Silent Uproar: You guys have obviously been at this a long time. How do you stay excited about the band and making new music?
Abe: That’s a good question. I don’t think we’ve done everything we can do yet. I’m always driven to keep going and I’m kind of the guy in the band that tries to keep everyone together through the worst of times. I mean the last five years have been rather rocky, if you will. I’m always excited to just go see places, and go back to places we’ve been 20, 30 times - the same city or whatever - and play. It’s been great. It’s always gotten a little bit better each time and so that’s the beauty of what we do.
SU: Do you have other projects that you’re involved with that keep some variety in your musical output?
Abe: There are friends that I jam with and stuff in the time off, but in the past couple of years I’ve been mainly focusing on trying to hold everything together. It’s been kind of questionable for a while, but it appears to be all good again.
But yeah, I’m always open to jamming and we’d love to do anything with just about anyone, so I’m sure something will come up in the future. Right now I’m just trying to just dedicate it all to this.
SU: When you were compiling songs for the new B-sides & Rarities disc, how did you go about choosing what songs to cover?
Abe: Well I’ve been reading feedback from people emailing or whatever and people are like – “Why didn’t you put this? Why didn’t you put that?” Mainly it was about trying to get the flow of the record correct and there was so much stuff – so much that we left off. A lot of people wanted the really, really old stuff that was on cassette, you know? I mean if we could put out another one, I’m sure we would use old song too. But it just kind of is what it is because we mainly focused on the flow and it was really difficult to do. We were battling over shit that was what I wanted to put on there that somebody else didn’t and vice versa.
SU: Do you see the release as a way to tide the fans over until a new record? Or is this something you’ve wanted to do for a while?
Abe: Yeah. I mean it was something that people had asked for, for quite a while. I think it started out when we first started touring because on our first record we didn’t have enough songs. Every band plays covers and it’s just for fun, but we didn’t have enough songs to play a whole set, to make people feel like they got their money’s worth. So we always added a few songs just to lengthen our set. Basically we got in the habit of at the end of each recording session, always trying to do a song or two and then actually recording another version of it down.
So that was kind of the thing and now we have a massive little collection of songs we recorded over the years. There’s tons more if we want it, we always sort of stick in new ones. Not to try to be out there or anything, but just do a song that we wouldn’t normally do perhaps, and people probably wouldn’t think we would do.
SU: People have said that you’ve managed to avoid the whole new metal label, due to your willingness to explore new sounds, and combine other elements into the music. Do you feel like that’s accurate?
Abe: I’m glad we did. I love metal, but the term “new metal” always irked me. It just became this thing, but I guess that’s human nature - to categorize something. But that term just got lumped in with so much – it was the new thing. Like grunge was. You know? There were bands in the grunge era that had a band, and were around forever. Some were quality, quality, quality and put out good, good stuff and then of course once it became a term that was out of everybody’s mouth, and Rolling Stone, and on every magazine cover, the trickle down theory applies. You start getting all those labels trying to sign the next thing, but it’s just a shittier version of the one before, which is a shittier version of the real thing. So I’m glad we kicked it, we always hoped to transcend a genre.
So that whole thing - I’m so glad – I guess it’s dead. Right? I heard it’s dead. (laughs)
We always just try to do our own thing. When that shit started popping, we made a conscious decision to go to the left…and then to the left and left. It was a path that we pretty much carved in granite with nothing but our fingers. It’s not like we’re trying to be different just to be different or anything. That’s pretty much when White Pony came about, that was our stance on everything at the time. Everything that was popping at the time got way, way, way big but we did our own thing - we always have.
SU: I think that’s why you have remained so relevant all this time. If you look at bands that you kind of came through with – like Korn - they’re still putting out records but they still sound the same as they always have and it doesn’t really work anymore. You guys keeping pushing things forward.
Abe: Yeah. You know it’s the truth. I mean there’s nothing wrong with sounding like you if your band has a sound. When people are accusing you of sounding like yourself, that’s too bad - but I know what you’re saying. I mean you know they were a great band and they probably still are a good band, but it was stuffed down your throat so much all the time, and that’s just the route they chose. It set ‘em up very nicely for the future I’m sure, but there’s something more. We’re still doing it after 16 years or so as friends and maybe 11 or 12 as a band together and that’s just a good sign to the world. We’re still doing it and we’re able to make a living. We’re able to still be fucking friends, brothers and I guess that’s the main thing.
SU: Right, and like I said, you just keep progressing forward so that’s what keeps people interested in the band.
Abe: Yeah, so that gets back to your first question. You know what? I don’t think we ever actually had any real plan. We never had a plan; obviously, we just were fucking four friends and then five, later on with Frank, that learned to play. We were buddies and I played drums already but everyone else was self-taught and now it’s been 15 years. Everything we’ve learned, we’ve learned together., but we never had any initial blueprint - okay, by this year we’ve got to be this – it was nothing like that at all and I think some people do it like that. Still though, I can’t knock anyone else’s motivation. We just do what we do.
