It’s been three years since the passing of Deftones bassist Chi Cheng after he suffered a car accident that left him in a coma and paralyzed for years. Those situation can really take a physical and emotional toll, not just on the victims, but on their family and friends as well, and that seems to be the case with Cheng’s bandmates in Deftones.
During an interview conducted by Broward Palm Beach New Times to drummer Abe Cunningham, he spoke about the effect of Cheng’s death on the band and how they felt once he passed away, describing it as a relief:
“Honestly, the most emotionally draining and cathartic album was the Diamond Eyes record, because that is when everything happened,” Cunningham remembers of the time surrounding Cheng’s accident. “His passing, for me, was a relief. For him, for his family, for us, when his accident happened, it wasn’t immediate. He was seriously injured and left in a minimally conscious state for five years. All the initial emotion was when the accident happened, and to have him pass was a relief after all those years… This is the first album with him not being here, but he’s still here. He had a tremendous spirit, and he’s here with us. I miss that dude more than anything.”
Back in 2008, when the car accident happened, Deftones was working on the enigmatic, unreleased record Eros which we got a listen of in 2014 with the track “Smile” but there are no plans on releasing it, as frontman Chino Moreno explained to The Independent:
“I had faith it was going to come together and be great in the end, but we never got to that point. Once Chi had his accident, everything came to a halt with the Eros sessions, so the idea of going back to that batch of songs, finishing them and have Sergio learn Chi’s parts just hasn’t felt like something that we’re interested in doing. If the record were finished and we were just sitting on it, we probably would have put it out by now, maybe even given it away, just so that people can hear it, but it would take a lot more work to get it done. But when we get together, we’re much more fascinated with where we are in this moment, trying to create something new.”
While calling it a “relief” might seem a little jarring at first, given that Cheng was alive for as long as he was in a vegetative state, it’s certainly understandable why his close friends and family might have felt that way.