"Creed Parties," Fistfights, Pungent Pre-Show Rituals: 10 Wild Deftones Stories | Revolver

"Creed Parties," Fistfights, Pungent Pre-Show Rituals: 10 Wild Deftones Stories

Surprising revelations from "Change (In the House of Pods)" podcast
deftones-98-getty-gie_knaeps-webcrop.jpg, Gie Knaeps/Getty Images
Deftones, 1998
photograph by Gie Knaeps/Getty Images

In 2020, Deftones celebrated the 20th anniversary of their landmark album White Pony and released another once-in-a-decade album, Ohms, their ninth studio release. Deftones fans, however, celebrate the band's entire catalog. And because Deftones are a catalog band, there are a catalog of stories to tell.

"Change (In the House of Pods)" is a podcast about Deftones. Each episode features an interview with a fan, artist or person in the music industry. Guests on the first season include Deftones frontman Chino Moreno, Brann Dailor from Mastodon, Brendan Garrone of Incendiary, Matt James from Vowws, VP of Creative at Warner Records Frank Maddocks, former Maverick Records radio promotions guru Darren Eggleston and more.

Ahead of "Change (In the House of Pods)" Season 2 — which premieres on March 19th with Deftones superfan and Black Stallion contributor Josh Carter of Phantogram — we present 10 surprising facts we discovered during the debut season of this Deftones deep dive.

In 2010, Alice in Chains, Deftones and Mastodon embarked on the Blackdiamondskye tour. The Deftones and Mastodon dudes were already buds, and the tour was a party from the start. Mastodon drummer Brann Dailor explained, "I mean the first night before the tour even started, half our band woke up in [Deftones keyboardist/turntablist] Frank [Delgado]'s hotel room on the floor in Chicago."

"I mean we just got on like a house on fire. We were just like besties off the bat. Me, Frank and [Deftones drummer] Abe [Cunningham], after those guys got done with their set, we'd get some beers and some wine and go watch Alice in Chains … We were so excited to watch Alice in Chains every night, one of the best bands of all time."

Reflecting further, Dailor said, "It was a definite bro-down kind of tour. It was really, really fun, and still to this day, one of my favorite tours that we ever did." And the fun they had backstage wasn't exactly how you'd imagine it. "Deftones [and] Chino tour with a fucking PA system backstage in their dressing room, hooked up to their boombox or whatever, and they blast music — so loud — you cannot hear yourself talk," Dailor continued. "So they would just be blasting Creed '[With] Arms Wide Open.' We'd all be back there singing along. So we just started having Creed parties. Unapologetically. Not ironically. ... I think we just played 'Arms Wide Open' over and over again."

On almost every Deftones album, there's a song written during the recording process. "Being in the studio tracking stuff is always fun," Moreno explained in the first episode. "We recorded the music [for Ohms] at Jim Henson Studios in Hollywood. A couple, maybe three of the songs that made the record were actually written in the studio, very last-minute kind of things. Those always seem to be some of my favorite parts when they happen organically like that."

"It's a special part, I think of all our records," Moreno said. Thinking back to the recording of 1997's Around the Fur he recalled hearing guitarist Stephen Carpenter fiddling with what would become the main riff of "My Own Summer (Shove It)." "We went into the studio. We didn't even have that song," Moreno recalled. "It was one of the last things we recorded. It just happened. I was downstairs in the basement. and I heard Stephen playing this riff … And I ran upstairs like, 'What is that?' And he was like, 'I'm just making it up.' And literally [bassist] Chi [Cheng] was right there with a bass and started playing the bassline. Literally, the song came together in 45 minutes. Imagine that album without that song in it. It's kind of crazy."

On October 5, 1996, Deftones played KUPD's U-Fest at the Desert Sky Pavilion in Phoenix. Darren Eggleston worked in radio promotions for Maverick Records and recalled, "Deftones were second to last and Type O Negative was headlining ... There were a slew of bands, and the common denominator was: it's 115 [degrees] ... and everybody's fucked up. I mean everybody's hammered. So it's zombie-land by the time Deftones hit the stage … It's a war of attrition."

Fans who'd partied all day couldn't take the sweltering heat. The front of the house thinned while excited fans watched from the seats in the rear. After a few songs, Moreno invited them to come up to the front. Fans stormed the stage. In an evening news report that still exists on YouTube, the anchor says, "According to witnesses, it was the lead singer of the band Deftones who told the crowd to quote, 'Come on down and help trash the place.'"

