DEFTONES drummer Abe Cummingham and bassist Sergio Vega recently spoke to Ireland’s Overdrive about their reputation as a rock band known for pushing the boundaries of what heavy music has to offer.
“We are really just passionate fans of music and passionate fans of being musicians and also very passionate of music gear,” Sergio said. “We are always consuming new things, and with all of our different tastes combined, there are obviously overlaps with the material that we write. When we enter that process of writing, it’s a very organic process for us all. Basically, what happens is that we get into a room and we make noise. [Laughs]”
He continued: “In the case of [2016’s] ‘Gore’ — for me, it’s my third album with the guys — what we do is document everything, and with this album, Abe and I took a handle on that, whereby we would record everything and the next morning we would get up extra early, have some coffee and listen back to what we had worked on and would begin to chop up the ideas and mail it out to the other guys, keeping things documented and dispersed to everyone else.”
Added Abe: “What’s crazy and kind of funny is that this record has really pissed a lot of people off. It’s made a lot of people happy also, but we’ve noticed that it’s really made people really angry. I guess it takes a bit of time for people to wrap their heads around it.”
Continued Sergio: “Yeah, I take solace in the fact that from my perspective of coming into the band and I was reading the way people were viewing [2006’s] ‘Saturday Night Wrist’ and [2003’s] self-titled [album] and then after [2010’s] ‘Diamond Eyes’ and [2012’s] ‘Koi No Yokan’ came out, it recontextualized those albums and people approached them differently and favorably.
“I feel that when you take risks and put yourself out there and following your heart, it’s really all that we can do to stay true to what we do,” he said. “There’s no point in recording the same album over and over.”
Vega went on to say that he likes to think of what DEFTONES do “as something that is like an attack on the listener on a molecular level.” He explained: “When I first heard JANE’S ADDICTION or WU-TANG CLAN, it really made me angry. I remember with WU-TANG CLAN, I was thinking, ‘This is dissonant and everything is just out of key with what’s happening,’ and it was the same with JANE’S ADDICTION. I was just thinking, ‘This is so fucked! Everything is out and not flowing properly. I hate everything about it!’ Then something changed inside of me, and it’s the only game in town, and then I was starting to fiend for that sound and had to just keep going back to it and getting my fix of this new sensation that ultimately was changing my taste and perception of what can be achieved with the boundaries of music.”
He added: “When people hold a band really close to their heart and that band then try something different, it really messes with people’s sensibilities.”
Abe concurred, saying: “I get that too. It’s, like, ‘That’s my band, that’s my jam,’ and when the next album comes out and it’s totally different, I’m, like, “What the fuck happened here?’ After a while, as [Sergio] said, you become more open minded to different things, and ultimately, that’s what we’re trying to achieve.”
“Gore” debuted at No. 2 on The Billboard 200 chart, having shifted 71,000 equivalent album units in the week ending April 14, 2016. It was the band’s highest-charting effort since their self-titled fourth album bowed and peaked at No. 2 in 2003.