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Deftones – Can You Hear Me Now

I was sixteen years old when a friend of mine handed me a black tape with two songs on it. He was a skater and was more into the pop punk scene he told me Deftones, were a little too heavy for him. I took it home put it on and fell in love. I listened to one side of the single over and over again. The song, 7 words, was heavy in the right way, angry and melodic. “This,” I thought “is what I want to do with my life.” That summer I was gearing up to go to my first Warped Tour, 16 and excited to finally see so many of my favorite punk bands I noticed that Deftones were to play. I hadn’t ended up buying their first record as of yet, I had pretty strict Christian parents and they didn’t approve of certain types of music, as it was I had to hide the single so my step father wouldn’t take it. It was a miracle that I was able to even go to Warped Tour and at the time it was a dream come true. The show itself was fantastic, ’96 was a pretty fantastic time for Skate and Pop Punk and every single band that played delivered. I made my friends stop and watch Deftones with me, none of them knew who they were and we were all punks, most metal or alt metal was off the table, it just wasn’t cool. As I watch them play, and man could they MOVE, I can literally feel Chino (vocalist) sing, I can feel his passion. At one point he climbs the side of the stage, standing on the gigantic speakers during 7 Words and falls into the crowd. He dropped like a stone and people caught him. “That,” I thought “is what I want to do with my life.” So I did.

Adrenaline, Deftones’ first record was released in 1995. It was an interesting time for music especially metal. Bands like TOOL had hit the scene which added a different type of depth as far as metal went. Rap/Rock had become a thing and not necessarily a good one and Deftones were on the fringe of all that. The hip hop influence was there, Abe Cunningham (drummer) was always dancing around a tight pocket, you could bob your head to every song and there was an unbridled passion in Chino’s voice and man, could he sing. He crooned his way over heavy riffs in a way nobody had and when it came time to scream he went all out. Chino was the personification of unsatisfaction and anger in a period of time where we didn’t know what was going to happen but, we knew it wasn’t going to be good. None of them were afraid to experiment and still aren’t. The current lineup consists of Chino Moreno (vocals, guitar) Frank Delgado(keys, programming) Sergio Vega(bass, vocals) and Abe Cunningham(drums).

We talked to Abe a little bit about the chance that Deftones have been given to play with Guns ‘n’ Roses for a few shows. “They offered us three shows and we were like ‘are you kidding me? Of course!’ We just got back from Europe a couple weeks ago and we had the last couple weeks off then we’re heading to Chicago on the 7th to start a month long tour in the states.” Three of those dates they will be opening for G’n’R which is a dream come true to many rock bands even one as huge and important as Deftones.

Deftones have been a heavily touring band for many years now, all the guys are dedicated and passionate about writing, recording and touring. They have always been a band that seemed to spit in the face of any adversity, to keep trudging ahead no matter what. They even have their own beer that they have done in collaboration with a brewery out of San Diego. We talked to Abe about the challenge of being away from home, about the struggle of being on the road and mostly what we got back was gratitude. He is an individual who counts his blessings, something refreshing in an ego driven scene.

“Everything about this lifestyle is absolutely amazing. A lot of sacrifice in order to do, I’m not complaining at all. This has been a dream of mine ever since I was a kid. Things come and go, marriages you know, so it’s all just trying to keep things cool. We been at it for quite some time now and have gone through so much of your stereotypical and clichéd rock and roll things. Drugs, you know, all that stuff, we’ve done that. To be on the other side is pretty damn cool, I wouldn’t change anything. We’ve had some amazing times. It’s all part of the struggle but, it’s pretty cool to have gone through that crap and just really enjoy our friendships and doing what we do.”

Their sound has gone from heavy and strait forward to experimental and they keep pushing the line, keep making music that isn’t only good but, relevant. I literally like every single record they’ve released although I’ll admit Around the Fur is still my favorite to this day. My favorite breakup record, my favorite escape record, one of my top five all time favorite albums. It is utterly flawless, perfect. It something to be able to grow up with a band, to stop being a child and still find meaning in music that you used to listen to. To be able to listen to Deftones now as a passable adult and not only understand but, identify with the music is really the best gift that rock and roll can give someone. Although I’ll be the first to admit, they’ll always be that young kid in me, mouth wide as Chino dead weight drops into crowd, dreaming of a time when I would be able to do the same thing. Deftones planted that seed of a dream in me and in countless others and that is a legacy that nobody could ever change. Catch them on tour now, you will not be disappointed.

By Timothy Straw

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