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An alternative metal powerhouse originating from Sacramento, California, Deftones burst onto the music scene in 1988. Spearheaded by lead vocalist Chino Moreno, lead guitarist Stephen Carpenter, and drummer Abe Cunningham, the band’s foundation was solid. The ensemble underwent significant evolution over the years, but remarkably, this Grammy Award winner band has gracefully navigated through shifts in their member roster, leaving a lasting mark in the music industry.

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Early Years

From Skateboarding to Jam Sessions

Chino Moreno, Stephen Carpenter and Abe Cunningham, united by their shared experiences at C. K. McClatchy High School in Sacramento, initially bonded through the city’s skateboarding culture. While Stephen was a devotee of heavy metal, Chino’s musical inclinations leaned towards hardcore punk bands including Bad Brains and post-punk/new wave acts such as the Cure and Depeche Mode. The birth of Deftones can be traced back to 1988, when Chino, discovering Stephen’s guitar skills, orchestrated a jam session, with Abe on drums, after which these childhood friends began regular garage sessions, laying the groundwork for the band.

Dispelling a Long-Circulated Myth

An enduring myth surrounded Stephen Carpenter’s early days when, at 15 years old, a car accident left him in a wheelchair – supposedly, a cash settlement from the driver funded the band’s equipment. However, in a 2007 interview, Abe Cunningham refuted this claim, revealing the story to be false. What was true was that Stephen taught himself guitar by playing along to metal tracks by bands including Metallica, Stormtroopers of Death, and Anthrax.

Complete Roster of Original Members

The band’s lineup underwent changes before solidifying. Chino, Steph and Abe were joined by Dominic Garcia as the bassist, but when Abe left to join another Sacramento band, Phallucy, Dominic transitioned to drums. Chi Cheng then assumed the bass role in 1990, and the band recorded a demo. Dominic left in 1991, and John Taylor briefly filled in on drums until Abe’s return in 1993.

Deftones gradually expanded their reach, performing club shows in San Francisco and Los Angeles, where they caught the attention of Maverick Records representatives Freddy DeMann and Guy Oseary, and the label signed them after an impressive performance. Chi played with the band until 2008 when he was involved in a horrific vehicular accident, was in a coma, and died of cardiac arrest in 2013.

The Origins of the Band Name

Initially, people were confused with the name of the band but Stephen Carpenter explained that he crafted the band’s name by merging “def,” a hip-hop slang term popularized by artists such as LL Cool J and Public Enemy, with the suffix “-tones,” reminiscent of 1950s groups such as the Delltones, the Cleftones, the Deltones, and the Harptones. The name also cleverly plays on the term “tone deaf,” adding a touch of wordplay to their distinctive identity.

Get to Know the Current Band Members

Just like many bands or groups, Deftones has its share of changes in its roster of members. Some of the reasons were dispute, death, retirement, or just unexplained. Here are the remaining members of the band:

Chino Moreno – Lead Vocals (1988–present); Rhythm Guitar (1999–present)

American musician Camillo “Chino” Wong Moreno, born on 20 June 1973, in Sacramento, is the creative force behind Deftones. The nickname “Chino” was playfully bestowed upon him by his Mexican uncles, originating from the Spanish word “Chinito,” meaning Chinese, an obvious reference to his Mexican-Chinese heritage. Born to a Mexican father and a Mexican-Chinese mother, his unique name stems from his distinctive physical features inherited from his ancestry,

As a co-founder of Deftones, Chino seamlessly took on the roles of lead vocalist and resident lyricist. Renowned for his expressive tenor voice and distinctive screams, by 2007 the prestigious American music magazine Hit Parader recognized his vocal prowess, ranking him 51st among the Top 100 Metal Vocalists of All Time.

Approaching the age of 51 this year, Chino Moreno has defied stereotypes and misconceptions about his personal life. Despite being married twice and a father of three, speculations about his sexual orientation have persisted. Nevertheless, these factors haven’t over shadowed the enduring success and impact he’s had as the frontman of Deftones.

Stephen Carpenter – Lead guitar (1988–present); Rhythm guitar (1988–1999)

Renowned lead guitarist Stephen “Steph” Carpenter, born on 3 August 1970, co-founded Deftones and gained acclaim for his exceptional guitar prowess. Widely lauded for his innovative techniques, he became known for seamlessly blending resonant open strings and unconventional dissonant chord voicings in his playing style. His artistry extended to the skillful incorporation of standard power chords within polyrhythmic structures, reflecting a diverse and groundbreaking approach.

Guitar enthusiasts marveled at Steph’s abilities, especially when he transitioned to playing the seven-string guitar in the latter part of the 1990s, notably utilized during the creation of the “White Pony” album in 2000. A decade later, he pushed his musical boundaries further by adopting the eight-string guitar during the recording of songs for the “Diamond Eyes” album. Continuing his quest for musical exploration, he ventured into the nine-string guitar while contributing to the band’s 2020 album, “Ohms.”

