The Deftones singer has been at the forefront of alternative metal since the band first appeared in 1995 with their debut album Adrenaline, going on to influence a whole generation of rock bands. But it hasn’t all been plain sailing. “We’re lucky to have made it through,” he says. “I used to take it as far as I could.”
Here he ‘fesses up to the drugs, the fights and a paralysing fear of flying…
What’s your drug of choice?
“These days, I would say coffee. I like it because it makes me feel awake. I usually have a cup in my hands within 10 minutes of getting out of bed. That’s about as rough as I get these days, and it feels good.”
Alright then, what’s your least favourite drug?
“I’ve never liked hallucinogenics. I don’t like crystal meth any more, but there was a time when I really did. It’s one hell of a drug – I’ll never touch that stuff again.”
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve seen while you were high?
“Probably myself in the mirror after being awake for days, even weeks at a time! We’re very lucky we made it through some of those times – I used to take it as far as I could. I don’t regret it because it’s part of who I am today, but I’m glad that stuff isn’t part of our lives any more.”
Have you ever been arrested?
“Not once, and I’m quite proud of that. You can read it in two ways – either I’m an angel or I’m very devious! I know it’s not very rock’n’roll, but I’m lucky to say I’ve never even had a pair of handcuffs on.”
What’s the worst fight you’ve had?
“I got into a fist-fight with Stephen [Carpenter, Deftones guitarist] once because someone threw a pack of toilet roll at me while we were onstage. It wasn’t unravelled, so when it knocked me, it fucking hurt! I was fuming backstage because I felt stupid but Stephen thought it was the funniest thing and started filming me. I got angry and broke his camera, then he got pissed so I ended up jumping on his back and choking him. It got pretty rough!”
When was the last time you were totally starstruck?
“I saw Robert Plant the other day – that was pretty fucking rad! We were staying at the same hotel in Chile and he walked right past me in the lobby. I’ve seen him in magazines since I was a kid, but I actually had to do a double take to make sure it was him! I was thinking about asking him for a picture but I know how annoying that can be, so I decided to play it cool.”
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What was the moment you realised you’d made it as a rock star?
“I was really stoked when we started playing shows outside of Stephen’s garage! When we played our first show, there definitely was a moment where I felt, ‘Wow I’m in a band, that’s pretty cool!’ I don’t really consider myself a rock star, but I think that was when I first felt like a legitimate musician.”
What’s the worst idea you’ve had?
“I’ve had a lot of bad ideas, and probably will have a lot more! Abe [Cunningham, Deftones drummer] keeps trying to convince me that there are no bad ideas.”
What’s the worst thing you’ve ever read about your band?
“I’ve read a lot of stuff that isn’t flattering, like people calling us rubbish or shite. I try not to read too much into stuff like that – if we play a great show, I’ll go to sleep knowing we ruled. If we play a bad show, I don’t want to read about how bad it was!”
What’s the most expensive thing you’ve ever bought?
“I don’t really own anything expensive. I’ve bought stuff like jewellery and watches and then lost it. Nowadays I buy $20 watches so I don’t care if I need to buy a new one! I bought a hot-air balloon once, but it flew off and now Richard Branson has it!”
What’s the weirdest thing a fan has ever given you?
“Herpes? Just joking. A knife, a prosthetic limb… all kinds of weird shit.”
Have you ever uttered the words: “but don’t you know who I am?”
“I have, but not in that way. I might have tried it getting through airports or stuff like that, trying to get through customs quicker! But I try not to be that guy.”
Have you got any phobias?
“I hate flying, but I have to do it all the time. I guess it’s a phobia I just deal with. Putting yourself in a piece of metal that high in the sky always feels like a bit of a gamble to me.”
Who gets more action: singers or drummers?
“Drummers. I hear they bang all night.”