Starset – Rhythm In Space

Everybody here knows I’m a sports card guy.  I don’t hide that part of my life from anyone.  There’s another part that isn’t hidden from those that know my everyday life.  If you’ve ever spent more than 15 minutes with me, you’ll probably hear me talk about music.  I don’t talk about just any music either; it’s all rock, all the time.  To me, there are many different genres of rock.  Some people hear guitars and heavy drums and loud singing and just classify it as rock.  I know it as alternative rock, synth rock, heavy metal, hair metal, nu metal, thrash, ska, surf, screamo and on and on.  The genre is a big part of my soul and personality.  I don’t know if that’s good or bad for some but it’s the truth.  I could go to a rock show every night of my life and never get tired of it.  We go to 4-5 major ones a year and it’s just enough to keep me satisfied.  I won’t get started on the Deftones here but that’s how I’m known around my part of the planet, the Deftones guy.  And I love that!Another group that has become a regular part of my rotation is Starset.  And when I say a part of my rotation, I mean top 3 with Deftones and Thrice.  (On a side note, we are going to see the Tones and Thrice in Jacksonville in June and taking Bailey and Zibby for their first experience.  Time won’t move fast enough).  Anyway, Starset is a relatively new group, having formed in 2013 in Columbus, OH at the hands of lead singer Dustin Bates.  Dustin has a bachelors and masters degree in Science and Engineering that he earned from the Russ College of Engineering and Technology at Ohio University.  So yeah, this dude is more than a rock singer.  He’s a little bit Nikola Tesla, a little bit Isaac Asimov, a little bit Deftones and a little bit Hans Zimmer.  In 2017, he’s a modern day genius and it’s notable in the lyrics he writes and the music he puts with it.  There’s a great article about Dustin himself Here if you’re interested.  The band is completed by Ron DeChant on bass (and keyboards), Brock Richards on lead guitar and Adam Gilbert on drums.  They also have a touring strings section with Siobhan Cronin (violin) and Jonathan Kampfe (cello).  I first heard Starset as the opener for Breaking  Benjamin at The Tabernacle in Atlanta in 2016.  I really didn’t know anything about them going into that concert.  The one thing I’ve learned over the many concerts I’ve been to is that the opening act is a good chance to fall in love with a new band and it also can be a good chance to settle in to your seat or hit the concession stand.  Only one opener has ever grabbed me as quickly as Starset and that was when Thrice “opened” for the Deftones at a rock festival in 2006.  Starset punched me in the face with their amazing stage presence, the theatrical performance and of course, their music.  Their space element and showers of light just consumed me.  I made it my mission that night to find out more about this band and to go see them again after I learned their songs.  After spending a year listening to their first album, reading their companion novel (yes, a rock band with a companion novel) and then doing a quick learn on their sophomore release in January, I got that chance on the weekend of my 40th birthday in February this year.The wheels were put in motion when Alicia bought me tickets for Christmas.  Then, my buddy Heath bought VIP passes for my birthday.  The concert was scheduled for February 11 in Madison Alabama, a five hour hike from my South Georgia nest.  That was no deterrent though.  Their second album, Vessels, was released on January 20, 2017.  That gave me a whole 20 some odd days to learn the new album before the gig.  Again, not a deterrent.  I decided to eat, drink and sleep Starset leading up to the gig so I could get the full experience.  This is a band with a complex backstory that surrounds “The Starset Society”, complete with a website dedicated to the furthering of the message, a novel that warns of the dangers of technological advances that could be used for evil and on stage monitors that tell stories between songs.  The songs on each CD tell a progressive story that is both entertaining and deeply thought provoking.  This isn’t your mom and dad’s old rock show.  This is a sci-fi production of the highest sophistication.  The show date arrived and we took our leave to North Alabama to receive the message.  The night opened up with the VIP performance which consisted of me and about 20 of my closest friends for the night getting a front row seat to an acoustic set from the band in a laid back atmosphere where conversation was open and welcome.  That was a first for me.  I’ve met bands before and gotten autographs and even had that fateful 2 am Waffle House meal with Stef Carpenter from the Deftones.  But this was my first up close and personal acoustic set for 20 people and it was like something out of a movie.  It was unbelievable.  After that, we met the band, got autographs and snapped pictures.  When the show started, I was introduced to another great new rock band that was a pleasant surprise, Gemini Syndrome.  I downloaded their album the next day and am learning more about them.  They were a perfect appetizer for the main course that was set to take place.When Starset hit the stage, which I was standing about 5 feet from, time literally stood still for the remainder of the show.  I forgot about everything outside of that venue.  I watched Dustin portray a mad scientist on that stage running from keyboard to computer to sound machine to stage boxes to scream into theaudiences collective face.  I stood in front of Ron, mesmerized by the colors.  I watched a violinist head bang for the first time in my life.  I watched the screens as they displayed various visualizations of science and space.  And I sang my heart out!  I poured my soul into that concert in a way that made me feel like I was a part of the band.  And it felt good.  It felt like what a rock concert feels like in my wildest dreams.  I fell in love with them all over again that night.  No one will ever touch the Deftones because they have been my #1 since the first time I heard them in 1992.  They’ve been with me through the best and worst times in my life.  But Starset, they carved out a special place in my musical spirit that night.  And music to me is a spiritual experience when it’s done right.  If you go to a concert and you lose yourself completely in the music and the sights and the crowd, that show was a damn good show.  And this my friends, was a damn good show!“At night the Earth will rise, and I’ll think of you each time I watch from distant skies.  Whenever stars go down and galaxies ignite, I’ll think of you each time they wash me in their light.  And fall in love with you again.”


