When Frank Delgado joined Deftones, he couldn’t really play an instrument. Didn’t really own any instruments, in fact.
“I started hanging around these guys and being creative with them with all that I had, which was records,” said the DJ and keyboardist, who played alongside the Sacramento, Calif., alt-metal veterans for years before officially becoming a full-fledged member for 2000’s White Pony. “My whole thing was trying to figure out how to utilize it in a different way than what I think people thought a DJ was supposed to be in a rock band.”
That spirit of ingenuity and drive is what’s allowed Deftones to outlive most of their late-’90s nu-metal peers, and earn plenty of critical acclaim to boot. Nearly 30 years after singer Chino Moreno, guitarist Stephen Carpenter and drummer Abe Cunningham founded the group as teenagers, they’re still packing sheds coast to coast. Their co-headlining summer tour with Rise Against stops at Tampa’s MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre on Thursday.
While the band is still touring in support of last year’s pummeling Gore, it happens to be a particularly nostalgic time for their fan base — this is the 20th anniversary of their breakthrough album Around the Fur, which spawned the hit My Own Summer (Shove It), and we’re just three years from the same anniversary White Pony, their landmark, Grammy-winning masterwork.
“It’s a lot of fun playing something from a little bit of all of those records,” Delgado said, “and creating a dynamic set.”
When Delgado called recently from Sacramento, we talked about all of that and more.
I just saw you’ll be opening a couple of shows for Guns N’ Roses this summer, which is kind of crazy. Over the years, opening for Guns N’ Roses is a job that’s carried some baggage. How are you feeling about it in 2017?
I’m all about it, honestly. We actually know a couple of the newer guys that they’re playing with, and we know Frank (Ferrer), the drummer, who’s still drumming for them. Yeah, it’ll be fun. If anything, it’ll be a crazy show. Something to witness.
What’s been the best experience you’ve had opening for a band?
There’s been so many. A few years back, we did a run with Mastodon, Deftones and Alice in Chains, and me being a big Alice in Chains fan, those dudes, they’re just gentlemen and class acts. I think everyone was just so happy to be playing with bands we all liked, and we all liked each other. It just made for a great summer tour. And that’s what you want.
Was there ever a discussion of making this a 20-year anniversary tour for Around the Fur?
No, there wasn’t. I don’t think we ever thought of that.
Have Deftones ever played a full album front to back on tour?
We have, and it’s been kind of a sporadic, random thing. I remember there was one show years ago where something happened to Stephen’s guitars; the rig went down and all he had was his early six-string stuff that was working, so we just played all of (1995’s) Adrenaline. But it’s never been, like, a master plan, where we’re going to go out and do a run. I don’t think we’ve gotten to that yet. Not that it’s a bad thing — a lot of people would probably enjoy something like that. But in honestly, we’re still touring this Gore record, which is a lot of fun.
A couple of years from now, the 20th anniversary for White Pony is going to come up, so I wonder if you’ll be thrown into a debate about whether to commemorate that album, or just do a straight album cycle on whatever new music you’ve got. Is that something you’ll have to think about?
It hasn’t come up, honestly, but I’m sure it will, especially as it gets closer, especially since White Pony is such a seminal record for us. It sounds fun, and it makes sense. I think right now, it’s all about just being efficient with our time, and also not overkilling ourselves. That actually makes sense, to jam ideas and then maybe go do some White Pony things.
When you’re off tour with Deftones, do you have DJ gigs on the side?
I do a lot of DJ’ing here in town. But a lot of (time off is ) just downtime, spending time with friends and family. You try and make the most use of the time we’re home, especially now that we have more of it. We’re a lot smarter with our time now, where we used to go out for three months, and then come home for two weeks, and then go back out for another couple of months. It’s not like that anymore. We’ll go out for a month, month and a half tops, and then come home for a month. There’s a really good balance right now with being able to be normal, especially with everyone having kids and families. So it makes all perfect sense.
When you DJ, do people expect you to play Deftones music, or do you mix in Top 40? What kind of DJ are you?
It depends on the gig. If I’m booked for something that is more based on who I am and what I do, then yeah. But here in town, I have a few different weekly nights; I play at different clubs with different friends, and it’s the furthest thing from Deftones. But if you were to listen to or hangout with Deftones backstage, it’s exactly what you would hear us listening to. It’s something I’ve always done since I was a kid, so I will always be doing that. But I think it’s more of a hobby now for fun here in town, as opposed to getting off the road and going back out on the road. I’m not cool with that. (laughs)
Deftones have a beer, Phantom Bride IPA. How much craft beer sampling do you get to do on tour? Do you get to taste the local flavors when you head out on the road?
We actually do, yeah; It’s a big deal. Every city we go to, we usually get something local. We’re usually at some place having beers. We’re not beer snobs by any means. There’s a few, maybe, but I think we run the gamut, drinking everything from your daily s---y beer to some really hoppy or sour beers. It seemed like a really good thing that came up, and a few different breweries approached us, so we put our spin on it, and took it seriously. People seem to dig it.
-- Jay Cridlin