Deftones in 2007 at the Brixton Academy. Shown from left to right: Carpenter, Cheng (fore), Delgado (behind), Moreno, and Cunningham.
|Origin||Sacramento, California, United States|
|Genres||Alternative metal, experimental rock|
|Labels||Maverick, Warner Bros., Reprise|
|Associated acts||Sol Invicto, Kush, Team Sleep, Phallucy, Palms, Crosses,|
|Past members||Chi Cheng|
Deftones are an American alternative metal band from Sacramento, California, founded in 1988. The band consists of Chino Moreno (lead vocals and guitar), Stephen Carpenter (guitar), Frank Delgado (keyboards and turntables), Abe Cunningham (drums and percussion) and Sergio Vega (bass). The group's original bassist was Chi Cheng, who fell in a coma following a 2008 car accident and died in 2013. Deftones have released seven albums to date, with three Platinum (Adrenaline, Around the Fur, White Pony) and one Gold certification (for Deftones).
Early years (1988–1993)
When Carpenter was 15 years old, he was hit by a car while skateboarding. Confined to a wheelchair for several months, he began teaching himself guitar by playing along to bands such as Anthrax, Stormtroopers of Death, and Metallica. Supposedly, the driver paid Carpenter a cash settlement that allowed the band to purchase equipment, but Cunningham commented in an interview that all was "a myth about how our band was started."
Carpenter, Moreno, and Cunningham were friends from their childhood. All three went to McClatchy High School in Sacramento and remained friends through the city's skateboarding scene. When Moreno found out Carpenter played guitar, he set up a jam session with Cunningham, who played drums, and the three began playing regularly in Carpenter's garage circa 1988. After playing with several bassists, the band acquired Chi Cheng and recorded a four track demo soon after. Within two years, the band began playing club shows and later expanded their playing territory to San Francisco and Los Angeles, where they played shows alongside bands such as Korn. While closing for another band in L.A., after the majority of the audience had left, the band impressed a Maverick Records representative. They were soon signed to the label after showcasing three of their songs for Freddy DeMann and Guy Oseary.
The name "Deftones" was created by Carpenter, who wanted to pick "something that would just stand out but you know, not be all cheese-ball at the same time." Carpenter combined the hip hop slang term "def," which was used by artists such as LL Cool J and Public Enemy, with the suffix "-tones," which was a popular suffix among 1950s bands (e.g., Dick Dale and the Del-Tones, The Quin-Tones, The Monotones, The Cleftones, and The Harptones). Carpenter said the name is intentionally vague to reflect the band's tendency to not focus on just one style of music.
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The band's debut album, Adrenaline, was recorded at Bad Animals Studio in Seattle, Washington and released on October 3, 1995. It was produced by Deftones and Terry Date, who would go on to produce the band's next three albums. While they were initially unsuccessful, extensive touring, word-of-mouth, and Internet promotion built the band a dedicated fan base, as well as helping Adrenaline to sell over 220,000 copies without the singles "7 Words" and "Bored" (as well as their music videos) receiving any airplay. The band contributed the non-album track "Teething" to the soundtrack for the 1996 film The Crow: City of Angels and are also seen performing the song live during one of the film's scenes. The track "Engine No. 9" has since been covered by Korn and Suicide Silence and appeared in the film Law Abiding Citizen.
The album spent 21 weeks on the Billboard Heatseekers chart, reaching a peak position of 23. When asked what he attributed the album's success to, Cheng responded, "One word: perseverance. We've been together for almost eight years, on the road for two, and we do it with honesty and integrity – and the kids can tell." The album was RIAA certified gold on July 7, 1999 in recognition of 500,000 units sold.
Regarding the recording of the album, Cunningham said, "At the time we did the first record – which I really like and think is good – you can tell the band was really young. We'd been playing most of those songs for quite a while, and we were just so happy to be making a record that we didn't really think a whole lot about making the songs better." Moreno felt that Adrenaline was recorded "really fast" and performed all his vocals live with the band in the room using a hand-held Shure SM58 microphone. A review of Adrenaline praised the album's musical control, precision, overall groove, and Cunningham's "surprisingly sophisticated drumming". It was also noted that "there is a bit of sameness in Chino Moreno's whispered vocal melodies, which drags the record down a bit."