The Album List

My most recent musical choices have all been very similar in message.  The Deftones April 8 release aside, which has early potential to be their best so far (too early), I have heavily invested in songs about searching for answers and exploration of human emotion.  There are songs about redemption as well as songs about hopelessness but they all have undertones rooted in basic psychology.  There has been a recent post circulating on Facebook listing the top 10 most influential or meaningful albums in ones life.  

My cousin, Keekleneck Lamb, said Monday that he had been expecting to see mine float across the intertubes.  He may have been speaking in jest as my choices could be interesting fodder for he of the hipster variety.  Nevertheless, I have compiled a loose list of my 10.  I can’t call this THE 10 most because I’ll inevitably leave something out.  These are also in no particular order.  One other caveat – I don’t read music, I don’t play music, I don’t know chords.  But, I do have ears and I know what sounds good to me and I know what lyrics speak to me.  Without further ado…..


1.  Deftones – White Pony – Ok, this one was easy and predictable.  If you like the Deftones, you no doubt like this album.  There are raging debates within Deftones circles of which albums fit their sound (see Around The Fur) and sound out of place (see Saturday Night Wrist) but they are all appreciated and accepted.  However, there is never much debate surrounding which album was their best.  For me, this album reigns supreme.  Released in 2000, Alicia bought this for me the day it came out and I sat at her parents house on the computer playing the album and looking at the “new fad” video content provided on the disc.  “Feiticiera” has opened 4 of the 5 concerts I’ve been to.  “Digital Bath” introduced heavy doses of electronic pulses into their songs that are most present than ever in their most recent album.  “RX Queen” remains the text tone when I get messages from Alicia.  “Knife Party” and “Passenger” are Deftones Cult Classics and “Change” is their most decorated commercial hit.  This album is loaded with pure Deftones Magic and Power.  While these are in no particular order, there is a reason this is at #1.

2.  Smashing Pumpkins – Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness – Released in 1995, anyone between the ages of 30-40 are almost certainly familiar with the blue and pink double album.  The hardest part of owning this album was deciding on which one to listen to.  I wore both CD’s out in my Ranger decked out with two 10’s and black light.  This CD was perfect for such youthful decadence.  “Tonight, Tonight” is a classic alt rock song and was one of my first forays into lyric decoding.  “And our lives are forever changed, we will never be the same.  The more you change, the less you feel.”  Teen angst with the cryptic sting of truth.  “Bullet with Butterfly Wings” and “Zero” were two heavy hitters while “1979” and “Thirty-Three” were songs you could cruise all night to.  There’s no possible way I could have a list of top albums and leave this one off.

