The Deftones sit backstage awaiting their set time as a part of the Family Values tour, the band is all in good spirits. “Our drummer creates so many problems,” jokes Deftones bassist Chi Chang erupting into laughter as drummer Abe Cunningham sits down at the table carrying a plate full of food. While the comment is nothing more than a joke to provoke a reaction out of Cunningham, much like an older brother teases his sibling; it’s been no secret that the Deftones had some well publicized internal problems over the past few years. The band has battled creatively over the musical direction of the band, while frontman Chino Moreno left during the recording of the group’s new record to tour with his side-project and the group has struggled to survive in a music scene now dominated by pop-punk and screamo bands. Despite any internal issues, the group’s latest album have persevered to released one of the best album’s of 2007 in Saturday Night Wrist. Utilizing the same ambient soundscapes that characterized White Pony and fusing it with the blindsiding aggression that made Around The Fur an instant classic, the Deftones have managed to create an album that blends both the beauty and beast aspects of their sound. PureGrainAudio.com caught up with the band to discuss their latest musical masterpiece.
Give us a little insight into this record, where it was recorded and what the vibe was like in the studio… Frank: We started writing in Southern California and then we went to Connecticut with producer Bob Ezrin and stayed down there for a couple months recording in his home studio. After that we went back to Sacramento to finish up, as we had taken much longer than expected. Working with Bob was what we expected and I think we were looking for someone outside of our comfort zone, as we had worked with Terry Date for so long. I think we knew going into this that we wanted something different and he made us try things that we might not have otherwise attempted without his influence.
Chi: He can also play almost any instrument better than we can. He’s an accomplished musician in his own right.
Why did you decide to move from Connecticut back to Sacramento? Frank: It was just time, because we were only getting so much done there. We were all really comfortable at our home studio and it was Winter time there and we were just burnt out so we decided it was time to move back home.
Where did the title “Saturday Night Wrist” originate from? Chi: Chino came up with the title from some broad he was hanging out with got it after a night of drinking. We thought it was cool and it just kinda stuck and nothing better came along.
Frank: That was the title we had for a long time and that was the title we had when we were recording the songs in the studio. It just worked for it when we put it all together.
It’s been very well publicized that you had some internal problems during the recording of this record, how did you manage to come together and make this a Deftones record? Frank: I don’t know what to say really. I think all bands have internal problems, but it depends on how far you want to take them.
Chi: I think it’s just a matter of everyone being really passionate about the music, so we’re all really objective about it and sometimes people are pulling in different directions.
So how did Chino recording and touring with Team Sleep effect the writing and recording of this record? Chi: Stopped it dead in it’s tracks. [laughs]
Frank: It made it longer, but he needed that time away to get his heart back into it and when he came back he had a new fire. We had originally planned on having the record done before he left to tour with Team Sleep, but we didn’t. I think he just had to step away from it after working on this for so long.
Sonically this album sounds like the missing link between Around The Fur and White Pony, where do you see this album fitting into the Deftones catalogue? Frank: This is just where our headspace was at the time. People always want to compare a new record to your old records and if you were to compare it to any of our old material it’s probably closer to White Pony. I think it has a little bit of everything we do best and I think it accomplishes what we were trying to do in terms of bring together all of our influences into creating new songs. This is just where we’re at and we’re just trying to make a great record. I think we spent more time songwriting and arranging things this time and I’m just really proud of it. I think it’s our best work to date.
Chi: I think every time you make a record you just try and outdo yourself. You try and record better bass lines or whatever. You’re always trying to outdo yourself and be a little more creative than last time.
Frank: You’re just trying to make a good record and not repeat yourself, which leads to this being a time consuming process. We’re trying to make our ideas work and that’s not an easy thing.
What is up with the track “Pink Cell Phone” and where did the idea come about to do such an odd spoken word piece? Frank: That was just one of those tracks that Chino had been working on his laptop with and then he brought in Ann Harding and she kind of free styled in the booth over top of it.
What are your favourite tracks on the record right now? Frank: That’s hard.... Right now I really like playing “Hole in the Earth” and “Beware.” It’s hard to pick a favourite, especially so early on in the game.
Chi: Those two songs came together in our home studio, so they came together real quick like natural Deftones songs. Some songs take like a million years and then others just click and that’s what happened with those two songs in particular; we just clicked.
You guys just came off the Taste of Chaos Tour, what was that like being the elder band on the bill? Chi: We’re Old! [laughs] It was a lot of fun and I think we found our rhythm about the middle of the tour. We’re all really thrilled to be back playing because we’re predominantly a live band.
Frank: It was good though because we had been off the road for like 3 years and it was a good time.
Chi: We’re all really thrilled to be back playing because we’re predominantly a live band.
Now you’re on Family Values with Korn, which is the first tour done between both bands since their inception. Why do you think it took so long for Korn and Deftones to team up and tour together? Chi: We played with them a lot back in the beginning of our career and they did their own thing and we just wanted to carve our own niche and have our identity, so we separated ourselves from anyone or anything remotely like that style. Now we’ve accomplished that, we just came back together again and it’s like old times.
What were some of those influential albums that you listened to coming up? Frank: Depends on what age you're talking and what phase of life we were in at that point. When I was young I would listen to Van Halen and Kiss. Then as I got older I got into rap music. I was all over the map really.
Chi: Iron Maiden in high school, you couldn’t have turned me away from Maiden. Then I got into more punk and jazz and reggae after that.
When you look back at the history of music and Deftones place in it, where do you think you fit in? Chi: Hopefully we made a mark. We’re pretty indulgent as a band, but I think as long as we can go to bed 20 years from now and feel good about what we did as a band then that’s really all that’s important to us, as well as our fans. Anything outside of that is sort of portentous and we don’t really think about it. We want to be known as the great rock band of all time, does that answer your question? [laughs] We don’t care; we write music because we love playing it and if it’s good for us then we know our fans will appreciate it.
I had the chance to go to the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame a few years back and had the chance to see items like Jerry Cantrell’s boots from Alice in Chains. What item would you choose to represent the Deftones if you were ever inducted? Frank: I don’t know. I think if you asked Alice In Chains they probably wouldn’t have expected their boots to be in the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame, those things just happens. When something like happens it’s definitely an awesome thing though, but you don’t expect it or think about it.
Chi: Fuck it'd be amazing to be in the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame, but it’s not something I’ve ever thought about. As a matter of fact I’ve never even thought about it until just now. Now I’m going to be obsessing about it. [laughs]