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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, May 7, 2010

Deftones gain new perspective

By Carla Meyer
McClatchy-Tribune News Service

The Deftones' "Diamond Eyes," out this past Tuesday, is the band's first CD without Chi Cheng on bass. Yet his presence suffuses the album.

"It's all about him," Deftones drummer Abe Cunningham said. "How could it not be?"

Critically injured in a November 2008 car accident, Cheng remains in a minimally conscious state.

Lyrics such as "come wake me up" on the "Diamond Eyes" track "976 Evil" clearly evoke Cheng. But Cunningham said Cheng's influence on the CD is less specific, more all-encompassing.

Cheng's accident and subsequent struggles devastated his band mates before helping them gain new perspective, Cunningham and Deftones lead singer and guitarist Chino Moreno said by phone.

They're taking better care of themselves and avoiding those petty squabbles that arise in any band, especially one together more than 20 years. They value anew their longtime friendships.

"Our whole appreciation of what we have and what we did is definitely put back in the forefront," Cunningham said.

The Deftones enlisted former Quicksand bassist and longtime friend Sergio Vega for some dates in 2009, the recording of "Diamond Eyes" and subsequent 2010 festival appearances and tour dates that will go on for months.

Before the tour, Moreno, 36, who moved to Los Angeles a few years ago, and Cunningham, 36, who still lives here, got together to see Cheng, 39, in Stockton, Calif., where he is being cared for by his family.

"He is making progress, but it is slow progress," Moreno said. "The main thing is, when you look at him, it feels like he is still there. I think as long as we stay hopeful and positive, that is the best we can do."

The Grammy-winning alt-metal band's guitars are as aggressive as ever on "Diamond Eyes." But some songs, such as the hypnotic "Sextape," are more balm than blast, seeming to reflect the therapeutic aspect of the recording sessions.