3.  Chevelle – Stray Arrows: A Collection of Favorites – Alright, I’ll accept it if you say it is cheating by putting a greatest hits collection on here but Keekleneck did put Garth Brooks Greatest on his, which in all honesty, should have nullified his entire entry.  This album was released more recently in 2012 but spans their entire collection up until that point.  “Face to the Floor”, “The Red”, “Vitamin R” and “Send the Pain Below” are all well known Chevelle entries.  But this album also introduced me to “Sleep Apnea” and “The Meddler” which I was previously unfamiliar with.  Chevelle is, without a doubt, the heaviest 3 piece band you’ll hear that still comes off melodic and smooth.  They remain unchecked on my bucket list of artist to see live before I die.

4.  Everclear – Sparkle and Fade – Another important 1995 release that was played from beginning to end on repeat on my many trips to Athens and Valdosta with Munt and Russ.  All of the songs were catchy and enjoyable but one song stood above all others.  The song that actually threatened one hit wonder status among non-alternative fans.  “Santa Monica” made me long for the beach and still makes me want to go to California.  “We could live beside the ocean, leave the fire behind.”  But beyond that song lies a treasure trove including “Heroin Girl”, “Summerland” and “Twistinside”.  Everclear is a popular band among alt fans and have had a couple of big time hits like “Father of Mine” and “Wonderful” but I still believe they are one of the most underrated acts of my generation.

5.  Blink 182 – Enema of the State – Maybe it’s Janine on the cover of the album that has stuck with me after all these years.  But aside from that, this was my punk phase and it was a great one.  The garage band I was in basked in the glory of three songs off of this one, “What’s My Age Again”, “All The Small Things” and “Adam’s Song”.  Blink 182 had an epic ride during the late 90’s and were a great side trip for a 20 year old that loved heavier rock.  I still have this one at the ready when I’m feeling immature.

6.  Pearl Jam – Ten – If you are 36-42, I dare you to argue with me on this one.  This might be the best album of the 90’s, period.  “Even Flow”, “Jeremy”, “Black”, “Alive”…..this is a greatest hits album in sheep’s clothing.  This plays today on my commute around the city.  You don’t always have to know what Eddie Vedder is saying to know that it is deep and meaningful.  There were those who said you were either a Nirvana fan or Pearl Jam fan.  I’ll raise my Pearl Jam flag and fly it proudly.  Another one on the bucket list to see live.  I’ve heard their shows are unbelievable.

7.  Deftones – Adrenaline – This has to be on the list simply because it’s the first taste of the band I ever had.  “Bored”, “Lifter”, “One Weak”, “7 Words”, “Engine No. 9”, “Root”, “Nosebleed”…..every song.  This was the beginning of a lifelong relationship with a band.  I had never heard anything quite like this when it came out.  I haven’t really heard anything like it since as their sound has matured and developed with every album.  This one is very raw sounding and is their least “produced” sounding record but that’s what makes it special too.  This was what they set out to be and what they have ultimately become; a band that plays music their fans want to hear, not the critics.  The most influential of the ever present 1995 releases.  If you like straight alt metal, this is the standard bearer.

8.  Breaking Benjamin – Phobia – The heavy hitting group’s third album is their best to me.  To be clear, I like them all but this one hits the hardest.  “The Diary of Jane” and “Breath” are household names among the genre’s fans and helped solidify BB’s rise to fame.  Other gems on this album include “Unknown Soldier”, “Until the End”, “Had Enough”and “Dance With The Devil”.  This band has come the closest to matching Deftones intensity in my collection over the long haul.  The newest album “Dark Before Dawn” could have easily made this list but as I run out of room, I could only include one and this one belongs.  If you’ve never seen it, this is one of the greatest live accoustic recordings ever – BB – Until The End.  Do yourself a favor and sacrifice the next 5 minutes.