SU: Well the press has obviously made a big issue out of the conflict between Chino and Stephen, and that they were basically pulling the band in two different directions. Do you think the press has taken that conflict and blown it out of proportion or is that a big part of some of the past records?
Abe: I guess it is a big – I’ll tell you one thing, it fucking sucks. It really, really does suck, but it is what it is and there’s way more love than there is hatred between those two, and between all of us. Of course the press is gonna run with things though.
I mean one issue was that whole Metallica thing - and granted, that was one person’s opinion. I think it was misconstrued obviously and then it was put on the cover, which was kind of funny, because you’d think a new issue of the magazine would come out. I swear to God that issue was out for like a year. It was like – come on, man! You know you have to watch yourself. I mean there’s nothing like reading a candid interview, and it should be honest, but I mean shit, maybe you catch someone on a bad day or something?
You hope that when you do an interview you’re speaking one-on-one with the person. I mean obviously you’ll quote it or jot it down whatever, but it’s like you try to be honest. You can usually feel if someone’s asking questions that are like going in that direction. But of course you want to be able to talk, and talk openly. And that’s what it should be about.
SU: When you’re working on new songs is there one person that sets the direction for each record based on their influences?
Abe: Well I mean that’s kind of going back to your question before. Yeah, Stefan’s the metal guy and always has been, but its metal that was a huge foundation of our band. Then Chino was the girl, you know into Depeche Mode stuff. I mean that’s all shit that’s been put out to the press. We all loved Depeche Mode and I loved The Cure, but the foundation of our band was definitely of a more metal foundation or metal keystone, if you will.
That’s one thing about our band too - it was never set. The premise was just to go out and rock and have fun and even our name, as corny as it is to this day, Deftones, was about that. We came from the eighties, I mean it was ’88, ’89 when we got together, and that was a big word….before Rick Rubin buried it. It’s just funny, we wanted to change the name but whatever, a name is a name and hopefully the music will carry the name.
So yeah, the conflict in our band is – well, we’re a fucked up band - but we love each other and we laugh. It’s a bit heated right now because we’re trying to complete the new record and it weighs on one person, but when we’re really smiling and having a good time, that wipes al the bad stuff away. Kind of crazy, but it’s all good.
SU: The reason I even bring it up is because I feel like that’s part of what made you guys keep progressing forward. The fact that you do have multiple voices in the band that are coming at it from different directions and ideas for the sound - that kind of conflict in direction keeps the music interesting because you never settle into a set formula.
Abe: Yeah, and I totally agree with you. As hard as it’s been, because I’m knee deep and buried in it inside my pen, it’s part of this band. We may need to patch up some of these issues and we have these differences of opinion, but hey, that’s life. And I do agree, it has definitely led to us broadening our sound.
SU: Is most of the stuff you worked on with Bob Ezrin going to make it onto the album?
Abe: Yeah. The music turned out really, really cool and that was a really great experience man. We went to like all these different locations, we started up here and then we went down to Malibu, then we went back to Connecticut with him, and we ended up back at our place in Sacramento. So it’s been recorded at so many different locations and we’ve used some tracks from all these different spots. It’s just like a quilt, a meshwork of things.
It turned out really, really cool, and I don’t think we’re done with the music. As far as the label’s concerned, I think they think the record is done except for the vocals, which are almost done. But some of the last stuff we were writing was the best that I think we’ve written in a long time, at least out of this whole process for this record. So I think we still want to write another song or two. It’s deadly crunch time, though. It needs to get completed. I think we have a plethora of songs for a change; we haven’t had that many songs since our first record, which is actually a really nice thing. The ones we cut for now are actually really good too though, so it’s been like that for a while in Deftones Land. (Laughs)
SU: One of the quotes I’ve heard about some of the new music is that it’s more “Rush than Tool”. Does that mean that it’s more technical than past albums?
Abe: Who the hell said that?
SU: I don’t know. I don’t remember who it was. It was somebody in the band.
Abe: Sounds like a terrible mistake. (Laughs)
In fact, I love Tool., they’re an awesome, awesome band. But if I had to choose, I would rather be more like Rush. You know what I mean? And that’s not a diss to Tool at all.
But I don’t know. Whoever said that must be tripping. I mean there’s some really cool stuff on here, but it’s just not – it’s not too out there. There are definitely some things to make you think – you know just as far as time changes, and different shit. We’re just working with the tools that we have and we know and it’s pretty much us being self-taught. So maybe we’re limiting ourselves, but maybe it’s alright too.
SU: Is there any idea of when it might come out?
Abe: Whoo. Wow. That’s a whole other chapter right there. It was supposed to come out this year, but the label didn’t even schedule it for release at all. It turned out to be a good thing though because it wouldn’t have been ready. It’s definitely the amoeba, man, it’s changed its shape so many times and it’s been for the better. So yeah, I mean when? I don’t know, probably sometime in the early part of next year, 2006. Don’t mark my words though. It fucking better be out by then, or I’m gonna fucking –lose it. (Laughter) It will be out by then. Know that. Early, early, early 2006.
