13 bands who wouldn’t be here without Deftones
Sacramento’s Deftones emerged from the nu-metal scene of the mid-’90s but they were always a band apart. They could do the low, down-tuned lurch with the best of them, especially on their first two albums. There was always a lot more to them than mere heaviness though and they mixed in layers of light, shade and atmosphere better than just about anyone else out there. Chino Moreno’s vocal versatility was another potent weapon in their armoury as he swooped and adapted to the ever-shifting soundscapes churned out by the band.
Throughout the years they’ve maintained impressive levels of both invention and consistency – which isn’t a combination many artists manage. They’ve passed through tragedy and adversity and they show no sign of stopping just yet. They’re one of the most influential acts around and here are just 13 others who owe them a huge debt…
We’ll start with an easy one. Fightstar have covered Minerva and My Own Summer (Shove It) – the latter for a Kerrang!’s High Voltage (A Brief History of Rock) CD. Charlie Simpson once told Kerrang! Radio: “The pinnacle moment in my life musically was when I heard Around The Fur by Deftones. I was veering into all these different styles of music and then I heard this album and it just blew my mind. It encompassed everything that I wanted out of music on one record.” Without Deftones, Fightstar almost certainly would never have existed, although we still would have had Busted.
Thursday’s churning post-hardcore always owed a lot to scene luminaries Quicksand, but Deftones were another clear influence. Talking about Thursday’s mid-2000s emo tag, frontman Geoff Rickly said: “I really admire the Deftones, who came out during the height of the nu-metal craze. The Deftones are to nu-metal what I hope Thursday becomes to emo – the Deftones were never really doing what everybody thought they were doing, and actually, they’re pretty interesting.”
Deftones were one of the first major bands to bring elements of shoegaze to the metal world. “When we were doing White Pony, I played [My Bloody Valentine album] Loveless for Terry [Date, producer]. I was like, ‘I want to get the record to sound like this!’” Chino told Revolver. A decade later NOTHING would take the baton and drag that droning blueprint to ever-more extreme places. Deftones certainly aren’t the only recognisable influence in Dominic Palermo’s cathartic wash of distortion and volume, but they do appear to be a major one.
Imagine being Loathe. Your 2020 album I Let It In And It Took Everything takes a highly Deftones-inspired mix of swirling beauty and heavy distortion, albeit imbued with a metalcore kick. You’ve talked about Deftones being a huge influence – for frontman Kadeem France they were the band that took him from ’90s hip-hop like A Tribe Called Quest and opened the door to a whole new world of heavy music. Then, out of the blue, Chino shares your single Two-Way Mirror on his personal Twitter account. “I leave work, start listening to the Deftones on my route home, and when I get home and connect to the internet my phone starts blowing up and I see that Chino has shared Two-Way Mirror,” Kadeem told Revolver. “He’s screaming in my ears as I’m screaming the house down in excitement.”
When Architects were chosen to support Deftones at Wembley Arena in 2015 it must have felt like a huge bucket list moment. Frontman Sam Carter has spoken about his huge admiration for the band, and the late Tom Searle and fellow guitarist Adam Christianson singled out White Pony as one of the albums that had shaped Architects’ sound. Adam told Music Radar: “Stef Carpenter is not really a trained guitar player. Which is a really cool thing, because anything goes! As a trained musician, you might get blinded to possibilities because it’s not the right thing technically. He uses his ears rather than scales, and always plays what sounds cool, which is more interesting to me.” Alas, that particular Wembley show was not to be as the tragedy at Bataclan led to a postponement, but you can still hear Architects’ hero worship on their stonking cover of Change (In The House Of Flies), which they recorded for a Spotify Singles session.
In some ways, Deafheaven’s hulking mix of black metal aggression and post-rock atmospherics is like Deftones turned up to 11. When it comes to the elder statesmen, a lot of the focus is placed upon Chino’s acrobatic, emotive vocals and those churning guitars, but the rhythm section has also had a major impact on many of your favourite bands. As Deafheaven drummer Daniel Tracy told Revolver: “Abe Cunningham is one of my all-time favourite drummers, and his style is hugely influential for me. The way that he fits crazy tight jazzy fills into a heavy groove is forever impressive.”