9.  System Of A Down – Toxicity – I have somewhat of a love/hate relationship with SOAD.  They have put out more songs that make me jump around and shout than they have that make me cringe with disbelief.  But they have put out several of the latter as well.  I like songs from all of their albums but this album was the best of their collection by far and made it in my top 10.  The title track, “Toxicity”, along with “Chop Suey” are a couple of the most memorable songs of the early 2000’s whether you like the genre or not.  Don’t believe me? YouTube either one and you’ll immediately shake your head and say “Ohh yeah!” – unless you are one of the honky tonk folks that hang around my blog.  You are welcome here anytime but this one probably hasn’t been your favorite.  This album is actually loaded with classics like “Aerials”, “Science”, “ATWA”, “Prison Song” and “Jet Pilot”.  When I started looking down the track list of this one it became obvious that it needed to be on this list.

10. Starset – Transmissions – It is risky to put an album this new on a top 10 list that includes the likes of Deftones and Smashing Pumpkins.  I realize this.  But, i can unequivocally say that this one will be a top 10 for life for me.  This one fits all of the description of the first paragraph of this blog and can put me in a state of mind that is so deep and introspective, it’s kind of scary.  This band opened for Breaking Benjamin in February of this year and I was smitten from the instrumental opener “First Light” all the way to the closer “Halo”.  The band and album has introduced me to an interest in space and greater forces that I never knew I had.  They have even released a 250 page companion novel with the CD that I am halfway through.  I’m addicted and it’s a weird thing.  This album speaks to me over and over and gives me a clearer perspective everytime I listen.  So, while a newby like this is risky, I know I’d regret not putting them here.  This one could find its way into the top 3 before its all over with.

So, there you have it.  I think the genre/theme is pretty consistent on this list and I’d have a hard time replacing any of these 10.  That doesn’t mean that I don’t have several 11’s right on the outside.  These just rose to that impressive level and needed to be set apart.  Maybe you’ll try some of these out if you’ve never heard them.  Maybe you’ll like them, maybe you wont.  If you don’t, I don’t know if we can be friends any longer.  😜


The Diary of Bailey

  My love for the Deftones is widely known.  They are the untouchables in my world.  There isn’t anyone that I’d rather see play and there isn’t anyone I would ever compare to them.  I do love other bands though.  Like Chevelle, Tool, Thrice, Crosses, Incubus, Slipknot and…..Breaking Benjamin.  Not only do I love Breaking Benjamin, they are currently Bailey’s favorite band.  She loves every song and knows most of the words to the big ones.  

Their most recent album, Dark Before Dawn, is full of positive and uplifting messages.  Ben Burnley has been through quite a lot during his life and seems exploding out as a beacon of hope and positivity.  While Breaking  Benjamin formed in 1998, Ben Burnley remains the only original band member.  He is, however, responsible for songwriting, singing and everything else that comes with being the bands namesake.  The current lineup formed in 2014 and began work on Dark After Dawn, in which Ben seems to have really focused his lyrics on redemption, overcoming failure and, as the title suggests, finding the light at the end of the tunnel.  Because of the meaning of the album, I have openly shared the lyrics with Bailey and encouraged her to enjoy the songs.  And she has done just that.  She knows what they are saying and we talk about our interpretations of what each song means to us.  It’s been quite an interesting journey.  

For Christmas, Alicia got 2 tickets to BB at The Tabernacle in Atlanta.  Bailey was disappointed that she hadn’t been included so she decided to buy her own ticket with Christmas money.  This set up our first family concert.  Bailey loves music and shares my taste in rock.  It’s how she was raised.  I’d been debating on when the right time would be to take her to a live show.  They are loud, there is a bit of sitting around waiting on setup, standing in lines for good seats, etc.  Given the right circumstances, it can be too much for me and Alicia so we needed it to make sense for Bailey to go.  First off, The Tabernacle was a no brainer for her first venue.  It’s indoors, has raised seating levels to be above the ruckus on the ground and it’s perfect for music.  After that, I knew her first concert would have to be Deftones, BB or Chevelle so we scored there too.  It just made sense that now was the time.

After much anticipation, the week of the concert finally arrived.  We made it to Thursday and struck out on our 2 day adventure to Atlanta.  We laid some ground rules and expectations on the drive up to make sure she was prepared.  We explained that we would first have to wait in line for up to 2 hours to ensure we got front row seats in the raised level.  Then, we explained that there would be an opening act and we would likely be unfamiliar with their music but it would be in the same genre as the headliner so we likely would enjoy it.  It also builds the anticipation for the headliner when music is being performed.  We told her it would be crowded, it would be loud and we would be there a long time.  She understood and was good with everything.  She was ready. 

