Deftones’ Abe Cunningham: the Current Q&A

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By Enrique Lopetegui elopetegui@sacurrent.com On April 2010, Deftones released Diamond Eyes, their first album without bassist Chi Chang, who was seriously injured in a car accident in November 2008. The band will headline a June 3 concert at the AT&T Center that includes Le Butcherettes and the Dillinger Escape Plan. A few days ago, the Current spoke to drummer Abe Cunningham.

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After all these years, where is the band at now? In quite a happy place, despite what happened in the last few years with the absence of Chi. But we’re actually in a really good place and it feels wonderful. Things are not always easy in life, but we’re enjoying each other and just the fact that we’re still able to do this after all these years. Can you give me an update on him? He’s finally back in New Jersey. We’ve been trying to raise money so he could be back with his doctors, and he’s finally back. He’s been back for abount two months now. We passed through the area a few weeks ago, and he’s making a slow but steady progress. His doctors think they can do something for him, which is great. Is he talking? No, that’s the hardest part. He’s just there But we have nothing but love for him and always hope for him to fully recover. How was the transition for you, as a drummer? It was pretty seamless. Sergio [Vega, from Quicksand] actually replaced Chi a little over a decade ago, when we were on tour with Black Sabbath, the first time time they got back together in '96, I think. Black Sabbath and Pantera. We played a show in Houston and Chi had an operation on his foot days before that and it got infected, so he had to leave the tour. We called Sergio and he learned all the songs pretty quick. We were big fans of Quicksand, they were a big influence for us. And now, it was a seamless transition, and because we had such influence from Quicksand it was a natural fit. Plus, Sergio is a dear friend to us. He helped us in a serious time of need. I'm very impressed by Le Butcherettes, one of your opening acts ... They’re very cool. They joined the tour a couple of weeks ago, and they’re awesome. They’re cool and super sweethearts, man. They used to be just a two-piece with guitar and a drummer, but they added a bass and a new drummer now. Cool as people and really adding to the musical mix. We have also been with the Dillinger Escape Plan from the very beginning of the tour, and now adding Le Butcherettes is just sick. It’s a really wild, diverse night of rock. Diamond Eyes is the first album without Chi. How difficult it was to record? Our whole world came to a screeching halt with Chi’s accident. We had been working on a record prior to that [Eros, still unreleased], and then everything stopped. We took a few months to try to figure out what was going on and whether we would even continue together. And the music brought us together. With Chi gone, all we could do was get together and make music to make us feel better, you know? And out of that came this record, which we didn’t expect. It was a shot of energy. Was it easy to record? The circumstances in which it came about were nothing we could have ever imagined. To make this record was very difficult, yet so easy. We just went back to being friends and enjoying music together. It happened very quick. We missed our brother but we channeled that into being positive and appreciating each other. After so many years playing together you can succumb to little things that piss you off, but now we understand that these little things don’t matter. Were there any serious thoughts about breaking up? Yeah! We took a few months off to figure things out. We were concerned about his health, and everything else was secondary. But we did ask ourselves: do we still go on? Do we break up? And at the same time we felt this inner need to just get together and play music, just for the four of us. It was brief, but now we’re playing and we feel it’s all a celebration for Chi. He’s still with us, it’s not like he’s gone, and that’s the hardest thing: we’re going on and he’s with us every step of the way, but he’s not here. How would you describe the San Antonio crowds? San Antonio is one of the best places in the world for us to play. Texas is great for us, but San Antonio is like no other, man. Do you mean that or you’re just saying that? I don’t want to find a news clip of you saying the same thing about another city! It’s from the bottom of my heart, man, of course. The place is wild, man. For some reason, it’s just one of the greatest places for us to play. We do really well there. The shows are insane, electric. It’s just one of those spots in the world that are very magical. We have nothing but good times there and we’re looking forward to rock this joint. $32 8pm Friday, June 3 AT&T Center 1 AT&T Center (800) 745-3000 attcenter.com

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