Q&A: Deftones' Frank Delgado on Touring and Technology

Courtesy of 13th Witness
No one could accuse Deftones of resting on their laurels, even though the band certainly deserves a little R&R. It's been a whopping 23 years since the sextet first formed in Sacramento. And nearly all of those since the band's debut album, 1995's Adrenaline, have been spent doggedly on the road.

As each record has veered more into the fringes of heavy music, experimenting with melody and atmospherics in a way its "nu-metal" followers could never hope to accomplish, there's been the band to back it up. Deftones remain a staple on the live circuit with fervent fans briskly selling out shows, even while mainstream radio and press devotes less and less airtime and space to rock bands.

Still, it almost seems as though, perhaps, the group is trying to make up for lost time. Its most recent album, Diamond Eyes, was released about a year ago -- but that followed a period of relative inactivity after its previous effort, 2006's Saturday Night Wrist. Of course, it was in this period that original bassist Chi Cheng was involved in a serious car accident that left him in intensive care until just earlier this year.

But with a replacement, Sergio Vega of Quicksand, the band has soldiered on, and has the road seemingly harder than ever behind Diamond Eyes. Deftones headlined the Fillmore Miami Beach just last year as part of a string of theater dates before heading out on a larger arena outing with Mastodon and Alice in Chains. 

With that concluded, they set out yet again on their own headlining third tour leg, which arrives this Sunday at the Sunset Cove Amphitheater in Boca Raton. Support comes from the awesomely gonzo math-rockers Dillinger Escape Plan.

County Grind caught up with turnablist/keyboardist/all-around synth and sample guy Frank Delgado for the scoop on the current tour and possible new material. Here's what he had to say.

County Grind: You played Miami just last year, and then you did a larger tour with Mastodon and Alive in Chains, and now you're on the third leg of the same tour. However, for the last couple years before that, you were't so active as a band. Did you choose to tour so aggressively now as a way to make up for that?

Frank Delgado: Yeah, but it's a different time than it was two years ago. For a band like us, touring is how we make a living, I guess you could say. At the same time, we're having a lot more fun. not that we weren't having fun before -- but we made things harder on us than they should have been. So we're having a lot of fun, and we're trying to get as much as we can, as far as touring, out of this record.

What do you mean by things being harder on you before than they needed to be?

Just life in general, not being healthy as we should be to ourselves. Typical road life. 

What's changed? What made you flip that switch, or was it a process of just growing up?

Yeah, most definitely growing up. We're older now and it's all been a learning process of being better musicians, better friends, better men. I would definitely chalk it up to growing up.

Since you've been on these three separate legs of a tour behind the same record, how have you varied your set list, and what else are you doing to keep things fresh? You just played Miami in 2010, so how different would this upcoming show be from that one?

We've been playing a lot of stuff we haven't played in the last couple of years, and for a band, that's as deep as it's gonna get. It's not like anyone's juggling between songs. I guess the production is a little bit different, different lights and stuff like that. But for the most part, we're pulling out songs we haven't played in a while. We've never been the kind of band to just go through the motions and play the same songs over and over again over the tours for the same album.

How much of that varies from night to night specifically? 

It varies a lot. We pretty much write the set list last minute, and I think it's varied a lot more before. I think with this production, we have some video stuff and projections, certain things stay the same so the projections can coincide as the songs. But we try to change it up as possible. For us, it's always been something we've done last second.

Are there any particular older songs you're playing now that you missed playing, or are particularly enjoying playing again? 

Yeah, there's a lot! We've been playing some of the songs from Saturday Night Wrist, which I think kind of took a back seat since this was the Diamond Eyes tour. I think the last record we put out was not neglected on purpose, but we've been playing those songs a lot more now, and "Cherry Waves," "Hole in the Earth," stuff like that.

On the three legs of the tour behind this record you've played everything from theaters to arenas to amphitheaters. Do you prefer, as a band, playing smaller venues to bigger venues, or is it just a different challenge?

I wouldn't say it's so much a challenge, just a different environment, and the energy's a little different. In a smaller environment I would say it's a lot more kinetic energy. Not to say it isn't there with a bigger show, but they each hold their place. We're lucky enough as a band to play both of those kinds of shows, and we look forward ot them both. That Alice in Chains/Mastodon gig was a fun tour, one of the funnest we've had in a long time, and this tour right here is just smashing. There are a lot of sold-out dates, and with Dillinger out with us, we're having a blast every night.

How much personal control do you have over picking the bands with whom you tour? They're always notably diverse.

We just toss some names out and see who's available, and it doesn't always work. We had been trying to tour with Mastodon forever, but logistically it just never worked, because everyone has their own schedule. So it's always about making a short list of who you'd like to tour with and then seeing who's available. It just so happened that Dillinger was one of the names that had been tossed around a lot, and this time it worked. 

Location Info


Sunset Cove Amphitheater

12551 Glades Road, Boca Raton, FL

Category: Music

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