LOS ANGELES (Billboard) - Despite a car accident in November 2008 that left bassist Chi Cheng with a debilitating brain injury, the Deftones have returned with a new album.
The set moves away from the experimental nature of the California rock band's past three studio efforts and revisits the raw heaviness of its mid-'90s releases. The decision to carry on was difficult, but Deftones singer Chino Moreno says the tragedy has brought the group closer together.
"When something like this happens it makes you re-evaluate your whole situation," Moreno says. "It got everybody focused and in a real creative spot."
Recorded in six months with producer Nick Raskulinecz (Foo Fighters, Rush) and new bassist Sergio Vega, the Deftones' sixth studio album, "Diamond Eyes," will be released May 4 on Reprise/Warner Bros. Records.
1."DIAMOND EYES" HAS THE SAME AGGRESSIVE VIBE AS THE BAND'S 1997 SECOND ALBUM, "AROUND THE FUR." DID YOU TAKE A SIMILAR APPROACH WITH THE NEW RELEASE?
The comparison to "Around the Fur" is because of the immediacy. The way that record was written was very immediate. We were together in a rehearsal space playing these ideas out hundreds of times, crafting them right, and then going into the studio to track them. From that point on, with (2000's) "White Pony" and the next couple records after that, we pieced stuff together more in the studio, which isn't a bad thing. But there's something about going in with a cohesive piece of work that you're confident in performing already and then recording it. ("Diamond Eyes") has that cohesive vibe, because it was written all together and wasn't pieced together.
2. THE BAND RECRUITED BASSIST SERGIO VEGA FOR "DIAMOND EYES" FOLLOWING CHENG'S CAR ACCIDENT. HAS BRINGING IN A NEW BANDMATE CHANGED YOUR SOUND?
(Vega) definitely came and brought an inspiration. He wrote everything with us from day one on this record. Just having new blood in there is inspiring, because it brings in a different opinion and voice. Sonically, it's hard to say. (Cheng and Vega) are different people; they play bass differently. But it sounds right. It still sounds like the Deftones, and that's what we wanted to maintain.
He's doing a little better and looks healthier. He has a brain injury, and with that you don't really know until he fully wakes up. Right now he's in a semiconscious state. So he wakes up and he sleeps, but he hasn't communicated yet. His eyes are open and he's looking at you. For me, looking into his eyes and standing there talking to him, I feel like he's in there and recovering. He's got to get his motor skills back and be able to communicate. He's got really good doctors working with him right now, trying some experimental therapy to get him to react. It seems to be working, so we're very hopeful that's the case.
4. PRIOR TO CHENG'S ACCIDENT, THE DEFTONES RECORDED THE AS-YET-UNRELEASED FULL-LENGTH ALBUM "EROS." WHY DID YOU SHELVE IT, AND DO YOU PLAN TO EVENTUALLY RELEASE IT?
When his accident happened, we stood away from the project in general. We weren't really thinking about what our future was going to be with the band. It was put on hold. But when we did resume . . . we called Sergio and he was down to play with us. We just wanted to play together as a band. It didn't seem like we should sit there and go over all the stuff we wrote with Chi and show it to Sergio and have him learn it. We were just turning the page and starting from scratch. In a couple months, we had strong foundations for a record. The album that we did with Chi is very special to us for obvious reasons. It's the last thing he's played on until this point. So we hold it very close to us, and we'll release it one day.
5. YOUR LAST STUDIO ALBUM, 2006'S "SATURDAY NIGHT WRIST," WAS RELEASED ON MAVERICK, WHICH CLOSED. NOW YOU'RE ON REPRISE/WARNER BROS. RECORDS. HAS YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH WARNER MUSIC GROUP CHANGED SINCE THE SHIFT?
I definitely feel it's a little stronger this time. There was no Maverick on that last record, but it might have had Maverick's logo on it. But Maverick at that time pretty much wasn't a label anymore. So we had gotten sucked up by Warner Bros. And at that time, I think we got lost in the shuffle a little bit on that one. With ("Diamond Eyes"), it seems like there's a lot more focus on the project.
6. HAS THE BAND CONSIDERED RELEASING FUTURE ALBUMS WITHOUT A LABEL?
Obviously, that would be something great for us -- for a lot of different reasons. But at this time we're still under contract. We don't make records too often. So it's going to take us a long time to fulfill our contract with them over the last 15 years or whatever since we started putting out records. We still have a couple more records to go that are due. When that's up, obviously we'd love to have more control over our releases.