In May, California rock band Deftones made an exhilarating return to London’s SEE Arena, Wembley. The show was originally plotted for last year but was derailed by a close brush with November’s Paris terror attacks. Having recently celebrated the 20th anniversary of their still-searing debut album Adrenaline, we went behind the scenes with frontman Chino Moreno and the band to hear how everything and nothing has changed in two boundary-pushing decades.
The line that sums up Deftones best isn’t their best-known. “Here’s my new address,” sung a breathy Chino Moreno over crashing guitars 16 years ago on White Pony‘s quietly romantic ‘Street Carp’. “664 – oh, I forget…” In the song it’s a flash of playful Morrissey-ish romance: a guy trying to play it cool in front of a “girl with gold teeth” who he can’t bear to let know he cares. 20 years on though, it feels retrospectively a statement of how the Sacramento experimentalists have never had one fixed abode. Not musically. When they first roared out of anonymity on 1995 debut Adrenaline, it was in a blaze of skateboard almost-rap-rock fury. Follow-up Around The Fur upped the aggression and the ambition. From there, their creativity exploded in a way that’s seldom seen: across later albums Deftones, Saturday Night Wrist, Koi No Yokan, new album Gore and 2003’s now-iconic White Pony, their sound has scaled 80s New Wave haze, swooning electronics, Smiths-inspired production and endless experimentation. Why would Moreno memorise a new address? Deftones have never stood still for long enough to bother.
“We’re still the same people who skateboarded together back home. We were friends before we were a band,” says the frontman when we meet in the group’s Wembley Arena dressing room. He’s getting amped for tonight’s show with the new Gold Panda album, though it’s Kaytranada’s 99.9% he’s really digging at the moment. You’d forgive him and his Deftones brothers-in-arms – guitarist Stephen Carpenter, turntablist Frank Delgado, drummer Abe Cunningham and recent addition Sergio Vega, still bedding into the band following the tragic hospitalisation then death of original bassist Chi Cheng in a car accident in 2008 – for feeling introspective this evening. Tonight’s show was originally scheduled for November 2015 but was rearranged after the Paris terror attack at the Bataclan, where Deftones were due to perform the night after 89 people were murdered by ISIS gunmen. The horror of that night, and knowledge that it could so easily have been their show that was targeted, isn’t lost on Moreno: “The whole situation was, and still is, unspeakably frightening and saddening,” he says. But Deftones are looking forward. “It’s been 20 years, which is kinda insane to process. We’re just glad to be here and to play these new songs for people.” Here’s to another 20? Moreno laughs. “Well, let’s see about that…” Watch our AAA film from the show above and check out more photos from the show below.
Directed by Kamil Dymek. Shot by Pawel Ptak and Luis Muñoz. Produced by Al Horner.