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Deftones

Thankfully, summer is nigh again after a seemingly endless and bitterly cold and wet winter in Melbourne. It’s a fantastic sight to finally once more see the sun blazing in all its glory, instead of the weak, watery ball of yellow that it’s been for the last six months or so. Of course, though, one of the key elements of summer is that, along with weather to party in, it also brings with it another delight, the big summer music festivals. And with them come mighty bands like the Deftones.
 
And those festivals don’t come much bigger than the Big Day Out. Not in our country anyway, and the 2011 version boasts one hell of an epic, all-quality lineup. Especially if you’re a punter who enjoys your music loud, heavy and powerful – a section of the music loving public that hasn’t exactly been completely ignored by the BDO organizers in the past, but hasn’t exactly been catered for to a massively satisfying extent either – you’ll be wrapped by the coming Big Day Out’s range of acts. Next year’s extravaganza features a headlining spot by the progressive and enigmatic heavy music heavyweights Tool, German industrial shockers Rammstein, Aussie alternative kings Dead Letter Circus and, of course, the Deftones.
 
It’s difficult to believe, but Sacramento, California’s favourite alt-metal sons formed 22 years ago, and have seen exhilarating highs and devastating lows in that time. They recently released their sixth studio album Diamond Eyes, and seem to be at an emotional and creative high point right now, despite recent calamitous events (bassist Chi Cheung was in a serious car accident almost exactly two years ago, and has been comatose ever since). The album is one of their absolute best across a career that has ebbed and flowed along with the public’s taste for alt-metal, and singer and main man Chino Moreno is all too happy to discuss the record, their coming Big Day Out appearance and many other things besides. “Yeah, we’re very proud of it,” he states of Diamond Eyes. “For all the things we’ve been through in our career, and especially in the last couple of years, with our bass player being in a car accident and not being able to play with us, we really had to rebuild our whole infrastructure from that point on.
 
“The fact that we were able to do that, and come up with a record that we’re as proud of as we are, we really are proud of it. For the fact that it’s been this long (the band’s career) and what we’ve been through and to still be creative… the main thing is that we really do enjoy making music with each other. And not just that,” Chino adds, “we enjoy being around each other; we’re all friends since we were kids. So the fact that we’re able to still do it and still have fun doing it is really important to us.
 
“Our thing is just to keep busy,” he continues, “and through all this we’ve been very supportive of each other, not just in playing music together. But playing music together, and playing music in general has been very therapeutic for us… Chi, he’s making progress, it’s just really slow,” Chino adds, with a touch of both sadness and hope.
 
“I think our attitude towards that is just to stay very optimistic. If there is a chance that he can make it through this, that’s what we choose to focus on. So we’re just trying to stay as optimistic as possible, and hopefully we get to see our friend again, and get to communicate with him. And have him still live a great life.”
 
Deftones are also no strangers to our shores, having toured many times in their almost quarter-of-a-century-long career. In fact, they are also no strangers to the Big Day Out either, although Chino struggled to remember exactly when it was that they made their BDO debut. “Yes we did, I think… I wanna say it was ’06, I think, but it could have been before that,” he attempts to recall, “maybe,” he laughs, “you know what, it was before ’06. It was a while ago, it was after… actually no, it was actually ’03 that we were there. Yeah. It was actually a really good tour. It was that kind of thing where I really appreciate the diversity of all the bands on that tour, and how cool it is to see that same crowd out there rockin’ out to all these different genres of music. I really respect that about the tour itself, that it has so much diversity in it.”
 
Not only does the festival tour bring with it a lot of diversity, and a lot of fun for both bands and punters, it has also been described regularly as a ‘working holiday’ for the bands. They play five or six massive shows over a period of two to three weeks, instead of one week, and often end up playing to more people anyway. It’s a comparatively cruisy schedule, but according to Chino this has it’s good and bad points. “There’s pros and cons on each side,” he explains, “sometimes if you’re sittin’ around too much, and there’s too many days off, time just sort of drags by.
 
“There’s something to be said about when you keep real busy and you’re workin’ every day, and the next thing you know the tour’s over. But we’ve been going pretty hard on this tour so we could definitely use some relaxation time. Especially since it’ll be summer time down there, so it’ll be nice.
 
“The lineup next year is amazing,” he continues on the BDO tour, “I have to say at this point it’s probably one of my favourite lineups that I’ve ever seen us be a part of.
 
“We’re just excited to be back there,” he concludes, “It’s been a while since we’ve been there, and just as a band I think we’re very revitalized right now, and energized to play. For the fans that saw us play last time I think they’re gonna see a different band, a band that is very hungry right now, and in it to win it!”
 
We’re sure we speak for all Deftones fans Down Under in saying we can’t wait.
 
DEFTONES play the Big Day Out at Melbourne Racecourse on January 30 – alongside Tool, Rammstein, Iggy & The Stooges, MIA, LCD Soundsystem and roughly a million other awesome bands – check out bigdayout.com for the remaining ticket-ballot and info. They also play their sideshow at The Palace Monday January 31 – tickets go on sale 9am Monday November 22 via ticketmaster.com.au and 136 100. Diamond Eyes is out now through Warner.