"Thousands of kids poured up the aisle," said Eggleston, "and they're working their way to the stage. And then they started climbing on the stage, and one of the curtains, somebody lit it on fire. It was a riot."

Later, Moreno ran into Type O singer Peter Steele. Eggleston said, "[Deftones] were staying in a hotel with all the other bands ... Type O Negative never went on … They were pissed. The big fucking frontman punched Chino in the bar, and it was a big melee." 

Prior to working at Maverick, Darren Eggleston was the Los Angeles Regional Promotions person for Epic Records. He was recruited to work in radio promotions at Maverick after he seemingly achieved the impossible and got Korn played on KROQ. Korn's budding popularity and the groundswell of support online puzzled people at the label. "If you can imagine, there was a time where [the internet] wasn't at the forefront or even a really big part of your campaign when you released records," said Eggleston. "It was all very much conventional: put it out, go get it played, put the band on tour."

Korn was selling a significant number of records each week, enough that Epic made it a priority to get "Blind" played on the radio. "I drove [KROQ] crazy to play 'Blind.' And they didn't play anything like it at the time. When you're talking about the mid-Nineties, sure they played grunge, STP and Soundgarden, Pearl Jam and Nirvana, of course, but nothing heavy like Korn." To get their programmers' attention, Eggleston went to ridiculous lengths. "I would go to KROQ every week and drive them nuts. I would send them corn dogs and corn chips and corn related food literally for a six-month period… And then being able to show them their growth. In a six-month period, Korn had gone from playing the Troubadour which holds about 250 people to The Palace which holds 2,000, and they had just sold 3,500 tickets at another venue. By that point, the radio station said, 'Uncle. We'll put in your record, and they played 'Blind' as a night record for several months."

Meanwhile, Maverick Records had just released Deftones' first album Adrenaline when, as Eggleston tells it, "Guy O'Seary, who was head of A&R at Maverick at the time and a young budding executive who had just signed Alanis Morrissette, who had the biggest record in the world at that point [Jagged Little Pill], is obsessed with KROQ… and he heard 'Blind' on the radio." O'Seary wanted to know, "How the fuck is Korn 'Blind' on KROQ?"

Eggleston was courted and joined Maverick after seeing Deftones open for Anthrax at The Palace. "I saw Deftones for the first time, and it fucking blew me away." When he started, he was told, "You will have any resources you need to break this band. Going back to Alanis Morrissette, Maverick Records was a boutique label distributed through Warner Bros... and it was about maybe 20 employees all in, very small, and Alanis Morrissette was on that label and that record was selling 250,000 pieces a week... Think about it. It was going platinum every month... It sold 28 million worldwide and 13 million in the U.S."

O'Seary, who started at Maverick when he was 18 and was in his-mid twenties at the time, was able to identify how, perhaps as a reaction to Morrissette and the Lilith Fair artists of the time, music was getting heavier, so he pushed support behind Deftones. "Back then, the 'big bad record label' would use their resources for artist development. So when he said, 'whatever we need to do.' Well, we did it. And that meant some crazy shit that we put the band through."

The crazy shit included relentless touring and occasionally less-than-desirable circumstances. For instance, Deftones played a free show in a McDonald's parking lot near the campus of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis in 1996. The show was intense, amazing and fraught with challenges, namely a snapped drumhead. While the band waited for it to get fixed, Moreno invited a homeless man onstage and dedicated a cover of Bad Brains' "Right Brigade" to him. Before the last song, Moreno said, "We've been around for seven years, and we're playing a McDonald's parking lot." One has to wonder, were it not for the wild success of Jagged Little Pill and Korn's "Blind" getting played on KROQ, would they have even been there?

Frank Maddocks is the VP of Creative at Warner Records. He's responsible for all the Deftones album art since White Pony. He's worked with Linkin Park, Gary Clark Jr. and countless more. Before all that, he was a huge Deftones fan.

"I was in art school at the time, so I was starting to do some things where I could create my own assignments, and I would do mock things for Deftones like I would do a flyer or a poster or a silk-screen thing. I then started taking those to shows and throwing them onstage hoping that the guys would see me. I can remember hand-cutting postcards and throwing them on stage at The Whisky [a Go Go] before and after their set."

