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DEFTONES are not so much a band as they are a hyper-dynamic musical experience. Imagine the world spinning of its axis, and you'll have a good idea of what these guys sound like. Or, as lead singer CHINO MORENO says, "It's sweet, ruthless." With their wicked rhythms, sinister riffs, speaking-in-tongues vocals and rabid lyrics, the Sacramento, CA foursome build provocatively on their Maverick debut album ADRENALINE with the new AROUND THE FUR. More powerful than their first, it's a record that consolidates all their strengths--the rhythmic dynamism, the jarring use of melody, the industrial/rap undercurrents, "the bracing blend of extremes," according to the Los Angeles Times--and radically creates its own wavelength. In the words of guitarist STEPHAN CARPENTER, the new album "is passionate, heavier--it has more feeling than ADRENALINE. It'll be just as destructive on your stereo." DEFTONES triumphantly staked out their own turf with the October 95 release of ADRENALINE, which sold over 200,000 copies and featured the nerve-shredding classic "7 Words." This success was fueled by 13 months of great touring success with the likes of Bad Brains, Korn, and White Zombie, a stint on the Warped Tour, three rounds of headlining U.S. tour dates, and a special appearance--performing the song "Teething"--as the house-band for a "Day of the Dead" festival in the The Crow: City of Angels motion picture. "Teething" was also featured on the film's soundtrack album, while another DEFTONES song, "Can't Even Breathe," emerged on the Escape From L.A. soundtrack album. In a recent Guitar School story, writer David Grad described ADRENALINE as "DEFTONES' firestorm of noise, which blends a sensibility for drop-dead grooves with a passion for precision riffery. The ease with which the DEFTONES annihilate boundaries among their audiences is no doubt enhanced by the multi-ethnic makeup of the band." As CHINO explained, "We're two Mexicans, a Chinese and a white boy. Metal and punk don't have to be white, anymore than rap has to be black."
The band once again joined forces with co-producer Terry Date for AROUND THE FUR, which is undeniably DEFTONES in sound and structure and, like ADRENALINE, every song has its own distinct style and fury. "It's a lot like the last record in that I love every song for what it is," says STEPHEN. "Every song really is different from each other. They all have their own vibe, but there is a general vein to each, which is energy." And a lot of it. "I would just call it passionate; it's more about intensity than any actual style or genre," says bassist CHI CHENG when asked to describe their sound. Drummer ABE CUNNINGHAM further explains, "I'd say, Grandma, it's just crazy!'" AROUND THE FUR opens with "My Own Summer (Shove It)," which instantly gets your attention like using a hand grenade for an alarm clock. The album then shifts and changes, expanding on the concept of pure musical energy enhanced with obscure, yet personal and grabbing lyrics. Says STEPHEN, "I would call this record a progression, but not in the respect that it's better than the last one, it's just different. We've all matured a lot and communication is a lot clearer. I know what CHINO is going to do before he does it." "Yeah," adds CHINO, "this album just felt natural to us after all the touring." This "natural" feeling, and the maturing sense of communication and trust, allowed CHINO to go lyrically where he had been apprehensive about venturing before. "On AROUND THE FUR I say a lot of things I've always wanted to," explains CHINO. "I've grown more confident where I can express more personal things, and even if the guys don't agree with it or understand what I'm saying, they know that I'm sincere and trust me to do my thing."
The straightforward sincerity of the lyrics entangled witWhite Ponyh the music makes them more compelling and relatable. In the album's title track, "Around the Fur," CHINO conveys his fascination with the dark and trashy side of the fashion, glamour and prostitution worlds. Says CHINO, "It's basically about being infatuated with the dirtiness of life. I'll do anything to try to get into it and understand it, because I want to see where everybody's coming from. I'm hoping that people don't take it as a sexual reference, because it's not about that at all." Another song that deals with similar issues is "MX," which conveys images of greed and high culture. For the song, CHINO really wanted a girl to trade off lines with him throughout the song, and the only one around at the time was ABE's wife Annalynn, who at first had adamantly refused. After much coercion, she finally gave in and provided a voice to contrast against CHINO's musings about his longing to "let me think about girls and money and new clothes," to which she finally responds "fucking rock star." CHINO's desire for a female voice to appear on the album also gives insight to the inspirations for his melodic vocal stylings. "My vocals on this album was really influenced by female singers, really passionate ones like Polly Jean Harvey," he states. "Lately I've been more into that as opposed to the strictly hard-core style of singing. I just like the way that girls can make their voices sound, and I know I can't really do that, but I try to write in that way." This particularly comes across in a hypnotic song like "Be Quiet And Drive (Far Away)."
Tour plans for DEFTONES? They plan to live on the road, bringing
life to AROUND THE FUR and building their unique bond with their fans,
whom they reward with shows that are transcendent and physically
draining. One sold-out performance, at the Whisky in Los Angeles, had
Sandy Masuo of the Los Angeles Times observing: "STEPHEN CARPENTER's
guitar gouged into the groove one minute, then peeled out of it the
next, boosting the undulating rhythms of songs such as Lifter' with
relentless, repeating riffs. Singer CHINO MORENO hurled himself around
the stage as he spewed his abstract lyrics through a startling
assortment of vocal textures--from the primal keening of Root' to the
tuneful crooning of One Weak,' some rapping, hair-raising howling and
melodic mumbling." It's that kind of passion and total commitment to
their craft that makes DEFTONES stand apart. With AROUND THE FUR,
they've delivered a work that will intrigue your mind, energize your
body and touch your soul.
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