We did three and a half records with Terry. When we first got signed in the mid ‘90s, our label [Maverick] asked us who we wanted to produce our debut album. We didn’t know at first; we were just kids from Sacto. I think I was 20 at the time. Stephen [Carpenter] was the one who brought up Terry. He had done a lot of records we liked, especially Pantera, but he also had done Soundgarden and Sir Mix-a-Lot. All the bands he did sounded different. The newest Pantera album at the time [Far Beyond Driven] was heavy as shit and we were into it. But we kind of tied Terry’s hands behind his back on that first album, because we told him, “We don’t want to sound like Pantera.” He was just getting into some of the newer technology at the time, like Pro Tools. He’d just done the White Zombie record [Astro Creep: 2000], which had lots of samples, triggered drums, and stuff, and we didn’t want to do that. We wanted to sound raw, we wanted to record to 2-inch tape, and we didn’t want the technology. As a result, I think that first record [Adrenaline] is my least favorite sonically. For the second record we let him do what he wanted. We had confidence then and we didn’t set any guidelines. I think that the second and third records we did with Terry are our best sounding. Around The Fur is my favorite sonically, but I think the third record, [White Pony] is maybe the best sounding.
What made you decide to work with Terry on three records
in a row?
I was a young, naive kid and I trusted him. He was fatherly in a good way. He was nurturing, but not condescending, and he made us feel comfortable right away. Terry’s a producer, but he doesn’t rip your songs apart the way some producers do. He’s an engineer first; he’s very hands on and is doing all the EQs, turning knobs, and placing and adjusting the microphones. He’s very into the sonics, and so were we. We were excited about the recording techniques. Sometimes the label people didn’t like that and tried to pull us away from him to work with someone more song-oriented, which is crazy in retrospect because we did some of our most pop songs with him. Terry’s not contrived. He rarely made musical critiques, so when he did I really listened – he fucking knows what he’s talking about. I’d love to do another record with Terry. He’s someone I feel like I’ll know for as long as I’m here. I’m privileged to know him.
How did you end up working with Greg Wells?
The Team Sleep project [with DJ Crook, Todd Wilkinson, Rick Verrett, and Zach Hill] was kind of an escape from Deftones. No pressure. I wanted it to be raw and kind of lo-fi, but Maverick had to approve it under the terms of our deal with them. I did the record with Crook on his Roland VS-880, and personally took it to the label in L.A. and played it for our A&R person, Guy Oseary. He said it wasn’t good and he wouldn’t release it. I was really upset; I actually started crying in his office. He suggested I meet with this “song guy,” Greg Wells, and see if he could help make the record sound better. At first I was reluctant. I was like, “No way, this is punk rock.” Well, not punk rock, but not pop! It was supposed to be more lo fi. So at first I was reluctant, but I totally vibed with him. He took the songs to another level. He recorded all of Zach [Hill]’s drums, which was no small feat. He got really good takes out of Zach and worked really well with him. That was a good experience, so then I went to the label and said, “What about getting Greg and Terry together and have them both do the next Deftones album?” The label was into it, so I talked to Greg and Terry and they both agreed, and we did the self-titled [fourth] record with them. We call that record the “dark days record” but that was because of what we were going through at the time. Working with Greg and Terry together was great.