Deftones “Then and Now” An Interview with Abe Cunningham

The Deftones lit-up DTE Energy Music Theatre Tuesday night but a few weeks prior, See The Muzic’s very own Danielle Debusman had a chance to sit down with Deftones Drummer Abe Cunningham to discuss the new tour, how Chi Cheng’s (Deftone’s Bassist) career ending car accident affected the group and the band just feeling like a band again:

D: So, you guys are currently on tour with System Of A Down and I have to say, I am stoked for this lineup!! How did the co-headlining thing with them come to be?

Abe: Yeah we’ve been friends with those guys for a very long time! They actually opened up for us way back when they were first starting out. We also have the same management as well, and have been talking about doing this forever so; here we are!

D: It seems like you guys have been really cranking for the last couple years, between touring a ton, putting Diamond Eyes out in 2010, and now the new album coming out in October, do you kind of feel like you’re at a place now where the creative juices are flowing pretty naturally?

Abe: Definitely. It feels so good to have it be this way. I mean I wouldn’t change anything right now; for a while, making records became a drag mainly because of the things that we were doing to ourselves, you know all the rock and roll crap, it just became miserable for us. Chi’s accident really kicked us back into gear…we’re really enjoying each other’s company again and enjoying what we do. After all these years of wasting time and being stupid, we just kind of had this re-awakening if you will. We just figured out how to respect each other, and respect the band we’ve created. It’s kicked us into gear with our writing and we’ve never looked back since.

D: Has there been any progress with Chi?

Abe: No. He’s pretty much the same. He’s back in CA at home now, which is probably the best place for him to be, instead of some nasty hospital. He’s a fighter; the dude is incredibly strong and stubborn. It’s amazing.

D: I believe people can still make donations on the website to help the family out, correct?

Abe: Yeah The family needs it, his care is really, really expensive. We do what we can when we’re out on tour, portion’s of our ticket sales go towards his care.

D: Tell me a little bit about the new album. You guys have a name for it yet?

Abe: We actually don’t have a name for it yet, maybe we’ll come up with one tonight (laughs) I’ll tell you one thing though, this record is badass!

D: Yes, I’ve heard a couple tracks off of it; “Rosemary” in particular is a pretty awesome song!

Abe: Yeah, we are super stoked. It all came together when we clicked again and we just had an absolute blast creating it. We’re just having a really good time making music.

D: That’s awesome! I remember reading your album Diamond Eyes and how you guys recorded it with the entire band at once, rather than tracking your parts separately. Did you take the same approach with the new record?

Abe: Yeah. The thing was, around the time of “Saturday Night Wrist” we were just out of our minds, no one was talking so there was no communication. We had a record to make, so in the studio someone would come in, lay down their parts, then someone else would put something over it, etc, we weren’t even speaking, it just sucked, It just really sucked. But this time around, we were a band again, recording together in an empty room just bashing these songs out a couple hundred times, by the time it came to start tracking, we knew everything and there wasn’t any doubt how the songs would be styled. It really made the whole studio experience a breeze. We just went in there, hashed it out and didn’t have to rely on technology to piece everything together!

D: What kind of stuff were you guys listening to while making this record? Were there any bands/artists that influenced you musically this time around?

Abe: For me, I was just going out and being thrilled that I was jamming with my boys again. I guess I can’t really answer that question! Music is constantly in the background of our lives and I’m a victim of ‘shuffle’. Everything is always shuffling, you know? So nothing and everything I guess!

D: Soooo – a lot of Justin Bieber then?

Abe: (laughs) Yeah totally. The Bieb’s Christmas album for sure.

D: Yes!! Christmas album a solid choice!

D: With the amount of live performances you guys do, I imagine it comes to a point you get tired of doing certain songs over and over. Is there a particular song that never gets old to play live?

Abe: “My Own Summer” is one that is just a fun-ass song to play. There are certain songs off our first album that we’ve played a million times, but you give them a break and they come alive again. We don’t want to piss anyone off, but at the same time, we’ve got to be stoked to play too. So we have to give things a break sometimes. But the new stuff is killer too – really looking forward to playing all of that.

D: My ultimate dream would be to see you guys play “Passenger” live with Maynard (James Keenan from Tool).

Abe:  Haha you and a couple other people, it’s only happened twice!

D: What was it like to work with him?

Abe: Maynard is awesome. That was one of those things that kind of came together organically. We knew him for a while, and asked if he wanted to work with us. So we met up with him one day in LA and wrote the music together, he did the vocals way later. He’s a total character though, probably one of the funniest people you will ever meet.

D: I think it’s safe to say a lot of drummers would cite you as an influence. Who are some of the drummers that have influenced you?

Abe: Stewart Copeland is probably one of my all-time favorites. Mitch Mitchell from Hendrix, Ginger Baker from Cream.  I like about 7,000 others though, if you’d like me to rattle them off. (laughs)

D: (laughs) I wish we had a minute! Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us Abe! I wish you guys the best of luck with the new album & the tour, I personally can’t wait for the Detroit show on the 14th!

Abe: Thank you so much Danielle, this has been very cool. We’ll see you in a couple weeks!

Deftones Official Web Site:

Deftones “Change” Video:

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One Response to Deftones “Then and Now” An Interview with Abe Cunningham

  1. Jenn says:

    Great interview!

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