Indeed, the famous pop star and actress, who co-founded Maverick in 1992, gave the Chino Moreno-led alt-metal act their first big break when Deftones inked the deal with the major label in 1994.
If you’re a diehard Deftones fan, you likely already know this. What you may not have heard, however — which came in an interview 20 years later — is Moreno detailing their signing process to Maverick, and how they ultimately gelled with Madonna. Plus, how the rock singer came to first meet her.
It all happened when they were an up-and-coming band of teenagers from Sacramento, California. See the interview near the bottom of this post.
“We honestly weren’t looking for a record deal,” Moreno recalls of the time. “We were very lucky that we played a show — it was our first time playing in Los Angeles. … We got a show closing for a band that was showcasing for a record deal. But somebody was there that knew somebody who knew Madonna. And basically, she got our demo tape — we had like a two-song demo tape.”
He continues, “We were at work the next day — I used to work at Tower Records — and I was at work, and I got a call from Maverick Records, which was Madonna’s record label at the time. It was a brand new record label — she had only signed Alanis [Morissette] and Candlebox. … They called us at work and said, ‘Hey, Madonna wants to see you guys play.’ … So, they flew us back to Los Angeles.”
How Madonna Signed Deftones
Once Deftones were back in the City of Angels, Moreno described what played out as an overwhelmingly “surreal” experience — the band were quickly signed to Maverick Records after a brief audition, and Moreno met Madonna.
He explains, “We go to LA, and we’re in a little rehearsal spot. They rented gear for us. And we went in there it was Madonna’s manager, Guy Oseary, who’s Madonna’s manager now. And they sit on a chair and they say, ‘OK, play.’ And we played like two songs, and then in the middle, [Maverick Records co-founder] Freddy DeMann stands up, and he goes, “OK, I heard enough — where do I sign?'”
Moreno adds, “We went to the offices right after [it]. I sat down on the couch. … The door opens, and Madonna walks in. So this was like, one of the first famous people that I meet is Madonna. Like, as a 10-year-old boy, all my fantasies are coming true.”
Deftones would go on to release their 1995 debut Adrenaline on Maverick, laying the foundation of what became an ongoing tenure in heavy rock.
And we have Madonna to thank for it all. “That is absolutely surreal that Madonna would be so into a nu-metal band that she would push to get them signed,” Moreno muses. “Go figure.”
Chino Moreno on Rover’s Morning Glory
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Gallery Credit: Philip Trapp