Deftones Almost Done With Deftones — For Real This Time

Band never intended to have new LP ready last fall.

"It's been a long process, longer than any other record," Deftones' Abe Cunningham said, then pontificated on the virtues of patience.

As the drummer touched upon the almost three-year span leading up to the Sacramento band's fourth album, singer Chino Moreno was in a Seattle studio tracking the remaining vocals for the follow-up to 2000's White Pony. Once that's completed, the project, still tentatively titled Deftones, will enter the mixing stage, the final phase before it's released to a public restless for new material — material fans thought they were going to get last fall.

Last summer, a Maverick Records release schedule was issued to the press with a slot in mid-November reserved for the Deftones. "Fans got hold of that date on the Net, and we weren't even done with the record!" an incensed Cunningham said. "How dare they put out a release date? We want it out, too, but we also want to put out quality product."

The album is now slated for a May 20 release, a due date that should be at least close to accurate, since Deftones will be setting out on the Summer Sanitarium Tour, headlined by Metallica, Limp Bizkit and Linkin Park, beginning July 4 (see "More Dates Added To Metallica/ Limp Bizkit/ Linkin Park Tour").

After overcoming a creative hurdle that followed a lengthy stay on the road supporting White Pony, the quintet's most commercially successful album, Cunningham, Moreno, guitarist Stephen Carpenter, bassist Chi Cheng and DJ Frank Delgado got together to devise their next move. They recorded about 15 songs with longtime Deftones producer Terry Date (Limp Bizkit, Pantera) and are now deciding on which five to winnow out.

Although the LP is being finished in Seattle, most of it was recorded in the band's own studio in its hometown of Sacramento. The members were able to work on their opus in a comfortable, relaxed environment; and therein lays much of the delay, and consequently, much of what promises to be compulsive perfection.

"We had the luxury to be able to record it and screw with things as we went; we were never able to do that before. That's the beauty of having your own studio."

Deftones took a reprieve from the process in January to perform on Australia's Big Day Out touring festival. Although they refrained from performing any new material out of a fear that songs would appear online before their time, taking the stage together for the first time in over a year cemented the fact that Deftones are ready to resume where they left off.

"The friendship and camaraderie of the band is all back," Cunningham said, "and that's the best thing in the world."