Newest Record Diamond Eyes Brings Deftones closer than ever
:: Deftones ::
By Joe Kovack
Amidst tragedy an awakening can occur. For better or worse it can make us stronger, and the Deftones seem stronger than ever.
In 2008, the Sacramento, Calif. hard rockers had to face the unthinkable. Their longtime bassist and close friend Chi Cheng suffered a tragic car accident that has left him in a semi-conscious state the past two-and-a-half years. It was a shot of reality that rocked the band, but helped open their eyes to what really matters in life.
“Our world was turned upside down,” said drummer Abe Cunningham in a recent interview with The Marquee. “I think you can spend all your life trying to figure out answers to certain things and this is one of those things that you can’t. So we just took a few months to figure out what we were going to do, if we were going to be a band anymore, try to see what his outcome would be. His accident really forced us to think about things; our own health and the fact that we can still do this after all these years. Our friendship; how we deal with the band and everything was just put into perspective. So we just decided to make some more music, without thinking about making another record, and lo and behold Diamond Eyes popped out and here we are,” Cunningham said.
Stating that communication had broken down and that the band nearly disbanded after the 2006 album Saturday Night Wrist, Cunningham said that the years between Wrist and Cheng’s accident were spent touring and rekindling the dynamic that was in trouble of fading away. With band members taking sides against each other, divorces, and just a lack of camaraderie, it was a nebulous time that needed attention. “Up until that point, making Saturday Night Wrist was nearly the end of us. There was no communication, hardly a smile; it was just a terrible time in our existence,” Cunningham explained. “But during that time we finished building our studio in Sacramento and we started spending our time hanging out and rehashing our relationship as bros, and just dealing with life.”
In 2008, they began working on a new album titled Eros, an album the band has described in interviews as different than what fans have heard in the band’s 23 year history. But the record was sidelined because of Cheng’s accident, with an indefinite timeline for its release. “We started to make that record, and I guess it was darker; it was somewhat more experimental. And we hope to have it out in later days, but it’s just been on the backburner, on simmer for now. Mainly due to Chi because we were hoping that he could be back with us, so he could play those songs,” Cunningham said.
Yet through all the turmoil and uncertainty, the Deftones have emerged victorious, with a new perspective on life and a new album that is reminiscent of the early days of the hard rocking, punch-in-the-face albums of Adrenaline and Around the Fur.
Released in May, 2010, their sixth studio album Diamond Eyes is the rebirth of the band. Juxtaposing the hard-hitting riffs and the signature shrieking vocals that made them famous, the album takes a step back so that the band can move forward. “The process of Diamond Eyes was absolutely a breeze, just super enjoyable. We really had nothing to lose. Chi was not with us and we were really just back at square one. And we were like, ‘What else could possibly happen? Let’s just enjoy this,’” said Cunningham.
Diamond Eyes is simply the result of coming together for the common purpose of making music. With producer Nick Raskulinecz (Foo Fighters, Alice in Chains, Rush) and new bassist Sergio Vega of Quicksand, the band’s new-found unity melded with the fresh ideas of Raskulinecz and Vega to create a truly authentic Deftones record. “This is the first time since our first record that we’ve had everything written prior to going into the studio. The past three or four records we had written mainly in the studio and that’s a nice way to do things, but if you’re not clicking and getting things done it can be really taxing. If you’re not gelling it’s not the way to do it. So we just had everything dialed in before we went in, just like a real band would (laughs). It was a reaffirmation that we could still do this, and enjoy it. It was a breeze, and something that we needed drastically at that point,” Cunningham said.
Fans can hear the resurgence in the new album; it’s aggressive and passionately chaotic with a purpose. Stephen Carpenter’s guitar is as heavy and pounding as it has ever been, exploding between pulsing riffs and the harmonious serenity of melodic rhythms. Chino Moreno’s vocals are as intense as they were on their first album Adrenaline, filled with emotion that moves between his signature shrieking cat-calls and the soulful harmonies he has perfected over the years. Abe Cunningham still drives the band with his intricate yet precise drumming that holds the songs together with utmost meticulousness and new bassist Sergio Vega fills the role for Chi Cheng in a way that honors his legacy.
“He [Sergio] had filled in for Chi in the past and he was a really good friend. His band Quicksand was a band that we were always way into and our band was seriously influenced by them. So we were started jamming songs for a show and before we knew it we had written “Royal,” which is the second song on Diamond Eyes. That all happened within the first few hours of jamming and we were blown away. So we just looked at each other and asked him if he wanted to make a record, and from that point on it was like lightning in a bottle,” said Cunningham.
It’s no surprise that Diamond Eyes is being heralded as the band’s best album of years late. It’s a compilation of emotions manifested through blistering hardcore songs, with just enough melodic and atmospheric tunes seductively placed to balance out the whole. It’s a Deftones for the new age while keeping true to who they are. “We’ve always tried to do something different than our previous records. We never wanted to repeat ourselves. But at the same time, I don’t think it’s wrong to sound like yourself. It was just such a free positive experience and I think the album is a little bit of everything.”
:: Deftones ::
:: Ogden Theatre :: April 22 and 23 ::
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