Someone will be notably missed tonight when the Deftones appear with the BlackDiamondSkye tour in Seattle.
Bassist Chi Cheng hasn’t played with his band since a November 2008 car accident left him in a vegetative state. Sergio Vega will play bass tonight when the Deftones join Alice in Chains and Mastodon at KeyArena.
Before the accident, Cheng was working on the as-yet-unreleased “Eros,” which would have been the Deftones’ sixth studio album had his band mates not decided to reboot months after the accident, instead recording what eventually became May’s “Diamond Eyes” release.
So recently we caught up with lead singer Chino Moreno to talk about his fallen comrade and the new songs fans have yet to hear.
How did you wind up on this tour?
Alice has been (friends) with us for years and years. I met them when we were recording “Adrenaline,” our very first record, when we were in Seattle. Obviously, that’s where they’re from, and I remember meeting (drummer) Sean (Kinney) and (singer-guitarist) Jerry (Cantrell) way back then. We’ve remained friends over the years. Jerry’s a really cool dude. He lives close by (in Los Angeles) and, you know, I’ll go to his house and go swimmin’ or play cards. All those guys are great, great guys, so I think it’s gonna be a fun tour.
So does Seattle hold a special place for the band?
It definitely does. The first record, “Around the Fur,” we recorded there. And then self-titled, we recorded there. I even actually went and worked on some of the “Eros” stuff there. So I spent a lot of time in Seattle, living there and working there.
Speaking of the “Eros” stuff, what happened with that?
It’s in a vault. It’s locked away, and it’s something that we hold very special.
When Chi’s accident happened, we just took a step back, for one, from the band itself. But when we reconvened, it didn’t feel right to just continue on that record and finish it up and put it out. Everybody was just kind of filled with the desire to kind of take what we had been handed with the situation and put all our emotion into something brand new. So that’s what we did.
I’ve seen some of the documentary clips on the One Love for Chi site (www.oneloveforchi.com). Is he in a better state than people see in the videos?
No, the video is pretty true to what it is. Honestly, I just watched that about a week ago. I didn’t think they were actually going to put footage of him, you know, on there. But that’s it. You’ll see him, and he’s just there. He looks around, and he stares. You know, it’s really frustrating that all you want to do is get an expression from him – a smile or something so you know that he knows you’re there – and you just get that constant stare. That’s one of the hardest things to deal with.
Are you doing anything in concert that’s kind of a tribute to him?
(Fans) bring signs. They’ve got shirts, you know. Everybody’s really supportive of it. And there’s a couple of specific songs in the set that are directed toward him. We obviously want to make it known that he is not forgotten.
What songs are you dedicating to him?
We are playing the song “Dai” (short for “Dai the Flu”) which is named after him. Then, obviously, the song “Risk” from the new record, which is pretty much an ode to him. It’s nothing that’s really been said in the press before, but I think a lot of people listening to it read the lyrics (as being) geared toward him.
We’re just trying to be as optimistic as we can about the whole situation. It keeps us sane.
Tell me about the “Eros” material versus “Diamond Eyes.” Are they similar or is it a totally different record?
I don’t think they’re the same at all. I think although a lot of the music on there is great, from the “Eros” sessions, I think we were still in this place where our work ethic was still very lax.
When we went in to make “Diamond Eyes,” we really, really changed our whole work ethic where we went back to just working, like, eight hours a day straight. ... We’d start an idea and we’d finish the idea before we left.
With the “Eros” stuff a song will start in one place and then end somewhere else completely. I think it’s a little bit more jammy than the “Diamond Eyes” record is.
We’ve put it away for the time being, and when we feel, I guess, comfortable enough to start working on it again or to open up the files and even listen to it. I haven’t even really listened to that stuff since it happened. It’s pretty intense even to kind of (listen.) The music is a picture of that time in our lives, you know; that six months that we spent together in our rehearsal space, every single day with each other. So listening to that stuff, it takes you right back to that. So it’s pretty emotional stuff.
Ernest Jasmin: 253-274-7389
See the show
What: BlackDiamondSkye tour, featuring Alice in Chains, Deftones and Mastodon
When: 7 p.m. today
Where: KeyArena, Seattle Center
Information: 800-745-3000 or www.seattlecenter.com