 We arrived at the venue around 5:00 with doors expected to open at 6:30.  There was already a line forming so we got ourselves in place and started passing the time.  Ted’s Montana Grill is across the street from The Tabernacle and luckily a bathroom was available for Bailey’s trips.  While in line, our friends Heath and Molly Gilbert arrived and we all had a really good time talking and raising the anticipation.  Before we knew it, it was 6:30 and the doors were opening.  After passing through the security checkpoints, we successfully secured front row seats in the 3rd level, providing an unfettered view for all of us.  Then, it was food and merch while we waited on the opening act, scheduled for 7:30.   

 While getting food, Alicia managed to successfully reject the attempts of a nefarious couple trying to sabotage our seats.  Momma wasn’t having any of that and dispatched the duo with force and determination.  Meanwhile, me and Bailey were busy running up and down 3 flights of stairs with drinks, chicken strips, hot dogs and pretzels.  All of this happened in great timing as we all settled in for the opening act, Starset. 

 As expected, we were unfamiliar with Starset but they were very good and provided a nice visual element that engaged Bailey from the beginning.  The band members, less the singer, came out in full spacesuits that lit up in different colors and they continued to play the entire set in them.  They would change colors and fire off fog from turbo blowers on the rear of the costumes.  Aside from that, the singer was very good and the drummer was extremely talented.  Opening act was a success but we came to see Breaking Benjamin and we were controlling our excitement until they took the stage.  After about 30 minutes of setup change, they were ready. 

 They hit the stage with one of their great intro songs, “So Cold”. This is one that Bailey and I could sing along to so it didn’t take long to get in the swing of things.  For several songs, “Follow”, “Until the End”, “Angels Fall” and “Failure”, we were on our feet singing our lungs out.  Around the time Ben took a vocal break by letting the two guitar players have a couple of leads, we were ready to sit down and recoup.  Now, those songs were very good too but Bailey had her songs already picked out that she was going to jam too.  As Ben introduced “Unknown Soldier”, he revealed his obvious passion for the armed forces and we gave standing ovations to the men and women who served our country.  The song was very moving given the circumstances and the entire place was on their feet.  I had chill bumps.   

 That led to the next song, Alicia’s favorite, “Ashes of Eden”. The song was flawless and engaged all of us as its one that is listened to often in my truck.  Then, my favorite rolled around, “Breath”.  I think it might be close to Bailey and Alicia’s favorite too but we all have our own.  It was perfect! 

 Then came Bailey’s favorite song, “Give me a sign”.  This was really the “wow” moment of the concert.  During the final chorus of the song, Ben stopped vocals and only guitar remained as he began to speak to the crowd.  He asked us all to take out our cell phones and turn on the flashlight feature.  He then asked the venue staff to take the room completely dark.  This concert was 80% over so we were accustomed to the lighting levels in the room by this point.  When the lights went out and the cell phones came on, the room lit up like a living room with the overhead light on.  It was really something I had never seen before.  The photo from behind Ben is the heading photo on this post.  Just unreal.  He went on to explain the point of the exercise in what was the moment that solidified our decision to bring Bailey to see BB.  Ben explained that we all had a light that shines within all of us, just like those phones.  No matter how dark the world can be at times, if we will let our lights shine, we can light the world and the people around us.  He said that we were the difference makers and our kindness could rise above the crap that is out there.  He had a strong sincerity in the comments and you could feel the positivity flowing through the room.  They finished the song amid more chill bumps from yours truly. 

  After a couple more songs, they exited the stage in preparation for the grand finale encore, which we had also previously explained to Bailey.  It was a biggie.  They returned to play the mega hit “The Diary of Jane”.  Again, before going into the song, Ben took the time to ask the fans to be kind to one another and to take care of those around you.  Then they nailed the song and took their bow.  A wonderful concert had come to a close and we were left with adrenaline still pumping and ears still ringing.  But, the night didn’t end there.  It wouldn’t be a Tabernacle story if there wasn’t an awesome twist at the end.

