Even in the era when nu metal was expanding, you couldn’t really put Deftones in any one category. Bands like Limp Bizkit may have been looking to make songs to have you bang your head, but Deftones were the kind of band that made open your eyes to stuff that didn’t even have a place in metal.
These guys loved to push the envelope, but that doesn’t mean that every single thing they did gets the same amount of love.
When talking about their back catalog, not many of the band members have that much love for Saturday Night Wrist, which saw them going down a much more atmospheric road coming off of their self-titled in 2003.
While there may still have been quality jams on this record, there were more than a few questionable moments (hello, “Pink Cellphone”), and the morale in the band was at an all-time low.
Reflecting back, drummer Abe Cunningham talked about how cracks in their album-making process started to form before ‘Saturday Night Wrist,’ as making albums started to seem like work after Around the Fur:
“We’d put out one record [Adrenaline], and no matter how well that record did, the label [wanted another record]. If everything else failed, we still had another record to make and put out.
We’d toured and seen the world, and we came back juiced! Stoked. The process was super quick. We’d been around four, five years before we’d been signed.
We were in a really great place, just supercharged up to do it again [for Around the Fur]. But from that point on, I think making records for us became like pulling teeth. Or what’s worse than pulling teeth? Maybe surgery with no anesthesia.”
By the time the band got to making Saturday Night Wrist, things had gotten pretty bad. Abe stills thinks Saturday Night Wrist was “just the worst time that you could ever, ever [have … And here we are in a band, we’re brothers having a blast, and everything should be great. But it absolutely sucked.
But we figured out that it was us making it suck. We were making it way harder than it needed to be. There were issues with certain things in our lives, and things getting picked up along the way, and all this crap.”
Chino Moreno himself holds similar views, having said:
“The album [Saturday Night Wrist] was fragmented in a really bad way. No one took the driver’s seat there, so it was like no direction and at the very end there was all these pieces that you kind of had to stack them together and try to make an album out of it, and that’s how it sounds to me when I listen back to it.”
Though morale may have been low at the time, it took a brush with death to bring them back, coming together after Chi Cheng’s car accident that would eventually claim his life to make Diamond Eyes, which turned into their borderline career renaissance.
As Abe can attest to, “That [Chi’s accident] made us really stop in our tracks and say, “Look, man, know what? We’ve been treating ourselves and each other terribly.
We’re in a band, dude; we get to go around the world and play music. C’mon man. Our brother is down.” It put everything in perspective very, very clearly: How we treat each other, how we treat our — dare I say, our business? I guess this is our business after all these years.”