Deftones: The old school still in fine form

by Nickie Wang

A quick search on Wikipedia or Google will give you a list of all the achievements and career highlights of Deftones, an American alternative metal band from Sacremento, California.  But to actually hear it from the band gives us a better understanding why and how after 23 long years, Chino Moreno, Stephen Carpenter, Chi Cheng, Frank Delgado, and Abe Cunningham have remained together and still active in recording and touring the world.

Longevity is elusive to most of bands in the music industry. It is a common scenario to see a young and established groups split up even before compiling successful records and staging sold-out arenas.

A few hours before Deftones staged a concert in Jakarta, Indonesia on Feb. 8, Standard Today spoke with Frank Delgado, Deftones’ keyboardist, in an interview over the phone. Frank shared with us why the band remains solid, what inspires them to tour the world, and the story behind Diamond Eyes, the quintet’s new album.

“There’s no really a secret in being together as a band. Most of the original members have been together since they were 12 years old,” Frank starts, “The truth is we are crazy…crazy the way we live. We are crazy that we are still doing it…we are a little bit crazy of everything.”

The musician who plays turntables, keyboards and sampler for Deftones became an official member of the band in 1997. Prior to being the fifth man of the group, Frank had helped out on the first two albums. He appeared on Adrenaline (the platinum record that marked the band’s first foray on commercial and mainstream music scene) and Around the Fur as guest artist.

“It’s more of a brotherhood that makes us solid as group and apart from the fact that we enjoy getting along with each other. I guess that’s the most important thing,” the musician adds.

Deftones is currently on tour in Southeast Asia to promote the latest CD. The band first landed in Australia and started the first leg of the regional tour in Jakarta, then Tokyo, Manila on Feb. 12, followed by a concert in Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok and finally in Singapore. After rocking the Asian music circuit, Deftones will also embark on a Pan-Pacific tour.

With a seemingly tight schedule, the band members still look forward to enjoy the places they visit and get to know the culture of the people who listen to their distinct sound. But Frank admits that as much as they would want to do that, they don’t have the luxury of time.

“We can only enjoy a little time to explore the place we are visiting because we have a very busy schedule but if given a chance…yes we would like to tour around and spend more time with our friends while doing that,” says the 41-year-old keyboardist.

Deftones’ longevity in the music business is one of its assets but Frank is well aware that the members are not as young as before. The band was formed in 1988 in Sacramento and the original members Chino (lead vocals and guitar), Stephen (guitar), Chi (bass), and Abe Cunningham (drums and percussion) were best pals sharing their passion for skateboarding.

“You know that we are kinda old but of course we still will try our best to make our shows and our tours dynamic. As an established band, we still work on new materials and explore other things to provide great entertainment,” Frank affirms.

Their being relevant reflects on the Diamond Eye, the sixth album of band. According to Frank, Deftones has reached the point that it no longer wants to consider taking chances that is why it came up with an album that is more uplifting and positive. In previous interviews, vocalist and frontman Chino Moreno said that it is an optimistic record that is inspired by their fellow band member Chi Cheng, who sustained a debilitating brain injury from a car accident in November of 2008.

“When it [the accident] happened, we were thinking if we can still do it or if we still have the capacity to do it. But this accident turned out to be an inspiration. It gave us the idea to do another record, a different one, and we experienced a natural creative flow,” Frank recalls.

This is the reason why it only took them only several months to complete the CD. Franks says that the process of making the album started from writing and compiling new materials that took them a month and another one-and-a half month top do the rehearsal.

Naturally, Deftones is a touring band. And what they would want their fans to experience is the feeling of listening to their album as if they were watching them live.

The group also travels not just to entertain its fans, the members also want to inspire people most especially young bands whose goal is to break into mainstream. Obviously being an established group, Deftones has a lot of advantages compared to the new ones that are just starting out to build their names that’s why Frank advises those who would like to follow in their footsteps to just practice and perfect their craft.

“Play and play. That’s how everybody started. As a young band it’s good to rely on each other. You grow up together as a band and end up finding your own sound or your own niche in the business. The more you play the more you become good…fan-base will follow. The fans will appreciate the record you’re going to play and that’s the start of everything,” Frank concludes.


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