writing process in terms of writing hard songs versus melodic songs, Sergio said, “I think it’s organic. Everyone has a lot of ideas and we just sort of throw them out there and develop them. Everyone is really quick to play off of each other.” Abe added, “It’s really just us jamming in our little room, and not much planning.”
Deftones crept onto the nu metal scene in 1995 with the release of their debut LP, Adrenaline. The album was produced by Terry Date (Pantera, Soundgarden, White Zombie, Korn, more), who would go on to produce the band’s next three albums as well. The disc spent 21 weeks on the Billboard Heatseekers Chart, and after relentless touring and promotion, was certified gold in 1999. In 1997, Deftones released their sophomore effort, Around the Fur. The album included a special guest appearance by Max Cavalera (Sepultura, Soufly), and was the first Deftones record to feature future band member Frank Delgado (keyboards, turntables, samples). The album debuted at #29 on the Billboard Top 200, remaining on the chart for 17 weeks. The band hit the road hard again, and the tour featured appearances on Warped Tour and Ozzfest ’97.
In 2000, Deftones released their much-anticipated third album, White Pony. The album massive success, and garnered much acclaim from fans and critics alike. It debuted at #3 on the Billboard Top 200, selling over 178,000 copies in it’s first week out. It’ produced one of the band’s biggest hits ever, “Change (In The House of Flies)”, and “Elite” won the band the Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance in 2001. In 2002, the album was certified platinum. The follow-up, 2003’s self-titled LP Deftones, debuted at #2 on the Billboard Top 200. A much heavier outing for the band, it remained on the charts for nine consecutive weeks and the band received much praise for going heavier and harder.
After six long years of hard touring accompanied with writing and recording, Deftones released their fifth album, Saturday Night Wrist, in 2006. The album debuted at #10 on the Billboard Top 200. The band was on the road relentlessly in 2006 and 2007. Touring throughout in North America, Canada, Europe, South America, Japan, and Australia, the band also took part in festival tours Taste of Chaos, Family Values Tour, and Soundwave Festival. In 2008, the band began recording music for their next album, Eros. However, tragedy struck when bassist Chi Cheng was involved in a bad car accident that left him unable to perform. Longtime friend and bass tech Sergio Vega stepped in and took over the bass guitar duties, and is still with the band today.
Wishing to move in a different direction with the new lineup, Eros was shelved indefinitely, and the band went to work on writing and recording 2010’s Diamond Eyes. The record hit #6 on the Billboard Top 200, and the band toured with Alice In Chains and Mastodon on the Blackdiamondskye Tour. The band took much less time in between albums this time around, and in November 2012, they released Koi No Yokan. Deftones have a long road ahead of them, literally, as they plan to be touring well into 2014. Some highlights in the immediate future are appearance at Ozzfest Japan on May 11, and a co-headlining stand at Orion Music + More Festival, June 8-9 in Detroit, MI along with Red Hot Chili Peppers, Rise Against, and Bassnectar. Before Ozzfest, Deftones will co-headline Carolina Rebellion, and closing out summer at Reading and Leeds Festivals in August. With all this relentless touring, there’s plenty of chances to catch Deftones. Get ready for an epic experience of both sight and sound. – by Matt Bishop