Deftones 101: The Complete N00b Guide

Deftones 101
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Here’s everything you need to know about Deftones, including the band’s members, history, and their best albums

If you grew up in the 1990s, coming of age when bands like Metallica and Slayer were still in their 30s, and Tony Hawk was the ultimate gaming experience available, you’ll know the Deftones.

Out of all the bands to emerge from the nu-metal trend that took over the metal world in the late-90s, early-2000s, Deftones were the kings. 

The main reason for this was that Deftones weren’t a nu-metal band. Sure, they might have shared the stage with Korn and Limp Bizkit, but the Deftones were way more than just another, down-tuned, angsty nu-metal band from California. 

With influences ranging from The Smiths to Suicidal Tendencies, Deftones painted with a wider brushstroke than their peers which is why, like TOOL and Mastodon, the band became its own thing, more or less incomparable to anybody else. 

I saw their first ever live show in the UK, sometime during the late 1990s, back when Chino had dreadlocks and Adrenaline had just came out.

Over the next 2.5 decades, the band changed and evolved massively, although for me its ultimate watershed moment was, of course, White Pony – arguably the band’s magnum opus. 

If you’re just getting started listening to the Deftones, this Deftones 101 post will get you up to speed with everything you need to know about the band, its history, its members, its influences, and its best albums.

Who are Deftones?

Deftones is an American alternative metal band formed in Sacramento, California, in 1988.

The band consists of Chino Moreno (lead vocals, rhythm guitar), Stephen Carpenter (lead guitar), Abe Cunningham (drums), and Frank Delgado (keyboards, turntables, samples).

Deftones 101: The Complete N00b Guide

The core writing group, consisting of Moreno, Carpenter, and Cunningham, has remained constant since day one. The bond that develops over this long a period is hard to explain but as you listen to the first records, the pace of improvement and musicianship between Adrenaline and White Pony is staggering. 

From the vocals to the drumming, each core member massively expanded their range and capabilities between the first and third album. There were A LOT of drugs along the way and, like most rock and roll stories, the drugs nearly won out, culminating in an era of darkness for the band that spanned from the self-titled Deftones LP to Saturday Night Wrist

I had a fucking huge drug problem at that time, which caused a lot of my vocal problems. You get to that age and everything was so easy cos I didn’t pay attention to shit, and then all of a sudden I’m dealt with reality, all this shit has accumulated, my life has become really fucked up because I ignored everything for so long. And instead of picking up the pieces I just ran away from everything. I blamed everybody else instead of looking back at myself. So I had to slowly learn how to take responsibility for myself. But everybody was doing that individually. We were very dysfunctional.

Chino Moreno

Fortunately, the band cleaned itself up and progressed forwards with a slew of new albums, culminating with its latest, Ohms. 

The band have also confirmed that a follow up to Ohms is now in the works and should be released during the back end of 2024. 

Deftones Timeline: Eras, Albums & The Future

Deftones 101: The Complete N00b Guide

The Early Years (1988-1994)

Deftones was formed by Chino Moreno, Stephen Carpenter, and Abe Cunningham while attending high school in Sacramento.

The band experimented with different lineups and sounds before settling on their distinct style.

In 1994, they signed with Maverick Records, setting the stage for their debut album. Adrenaline.

Adrenaline and Around the Fur (1995-1999)

Deftones released their debut album, Adrenaline, in 1995. The album showcased their raw, aggressive sound and helped establish them in the alternative metal scene.

Their follow-up, Around the Fur (1997), further solidified their position with hit singles like “My Own Summer (Shove It)” and “Be Quiet and Drive (Far Away).”

White Pony and Mainstream Success (2000-2005)

The release of White Pony in 2000 marked a turning point for Deftones. The album featured a more experimental and melodic sound, with standout tracks like “Change (In the House of Flies)” and “Digital Bath.”

White Pony earned the band critical acclaim and mainstream success, cementing their status as one of the most innovative bands in the alternative metal genre.

