Big Day Out: Deftones

By Scott Kara

Who: Deftones

Where and when: Big Day Out, Orange Stage, tomorrow, 2.40pm-3.30pm

Essential albums: Around the Fur (1997); White Pony (2000); Diamond Eyes (2010)

The Deftones say they have a renewed focus. Photo / Supplied
The Deftones say they have a renewed focus. Photo / Supplied

When Chino Moreno's bandmate Chi Cheng had a near-fatal car crash in 2008 it forced the Deftones' singer to take a long, hard look at himself.

He has battled alcohol and drug addiction throughout his career but his mate's accident - he's still recovering by the way - gave him "a new appreciation for life".

"When something like that happens you sit back and reflect and go, 'wow, any of this can go away at any moment'. So it really made us appreciate what we have [as a band]."

He says over the last 10 years the Californian metal act, who play a brand of beautifully heavy, all-consuming music, had become apathetic about their career. They had got to the stage where, thanks to albums like 1997's Around the Fur and 2000's excellent White Pony, they could "work when we wanted to work".

"Focus was something I was lacking for a long time, both with the music we make, my lifestyle in general, and my health, so since Chi's accident I feel personally my attitude has taken a 180 [degree turn].

I feel like I've prospered from that and I'm enjoying what we do even more. Physically and mentally I'm more energetic for the shows."

This new-found focus also helped the band come up with sixth album Diamond Eyes, which is their best since White Pony. There is an uplifting and optimistic tone to the album yet it still retains that powerful, intense, almost suffocatingly heavy mood.

"With this batch of songs we really wanted to capture lightning in a bottle, and after what happened with Chi we got thrown into a whirlwind and emotionally everybody was going through it together," he says.

The most distinct feature of the Deftones' sound is Moreno's vocal style, that can go from a stoned whisper to a screaming shriek. He struggles to explain how he came up with it, but puts it down to chance and being into a wide range of music when he was growing up, from new wave and pop through to the brutality of metal.

"I always wanted to sing but I never knew how to, so I came up with my own thing I guess," he says. "And the more aggressive style comes from me just trying to be heard over the music [the band were playing]. So it was all learned by default and then it got to be what it is now where there are those dynamics."

And he's not just talking about vocal dynamic, but also the extremes within Deftones' music. "I honestly believe those waves of atmospheric sounds along with the really aggressive side makes our music stand out a little more from everything else out there. It makes us a little bit more heavy, and a little bit more beautiful."

- NZ Herald

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