While nothing ever came of those efforts, his work ethic and willingness to put himself out there eventually led him to Warner. His first Deftones assignment was design lead for White Pony. "It was a lot of pressure, not only for me as a designer but me working with my most favorite band," says Maddocks. "I'm just getting going, and I happen to land my favorite band, and it's their highly anticipated third record ... it was kind of a mind fuck at the time."

During the episode with Frank Maddocks, he gave some backstory on every Deftones studio release since White Pony and offered his thoughts on the first two covers, as well. To this day, the cover art for their first album, Adrenaline, remains particularly curious. After all, what is the deal with the booger sucker? The simple nasal syringe on a white background feels like a riddle. Maddocks called the cover "a classic" and described it as "beautiful and elegant." He explained, "The simplicity and softness and push and pull is really cool. It's aggressive music, right? But then you've got this cover that's very soft." On another level, he said, "I think some of the guys in the band were starting to have babies at that point. So this speaks to a time in their lives when this odd object becomes strangely important."

Maddocks' approach to the aesthetic of White Pony was to present a similar push and pull, a clean image on the outside and a grittier feel inside. Inside the album, images of guitarist Stephen Carpenter included a black censorship bar across his eyes.  Maddocks explained, "That's the self-imposed media blackout by Steph. At the time, he was not a fan of taking pictures." Maddocks and photographer James Minchin physically went through all Steph's pictures to black out his eyes by hand. "We wanted the aesthetic to look that way. A lot of the photography in that album is hand overlays, and James did a lot of transparencies and analog collages, not on the computer."

Deftones, Snapcase and Quicksand played two sets at The Quest in Minneapolis on December 2nd, 1998. Joe Falkowski was a college student who taped and sold videos of rock shows. He posed as the press to get into the show in hopes of filming Deftones. Afterwards, he found himself having drinks with the band.

"Actually, they were big on vodka Gatorades," Falkowski said. "We were talking about all kinds of stuff, movies, A Clockwork Orange... the craziest part was they started talking about being on tour and the craziness that they're seeing. And at one point ... it had to have been the night before or two nights before. They were on the bus, and they had some people on the bus ... And this is Chino telling the story. He's like, 'Man we were on the bus. I don't even know what was going on. We had like a knife party last night. Cut a bitch here. Cut a bitch there.' And I'm like, 'What did he just say?'"

According to Stephen Golden, a guest on Season 2 of the podcast who was also at The Quest that night, the vodka drink was made with grape Gatorade, and they called them "Purple Rains." Deftones are big fans of Prince, and Golden remembers them watching the film Purple Rain over and over again. He also remembers the drink originating in Minneapolis, so it was only natural to pay homage to the hometown icon.

Falkowski kept the setlist from that show. It ends with, "Fist," "Be Quiet and Drive (Far Away)" and "Headup." However, according to Vesanic, founder of the online concert archive Deftones Live, Deftones definitely did not play "Fist" that night. "Deftones have only played 'Pink Maggit' live in its entirety once or twice," he said. "However, on that tour, they debuted the demo of it, a 3-minute interlude at the time." "Fist," the similarly atmospheric closing track from their first album Adrenaline, was simply what they marked on the setlist for the earliest live performances of "Pink Maggit."

"Combat," the dynamic tenth track on 2006's Saturday Night Wrist, Deftones fifth studio release, is only known to have been performed once. On August 23rd, 2011, Deftones performed at Paradiso Grote Zaal in Amsterdam. As a moderator on Sharing Lungs, a Deftones message board, Vesanic knew the song had never been played live. "We knew that the Diamond Eyes tour was coming to an end, so we kinda wanted to take this shot at maybe asking them straight up to change up the setlist."

"I took a train, went up there. I was there pretty early, and I met a couple of guys, and there we catch Chino. And we have this really cool chat for about a half an hour about the setlist and about the songs they play." Vesanic "read in a magazine or heard a rumor that they wouldn't play 'Combat' because Chino had trouble singing those parts and playing the guitar at the same time." He boldly asked Moreno about it. "I didn't mean anything by it. I was just genuinely curious about it. Then, the show happened, and they bust out 'Combat.'"

