Deftones is a rock band from Sacramento, California formed in 1988, consisting of Chino Moreno (lead vocals and guitar), Stephen Carpenter (guitar), Chi Cheng (bass), Frank Delgado (keyboards and turntables), and Abe Cunningham (drums and percussion). Their sound has been described as ranging from alternative metal and dream pop, to progressive rock.
Critics have often praised them as one of the more unique rock bands of recent years for their innovative, atmospheric music; as 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 dream pop or D.C. hardcore into their Northern California alt-metal.
Carpenter, Moreno and Cunningham went to the same high school. They were childhood friends and remained friends through the skateboarding scene in Sacramento. When Moreno found out Carpenter played guitar, he set up a jam session with Cunningham and the three began playing regularly in Carpenter's garage circa 1988. After playing with several bassists, the band settled on Justin Jaramillo 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 after 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 he listened to such as LL Cool J and Public Enemy, with the suffix "-tones", which was a popular suffix among 50s bands whose music he also enjoyed (e.g. Dick Dale and the Deltones; 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.
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 7 July, 1999 in recognition of 500,000 units sold.
Regarding the recording of the album, Abe 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 58 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
Deftones' second album, Around the Fur, was recorded at Studio Litho in Seattle, Washington and produced by Terry Date. Released on October 26, 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". "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 Terry 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.
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", and the refrain in "Knife Prty" features vocals by Rodleen Getsic. Moreno had also started contributing additional guitar on several tracks. 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 the album. 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 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 12th track entitled "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.
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.
The band's latest album, titled Saturday Night Wrist, was released 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. 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 March 2007, Saturday Night Wrist has sold over 250,000 copies (US).
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, Canada, Europe, South America, Japan and Australia. The band also performed in such tours as Taste of Chaos, Family Values Tour and the Soundwave Festival in Australia.
Moreno stated that this album would be more up-tempo (as far as the drumming is concerned), going on to say that the past couple of albums have been more mid-tempo; that Abe Cunningham has been playing faster. He also referred to the album as being "snappy". Moreno stated in an interview that the process for this album would be more raw and simplified after dissatisfaction with the long and "pieced-together" experience of recording Saturday Night Wrist.
On January 14th, Chino Moreno posted an instrumental electronic beat that sounds similar to Team Sleep called "You've Seen The Butcher", on the Deftones' MySpace page, and announced in a bulletin that the album would be called Eros, the Greek word for "love." It was also announced that Eros would be released by Warner Bros. Records, the first time Deftones have released an album not affiliated with Maverick Records.
On September 18, Deftones played a secret show at the Spaceland Club in Los Angeles. The band played a new song entitled Melanie, which they also played at the previously announced headlining show at the Ventura Theater in Ventura, California on September 19 and also at the KUPD's End of Summer Scorcher on September 20 in Peoria, Arizona, were they co-headlined with Alice In Chains.
Also, recently Deftones have been posting a number of videos on MySpace and their blog, documenting the recording process of Eros.
Moreno's poetic lyrics—described by a TIME magazine critic as "suggesting emotions rather than announcing them —are often evocative, yet sparse enough to allow for multiple interpretations. Moreno has cited Morrissey, Weezer's Rivers Cuomo, The Cure's Robert Smith, Bad Brains' H.R., and Depeche Mode's David Gahan among his favorite singers, and, beyond an occasional similarity in vocal technique, these singers' sweeping sense of drama is often evident in Moreno's vocals.
Moreno's singing style is usually an atmospheric whisper or even slightly groan like which gives the band its individuality.
|Date of release||Title||Record label|
|October 1, 1995||Adrenaline||Maverick Records/Warner Bros. Records|
|October 28, 1997||Around the Fur||Maverick Records/Warner Bros. Records|
|June 20, 2000||White Pony||Maverick Records|
|May 20, 2003||Deftones||Maverick Records|
|October 31, 2006||Saturday Night Wrist||Maverick Records|
|Winter 2008||Eros||Warner Bros. Records|