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The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world
Frank Delgado Deftones - Interview
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Deftones have been one of those bands in the rock and metal scene that have made a tremendous impact among their peers and their fans, "White Pony" still regarded as one of the best albums in their career to date. The band experienced a huge loss in 2013 when their bass player Chi Cheng died from a car accident that left him in a coma for 4 years but somehow the band managed to deal with his death and move on. This year sees the band put out their 8th album with "Gore", set for release on April 8th, we talk to keyboard player Frank Delgado about the new songs, their impact on other bands and the longevity of the band's success.



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Andrew: So how's your year been so far?

Frank: It's been good! We managed to take a little break right before the holidays and then we just started gearing up recently, we just got done with a Texas run which was a lot of fun and we're looking forward to a lot of touring coming up so it's looking good.

Andrew: It's unfortunate that Soundwave got cancelled this year as you guys were originally billed on that earlier this year.

Frank: Yeah that sucks but it's just one of those things that happens. Hopefully something will come up and make up for that.

Andrew: Yeah obviously you would be disappointed in the festival being cancelled. When was the last time you were in Australia?

Frank: Oh man, you know what? I don't remember. I think it may have been our own headlining run, I want to say. I don't know, it's all a blur [laughs].

Andrew: [laughs] Well that's alright! Obviously we are here to talk about the new album "Gore" that's coming out this week, the critics have probably heard the album by now so what kind of feedback have you been getting so far?

Frank: Really good feedback which is exciting! Everyone seems to be really loving it, I've seen a couple of little reviews and stuff and they're giving good reviews so that's always a good thing. When you work on something for some time, you want it to be well received. But not only that, we've done a little bit of touring recently and playing a couple of new songs which is feeling good and sounding good so that's also something to look forward to by playing a lot more of the songs as we go so I cannot complain.

Andrew: What exactly did you want to achieve with this album when you first started to write and record it?

Frank: As a band you want to make as good a record as possible and you want it to kind of be fluid. It's not always easy making a record and this one was no different but we've always a had a goal to make a record that we're all proud of and that we would be proud of maybe 10 years from now. We've never really chased what's current or a style or a scene, we're literally selfish in a way just making a record that we all dig and appreciate amongst ourselves and hopefully the people who are into our band can get along with it too so it seems to be working, we're excited.

Andrew: How are the dynamics in the band with the writing process? Does everyone have a specific role as far as coming up with ideas for songs?

Frank: Not really. We get together and we bullshit a lot and then we start jamming and it can come from anywhere whether it's a beat or a bass line or a synth or a guitar lick or guitar riff. Really there is no formula honestly, it's all about the vibe and we are just kinda looking or waiting for someone to do something that piques everyone's interest and then we all kind of get involved by trying to make it better and longer and building off of it. Honestly if we have been working on something that's just not happening or we're not feeling it, we'll just forget about it and just move on to another idea and that's kind of how we've always done it. I guess it's kind of like editing along the way you could say, I guess it's why we've never really had 30 or 40 songs and then pick the best 12. We usually record what we get, maybe there's a couple left over from the record but we've never been that type of band to have this plethora of extra music.

Andrew: As far as yourself is concerned, what inspires you? How do you come up with ideas? Is it simply tinkering around with your instrument and jamming it all out or are there other ways of going about doing it?

Frank: Oh yeah we all have our different influences however that works in someone's brains, see how they flow out what they do. Honestly that's just what it is, for me I vibe off the other guys in my band. I'm not listening to music to try and find ideas or try to find something, usually I try not to listen to anything while we're writing and just kind of vibe off each other. We all listen to a lot of different and a lot of the same [music], we all have our own little interests and I think we all wear that on our sleeves in a sense but when it comes time to throw ideas out there, I think we all use our influences to bring about what we do but at the same time we're not just trying to emulate or copy something. So I don't know, it's hard to explain but literally it's just a matter of the vibe and the feeling at the time and if we're getting along then maybe it's going to be something a little more smooth and if there's arguing then it's going to be more aggro but it's all about the headspace we're in at the time.

Andrew: So the songs come out quite organically then, more naturally as opposed to forcing them like a puzzle.

Frank: Yeah I mean we've never been the type of band where like, 'OK now we need to write a heavy song', or 'Now we need to build a radio song', or 'Now we got this many songs, we need to do this'. We've never done that, it is what it is and for the most part we're able to look back at the bulk of what we've accomplished and be like, 'Oh my god, this is a record here. It's kind of cohesive and it all makes sense because we've spent this time together'. There have been times where we've kind of Frankensteined an idea together but it's a lot better when it's kind of an organic fluid thing.

Andrew: One of the interesting things on this album is that you have Jerry Cantrell on the song "Phantom Bride", how did that whole thing come about?

Frank: Kinda similar, kinda organically which is how all the guests that we've had on records, it's never premeditated. I think when we were recording that song, there was an area on a part of the song that we thought would be perfect for someone to come in to do something in and I figured who it was, honestly but someone brought up Jerry and we're like, 'Yeah let's call him'. And Jerry along with the rest of the Alice [In Chains] guys are really good friends and yeah, he was into it. It just happened really fast and that's usually the best when it happens kind of quick and organically like that, we never thought that was going to happen and it just ended up happening one day and I think that's the best way to make records.

Andrew: Yeah absolutely. Just out of curiosity, the couple of songs that you were playing live, that wasn't one of them was it?

