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Deftones on Getting Older, Chi Cheng’s Legacy + More in Exclusive Interview

Chino Moreno
Theo Wargo/Getty Images

The Orion Music + More festival at Belle Isle in Detroit was an awesome experience this past weekend. However, the best highlight from the event was getting to interview Deftones. The alt metal veterans shared their thoughts on adapting over the years, the importance of rest, founding bassist Chi Cheng’s impact on the band and more.

It may come as a surprise to some that Deftones have been a band for a quarter of a century. The California rockers have been through a lot in those 25 years together. Ever since the release of their debut album, 1997’s Adrenaline, Deftones have successfully evolved their sound but yet maintained what keeps them special.

“We try to experiment and expand what we’ve created, it’s as simple as that,” vocalist Chino Moreno shares. “We don’t try to reinvent ourselves. I don’t think we feel the need to do that. We have something special that we’ve had since we were friends. To abandon that and try to go somewhere else doesn’t make any sense. We definitely like to expand and try new things. It’s sort of right in the middle.”

Both Moreno and drummer Abe Cunningham will turn 40 this year. As the band members get older, and family and health become more important, Deftones make sure they take the time to recharge the batteries.

“Mental rest is really what it is,” Moreno says. “Being home is just as important as your job.  Most people work so they can have a house and enjoy their house and their family. We want to do the same exact thing.”

Deftones released their most recent album, Koi No Yokan, last November. Being their seventh album, it wouldn’t be surprising to know the group finds it difficult to keep their motivation going. However, this is certainly not the case with Deftones. They’re as passionate now as they were in the band’s infancy with every new record.

“I think that’s the motivating factor a lot, as opposed to being so concerned about the sound that you’re making,” bassist Sergio Vega explains. “We’re just very much stuck on the passion behind it and loving music constantly, and seeing how that funnels through us naturally. We don’t sit around and have meetings about where we should be going.”

The Deftones family suffered a great loss with the death of founding bassist Chi Cheng, who was in a coma following a car accident in 2008. Despite Cheng’s health showing signs of improvement at times, he sadly passed away in April of this year. Deftones are understandably still coping with their loss but using music as a way to heal.

“It was definitely a hard thing to deal with, “Moreno states. “It had been so long that he’d been in this one state that there was a little bit of relief. Not even on our part but on his part. I think he was stuck in a weird place for a long time, and I feel like there was a little bit of closure to the whole situation.”

“It’s always affecting us, but in a positive way,” keyboardist and DJ Frank Delgado admits. “We’re not angst-riven and in the fetal position crying. He [Cheng] embodies everything that we do but it’s not like we wanted to make a record of, ‘Look at us we’re sad.'”

Watch both parts of our exclusive interview with Deftones below.

WGRD Interview with Chino and Abe of Deftones at Orion 2013

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WGRD Interview with Frank and Sergio of Deftones at Orion 2013

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Follow Dave Kim on Twitter: @davekim83

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