Tragedy and Triumph (2006-2013)

In 2008, bassist Chi Cheng was involved in a serious car accident that left him in a minimally conscious state.

The band rallied together and continued to create music, releasing Diamond Eyes (2010) and Koi No Yokan (2012) to critical acclaim.

And You’ve Seen The Butcher remains one of my all time favorite Deftones songs to date – it sounds like some kind of new, epic space rock. I love it.

Sadly, Cheng passed away in 2013, leaving a lasting impact on the band and their fans.

Recent Years and Legacy (2014-Present)

Deftones released Gore (2016) and Ohms (2020).

Gore is arguably one of the band’s weaker releases. Critics and listeners alike weren’t too enamoured with the LP. Listening back, it does have its moments but it lacks the presence and finesse of White Pony and the urgency and frantic energy of Koi No Yokan and Diamond Eyes. 

During the Gore sessions, tensions were especially high between Chino and Steph. Multiple reports confirmed that Steph contributed very little to the album with Moreno penning the lion’s share of the album which is why, for the most part, it is one of the more mellow albums in the band’s discography. 

Personally, I much preferred the band’s six-string era of records. White Pony and Around The Fur, for me, represent Deftones at its peak, the purest form. Once Steph started adding additional strings to his guitar, culminating on a 9-string ESP on Ohms, the overall “sound” of the band lost some of its magic, what it so special on the earlier records. 

I still love Koi No Yokan, the self-titled Deftones record has aged incredibly well too, and Diamond Eyes, but I wasn’t all that impressed by Ohms or Gore. That’s subjective, of course. An opinion. Please do not take it to mean that you shouldn’t like this albums – each to their own.

Deftones Unreleased Eros Album

Prior to Cheng’s accident, the band were working on a studio album called Eros. This album, now the stuff of legend was apparently completed and ready to release, but out of respect to Cheng, the band decided to shelf it indefinitely. 

Eros is now kind of a mythic thing in its own right. The internet is replete with alleged leaks from the album. None are official, of course. But there was plenty of hype as Eros was said to be much, much heavier than Saturday Night Wrist, harking back to what the band were doing more of in its Around The Fur era. 

I had faith it was going to come together and be great in the end, but we never got to that point. Once Chi had his accident, everything came to a halt with the Eros sessions, so the idea of going back to that batch of songs, finishing them and have Sergio learn Chi’s parts just hasn’t felt like something that we’re interested in doing. If the record were finished and we were just sitting on it, we probably would have put it out by now, maybe even given it away, just so that people can hear it, but it would take a lot more work to get it done. But when we get together, we’re much more fascinated with where we are in this moment, trying to create something new.

Chino Moreno

New Deftones Album

Deftones Songs In Drop D

Ohms came out during the pandemic and the band, according to multiple sources, have now pretty much completed work on the follow up which is due out at some point in 2024

Speaking to Gnostic Academy on YouTube, Steph outlined some details about the new, as yet untitled album: 

Just in the last couple of months, really – two or three months; well, maybe a little longer now, really; February is when we started … to work on new material for a new record. It’s going good now. It was a little slow at first, but it always is; dragging our feet ain’t nothing new. But we’ve got stuff up and going now, and we’re on a good little momentum at the moment. And we hope to have it all done and out by next spring or summer [2024]. There’s nothing official – no official date yet – but that’s our goal.

Steph Carpenter

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Latest Deftones News

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  • New Deftones Album Release Date: It’s COMING In 2024

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  • Deftones Songs In Drop D: A Complete List

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    He wrote classic Deftones songs like Change (In The House of Flies) and Digital Bath, but what guitar does Chino Moreno play the most? Chino Moreno, Deftones co-founder and lead singer, came pretty late to the guitar. Chino didn’t start “writing” music for the Deftones until 2000’s White Pony album, Chino wrote classic tracks like…


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