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deftones soldier on without original bassist

of the Oakland Press

» See more SOUND CHECK

This year’s “Diamond Eyes” was not intended to be deftones’ group’s sixth album.

The California headbangers were working on a set called “Eros” when bassist Chi Cheng was seriously injured in an auto accident on Nov. 4, 2008, suffering brain damage from which he’s still recovering. The band waited for a time but, with the blessings of Cheng’s family, brought in a temporary replacement (Quicksand’s Sergio Vega) but opted to record a new album rather than release “Eros.”

“When Chi’s accident happened, it was almost like our legs were kind of swept out from underneath us,” explains frontman Chino Moreno. “The band wasn’t the first thought on our mind, you know? All our thoughts were going to Chi and his family.

“When we decided to think about the band and the band’s future, we had a decision to make — Are we gonna try to patch up and fix this record we made with Chi or start from scratch? Starting something new was what felt most right to us.”

Deftones’ fans seem to have concurred; “Diamond Eyes” debuted at No. 6 on the Billboard 200 when it was released in May while rock radio stations pumped the singles “Rocket Skates” and the title track. And while Cheng’s absence was felt by his bandmates, Moreno says they felt a bunch of downer songs would not do justice to the situation.

“We could kind of sulk in it,” Moreno, 37, says, “but as bummed out as we were, it really brought us closer together as friends and as a band and made us more appreciative of where we are in our lives and the opportunities that are still in front of us. We didn’t really talk about it or lay it out like that, but that was the overall vibe we felt while we were making this record, and I think it shows.”

TheBlackDiamondSkye tour featuring Alice in Chains, deftones and Mastodon, plays at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 17, at the DTE Energy Music Theatre, Sashabaw Road east of I-75, Independence Township. Tickets are $39.50-79.50 pavilion and $25 lawn with an $80 lawn four-pack. Call 248-377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.

Web Site: www.palacenet.com

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