Adrenaline was certified platinum on September 23, 2008 by the RIAA, in recognition of 1,000,000 units sold.
Around the Fur (1997–1999)
Deftones's second album, Around the Fur was recorded at Studio Litho in Seattle, Washington and produced by Terry Date. Released on October 28, 1997, the album included a collaboration with singer Max Cavalera (of Sepultura/Soulfly/Cavalera Conspiracy) on "Headup", a tribute to Cavalera's late stepson Dana Wells, to whom the album was also dedicated. Although not yet a member of the band, Delgado is credited as "audio" on five of the album's tracks and Cunningham's wife, Annalynn, provides guest vocals on "MX".
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"When we went in to make this record, we really didn't have a set idea of what we wanted to come out with," said Moreno in a 1998 interview with Chart magazine. However, he felt that the album "fell into place" once the band had settled into the studio. The band expanded its sound, spending more time with Date, and giving more thought to the album's production. Cunningham varied his drum sound and experimented by using different types of snare drum on almost every track. The album was praised for its loud-soft dynamics, the flow of the tracks, Moreno's unusual vocals, and the strong rhythm-section grooves created by Cheng and Cunningham. Stephen Thomas Erlewine's review noted that "while they don't have catchy riffs or a fully developed sound, Around the Fur suggests they're about to come into their own."
The album was highly anticipated and propelled the band to fame in the alternative metal scene on the strength of radio and MTV airplay for the singles "My Own Summer (Shove It)" and "Be Quiet and Drive (Far Away)". Around the Fur sold 43,000 copies in its first week of release, and entered the Billboard 200 at number 29 (its peak position), remaining on the charts for 17 weeks. The band went back to touring, making appearances at the Warped Tour (in the United States, New Zealand and Australia), Pinkpop Festival, Roskilde Festival, and Ozzfest as well as releasing a live EP on June 22, 1999. Around the Fur went on to reach RIAA gold status on June 24, 1999, and platinum status on June 7, 2011. "My Own Summer (Shove It)" appeared on The Matrix: Music from the Motion Picture, released March 30, 1999.
White Pony (2000–2002)
On June 20, 2000, the band released their third album, White Pony, again produced by Terry Date and Deftones. It was recorded at the Plant Studios in Sausalito, California and at Larrabee Sound Studios, West Hollywood, California. The album debuted at number three in the US Billboard chart with sales of 178,000 copies. Delgado (DJ Speedboat) was now a full-time band member, adding new elements to the band's music. The melancholy "Teenager", for example, was a radical departure in style and mood, a "love song," according to Moreno, which incorporated elements of glitch and trip hop, with programming duties carried out by Moreno's friend and side-project Team Sleep bandmate DJ Crook. A collaboration with singer Maynard James Keenan of Tool is present on "Passenger". The refrain in "Knife Prty" features vocals by Rodleen Getsic, and Scott Weiland did some backing vocals on "RX Queen". Moreno also started contributing additional guitar on several tracks.
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An interview with the band in Alternative Press explained the recording process of White Pony. After a break from touring, the band spent four months in the studio writing and recording White Pony, the longest amount of time they had dedicated to an album thus far. Moreno explained that the majority of this time was spent trying to write songs, and that the writing of "Change (In the House of Flies)" was the turning point where the band began working as a group. Despite being pressured to release the album sooner, the band decided to take their time making it. Cheng explained that "We didn't feel like we had anything to lose, so we made the record we wanted to make." Moreno did not have a common theme in mind lyrically, but made a conscious decision to bring an element of fantasy into his lyrics, explaining that "I basically didn't sing about myself on this record. I made up a lot of story lines and some dialogue, even. I took myself completely out of it and wrote about other things."
Reviews were generally positive, noting Moreno's increasing sophistication as a lyricist and the group's experimentalism. Of White Pony, one reviewer wrote that "Deftones went soft, but in an impressive way, to twist around its signature punk thrash sound."
