While Metal Insider was at The Bamboozle this past weekend, we were psyched to run into our friend Michelle Oakes amid all the 15 year-olds wearing neon shirts and monkeys riding dogs. Michelle, a longtime A&R person at now-defunct label TVT, was running a booth for One Love for Chi, a charity set up to fund the rehabilitation of Deftones bassist Chi Cheng. Cheng suffered a motorcycle accident last November and has been in and out of a coma since. As longtime Deftones fans that were saddened and shocked by Chi’s accident, we talked to Michelle about the charity, Chi’s condition and how fans can get involved.
How did you get involved with One Love For Chi?
We first met the Deftones when I worked at [Providence RI’s] Club Babyhead in ’93 or ’94. My roommate Becky worked at the larger venue in Providence, The Strand. It was right when music was starting to turn from the grunge scene to the nu-metal one. The Deftones hit us like a lead brick. The music was rad and the guys matched it. We then unleashed them on our other music loving friends and we have all been buds with the ‘Tones since. Chi is like a brother to us and we will do anything we can to help him, so when we got word that they had big money issues and that [Chi’s brother] Gina and Chi’s Mom started a site and fund, we got together and started making calls.
Explain the genesis of One Love for Chi.
Because Chi’s health insurance cut out this past January, Gina Blackmore and Chi’s Mom Jeanne Cheng started the www.oneloveforchi.com donation Web site as Chi’s medical bills became very overwhelming and are accumulating every day. A proper rehabilitation facility costs over $1,500 per day. All felt that there would be many fans that would want to help and give back, and they needed an outlet to do so. It was time to give back to Chi as he has done so much for so many people, especially for homeless kids and shelters (he has provided them with instruments and funds and took time out on many weekends to sit with them and teach them all about music and how to play).
What have you raised so far?
Well thanks to many fans and Bamboozle Left, which raised a little over $12,700 alone, www.oneloveforchi.com has raised a little over $36,000, but we feel once the word really gets out there, so much more can be accomplished. It’s all about spreading the awareness, as so many have no idea that this site is up and running.
How did you wind up with a booth at the Bamboozle, and will you be at other public events?
We have been working The Bamboozle Festival in New Jersey for the last 3 years and reached out to promoter and festival creator John D’Esposito and asked if we could set up a donation booth to help raise awareness and funds. He was more then happy to let us do so, especially with the great success of raising what we’d raised at The Bamboozle Left. We are hoping to hit more festivals over the summer and put together a benefit show. We have a few things in the works and all updates are provided on the www.oneloveforchi.com website.
How is Chi doing, and what are his chances of recovery?
Chi is one of the strongest guys we know. He is fighting everyday, and slowly winning the battle. It’s truly amazing what he has overcome with so little. The doctors are very optimistic of Chi having a full recovery but he desperately needs to be in a proper rehabilitation facility, which again costs over $1,500 per day, and this is what we are all working towards making happen, as he is currently in a nursing home and not getting the proper daily treatments that he so desperately needs in order to have a full recovery.
Deftones are out playing now, minus Chi. Do you know anything about their new album or plans for a US tour?
Deftones are preparing for a small European tour in August with former Quicksand bassist Sergio Vega filling Chi’s role on a temporary basis, with Deftones recently stating on Loveline they expect Eros to be released in October.
What’s the best way to donate?
Just go to the website www.oneloveforchi.com. All donations (via PayPal) go directly to Chi’s mom, Jeanne Cheng, and there are updates and lots [of items] on eBay that we will be auctioning off to help raise money for Chi’s medical bills. Many bands have come together to help by providing us with signed merchandise accumulating every day [including] No Doubt, Fall Out Boy, Sum 41, AFI and Korn, just to name a few. It’s getting bigger and better everyday so keep checking the site for updates.
Michelle also wanted to mention that 96% of all rock musicians don’t have health insurance, and that all musicians should check out www.rockforhealth.org