Frank: No.

Andrew: Which 2 songs were you playing live?

Frank: We've only played "Prayers/Triangles" and "Doomed User".

Andrew: Oh OK so the singles that you've out out then. When you go out on tour and come up with a setlist, do you tend to focus more on the newer material or do you balance it out?

Frank: We try and fit a little bit of everything, it's hard having 8 records deep but we've always tried to create a really dynamic set. Some songs are staples, some songs work better next to other songs but we kind of don't want to alienate a record but at the same time, you're trying to promote something new. But I think we're pretty good at touching a little bit of everything.

Andrew: I'm just curious, the new album title "Gore", for some reason or maybe for obvious reasons, it kind of reminds me of a nod to horror or something like that. What's the idea behind the album title and how does it represent the new songs?

Frank: I think that's what the word is supposed to do, I think most people hear that word and think something but when you put it up against a pretty picture of birds which is what the album cover is, there's that dynamic of ugly and pretty and that's something we've always flirted with. I don't think a record title has ever been - and especially for us - when you hear a record title, it's supposed to represent what's inside that record. I think sometimes, honestly it's just a matter of it looks cool or sounds cool. I mean "White Pony", what does that tell you about how our record sounds, what does "Around The Fur" tell you what the record sounds like. Although "Around The Fur" is the same type of idea of, fur is pretty on one side and around the fur is the ugly side, the skin and this is no different. This is flirting with the same idea of ugly/pretty, loud/quiet, hard/soft and those are the dynamics of the Deftones and that title "Gore" is kind of basically what it is. It sounds one way but I think when you juxtapose it with something else, that's kind of what we're good at.

Andrew: OK cool. Now there's a number of artists that I've talked to over the years who credit Deftones as being a huge influence on them, when you hear that kind of stuff and the influence that you have had on other bands, how does it make the band feel and how does it make you personally feel?

Frank: Yeah it feels good! You're in this business and you take chances hopefully for the better, just like when we took chances with the "white Pony" record and being ourselves and that works for us and it's always good. It shows that you're doing something right and other people appreciate it. It would be stupid to say that, yeah we don't care or whatever, we learned from our mistakes and try and get better at what we do and I think if we get to turn anyone onto our music or our influences, that's a plus. So it's always something that we're happy to hear.

Andrew: And funny you mention "White Pony" as that's the album that a lot of people credit as being an influence on them. It's amazing to me that album was 16 years ago, I mean time sure does fly by doesn't it?

Frank: Oh yeah! But it feels good that we're still making records that we're proud of and still good to be making what people love and appreciate so it feels good.

Andrew: What is the motivation or the inspiration to keep going? What keeps the band going at this stage of your career?

Frank: We're having fun! We're still having fun and we enjoy each other's company and making music together, I think once the fun stops, there's no point. But we are still having a blast so it's a good thing.

Andrew: What do you think is the most challenging thing about being in a band? Especially with the current technology and the downfall of sales and all that, what do you think is the most challenging thing about being in a band?

Frank: I don't know, aside from all that part, if you're in a band and you work hard and have a good work ethic, the downloading all that stuff is one thing but if you're good and you get better and you learn to be a band and to be together and how to work together, you're going to prevail and people are going to turn heads and pay attention. I think the hardest part is just trying to balance being in a rock band and touring and family life, that's probably the harder thing to swallow. If there's no balance there, one of them is going to suffer and I think that's something we've learned along the way too.

Andrew: How did you get into music in the first place? Going back to the beginning, what was it about this type of music that you got into that made you want to be in a band?

Frank: It's weird, I never thought I would be in a band, I never wanted to be in a band honestly. For me I come from a musical background, I worked in record stores my whole childhood and teenage years and I was also DJing when I was a teenager and that just led me into finding out about music and record stores. All music, all genres, meeting different people and along my path I started making music with other people and it wasn't just me by myself. Just the collaboration with people in creating and starting a band, by the time I met the Deftones I had never really been in a band. I started working with some other guy in this town that I moved to but it just clicked, we all got along and we all thought the same and had the same ideas and just said, 'Hey let's do this'. So I kinda just fell into it in a way but that's just for me. But I do love being part of a group of guys who can be creative together and to be able to do what we do for a living and what we love, not a lot of people get to do that. It's a blessing and definitely feel lucky for it.

Andrew: Well if you weren't playing in a band and you weren't creating music, what do you think you would be doing then?

Frank: I have no idea [laughs], I've kinda just been flying by the seat of my pants. Obviously something musical but for something specific, I wouldn't know. I would of found something, kind of how I found this. It's weird because we've never been the type of band who are chasing this record deal or any of this, we were just doing what we did and what we loved and then we would go to the next thing and then go to the next thing and just kinda kept going.

Andrew: So in the same sort of way in how you create music, the band sort of happened organically as well which is a very cool thing.

Frank: For sure and a lot of these guys have known each other since they were 11 or 12 and I think there's that camaraderie that's kind of the backbone of this band in particular.

Andrew: Well congratulations on the new album "Gore", hope the fans out there dig it when it comes out this week. Thanks for your time and hopefully we get to see you back in Australia again, obviously it was unfortunate that Soundwave was cancelled but hopefully something will happen somewhere down the line.

Frank: Yes I hope so too! Thank you so much.

Interview by Andrew "Schizodeluxe" Massie on April 1st 2016