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Once in a generation there’s a band that defies every genre – psychedelia, shoegaze, nu metal. It’s hard to sum up the genius of Deftones in just a few words. Despite scandal, tragedy and numerous line-up changes, for almost two decades this experimental outfit has defined the face of alternative music.

Following the death of the innovative and much-loved bassist Chi Cheng from heart complications following a car crash in 2013, Quicksand’s Sergio Vega joined the fold and spilled the beans to Forte Mag about the making of their latest album Gore, how he deals with critics, being the ‘new guy’, and the coffee in Melbourne. “You must know how good your food is, right?” Vega laughs.
“Not to mention the coffee,” he continues. “I live in Manhattan, but I just love going to Australia – every city has its charm and we always have a great time. The people are super friendly and there’s not a lot of pretence.”

Upon joining Deftones in 2008, Vega says he learnt first-hand the importance of humility, loyalty and friendship. “Although I wasn’t daunted by the prospect of replacing Chi, it did suck. I mean the circumstances weren’t great, but the guys were nothing but cool to me, and we all go way back.

“I was friends with the guys before joining the band,” Vega adds. “My other band, Quicksand, was on the Warped Tour with the Deftones years before. I treated them like friends, they treated me like a friend. They made me feel really comfortable and made it very easy – I never felt pressure or anything like that. Everyone knew who I was and what I was about from Quicksand. I’ve always been treated well by all the guys and fans alike.”

Despite being a member of one of the world’s biggest bands, Vega has found time to release music with his post-hardcore band Quicksand, as well as the energy to put out his own music and to play an instrumental role in the making of Deftones eighth studio album, Gore. “This album was a real learning experience,” Vega says. “We were all very hands on.”

“We’re all song writers and we constantly discussed things. We spent a lot of time on the material and on fine tuning it. Working with Matt Hyde [No Doubt, Cypress Hill, Slayer, Parkway Drive] was really cool.
“As a band we’re generally self-sufficient. We develop our sound and tone ourselves, but he [Hyde] was really good at individually assessing our personalities and he made us feel comfortable when we recorded with him, and during the tracking process too.

“Matt added a much-needed dynamic. As a band, we express ourselves through the music – we don’t need to talk,” Vega says. “Sometimes when we talk it can be confusing to one another and hard work for us, but Matt kept it all together. He’s a very laid back person and that’s exactly what we needed for the making of Gore.”

Arguably one of Deftones most successful releases, Gore debuted at number one on the Australian and New Zealand charts – however that doesn’t mean Deftones are immune to opinions of a few sharp-tongued critics. “We’re constantly being written about and I read most of it, but at the end of the day it’s like water off a duck’s back – and it’s the same whether it’s good, bad or indifferent,” he says. “People love to throw you off-centre. I like to form my own opinions and discover things for myself.”

When Deftones return to our friendly shores in November, Vega says they plan to explore and soak up our culture with the help of their hand-picked supports, Perth’s own hard core rockers Karnivool and Voyager. “When we came to Australia last time for Soundwave, we met a lot of bands and we loved it. We all got to fly together on the same plane and we had so much fun. That doesn’t happen on many festival tours and I miss that about Australia a lot,” Vega says.

“So when it came time to choose our opening acts we had to whittle the list down a lot – everyone had a different suggestion, but I think we chose an awesome combination that you’ll be excited to see. I love that it could all come together. We hope that we’re putting out something for people that they’re excited to spend their hard earned money on.”

Catch them when they come to Melbourne – but until then do like Fred Durst and put on your headphones and listen to Deftones!
Gore is out now through Reprise Records.

Written by Natalie Rogers

When & Where: Festival Hall, Melbourne – November 11