Despite his musical accomplishments, the 53-year-old Steph has found himself in the midst of controversy due to his embrace of conspiracy theories. Placed at the 60th slot on Guitar World’s “The 100 Greatest Metal Guitarists,” he garnered attention for his unconventional beliefs, including assertions about ‘flat Earth’ and skepticism towards vaccinations. Some, including his bandmate Chino, attribute these beliefs to his presence during the 2015 Paris attack at the Bataclan Theatre or his use of cannabis. As of 2020, Steph has been vocal about his unconventional opinions, sparking discussions and adding a layer of complexity to his public persona.

Abe Cunningham – drums (1988–1990, 1993–present)

American drummer Abraham Benjamin “Abe” Cunningham, born on 27 July 1973, in Long Beach, California, has been a vital rhythmic force in the world of music. Relocating to Sacramento with his family at a young age, his musical journey was influenced by his father, who was also a musician. Though initially drawn to both drums and guitar during his early teens, his passion for drumming deepened after connecting with his stepfather, a drummer, following the loss of his biological father.

In their formative years, Abe played with two bands, Phallucy and Deftones. He briefly parted ways with Deftones to focus on Phallucy, only to return later as its resident drummer. The band faced challenges in finding a dedicated drummer during this period, showcasing Abe’s crucial role in maintaining their musical integrity. Critics have lauded Abe for his unconventional drumming style, which deviates from the typical metal drummer setup, notably eschewing the double bass configuration. His drumming prowess shines in the band’s tracks, with particular acclaim for his energetic and pulsating rhythms. His adept manipulation of tempo, as seen in songs such as “Mein,” underscores his command over the nuances of drum play.

Beyond his familial influences, Abe draws inspiration from legendary drummers such as Mitch Mitchell, Ginger Baker, and Stewart Copeland.

Frank Delgado – Keyboards, Turntables, Samples (1999–present)

Born on 29 November 1970, in Los Angeles, California, Frank Delgado is an American musician with Mexican heritage. Deftones enlisted him as their official keyboardist and turntablist after witnessing his performances with the hip-hop group Socialistik in Sacramento, which frequently opened for the band. Originally featured as a guest musician on a couple of Deftones’ early albums, Frank’s seamless integration and musical synergy led to his permanent inclusion before the creation of their third album.

What set Delgado apart was his distinctive approach to samples. Instead of relying on prerecorded samples from the music bank, a common practice among many artists, Frank took the initiative to create his own. This unique touch elevated Deftones’ music by introducing original beats, infusing an additional layer of authenticity into their sound.

Other Touring Musicians

In instances when a resident bassist wasn’t part of the lineup, Deftones enlisted the talents of Fred Sablan, an accomplished American musician as their regular bass player during tours. Known for his exceptional musical prowess, Fred embarked on his journey in the late 2000s, initially contributing to bands such as Goon Moon before becoming a key member of the rock band Marilyn Manson from 2010 to 2014. When not on tour with Deftones, Sablan also lends his skills the band named Heavens Blade.

In addition to Sablan, Deftones brought on board Lance Jackman to fulfill various roles during their tours. A versatile musician, Lance not only showcased his proficiency on rhythm and lead guitar, but also contributed as a backing vocalist.

Notable Works Released

Over the course of their prolific career, Deftones have delivered a diverse discography, featuring nine studio albums, three compilation albums, five demo albums, three extended plays, and 25 singles. While each release contributed to the band’s sonic evolution, certain studio albums stand out from the rest.

“Adrenaline,” released in 1995, marked the band’s initial foray into the music scene. Despite a subdued commercial start, Deftones’ relentless dedication cultivated a dedicated fan base, propelling sales to over 220,000 copies. “Around the Fur,” released in 1997, catapulted the band to stardom within the alternative metal scene. Peaking at No.29 on the Billboard 200 and achieving RIAA platinum status, this album solidified the band’s presence on the musical landscape.

“White Pony,” released in 2000, debuted at No.3 on the Billboard 200 chart, ultimately selling over 1.3 million copies in the US; the band’s creative prowess was acknowledged with a 2001 Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance for the track “Elite.”

Subsequent releases, including the self-titled “Deftones,” plus “Saturday Night Wrist,” “Gore,” and “Ohms,” consistently made waves on the Billboard 200 chart. The band expressed immense gratitude as the title track from their latest album, “Ohms,” garnered a Grammy Award nomination for Best Rock Performance in 2022, highlighting the enduring impact of Deftones’ sound on the contemporary rock music industry.

Social Media Presence

While the band was created in 1988 and members were in their 50s, it doesn’t mean they don’t use social media. Deftones itself has maintained five social media platforms, all verified, to update and engage its fanbase. On Instagram, they have 2.6 million followers; on their YouTube channel, they’ve amassed 1.3 million subscribers; on Facebook, they’re being followed by three million fans; and on X (formerly Twitter), they have more than 500,000 followers. The band’s music is available online through three music apps such as Amazon Music, Apple Music and Spotify. They also have an official site on which fans can access updated news, and buy official merchandise.

Net Worth

The members of Deftones have reaped financial rewards from the band’s success. Chino Moreno boasts an estimated net worth ranging of over $10 million, while Stephen Carpenter has a net worth close to $10 million. Abe Cunningham is reported to have amassed wealth of $6 million, and Frank Delgado’s net worth is estimated to be almost $5 million.





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