Heath and Molly scored a guitar at the merch table which provided 6 wristbands to go backstage and meet the band at the conclusion of the concert.  Not only had Bailey been able to come see her favorite band in person, but she was about to one up me and meet the entire band.  First, I can’t thank Heath and Molly enough for including us in this adventure.  They helped the great night become a dream night and I have to do some serious work to pay that one back.  We got in a fairly short and exclusive line to meet the band and wait on them to come out and take their seats.  After what felt like a long time, but was really about 30 minutes, they emerged and excitement reached a peak.  We were able to get autographs, shake hands and take photos with the entire band.  Ben took special care to get down on Bailey’s level (he’s 6’4) to shake her hand and to thank her for coming to see them. I was as proud of that as I was about meeting him myself.  Bailey is still learning what is normal or expected and what is a unique event and I think she even gets the gravity of that meeting.  She was half asleep and dragging but when that picture was taken, her smile was shining like the cell phone lights an hour before.  She met Ben and he rose to the occasion of being a superstar in a young child’s eyes.  He was every bit as genuine as he had portrayed during the concert and we left feeling on top of the world.

By the time we left, it was after 11 and it hit me that Bailey had been a trooper for over 6 hours at the venue.  That’s no small feat for an 8 year old.  I was very proud of the way she carried herself and the respect and happiness she showed to BB and Heath and Molly.  Now, she would eventually get to sleep and sleep pretty late the next morning but she passed her first concert test with flying colors.  And Breaking Benjamin eliminated any small skepticism I had about their positivity and meaningful songs by backing it up with their presence in the room and with us.  This one will go down as one of the greatest concerts I’ve been too, after Deftones at The Tabernacle of course.  But this one is going to sit with me and Alicia for a long time and with Bailey for a lifetime.  My recommendation is to go see Breaking Benjamin the very next chance you get if you’ve never seen them.  If you are a fan of the genre, you won’t regret seeing them.  We’ll be back! 


Almost Famous


If you know me, or have been around me for any reasonable amount of time, the name Deftones has most likely surfaced in some way or another. If you’ve sent me an email, you’ve typed it.  If you’ve followed me on Insagram or Snapchat, you’ve typed it.  If you’ve sat in my truck, you’ve no doubt heard them.  They are a constant presence in my life.  I’ve had a few people in the past ask me, “what’s up with you and Deftones?”  It’s a question that I’ve never really had a formal answer for but there has always been a reason.

I’ll start with a brief background for those who stick to Top 40 or Country.  Deftones is a band that is somewhat of a fusion of the alternative, rock, and nu-metal genres with an experimental sound to them.  They formed in 1988 in Sacramento, CA and have been creating music for almost 30 years now.  The band’s lead singer Chino Moreno has, as best as I can describe it, a melodic, soothing agression to his voice that borders on haunting tension at times.  Odd description I know, but I don’t write for Rolling Stone.  Along with Chino, Stephen Carpenter plays a superb lead guitar, Abe Cunningham crushes the drums, Frank Delgado adds the experimental sound on the turntables and Sergio Vega replaced the late Chi Cheng on bass.

I was first introduced to Deftones around 1996, about a year after their first full length album, Adrenaline, was released.  At first, they fit into the rotation with Korn, Limp Bizkit and the like.  It didn’t take too long for them to rise to the top of my playlist.  By the time Around The Fur was released in 1997, they were head and shoulders above.  I guess it really all started with Chino’s voice.  I had never heard anyone sing like him.  He could scream violently for 2 minutes and then break into one of the smoothest melodies you’d ever heard in a rock song, then finish with a breathless howl that I became addicted to.  With the discovery of the song “Be Quiet and Drive”, Deftones completely sank their teeth into me and have yet to let go.

Somewhere around 23 or 24, music started really meaning something to me.  It began to have a profound effect on my demeanor and my thought process.  I didn’t just listen to music as I traveled from place to place, I would put on headphones and just lose all sense of time and reality.  It was almost an out of body experience when listening to the right tunes and Deftones fit that bill.  No matter what was going on, there was a song for it and usually it just wound up on repeat until I lost conciousness.  Feeling somber, I went with “Be Quiet and Drive”, “Digital Bath” or “First”.  If frustration was the demon of the day, “Headup”, “Engine No. 9” or “7 Words” was the cure.  Even when I was even keel, “Bored”, “Passenger” and “RX Queen” pushed me along.  There was and still is a song that fits just right for a particular mood I am in.