The album was originally released as an 11 track version beginning with "Feiticeira" and ending with "Pink Maggit" and featuring gray cover art. A limited edition print of 50,000 black and red jewel case versions of White Pony were also released at the same time with a bonus twelfth track titled "The Boy's Republic". Later, the band released "Back to School (Mini Maggit)", a rap-influenced interpretation of the album's closer, "Pink Maggit". "Back to School (Mini Maggit)" was track 11 on the leaked pre-release version of White Pony in April 2000 but not included on the original (official) issue of the album in June 2000. The leaked version of White Pony also included the slower version of "Pink Maggit", which appeared on the first official White Pony CDs. That song was listed as a bonus track (track 12) on the leaked pre-release version. The song was picked up as a single and placed as the new opening track (with "Pink Maggit" still the closer) of a re-released White Pony on October 3, 2000 featuring altered white cover art. Not entirely happy with re-releasing the album, the band negotiated to have "Back to School" made available as a free download for anyone who had already bought the original album. Chino noted that "Everybody's already downloaded our record before it came out anyway, otherwise I'd be kind of feelin' like, 'Man, why [are] we putting [out] all these different versions of the record?' [...] that's the best way we can actually get this song out to the people who already purchased this record, for free basically. And if they wanna buy the record again, it's cool."
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Deftones began work on their fourth album under the working title Lovers. Regarding the album's direction, Cheng commented, "We've proven that we can musically go in any direction we want, and we want to get kind of heavy on this one." Moreno underwent vocal training as a precaution after severely damaging his vocal cords on the band's 2001 summer tour. The band converted their rehearsal space in Sacramento into a fully equipped studio and recorded most of the album there at negligible cost. The band brought in Date to assist with production and also received input on musical arrangement from Greg Wells on several of the album's tracks. The band later added more material at Studio X in Seattle, WA and at Larrabee Studios in West Hollywood, CA. Overall, the album took twelve months and cost roughly $2.5 million to produce with the band being fined by Maverick for missing deadlines.
In January 2003, Deftones left the studio to perform some "one off" shows in Australia and New Zealand as part of the annual Big Day Out Festival. Shortly after, the band returned to the studio to finish their fourth album. The self-titled Deftones was released on May 20, 2003. Deftones entered the Billboard 200 at number two and sold 167,000 copies in its first week. The album remained in the Billboard top 100 for nine weeks, supported by the first single, "Minerva". The band shot a video for their second single, "Hexagram", with fans watching the band play the song in an indoor skatepark in Simi Valley, California. The band made a video for the track "Bloody Cape", but it was never released for play on television. The video was only made available on the band's official website for one day. It was later released on their B-Sides and Rarities DVD.
Reviews were mainly positive, praising the band for the heavy album's progression and originality in the midst of declining creativity in contemporary metal. Moreno was quoted as saying, "It's all on record. We told motherfuckers not to lump us in with nu metal because when those bands go down we aren't going to be with them." In reviewing Deftones, Stephen Thomas Erlewine writes that "Hexagram", the album's opener, "hits hard — harder than they ever have, revealing how mushy Staind is, or how toothless Linkin Park is," but also goes on to say that the album "sticks a little too close to familiar territory." The Onion's A.V. Club similarly called the album "less rewarding than its predecessor, though its peaks rival any in the genre."
The band released a compilation album titled B-Sides & Rarities on October 4, 2005. The CD includes various b-sides and covers from throughout their career, while the DVD contains behind-the-scenes footage and the band's complete videography up to that point.
Saturday Night Wrist (2006–2007)
Deftones released their fifth album Saturday Night Wrist on October 31, 2006. It debuted at number ten in the US Billboard chart with sales of just over 76,000, a significant decrease on the first week sales of their two previous releases.
Rather than work with longtime producer Terry Date, Deftones decided to record with Bob Ezrin. Cunningham says that while the group enjoyed working with Date, "At this point, we just needed to change things up [...] And this is definitely a different style. Working with him [Ezrin] is just putting us fucking upside down. He's cracking the whip." After recording all the instrumentals for the record, Chino Moreno decided to record his vocals separately. Chino thus finished recording the album with former Far guitarist Shaun Lopez as producer. According to interviews with members of Deftones, the tensions involved with the recording of Saturday Night Wrist nearly led to the demise of the band. Collaborations on the record include Annie Hardy from Giant Drag on the song "Pink Cellphone" and Serj Tankian from System of a Down on the track "Mein".
The album's first single was called "Hole in the Earth", hitting the radio on October 16, 2006. "Hole in the Earth" was also featured as a downloadable song for the PS3 & Xbox 360 versions of Guitar Hero 3. "Mein" was the album's second single, which aired in Spring of 2007.
