Deftones are a multi-platinum selling, Grammy award winning rock band from Sacramento, California. The band consists of Chino Moreno (vocals, guitar), Stephen Carpenter (guitar), Abe Cunningham (drums), Chi Cheng (bass) and turntablist/keyboardist/sampler player Frank Delgado.
The Deftones have often been praised as one of the more innovative and unique nu-metal bands of recent years. Moreno's poetic lyrics--described by a Time magazine critic as "furiously intelligent"--are often evocative, yet sparse enough to allow for multiple interpretations, and sometimes make startling use of wordplay. Moreno has cited Morrissey, The Cure's Robert Smith and Depeche Mode's David Gahan among his favorite singers, and beyond an occasional similarity in vocal technique, these singers' sweeping sense of drama and delicate vulnerability is often evident in Moreno's vocals.
The founding members of the band met while skateboarding, and their first rehearsals together took place in 1989-1990 while they were in high school; among their early songs was a cover of Danzig's "Twist Of Cain". Cheng joined after their original bassist left.
Carpenter was struck by a drunk driver; this tragedy became a benefit when Carpenter received a large insurance settlement, and was able to buy some expensive, high-quality equipment for the band.
Deftones enjoyed the early sponsorship of local favorites KoЯn, with whom they shared a fan community drawn largely from skateboarders.
They signed to Maverick Records, which is owned by Madonna, in 1994 and released their debut album, Adrenaline, the following year. The album sold well, and earned mostly positive reviews. "Bored" was a minor hit. Delgado was not yet a member, but he performed on several songs.
One review of '"Adrenaline" noted Cunningham's "surprisingly sophisticated drumming" and wrote that "Unlike many of their contemporaries, the Deftones are very controlled even in the midst of chaos."
About this time, Deftones stopped touring and collaborating with bands like KoЯn. This was due in part to the fact that Deftones were often lumped into the then-emerging genre of nu-metal. Though Deftones were only tangentially associated with nu metal, they feared the increasingly negative use of the term and separated themselves from other such groups, both professionally and aesthetically.
Around The Fur
Around The Fur was released in 1997. The album included a collaboration with frontman Max Cavalera of Sepultura and Soulfly on "Headup," a tribute to Max's late step-son Dana Wells. "My Own Summer" and "Be Quiet and Drive" were hits, the latter's music video earned significant play on MTV.
Delgado again appeared on several songs, and demonstrated his deft, inventive touch at a time when turntable scratching was in danger of becoming a nu metal cliche.
"Be Quiet And Drive" was performed acoustic with Incubus frontman Brandon Boyd and Adam Sandler for the "Little Nicky" soundtrack. This mellow version with a new trip-hop-esque beat by Delgado inspired vocalist Chino Moreno to expand on softer music, which eventually lead to his side project Team Sleep.
Chino commented in July of 2000 "It's one of my favorite records of all time. the time and place we were in when we made it was fluent as hell. It took two months to write it and two months to record it. You're just in this one frame of mind. No matter what you were feeling that record just captures it."
In 1999 It was certified Gold in recognition of 500,000 sales in the US. As of September 2004 it had sold 872,006 copies.
In 2000, the band's third album, White Pony, was released. It debuted at No. 3 in the US Billboard chart with sales of 177,000 copies. It is generally considered by fans to be Deftones' most mature recording.
Delgado was now a full-time band member, and he added greatly to the atmospheric album. Reviews were overwhelmingly positive, noting Moreno's increasing sophistication as a lyricist and singer, and the group's bold experimentalism: The fragile "Teenager", for example, incorporates elements of glitch and trip hop, with programming duties carried out by friend and Team Sleep bandmate, DJ Crook, aka, "Crookone". ("Teenager" was originally a Team Sleep song.) "Knife Party" features a stunning, Diamanda Galás-like vocal performance by Rodleen. A collaboration with singer Maynard James Keenan of Tool on "Passenger" is a highlight.
Of White Pony, one review wrote, "Moreno is exquisitely mind-blowing, but his fear is also evident" and that "Deftones went soft, but in an impressive way, to twist around its signature punk-thrash sound."
A limited edition print of 50,000 black and red jewel case versions of White Pony were released with a bonus 13th track: The Boy's Republic. "It's like a little gift to our hard-core fans," admitted Stephen, guitar player for the band. "It's our gift to the hard-core that are going to show up the first day."
White Pony later went on to earn multi-platinum status as well as a Grammy award for Best Metal Performance.
Their fourth album, Deftones, was released in 2003. It shifted 167,000 copies in the first week and remained in the Billboard top 100 for a total of 9 weeks supported by the first single "Minerva" which received some radio and television airplay. Later, the band shot a video for "Hexagram" with fans watching the band play the song. 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.
Much of the material on the album was written by guitarist Carpenter, which accounts for the album's more heavy metal feel. Delgado plays synth, keyboards or sampler rather than his previous turntables.
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, even if it's a bit of a shame that Chino Moreno has resorted to guttural barking for singing."
Erlewine is slightly bothered, however, noting that "Deftones feel compelled to strengthen their metallic roots" by forsaking "the very things that make them better and more interesting than the rest -- namely, their love of art rock, whether it's via the Cure or My Bloody Valentine." He closes by writing, "When they do play by the rules, they're good, but they're great when they don't follow a map."