SU: You’re getting ready to head out with the Taste of Chaos Tour, right?
Abe: Yeah man, it’s a trip. We actually have an impending date of departure and I think it starts the 15th of February, the day after Valentine’s Day. Then it goes up to tax day, April 15th - so it’s like two months. That’ll be pretty cool.
SU: What made you choose to do a package tour like this, instead of just kind of heading out on your own again?
Abe: Well I think it will be cool. I didn’t even know about this and I guess it’s the second year of the tour. Apparently the tour did well last year and is put on by Kevin Lyman, the guy who does the Warped Tour. We did the first five or so years of the Warped Tour, from the very first year on so we’ve known him for a while. It’ll be cool. I mean the whole thing is good for us too. There are a lot of bands on there that are a bit younger and we were always the young band before. We’re not fucking ancient by any means now, but there are a lot of young pups sniffing at our heels and stuff. It’s just a way for us to get back out and not have too much pressure, because it is a package thing.
I don’t care where we play. We come from clubs and have been lucky enough to play everything from like a eighties B club to fucking Rio with 250,000 people. The clubs are the best and that’s where we come from, but I think this tour is in arenas. So package tours can be fun too and I intend to enjoy myself to the extent of the thing.
SU: Do you think you’ll be previewing any of the new material out on the tour?
Abe: Yeah, I mean I hope so. It used to always be an issue about material leaking and it was like that for years around White Pony. We did Ozzfest in like ’99 before that record came out and we had the whole backdrop too - of the star on the horse - and that worked out well because it is a kind of a tease. At that point the record wasn’t even written yet, we just had a concept. We had a couple of songs that actually made it on the record and that was pretty much the height of when leaking was really, really popping off.
That’s not really an issue to us anymore so I think we’ll definitely play some new music. It’s more for the labels to worry about now. You can protect it all you want until you’re done recording and then once you manufacture it, it’s out of your hands. The second it’s out, it’s out. When it’s out, it’s out all over the internet so what the fuck are you gonna do? You know?
SU: Playing on this package tour, you are gonna be playing with a lot of younger bands, like you said. Do you feel that there are still things the band can learn, and influences that you can pick up from other bands? Or are you pretty set in your ways?
Abe: Oh of course. I mean that’s another point. I’m glad you brought it up. I love music and I love to go watch bands because I think there’s always much to learn. We’ve been very, very fortunate to learn from the best. We’ve been able to tour with a lot of people that were on my wish list of bands to tour with. Also, just the people - we met these people and I was fucking in awe. You know? Like a kid, a fan, and all that wrapped in one. But everyone was so cool.
So the learning is always happening, you can’t ever close it off. There’s always something to be learned and fun to be had. That’s the main thing. I’ve heard a teeny bit from some of these bands, but I’m not really familiar with most of them, except for just hearing the names. So, it’ll be good.
SU: The Deftones have always had a pretty simple but strong logo, packaging, brand, etc. Who does the art direction for all of that?
Abe: I think that’s our whole thing – it is more low key, we don’t try and cram it down people’s throats. We just put it out there and…we’re lucky guys. The artwork comes from everybody, but like last record was all Chino because he just happened to pop out all these pictures. The next thing we know the record was done, and the album art was done. We have a person we work with a lot of times. Generally we give him a direction to go in and then he’ll come back a week later, or whatever, with several options and we’ll take it from there. The fact that we have collaboration is nice because we can’t just drop this off with somebody who’s not up in the mix.
This time around, Chino and I have been talking about that, but everyone’s been kind of doing their own thing. I think we all have to rejoin forces pretty soon here, to get on that art thing for the record coming out.
SU: Do you think that album art and packaging is becoming more or less important, now that we have iTunes, and MP3s?
Abe: Well that’s a very, very good question. I love to go buy records and the first thing I do is rip it open to see it. I always go right for the liner notes, seeing where it was recorded and everything. It’s cool now with iTunes because you can get the track, listen to it and now you can actually download the artwork. To me, that’s such a major part of the record - it’s not just the music, it’s the whole presentation, the whole package.
I think so many people aren’t even aware of what a whole album is these days; it’s all on a single basis. So I mean it’s pretty cool whatever it’s doing for the industry. It’s great those people that are into just singles or whatever, but we’ve always tried to put out a whole record - that is to say a big record. In this day and age of singles, it’s important.
SU: If look at the band’s career on a timeline, would you say that you’re just getting started, somewhere in the middle, or towards the end?
Abe: I’d say we’re in between the middle and just getting started. I mean that’s the way I feel. There are probably some people that think we’re at our end and hopefully they’ll change their mind one day. Not that we’re out to take over the world or anything, but I really feel that we’ve got a lot more to do. I think we’ll be alright.