Abe Cunningham – Deftones ‘Ohms, Brotherhood & White Pony Tales’

Deftones Interview

For over thirty years, industry leaders Deftones have given us so many reasons to fall in love with them. The Sacramento-bred band’s breakthrough album White Pony turns twenty this year, and they’re celebrating with a remix of the album. In addition, the nu-metal influenced band are releasing their ninth studio album Ohms, a follow-up to 2016’s Gore.

Drummer Abe Cunningham is simply happy to still be making music with his best mates, and stunned to be celebrating twenty years of White Pony. Abe spent some time with us, sharing the writing process for Ohms, the re-release Black Stallion, as well as how late bassist Chi Cheng always has a place in his heart. 

With the release of Ohms just around the corner, what’s the feeling in the Deftones camp at the moment?

“It’s good man, here we are coming out with a bunch of new songs, as some ageing rockers – and still having a blast dude. We’re just excited man, things are good.”

It’s a weird time in the world right now, but so many musicians have been releasing new music, which is helping fans get through it. Does that aspect encourage the band to be releasing the record now? 

“For sure, I’m happy to be able to be part of that, and if we can help anyone through whatever they’re going through and bring a bit of excitement into the world, then I’m all for it – so we’re more than thrilled to be able to bring some kind of joy to people’s lives.”

You’re all living in different cities nowadays, so the process of writing and recording an album together can be pretty logistical – how did that all go for you guys this time around?

“Yeah we live in different cities, but you know it’s great, we’re brothers and we’re very close, and that’s the whole point of it – to hang is eighty percent of the process (he laughs). Seeing everybody again and laughing and doing what we’ve done for all these years is what it’s all about, and then it’s like ‘oh yeah’ – we’ll do some jams and then make some noise and see what happens.”

It’s been a decent few years since your last record. Fans are obviously hanging out for new material, and loving the singles so far. In terms of Gore, across the board there seemed to be a common theme that whereby Chino wrote a lot of that album, what are your views on that, and how would you compare that process to this time around for Ohms, what was that like for you guys?

“We were all there, and present, it’s not like one person was writing the songs – it’s a band thing and always has been. As far as Gore went, life happens – you know?

“Stephen (Carpenter / Lead Guitarist) played such a huge part, it was a signature part of our sound, and people said he wasn’t involved. He was the first one there and the last one out, but he was just going through some personal things at the time, as we all do. This time it was his turn, and we’re all there to support each other.”

“In terms of this time around, we got back our old producer who we worked with before. He’s an old buddy of ours so it was a nice process – we managed to have a break in between writing which was a different way of doing it, but it’s always nice to try new things.” 

It’s a big year for Deftones, as you’re also celebrating the twentieth anniversary of award-winning album White Pony. You guys are releasing an LP remix of the album called Black Stallion as well, what can you share about it?

“When we got together twenty years ago, we were just joking around before even writing White Pony, and we had this concept and talked about a whole bunch of stuff, including calling it Black Stallion – so we actually had this title in our minds before we even finished writing that record.

“This is a re-release on vinyl with special things and goodies that’ll be included in it as well. It’s White Pony, remixed by a different person and just something that came to fruition and turned out really well.”

We’ve heard that Eros might never be released, as it’s pretty emotionally heavy for you guys, do you agree with that sentiment, or would you like to visit it one day? 

“It’s something that’s been talked about over and over, and I definitely understand why people want to hear Chi’s recordings, we understand the gravity of that and to be heard.”

“The whole [issue] was that it was never completed, and honestly there’s so much attached to it. We were really just focusing on trying to be friends and brothers again, after going through a bunch of stuff – as humans and as people, as bands tend to do at that point in our career. 

“Those sessions were more of a re-acquaintance. Long story short, it was never completed. It’s a tough one, because I know there’s a big interest in it for obvious reasons, but it needs some stuff done to it, you know what I mean?”

When you listen to Ohms, do you ever think what Chi would have thought of the record? 

“Of course, everything that we do is done with his spirit, and that obviously guides us. His presence is always felt, and he’s definitely a big brother to me and a total prankster. Sometimes I see his smile at night and hear that laugh, and it brings me back to zero, and makes me whole again. But yeah, I’m sure he’s judging us somewhere, and that’s alright.”

Interview by Ricky Aarons @rickysaul90

Deftones’ Ohms is out tomorrow via Warner Records.
Pre-order here

Deftones - Ohms

Deftones – Ohms tracklisting

1. Genesis
2. Ceremony
3. Urantia
4. Error
5. The Spell of Mathematics
6. Pompeji
7. This Link Is Dead
8. Radiant City
9. Headless
10. Ohms

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