DEFTONES: The Stories Behind The Videos

DEFTONES bassist Chi Cheng and drummer Abe Cunningham recently spoke to The Sacramento Bee about their newly released "B-Sides and Rarities" album, featuring outtakes, live cuts and rare nuggets. A companion DVD houses all the band's videos and choice live moments.

On "7 Words" and "Bored" videos, both filmed in Sacramento (in 1995 and 1996, respectively):

Abe: "They came and shot ('7 Words') for 12 grand. It was supposed to be our electronic press kit. It turned out pretty good, so we used it as a video. (It was filmed) at the Cattle Club and all around town. It was a Sacto thing; it was cool.

"'Bored' was our second video. ... We actually toured around quite a bit, around the country and parts of the world at that point. We were happy to be home. That was Chino's house, (and) Matt Erich's (downtown rehearsal studio) where we used to rehearse when we first started. After Stephen's mom's garage, we went to Matt Erich's and then throughout the years practiced there forever."

Chi: "('Bored') was really, really cool. That was family and friends all over at Matt Erich's, everyone having a good time. My memory isn't so hot because I had allergies that day and I'd never taken a Benadryl. Someone gave me one ... and I thought I was going to fall asleep."

On the "My Own Summer" video, featuring the DEFTONES and a bunch of sharks (1998):

Abe: "That was fun as hell. We were in Antarctica ... nah, it looked like it. We were by Pyramid Lake. The sharks are real, there's a lot of them. They were man-eaters, man. ... (sheepishly) The sharks were mechanical sharks."

Chi: "I fell off one of those shark cages and my dreads stunk for a week. (Director Dean Karr) got the good end of that deal. He's like, 'I need to get some more money to go to Australia and actually get footage of sharks.' He went down there for a week and a half and got no footage. So he got an extra trip."

On the "Minerva" video, filmed during a sandstorm near the Salton Sea (2003):

Abe: "It sucked. The video could've been so awesome, but they weren't able to edit it because the sand got in all the time codes and all the DATs. ... We had these moons that are way off in the distance, these huge spheres of light that got smashed when the winds came in. It turned into a sandstorm. It was a 22-hour shoot, and we were there the whole time."

Chi: "We were out there for almost 24 hours. It was ridiculous. We got out there very early in the morning, and the wind blew sand in just about every orifice you can imagine. It was terrible. But it was a trippy video. I actually like it a lot."

On the "Hexagram" video, filmed at a Southern California skate park in front of their fans (2003):

Abe: "This is my favorite video of us. We've done quite a few videos that have never captured us fully, either we're not comfortable or trying to make us into something — we're hating it but still doing it. 'Hexagram' was cheap as hell to make and just captured us. It's bombastic. It was fun."

Chi: "The 'Hexagram' video was dope. We went completely back to our roots."

On DEFTONES' version of LYNYRD SKYNYRD's "Simple Man":

Abe: "I love SKYNYRD, dude. Stephen loves SKYNYRD. Chino at the time wasn't feeling it. He knew the song and he knew who SKYNYRD was. He did three passes at the vocals and that was it. We were trying to say, 'It's got to be on there. How are we going to convince or trick him, how are we going to get this fool to say 'yes'?'

"I called him up one day ... and he's like, 'Dude, have you heard 'Simple Man'?' I was like, 'Yeah, we want to put it in the record.' He's like, 'Dude, I was listening to it the other day and I started crying.' We're dads now, (so) I think it reminded him of his sons or something like that."

On "If Only Tonight We Could Sleep", a CURE cover song, recorded live for MTV's "Icon":

Chi: "That was harrowing. It was nerve-wracking. All the cover songs, you do them and record them, and you get feedback later. It was the most intimidating thing for (CURE frontman Robert Smith) to be sitting there. You can't tell whether he likes it. Afterward, he was so cool. It was amazing."

Abe: "'Around the Fur' came out and we were reading Kerrang! (magazine) and Robert Smith had his Top Five records of the year. ('Around the Fur') was in there. We love THE CURE. We all love that band.

"'Around the Fur' was coming out and we were at SIR (studios) down in L.A. They were rehearsing in the next thing over. We went over there ... we're petrified, but they're all just kicking it with beers: 'What's up, mate?' They were like the nicest people in the world."

Listen to Abe Cunningham dishing about the DEFTONES' career in a podcast with The Sacramento Bee pop music critic Chris Macias at www.sacbee.com/beatnonstop.

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