Deftones' Frank Delgado on Changing Perceptions and Chi's Current Health
A scant seven months after serving as the meat in an Alice In Chains/Mastodon sandwich at Scottrade Center, the Deftones will be headlining a very sold-out show at the Pageant with the Dillinger Escape Plan and Funeral Party. We caught up with Deftones turntablist Frank Delgado via phone from Vancouver, BC.
Ryan Wasoba: You're in Vancouver right now. Business or pleasure?
Frank Delgado: I'm on tour. But I do like this town and I would hang out here just for fun. I don't get much time to do any traveling that isn't touring, but I try to when I can.
I know the band has been pretty busy since you released Diamond Eyes. It seems like the album followed a period of inactivity. Was there any sort of hiatus in there?
No, not at all actually. I think it may seem that way because we didn't tour as much. We've been gone almost a year on this record already and we didn't even do that on that last record. After Saturday Night Wrist, we toured and took a month off and then we started recording again. I think the previous two other records were very time consuming. By the time we got done with this record, it took over two years. And then [Deftones bassist] Chi got in a car accident, and we started over. We had the new record finished in two months, which is extremely quick for us.
When you started over, you recruited Sergio Vega from Quicksand to fill in for Chi on bass. Was Quicksand a band you had previously known?
Yeah, we had met the Quicksand guys in the '90s on Warped Tour and became friends. And Chi actually had a staph infection on his foot on a tour that was us opening for Pantera and Black Sabbath, so Sergio filled in for the tour and we became closer after that experience. Our main concern now is for Chi's health. We asked Sergio if he'd be interested in jamming with us, and we wrote "Royal" that night, which is the second song on the record. The following Monday we were in LA in a studio just to see what would happen.
It would be tough to jump into a situation like that, but since Sergio had played with you on tour with Pantera and Sabbath, you knew he could handle high pressure situations.
I wouldn't say recording was a high pressure situation for us, it was just more of a coping thing. I didn't want to stop the band, personally. We just kind of got together and took it from there. We didn't make a plan. There was no plan to stop working on the other stuff. We didn't plan to shelve it. I think that's how we work in general. We're pretty good at coping with situations, throwing our hands up and saying "that's that."
What is Chi's current health status?
I wouldn't say it's much different but they've moved him to the East Coast to be closer to his physician, which is family run and they're pretty up to date there. You can also make donations on the site oneloveforchi.com.
One thing I find interesting about Deftones is how the perception of the band has changed over the years. Initially, you were marketed with the nu-metal bands and it seems like you've almost been adopted by the modern hardcore/metal scene.
Well, we've never tried to ride on the train with anyone or any sort of wave or anything. Nu-metal, that was more of a press thing, Press kind of did that to us. All we did was make records that tried to debunk that. I think White Pony was us officially debunking that.
Around White Pony, you started using keyboards more often than turntables. Was that part of the debunking process?
When I met with these guys, I didn't play an instrument or own an instrument so I just played with what I had. I didn't want to be the guy with the turntables in the band, but they liked what I brought to the table. And right away I tried to find different ways of using it, so I wasn't just a typical DJ in a rock band. Over time, technology has gotten better and I've gotten better at my craft. Music is always a learning experience, you're always getting better at what you do. Now, I use soft synths and keyboards and samples. If we want to use sequencers, we can and we have. If we want to use drum machines, we can and we have. I'll try anything, which is pretty indicitive of the band.
The Deftones' touring history is very diverse. Do you consider that part of the same ideology of the band trying anything?
We're not a band that thinks we can only live in one little box. I think maybe the press has finally realized it, but our contemporaries and friends have always noticed it. The press helps, that's why I'm talking to you right now. But we've created a fanbase from touring and word of mouth, and it hapened at the brink of the internet. There are bands people assume we would tour with and bands people think we wouldn't, and we're open to anything.
Is Dillinger Escape Plan a band you think people would expect you to tour with or not?
I don't know. I think maybe our fans would expect that. Maybe the Dillinger fans wouldn't. But we're friends with the bands we play with, and I think that's something people don't really realize. I think this is a more dynamic tour, with Funeral Party and Dillinger and us. Maybe the Alice In Chains, Deftones, Mastodon thing was a little easier to swallow, But when we headline, we like to put together a dynamic bill. Nobody wants to see the same thing three or four times in a night. We were just doing shows in South America with Cypress Hill. We're always willing to take chances.