Three people recorded the performance. When the song finished, Moreno said, "They said we couldn't play it. That's what they said, goddamnit!" Moreno slapped the mic on the riser as he stepped onto it. Then he spotted Vesanic in the crowd, and asked him, "Is it okay with you if we play something from White Pony?" They then exploded into "Elite."

Before Matt James from Vowws collaborated with Chino Moreno on a remix of Vowws' "Structure of Love," he and his bandmate Rizz were in a different band together. "When Rizz and I first met, we were at college, and we'd play heavy stuff," says James. "We did some System of a Down songs. We did some Deftones. We did like three or four Deftones songs, I think."

While covering those songs, he learned a little trick from Deftones. "When we were playing those songs, I noticed a lot of the emotion in Chino's vocals. But It wasn't just the way he [sang] stuff. It was his note choices. I kept noticing it where he'd hit the ninth note. So if the chord underneath the root note is C, he'd be like an octave or two octaves above that playing D, and it has a really sort of floating quality to it. And he would do that a lot and put a chorus on the vocal so it sounded weirdly ethereal with like really tough drums and shit underneath of it. I really liked that layer cake, of the skeleton that's really tough and gritty underneath, and then on top you've got like a creamy sort of vocal.

"And I noticed that part of that had to do with that trick of singing the ninth on top. So I used that for certain things. I used that for the song 'Structure of Love.' That top note that he goes to, I got that from him. But this was before I knew we were gonna be working with him. And then, we found out that Chino liked us, and about a year later or something, we were like, 'Why don't we see if we can get in touch with him and see if he'll sing something?' And the obvious choice, Rizz was like, 'It's gotta be "Structure of Love."' And she didn't know why necessarily. She didn't know that I'd taken that trick and used it. So we sent it to him."

James then described receiving Moreno's vocals back, "First we were like, 'Fuck this is just solo Chino. And [Rizz] was a bigger fan than I was. For her it was a bit of an emotional moment."  The resulting "Structure of Love II" is a chorus that sounds like it was written specifically for Chino Moreno. It's reasonable to suggest, then, that the success of the remix and the experience of collaborating with Vowws is what led Moreno to seek their input during the making of Ohms.

"[Chino] sent us something," James explained. "He was basically just sharing it and saying, 'Curious to see what you guys would do over the top of this or like what you think of it' sort of thing." 

Throughout season one of "Change (In the House of Pods)," guests shared a number of interesting little things about Chi Cheng, Deftones' beloved bassist who passed away in 2013. Superfan Jeff Cagle witnessed Cheng refusing to autograph a fan's skin. Joe Falkowski saw Cheng meditating after a show. Longtime Minneapolis radio DJ Pablo remembers Cheng applying a strange, pungent topical to his neck before a performance.

"I got invited back to have a cocktail with those guys before they got onstage. I went back and hit it up with Chi. He's such a cool dude and very cordial and very welcoming like, 'Here's what we do on tour,' and 'Here's how I pregame,' and all that. And he took a bottle out that looked like something from the late 1800s, the early 1900s. It was clear. It was like Bengay. He popped the cork off the top of it, and he poured it into his hand. And I'm like, 'Oh my god!' It just burned my eyes. And he started rubbing it into his hands. Then after that, he flipped his hair over, these long-ass dreads, and he started rubbing it into the back of his neck. Now my eyes are watering. He's like, 'Brother, if I didn't put this on my neck every night before I go onstage, I would be in the hospital. If you had to whip this amount of hair around every damn night, you'd need this shit, too.'" 

"Change (In the House of Pods)" Season 2
Deftones commemorated a landmark year in 2020, most notably with the re-release of White Pony and the accompanying Black Stallion remix album, which featured eleven different artists each re-imagined a song from White Pony. In the first episode of Season 2 of "Change (In the House of Pods)," Phantogram's Josh Carter will explain how he remixed "Street Carp." He also revealed that we can expect a "proper collaboration" with Phantogram and Moreno in the future.

Guests on Season 2 also include Rick Kosick, Jonah Matranga, Christian Castillo from Gulch, Jeremy Bolm from Touche Amore and Benno Levine from Vein. Season 2 of Change (In The House of Pods) premieres March 19th, 2021. It's available on Spotify, Apple Pods, Google Pods, iHeart, Omny, and TuneIn.