Oceans are more relative newcomers channelling the Deftones into interesting new areas. Their debut album The Sun And The Cold features a big Deftones influence woven through big nu-metal riffs and expansive post-metal soundscapes. A prior EP Cover Me In Darkness featured four tracks from acts that had moved them to “represent Oceans in its entirety”, with one of said songs being My Own Summer (Shove It). Frontman Timo Rottem, who describes himself as the band’s ‘nu-metal guy’ told Kerrang!: “I think it’s about the raw emotion in the music and the lyrics. It’s not so much about being very technical, it’s about bringing this raw emotion out of yourself and transferring it to the listener.”
When Deftones recruited synth-pop trio CHVRCHES for their Dia De Los Deftones festival, the internet went into meltdown. Even Hatebreed’s Jamey Jasta had a pop, but Deftones themselves have always brought diverse elements into their music and refused to sit in any narrowly defined genre. Brought together for a K! feature, CHVRCHES’ Lauren Mayberry told Chino: “That was what excited me when I found your music. It had these two strains in it. It could appeal to people in that vein, but also to people outside of it, with different sensibilities. I learned to care about genre when I was a teenager. People would say, ‘You can’t listen to that.’ And you’d think, ‘I didn’t know! No-one told me!’”
When members of crunching metalcore crew A Life Once Lost teamed up with VESSL (who, to be fair, already sounded a lot like Deftones) and a number of other East Coast sluggers, something far more measured and atmospheric was born. VEXES frontman Charlie Berezansky described their sound as “the fusion of something heavy and hypnotic with these sort of ambient ethereal melodies”. Sound familiar? Take a listen to their debut album Ancient Geometry and, if you’re a Deftones fan, you’ll find a lot to love. It’s also becoming apparent that bands who really like Deftones also really like WRITING THEIR NAMES IN ALL CAPS.
Will Haven actually came from the same Sacramento scene as Deftones and Far, albeit closer to the hardcore end of the spectrum. While Will Haven have never enjoyed quite the same status as Deftones, the bands have remained intertwined, playing shows together and guesting on various projects. Will Haven guitarist and primary songwriter Jeff Irwin also credits the friendship with keeping his own creative fire burning. He told Revolver in 2018: “I grew up with the Deftones and Far guys way before Will Haven even existed. They’ll always be close friends of mine. It’s cool. I think that’s maybe why we continue to do it. When we’re home, I hang out with the Deftones guys all the time and hear stories from them. I’m like, ‘Wow, let’s do some more music, I want to experience that again.’ Being friends with those guys keeps us hungry to do stuff and play music.”
Before metalcore really kicked in it seemed like every other band in Australia wanted to be Deftones. You had the likes of Cog and The Butterfly Effect but the daddies remain Karnivool. Their prog-laden sound might owe as much to Tool but Deftones were very much a big early influence. As they geared up to support their heroes in Oz in 2016, guitarist Mark ‘Hoss’ Hosking told Music Feeds: “Deftones are one of those seminal bands for us that really helped us create who we wanted to be – their sound back then was awesome.”
Okay, so Slipknot would definitely still exist without Deftones. They already existed in a nascent form but were still coalescing and yet to play a gig when Deftones released their debut album Adrenaline in 1995. But the Sacramento crew did have a major impact on many of their peers, and Corey Taylor spoke about their ongoing influence on the ’Knot. The singer told Loaded Radio: “Deftones, with White Pony, it was night-and-day from what they had done with Around The Fur or even the first album. So it was almost like they allowed bands like us and a ton of other bands to have the freedom to explore. I think that’s how you continue to do it, and you explore the concept of longevity – by not resting on your laurels.”
While we’re pushing the envelope a little, we’ll finish with Suicide Silence and get some deathcore fans gnashing their teeth. They might have existed without Deftones but there’s a good chance their self-titled 2017 album wouldn’t. Their stylistic shift to a distinctly ‘Tones-flavoured sound had some fans so distraught that an online petition was launched to try to halt the album’s release. Late vocalist Mitch Lucker had been a big Deftones fan and told AU Review: “The bands that made me want to be in a band to begin with were groups like Korn, Deftones, Slayer, Sepultura… everything that my dad would buy and bring home to me and my brother saying ‘Hey, listen to this’.” Suicide Silence had also covered Engine #9 live with Mitch, albeit with distinctly unclean vocals.
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