The personal nature of my relationship with their music got stronger as I matured.  I felt like they were coming of age right along with me.  The distorted, screaming tones of Adrenaline were still fun to listen to but they weren’t the mental escapes they once were.  Their music was changing though.  The sound was becoming clearer and cleaner and Chino’s voice was refining as much as my understanding of the world around me was.  The music continued to speak to me.  It is almost impossible to explain in words.  Chino once said of his lyrics, “It doesn’t matter if you understand what I’m trying to say as long as I paint a picture where the music and the feeling you feel matches.  More importantly, it changes the way you were thinking for the better or makes you feel good.”  That is what Deftones had become for me.  Isn’t that why music was created in the first place?

Shifting from the music to the band itself, I finally was able to see them live for the first time in Jacksonville in February of 2006.  I had reservations because you never know how a band will sound live but they did not disappoint and instead of spending the night in Jax at the conclusion of the midnight concert, I had the adrenaline, no pun intended, to drive back home, by myself, pumping the songs for 3 more hours.  As fun as that trip was, my love for them was cemented when I saw them just a few months later at Floyds Music Store in Tallahassee.  Floyds is a much more intimate setting than Metro Park in Jax.  At the conclusion of the concert, Chino announces that the band will be hanging around the bus at the rear of the venue after and invited the crowd to hang out with them.  I was like a kid on Christmas morning!  I met every single member of the band, took photos, showed off my Deftones ink and even had a conversation with Chi that I will always cherish.  He was a mammoth of a man but as gentle and humble in person as you’d ever meet.   Just two years later, Chi would be involved in an automobile accident that left him in a semi concious state for the next several years.  He would later lose his battle on April 14, 2013.  The concert in 2006 would be the last time I saw him play live.  

I have seen them play live a few more times but the most recent was in March of 2013 at The Tabernacle in Atlanta.  The concert was by far the most amazing Deftones concert I have seen to date.  The Tabernacle felt like a venue that was built with Deftones in mind. The accoustics, the view, the energy…..unmatched!  As great as the concert was, the highlight of the evening would happen after the show.  With the venue being small and more personal, Alicia and I decided to post up near the buses and see if the band would do an impromptu meet and greet.  After waiting quite a while, Stephen appeared and began milling around with the small crowd, joking, taking photos and signing autographs.  

After about 45 minutes of just hanging out, he made a comment that he was thinking about grabbing a quick bite before hopping on the bus as their next destination was Miami, quite a haul.  Alicia broke in with a joke, “we’re heading to Waffle House, just go with us.”  He looked at a roadie, checked his watch and said, “I’m in, where is your car?”  One of my musical heroes of the last 20 years was about to go with me to Waffle House after one of his concerts…..butterflies consume me as I type this now.  A million thoughts ran through my mind as we cruised those downtown streets.  We sat in a Waffle House booth at 1 am in downtown Atlanta and talked as if we were long lost friends.  He picked up the tab, as any professional would do, and we took him back to the venue.  He disappeared on that bus and my mind would take the next several hours to process what had just happened.

There are a lot of stories out there of people finally meeting their favorite athlete or entertainer and the reality hitting them that “this person could care less about me.”  Deftones have shown me on more than one occasion that their efforts are not just selfish in nature.  Stephen Carpenter doesn’t remember who I am but for a short time, we were no different from each other.  We were two dudes who enjoyed a great night of music and finished it off with some Waho steak and eggs.  I can’t think of any better way I could’ve ever imagined that night going.  As corny as it may sound, Deftones will forever be my band and I will carry their flag with pride.  It seems they have the same plan in mind.  Their new album releases on April 8, 2016 and when asked about potential touring, Stephen was quoted as saying, “We’ll play for all the people who are interested and want to hear it.”  They want to play and I want to hear.  So I guess that’s what’s up with me and Deftones.