Def, not dumb

It’s a common storyline: Young, fervent rockers mellow with age and settle into an elder statesman role, complete with less touring.

This is not the Deftones’ storyline. “Right now, we’re just hammering it out on the road. We totally enjoy it,” said Frank Delgado, the California-based alt-metal band’s turntablist/keyboardist. “As you get older, you find ways of making it work. We enjoy each other’s company, and we enjoy making music. We’re having a really good time.”

And time flies when you’re having fun. “We’re looking forward to playing an hour-and-a-half, two-hour set,” Delgado said of Deftones’ Diamond Ballroom gig on Wednesday, June 1. “It’s hard to play a little of everything within a two-hour show, but we try to put on a good show.”

As for mellowing? They’re not really into that, either.

“I think it depends on who you ask. The franticness of youth has subsided. We’re a little smarter, a little more grown-up,” Delgado said. “We’ve never decided to be heavy.”

But heavy they are, as their latest release, last year’s “Diamond Eyes,” sees the group not letting up on the thoughtful, metal-based sound that it has maintained in 23 years of existence. The critically acclaimed album expanded on Deftones’ sonic palette, drawing in more fans.

“A lot of people like the heavy stuff. A lot of people like the prettier stuff. A lot of girls are attracted to the slower stuff,” Delgado said. “And we’re doing a better job than ever combining all of that.”

It helps that the members write collectively, each bringing their own influences to the table.

“We all listen to (music) together, from indie to dance music to metal. We all tend to try to stay current. Our pre-show music playlist is a mixture of everything we’re listening to at the time,” said Delgado, who named Seattle metalheads Black Breath and “UK electro” as his personal current favorites.

It’s those varying influences that allow the Deftones’ sound to go in new directions.

“We’re taking five different people’s input. I wish there was a formula for it, but there’s not,” Delgado said. “When we find something that works, we go with it.”

The same goes for tourmates, as Deftones are not afraid of touring with acts different than them. Female-fronted garage rockers Le Butcherettes and math-metal wizards The Dillinger Escape Plan will fill out the bill next Wednesday. Dance punks Funeral Party and the head-banging Mastodon have played shows as well.

With diverse openers, an excellent new album, and the respect of peers, what else could Deftones ask for?

“It’s a better time now for us than ever, six records in,” Delgado said. “We’re grown men, and we’re playing better than we ever have. It’s a lot of fun right now.”

Stephen Carradini

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