Despite Setbacks, The Deftones Diamond Eyes Shines

Not too long after the Deftones finish their current tour, the five-piece will take a month-long break, then get right back to work on another album.

"The plan is to do a little writing and see what happens," says Frank Delgado, the man behind the band's turntables, sampler and keyboards, speaking from a tour stop in Boston.

That makes sense. The band has had only one real option since 2008—to keep pressing the accelerator. They almost lost their bassist (and founding member) Chi Cheng to a car accident that year; the event rocked the band so hard that they entirely scrapped Eros, the album they were working on at the time. Still, they played on. And, soon enough, they'd penned another album entirely.

The resulting album was Diamond Eyes, a record the band feels is a representation of who they are in the wake of Cheng's accident. There wasn't necessarily anything wrong with Eros, which could still be released if properly finished somewhere down the line, but Diamond Eyes boasted more of a gut punch and flair. Plus, it forced the band to put one foot in front of the other and move forward.

Using Pro Tools merely as a songwriting aide instead of a Band-Aid for a lack of creativity in the studio, the band created songs that came out of their hands and hearts. Much like the rest of the band's catalog, it maintains the long-reaching appeal of the Deftones' heavy melancholy. In total, 11 songs made the cut and the album came out in May 2010—a pretty fast turnaround for a band that likes to take its time.

"We didn't hit the studio until we could play the record from beginning to end," Delgado says. "We were a little more prepared, a little more on top of it, and that was it."

Much of the preparedness from which the album benefited came because of who the Deftones chose to take Cheng's spot on bass.

Sergio Vega, formerly of Quicksand, had stepped in for Cheng before when a foot injury prevented him from touring. Even by that point, though, he was a longtime friend. He had known the band since its first time on the Warped Tour in 1995 and even toured with the Deftones when Quicksand did a brief reunion in the late '90s.

Talk to former members of Quicksand, and they'll tell you Vega is an amiable bandmate. Now, the same can be said by Deftones vocalist Chino Moreno, guitarist Stephen Carpenter, drummer Abe Cunningham and Delgado. It's not hard to see why the Deftones knew they wanted him involved from the start: Watch the guy play or do an interview, and there's almost always a smile on his face.

"It wasn't like there was a raffle for someone or an audition," Delgado says. "He's our same age and very easy to get along with, so that had a lot to do with how fast the record came together."

KEEP THE DALLAS OBSERVER FREE... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Eric Grubbs is a Dallas-based writer who has published two books, Post: A Look at the Influence of Post-Hardcore 1985-2007 and When We Were the Kids. His writing has been featured in Punk Planet, Popdose, Fort Worth Weekly, The Dentonite and LA Weekly. He supports Manchester City and will never root for Manchester United.
Contact: Eric Grubbs