Deftones is an American rock band formed in Sacramento, California, in 1988. Widely regarded as one of the most innovative and enduring acts in the alternative metal genre, the band has enjoyed a career spanning over three decades. Over the years, they have blended elements of metal, alternative rock, post-hardcore, and even trip-hop to create a unique and evolving sound.
The Formation and Early Years
Originally, the band consisted of Chino Moreno on vocals, Stephen Carpenter on guitar, and Abe Cunningham on drums. These core members had known each other since their youth and shared a mutual passion for music. In 1990, they welcomed bassist Chi Cheng, whose contribution would become integral to the band’s sound. The initial lineup was completed by the inclusion of a keyboardist and turntablist, Frank Delgado, who would become an official member in 1999.
The Rise to Fame
Deftones gained some initial attention with their debut album, “Adrenaline,” released in 1995. However, it was their second album, “Around the Fur,” released in 1997, that proved to be their breakout. The album featured hits like “My Own Summer (Shove It)” and “Be Quiet and Drive (Far Away),” which received heavy rotation on MTV and radio. The band’s success continued to skyrocket with the release of “White Pony” in 2000. This album was a commercial and critical success, earning the band a Grammy Award for the song “Elite.”
Experimentation and Evolution
Throughout the early 2000s, the band continued to experiment with their sound, adding more layers and complexity. Albums like “Deftones” in 2003 and “Saturday Night Wrist” in 2006 showcased a band not afraid to evolve. While they were sometimes met with mixed reviews, these records have since been hailed for their artistic depth.
Tragedy and Continuation
In 2008, the band faced a significant setback when bassist Chi Cheng was involved in a car accident, leaving him in a coma. This led to a pause in the band’s activities and ultimately, the recruitment of Sergio Vega as a temporary replacement. Cheng passed away in 2013, marking a somber chapter in the band’s history.
Deftones have continued to produce new music and tour extensively. Their latest albums, “Gore” (2016) and “Ohms” (2020), have received critical acclaim, proving that the band still has a lot to offer. In 2022, Fred Sablan joined as the bassist and backing vocalist, indicating another new phase for this enduring act.
Chino Moreno is the lead vocalist for Deftones and has been with the band since its inception in 1988. He is also known for playing rhythm guitar on some tracks. Born in Sacramento, California, Moreno has been a key figure in crafting the band’s distinctive sound, which blends elements of alternative metal, nu-metal, and art-rock. He has contributed to all of the band’s albums, from their 1995 debut “Adrenaline” to their most recent releases. Moreno is credited with writing many of the band’s popular songs, including hits like “Change (In the House of Flies)” and “My Own Summer (Shove It).” Aside from Deftones, Moreno has also been involved in side projects like Team Sleep, Palms, and Crosses.
Stephen Carpenter is the lead guitarist of Deftones and one of the founding members of the band. Like Moreno, Carpenter is from Sacramento, California, and has been with Deftones since the beginning. His heavy, down-tuned guitar work is one of the defining features of the band’s sound. Carpenter has played on all Deftones albums and is credited with co-writing many of their songs. Outside of the band, Carpenter has also been involved in other musical endeavors, including contributing to the supergroup Sol Invicto.
Abe Cunningham is the drummer for Deftones and another founding member of the band. Also hailing from Sacramento, Cunningham’s drumming is known for its intricate rhythms and complex patterns, which have been an essential component of Deftones’ unique sound. He has been a part of every Deftones album to date and has co-written various tracks for the band. Outside of Deftones, Cunningham has collaborated with other artists but remains most closely associated with the band he helped found.
Frank Delgado joined Deftones as a full-time member in 1999, although he had been contributing as a guest DJ and keyboardist on their albums since 1997’s “Around the Fur.” Delgado, originally from Los Angeles, California, added a new layer to the band’s sound, integrating electronic elements that complemented the band’s heavy guitars and atmospheric vocals. He has played on all albums from “White Pony” (2000) onwards and is credited with enhancing the band’s sonic landscape. Like his bandmates, Delgado has also dabbled in side projects but is most prominently known for his role in Deftones.
Dominic Garcia was an early member of Deftones, joining the band in 1988 as a bassist and later switching to drums from 1990 to 1991. He was part of the band’s initial phase but did not appear on any of their studio albums. His role was significant in the band’s formative years as they were crafting their unique blend of metal and alternative rock.
Chi Cheng was the bassist and backing vocalist for Deftones from 1990 until 2008. Hailing from Stockton, California, Cheng was critically important in defining the band’s early sound. He played on several albums including “Adrenaline,” “Around the Fur,” “White Pony,” and “Saturday Night Wrist.” Cheng was involved in a severe car accident in 2008 that left him in a semi-comatose state. He passed away in 2013. Aside from Deftones, Cheng was also a spoken-word artist and had released a collection of his poetry.
John Taylor was the drummer for Deftones between 1991 and 1993, but he didn’t contribute to any studio albums. His tenure with the band was relatively short, and he left before the band signed its first major record deal.
Sergio Vega joined Deftones as a temporary replacement for Chi Cheng following his car accident in 2008 and became a permanent member after Cheng’s passing in 2013. Born in the Bronx, New York, Vega had previously played bass in the post-hardcore band Quicksand. He has contributed to albums like “Diamond Eyes,” “Koi No Yokan,” and “Gore,” bringing his own unique style to the band’s bass lines.
Fred Sablan joined Deftones in 2022 as the band’s bassist and backing vocalist. Prior to joining Deftones, Sablan has been known for his work with other notable artists, including Marilyn Manson
Lance Jackman joined Deftones as a touring guitarist and backing vocalist in 2022.
Complete List Of Deftones Current And Former Members article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2023
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