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What's Going On In Deftones?

From the Paris attacks to inner band turmoil, Deftones are in a strange place right now. We try to find out what's going on...

On the evening of November 13, 2015, following a quiet family dinner with his wife Risa and daughter Lola, Chino Moreno returned to his hotel room in Paris in a relaxed and contented frame of mind. The weekend ahead was to see his band, Deftones, play three sold-out gigs in the city’s beautiful Bataclan theatre, as a prelude to a short run of European shows. And with the final mixes of the quintet’s eighth studio album newly signed off, their frontman recalls that the Sacramento band were in “an excited place” as they prepared to re-introduce themselves to European audiences. Then the 42-year-old singer turned on the TV in his hotel room and time seemed to stand still.

As news reports filtered in of a shooting incident in Paris’s Place de la République, Chino reached for his phone and hurriedly texted his bandmates, who he knew to be staying in a hotel overlooking the square. When the ticker tape along the bottom of the screen broke news of an unfolding hostage situation at the Bataclan, his fears intensified. Deftones had been invited to attend that evening’s concert from their friends Eagles Of Death Metal, and although Chino had declined the invite in favour of a quiet evening with his family, he was aware that guitarist Stephen Carpenter and a number of the band’s crew had accepted the offer. Incoming texts informed the singer that Stephen’s party were safely back at their hotel, having left the gig three or four songs into the Eagles’ set, but the fate of Jesse Hughes’ band and audience remained uncertain as reports of further violent atrocities citywide intensified.

“It was very tense,” Chino recalls. “We were told to stay in the hotel and not go anywhere so we were just glued to the television and taking it in the same way the whole world was. We were just hoping for the best outcome.” The full horror would only become clear as dawn broke over Paris. 130 civilians were killed in what turned out to be a series of shootings and suicide bombings co-ordinated by the ISIS terrorist group, 89 of them murdered at the Bataclan. More than 350 people were injured in the attacks: eight terrorists lay dead too.

“It was crazy,” Chino says quietly. “We were lucky that we escaped the situation, but others were not so lucky. Music has always been something that people use to escape reality, and for people to have their lives taken while just out watching rock’n’roll was just horrific.”

Though emotions in the Deftones camp were understandably running high, clear-headed decisions still had to be made in regards to their upcoming schedule. With the Bataclan now a murder scene, there was no question that the Paris shows would be cancelled, but the prospects for their proposed engagements in Berlin, Cologne and London – where Deftones were due to perform at the 12,500-capacity SSE Arena in Wembley on November 21 – were less certain. The Wembley date, a signifier of the renewed momentum the band had achieved since 2010’s brilliant Diamond Eyes album introduced them to a new generation of rock fans, was set to be the quintet’s biggest UK headline date in 12 years, but its importance now had to be weighed against not only considerations of the band’s emotional state, but also concerns over the safety of their audience in the wake of the chilling events at the Bataclan. In the end, a decision was taken to put all the remaining tour dates on hold.

“Obviously for our guys who were there it was a whole lot more intense,” says Chino. “There’s a heaviness that goes along with that. I got on the phone with Stephen that evening and he said to me that he wasn’t really in any mindset to play a concert; I wasn’t either, and I wasn’t even there. I just wanted us just to get out of the city and get back home. I knew we could return when the time is right. It was only a few shows and it’s just music. A tragedy like that puts everything into perspective.”

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