As of September 2010, Saturday Night Wrist had sold approximately 325,000 copies (US) and a little over 600,000 worldwide, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
Deftones spent the majority of 2006 and 2007 touring around the world in support of the album. The band played shows in places including North America, Europe, South America, Japan, and Australia. The band also performed in such tours as Taste of Chaos, Family Values Tour, and the Soundwave Festival.
Eros sessions and Cheng's car accident (2008–2009)
Deftones were working on their upcoming sixth studio album Eros and had been writing songs since Fall 2007. Chino Moreno described the album as weird, unorthodox, featuring a lot of atmosphere, soundscaping, and aggression. Recording started on April 14, 2008. The album was initially to be released early in 2009, but was delayed.
On November 4, 2008, Cheng was seriously injured in a car accident in Santa Clara, California. As a result of the injuries sustained in the crash, he remained in a minimally conscious state. Following the accident, Cheng's bandmates and mother, Jeanne, began using the Deftones blog to post updates on Cheng's condition. On December 9, 2008, it was announced that Chi had been moved into the care of an unnamed hospital that "specializes in the care and management of traumatic and non-trauma related brain injuries."
In late January 2009, the band released a new statement, stating that "our fallen comrade has not yet made significant progress," and that friend of the band Sergio Vega (formerly of Quicksand) would be taking over as bassist in Cheng's absence, as he had done temporarily in 1998. On April 5, the band played their first show without Cheng since 1998 at the Bamboozle Left Festival in Irvine, California.
On June 23, 2009, Deftones announced on their official website that Eros will be delayed indefinitely, saying that "... as we neared completion on Eros, we realized that this record doesn't best encompass and represent who we are currently as people and as musicians. And although those songs will see the light of day at some point, we collectively made the decision that we needed to take a new approach, and with Chi's condition heavy on our minds while doing so. We needed to return to the studio to do what we felt was right artistically." They also said, "The decision to hold off on releasing Eros has no connection with Chi's condition or anything associated. This was, and is, purely a creative decision by the band to write, record, and deliver an amazing product."
Brian "Head" Welch and his long-time friend Reginald "Fieldy" Arvizu, along with members of Sevendust, Slipknot, and other rock bands recorded and released "A Song for Chi", with the benefits going towards him and his family. To aid in the fundraising for the Cheng family, the band announced two benefit shows in Los Angeles for November 19 and 20.
The website www.oneloveforchi.com was launched by a Deftones fan about four months after Cheng's accident. The site served as a platform for updates and information on Cheng's condition, as well as serving as an auction site for items donated by friends of the band. All proceeds raised by the One Love for Chi website were donated to his family so they could provide him the best possible medical care. Items auctioned on the site included rare and autographed pieces from the likes of Sevendust, Alice in Chains, Nikki Sixx, Chris Cornell, and others.
Diamond Eyes (2010–2011)
Deftones released their sixth album, Diamond Eyes, on May 4, 2010. Its release was pushed forward from the initially reported May 18 release date, most likely due to the entire album having been leaked onto the Internet in March 2010. On February 23, 2010, the album's first single, "Rocket Skates", was made available for free download at www.gunsrazorsknives.com. The album was produced by Nick Raskulinecz.
On March 15, Deftones debuted their first radio-ready single, "Diamond Eyes". Both "Diamond Eyes" and "Rocket Skates" received positive reviews from fans and critics alike, many making comparisons of the two singles' style and sound to that of material from their album Around the Fur.
Teaming up with bands Mastodon and Alice in Chains, Deftones went on tour in fall of 2010 in the United States and Canada. The tour was called Blackdiamondskye, a portmanteau of the three bands' latest albums (Black Gives Way to Blue, Diamond Eyes, and Crack the Skye). The tour included a limited edition series of silk screened art prints promoting each show individually, created by poster artist Jermaine Rogers. Rogers has created a majority of the Deftones concert poster/print artwork since the late 1990s.
On April 16, 2011, in honor of Record Store Day, the band released an LP titled Covers, containing several cover songs that the band had recorded over the years, including "Drive" (originally by The Cars), "If Only Tonight We Could Sleep" (originally by The Cure), and "No Ordinary Love" (originally by Sade). On October 25, Deftones released The Vinyl Collection 1995—2011 in a limited edition of 1,000 copies.
