Sergio Vega has opened up about his recent departure from Deftones, saying he left the Californian alt-metal outfit back in March because it didn’t offer him “a sense of belonging”.
Vega first performed with Deftones in 1999, filling in for bassist Chi Chang on a tour preceding their ‘White Pony’ release. After a serious car accident forced Chang to leave the band in 2008, Vega was brought as his full-time replacement. He appeared on the last four of Deftones’ studio albums, starting with 2010’s ‘Diamond Eyes’ and most recently, 2020’s ‘Ohms’.
But in a new interview with the Talk Toomey podcast (transcribed by The PRP), Vega alleged that he was never formally made an official member of the band. He explained: “Over the years, it started to become like ‘Hey I would really like to belong to this,’ and whenever it would come up, it was really more like they were good with the status quo.”
The bassist – who also performs in Quicksand, and has a solo project of his own – went on to say that his exit from Deftones was “not financial”, noting that although the band wouldn’t agree to include Vega in their formal business dealings, they did offer him a raise.
He continued: “It was never about money, it was about a sense of belonging. So that was really it. And ultimately, in parting ways, it was not a function of me trying to renegotiate during the pandemic. It was a function of the contract being cancelled. And me having a little conversation with Chino [Moreno, vocals/rhythm guitar], and then another conversation with a couple of the guys saying ‘hey’ when they wanted to reinstate [the contract].
“I was like, ‘I think the path forward is that we can all be in the same boat. Now would be the time to get off this type of structure. Because it’s not really working for anybody, especially now when we’re not touring, we’re not doing anything. And it doesn’t make sense to have this type of structure, it’s been twelve years at this point and let’s make good on that. I just can’t go onto the salary thing because it’s not working for us’. And that was it.”
Expounding on his experience of feeling like an outsider in the group, Vega said: “It’s the security and stability of feeling like you’re a part of something that you’re investing in, and belonging. To me the keyword is this feeling that you belong. Something that you’re pouring yourself into. Now, had it been from the get go, ‘This is the vibe, this it the help that we need,’ then that’s cool…
“But at the end of the day, I guess the perception of it encroaching on anyone’s income could have been the thing that allowed it to not come together.”
In addition to his continued activity in Quicksand – who released their fourth album, ‘Distant Populations’, last August’ – Vega is currently working on a series of elusive new endeavours, including “a single-based project” with Spotlights drummer Chris Enriquez.
Detailing the unique way that project operates, Vega explained: “[We] get with a singer, [we] talk a little bit about a vibe, and we write a song together. And that’s it. We write and record the song, we give it a little digital component… It was kind of inspired by an Argentine hip-hop producer, who has this series of songs that he does with a lot of artists.
“[It’s] mostly rappers and some singers – [he] does a song, records it, that’s it. It’s a series. And the idea of building that as a modality in this kind of music was really, really exciting. You don’t have the thing of trying to build the band. You don’t have to deal with the time conflicts with the people you may want to work with, it opens up a lot.
“So currently we have a song done. We have [another] one almost done. And then last week we started working on a track with [former Every Time I Die frontman] Keith Buckley. It’s super exciting because we got on the phone and we just talked about life. He, Chris and I had a quick FaceTime. We hadn’t met each other, [but] obviously [we’re] well aware of each other. And we really, really hit it off. So it’s a rare time that I feel compelled to mention the person because of the situation.”
Earlier this month, Deftones unveiled their new touring line-up, with former Marilyn Manson bassist Fred Sablan taking Vega’s old role.