As far as nu-metal goes, Deftones were always standing out as different than the rest of the pack, at times leaning more towards alternative metal, if such a thing even exists. Empirical evidence also suggests that Deftones are generally more accepted in metal circles than the other bands that they were unfairly clumped with in the 90’s and early 2000’s.

It shouldn’t be news to anyone: In November 2008, Deftones’ bassist Chi Cheng was involved in a car accident that left him in a coma. Deftones then decided to shelve their highly anticipated album “Eros” and work on a completely new album without Chi.

Deftones frontman Chino Moreno (I love saying his name; I mispronounce it so it rhymes) recently spoke with in regards to the upcoming album. Read cherry-picked excerpts below:

With former Quicksand bassist Sergio Vega filling in, the Deftones found a renewed energy, writing songs in a rehearsal space together — an approach they had ditched on their past few albums, which were recorded layer by layer with ProTools. Soon the band entered a L.A. studio with producer Nick Raskulinecz. The result: 11 songs for their yet-to-be-titled release, the sound of which recalls the group’s early days — while also exploring new territory.

One of Moreno’s favorite tracks, “Rocket Skates,” is a “heavier” tune with “beautiful yet violent imagery,” that has “a fantasy vibe” similar to “Knife Party,” a hit from 2000’s White Pony. But another newbie, “Nylons and Suspenders,” marks a first for the 20-year-old band.

“Musically, it’s something that we haven’t done before,” he explains. “It’s very… sludgy, like a chainsaw-type of riff but very slow. I shouldn’t say this, but it’s clunky… in an awesome way.”

What can fans expect from the new album?

The dynamics Deftones are known for — aggressive overtones and lush openness. They’re on opposite sides of the spectrum, but we meld them together without sounding contrived. There are a few heavy songs, too, like our first couple records, and there are also experimental tunes — but there’s not a minute on this record that feels like it doesn’t need to be there. Each sound complements the other. I’ll straight-up say it: it’s definitely one of our best albums.

What direction are you going in lyrically?

Well, I’ve been wanting to record a fantasy album like White Pony, where the lyrics are less, ‘This is my life and this is what we’re going through.’ It helps take us away from reality. I don’t like listening to people’s problems — I like music. Music has been smothered with that complaining since the early-’90s. It gets old. Instead of going to the opposite side of the spectrum and listening to Black Eyed Peas, which is just straight silly, I choose to listen to more instrumental music. I do very little singing about myself on this record. I love songs where I can totally take myself out of being human. I can sing about really odd things, and they don’t necessarily have to pertain to me at all. It paints a picture. Those are the kind of lyrics I grew up with — like the Cure. Really visual images and no storytelling.

How did the addition of Sergio Vega affect the music?

It brought us closer together than we’ve been in a really long time. Musically, we were really clicking, and Sergio really fits with the band. But he’s a different type of player than Chi; Chi plays with his fingers, Sergio plays with his pick. We’re just appreciative that we’re still alive and able to make music. The recording process was very different — we didn’t use ProTools. We wrote each song in a practice place and played them a million times ’til they were perfect. That approach goes back to our earlier days, and it’s a lot more personable. We work better when everybody’s together — and the songs benefit.

Below is a video of a live performance of “Rocket Skates”, off of the new album. The yet-to-be-titled followup to 2006’s Saturday Night Wrist is due out some time in May. I’ll be looking forward to it!


– JR


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