Koi No Yokan, Cheng's death and release of Eros (2012–present)
On March 29, 2012, Stephen Carpenter revealed the band were working on a new record in an interview posted on ESP Guitars's YouTube channel. It was reported that Nick Raskulinecz would return to produce their as yet unnamed seventh studio album.
It was reported that the band would be recording several B-sides for the album, which would include an Elvis Presley cover and possibly an Earth, Wind, and Fire cover. It was later announced that there would be no bonus tracks. On July 28, Deftones performed a brand new song titled "Rosemary" and also debuted another track titled "Roller Derby" (later revealed to be titled "Poltergeist").
On April 13, 2013, despite making a partial recovery and having returned home, Chi Cheng died in a hospital in his hometown of Sacramento, California, after his heart suddenly stopped, nearly four and a half years after his 2008 accident which left him in a coma.
Musical style and influences
Although initially rooted in heavy metal, Deftones have always claimed diverse influences, with their musical style diversifying over their career. Their sound has been described as alternative metal, art rock, experimental rock, nu metal, post-punk, post-hardcore, drone, progressive rock, shoegaze, metalgaze or post-metal,post-grunge, psychedelic rock, and rap metal.
Originally, the band started off as being associated with the "nu metal" movement. However, following the release of their third album, White Pony, they were widely acknowledged by many critics to have transcended the "nu-metal" label,  eventually classified as having an alternative metal, post-metal, and experimental rock sound.
Critic Johnny Loftus writes, "Rock critics usually reserve a special place for Deftones above or at least away from the rest of the turn-of-the-century metal movement [....] Deftones have always seemed more curious, more willing to incorporate traditionally revered sounds like D.C. hardcore and dream pop into their Northern California alt-metal."
Moreno's lyrics were described by Time magazine as "suggesting emotions rather than announcing them." Chino Moreno himself has described his lyrics as ambiguous and sometimes impersonal, saying: "I like to be ambiguous when writing to a certain extent, and throwing something so brash [as Chi's accident] against that and playing with it. And also making it sound dimensional. Giving the feeling off that it is raw and it is emotional, but it's not just connected with our personal story. It's not merely about our career and our lives, it's bigger than that. When I hear the music, I get inspired to paint the lyrical pictures you describe, but I'm not always talking about myself."
Deftones members have worked on several side projects, such as Carpenter's group Sol Invicto, which features Eric Bobo of Cypress Hill and Richie Londres of C.L.P. Carpenter has also worked with a group called Kush, featuring members of Fear Factory and Cypress Hill. Other side projects include Moreno's Team Sleep and Crosses and Cunningham's Phallucy. Deftones's Frank Delgado is a member of a DJ group with DJ Crook of Team Sleep, DJ Julez, and Matt D called Decibel Devils. Moreno has also made a number of guest appearances on numerous younger groups' songs, such as "Bender" by Sevendust, "Paralytic" by Dead Poetic, "Vengeance Is Mine" by Droid, "Caviar" by Dance Gavin Dance, "Surrender Your Sons" by Norma Jean, and "Reprogrammed to Hate" by Whitechapel. In 2000, Cheng released a CD composed of his own spoken word poetry, called The Bamboo Parachute.
In April 2012 it was announced that Chino Moreno had joined Jeff Caxide, Aaron Harris and Clifford Meyer, all former members of the recently disbanded sludge/post-metal group Isis, under the name Palms. Their first album is supposed to be released in 2013.
- Current members
- Stephen Carpenter – lead guitar (1988–present)
- Abe Cunningham – drums (1988–present)
- Chino Moreno – lead vocals, rhythm guitar (1988–present)
- Frank Delgado – keyboards, turntables, samples (1997–present)
- Sergio Vega – bass, backing vocals (1998, 2009–present)
- Former members
- Chi Cheng – bass, backing vocals (1988–2008)
- Adrenaline (1995)
- Around the Fur (1997)
- White Pony (2000)
- Deftones (2003)
- Saturday Night Wrist (2006)
- Diamond Eyes (2010)
- Koi No Yokan (2012)
|2001||"Elite"||Best Metal Performance (Grammy)||Won|
|2013||Koi No Yokan||Album of the Year||Won|
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