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Shaun Lopez & Sergio VegaClemente Ruiz / Annette Rodriquez

Shaun Lopez (Crosses, Far) Weighs In On Sergio Vega’s Complicated Departure From Deftones: “You Can’t Just Come Into A Thing And Expect To Be An Owner In It”


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As a former member of Sacramento post-hardcore natives Far and both a bandmate (and close personal friend) of Deftones frontman Chino Moreno in the group Crosses (†††), Shaun Lopez has been an insider in the camp of the reigning Californian alternative metal champions for decades.

Recently Lopez guested on the Deftones-centric ‘Change (In The House Of Pods)‘ podcast and amid the chat, was asked about some of the more recent controversy in the band, including the complicated departure of bassist/vocalist Sergio Vega and guitarist Stephen Carpenter‘s decision to not join the band on their overseas touring this year.

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In light of those two developments, Deftones would go on to recruit guitarist Lance Jackman (Eightfourseven, Horseneck) to take on Carpenter‘s parts, while bassist Fred Sablan (Heavens Blade, ex-Marilyn Manson) took over the live duties from Vega.

While the Deftones themselves didn’t issue any public statements regarding the departure of Vega, a video statement shared by Vega himself this past March saw him reveal that he had exited the group in early 2021. His statement emerged after fans noticed the band had updated their social media and streaming presence with a promo photo that did not include him.

According to Vega, his decision to leave came about after being unhappy with what he claimed was an unfulfilled promise to eventually be made an equal share member of the multi-platinum outfit.

During his twelve year tenure in the band, Vega had been operating as a contractor, claiming that the group had initially promised to bring him fully into the fold as an equal share member over time in a fashion similar to that of their DJ/programmer Frank Delgado.

However, according to Vega the outfit were ultimately unwilling to honor that agreement. Speaking this past April in an appearance on the ‘Talk Toomey‘ podcast, Vega stated that his reasons for leaving the band were not monetary:

“It was not financial, because they were like, ‘Oh, here’s more money, here’s a raise.’ 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.”

When asked by ‘Change (In The House Of Pods)‘ host Robert “Woody” Nelson about Vega‘s exit and how it impacted the band, Lopez offered [transcribed by Theprp.com]:

“I will say this about the Sergio thing. I do think [Deftones] should have said something before he had the chance to say anything. Because he made them look really bad, I think. Does it affect them that much? Probably not. Only in the small circle of like, you know, kids that think they know everything.”

“….I know that whole situation…. [Sergio] was treated well. You can’t just come into a thing and expect to be an owner in it. I do think they should have said something. That’s the only thing I think they did wrong, you know? And then it got to a point where like, it was just too late for them to say anything.”

“I think he [Sergio] pulled what he pulled at a very bad time about wanting, about demanding to be a band member. The time that he did that, they were at a weak point, and I think he knew that. …It was mid-pandemic, but it was also when they knew about the whole Steph situation.”

When the podcast’s host Robert “Woody” Nelson asked if that situation referred to “[Carpenter‘s] unwillingness to get vaccinated or wasn’t gonna travel”, Lopez responded:

“For a while [Stephen] wasn’t gonna play a show. But [he wasn’t] quitting the band… And then, pretty much two days after that. Sergio came with that.”

When asked why Carpenter didn’t want to play shows, Lopez replied:

“I think he’s, he’s got some…. Obviously, dude’s been through some shit, like with the whole being at that club where all that shit went down [Carpenter was in attendance at the Le Bataclan club just prior to the November 2015 massacre]. You know? And then I think in the pandemic, I think, as a lot of us, were like, we just got lonely.

And some people [who] get lonely might smoke a ton of weed, might go on YouTube and might start to think some things, I don’t know. The thing is whenever I’m around Stephen now, whenever I’ve been around him, he’s the same dude.

He’s the same dude, but he’s got his certain beliefs [Carpenter has been vocal about his various conspiracy theory beliefs], which is like, I don’t know, that’s him. I can’t I can’t really judge a person like that. You know? But I think the whole thing was just was really poor timing  on Sergio‘s part.”

Speaking of Vega‘s decision to push for an increased role within the band’s business end amid their internal crisis with Carpenter, Lopez stated:

“…For me to see that from a distance, like, Oh, okay. He saw a chance to be like, ‘Oh, I’m gonna get…’—I don’t know if that’s the truth, but man, it’s very [much] looks that way to me and that’s just not cool.”

Speaking of how the band and Vega handled the matter publicly, Lopez offered:

“I think that if Deftones say something about it way after the fact he said all this shit, then it’s just bringing more attention to him and like, dude’s been on how many podcasts now?”

He continued:

“I mean, it’s hard for me because those are those my friends. If they’re not gonna say something, it’s like, I feel like I’m gonna fucking… So I had to tweet out something back then. I tweeted out a picture, that meme of that lady squinting her eyes trying to like look for something. It was like me, trying to try to look for any Deftones fans who know what the fuck they’re talking about.

Because all these people were saying shit. I’m like, bro, you don’t know what you’re talking about, man. You don’t know. They’re a business. They’re a corporation. You can’t just… I don’t know, it’s not like dude was not getting paid well.”

Later on Lopez stated:

“I could understand him wanting to be a part of the band. I get that. Why not? Why not ask for it? But the timing of it? Not cool. And also, I will add one more thing that may be a little bit petty. But I can promise you, that Chi [Cheng, late Deftones bassist/vocalist] did not play Fender‘s because of Sergio [see what Sergio said about that  here]. ‘Cause I saw [Sergio] say that and I’m like bro, that is not true.

Like how can you say that about someone? He also just said some kind of just not cool stuff… stuff that people really shouldn’t—who knows if it happened—but stuff that people shouldn’t know.”

It was then clarified that Lopez was referring to Vega reportedly being approached by Deftones vocalist/guitarist Chino Moreno to join Deftones in the late ’90s while Chi Cheng was still a member of the band [you can read Vega‘s side of that here.] Lopez said of that:

“Bro, even if that did happen—which it did not—that is not cool to say that… I mean, I’ve got nothing against the guy. It is what it is, but those are just things that, that’s kind of not cool man. You just don’t do that.”

As to why the Deftones never publicly addressed the matter with Vega and his departure, Lopez added:

“I can’t picture them making a statement like that… I can’t picture them making one of those typical statements like ‘we wish you the best, we wish you nothing but the best’. It’s like come on, you know you don’t.”

He later added:

“I think I talked to Chino the day after Sergio came out with that first announcement or whatever. I called him and we were talking about some other shit and and he’s like, ‘Did you see your boy wylin’ on the internet?’

And I already knew what he was talking about because people had already sent me that video, and they were like, ‘I can’t believe this.’ And then even some of my close friends, people that I know, were like, ‘Oh, they fucking did Sergio, dirty.’ I’m like, ‘bro, you have no idea what you’re talking about. Like, what are you talking about?’

But yeah, Chino‘s like, ‘You see your boy wylin?’ And I was like, ‘You guys are gonna say something right?’ And he’s like, ‘Fuck no.’ I think they were more just upset of how he did it [rather than] probably give him more attention.

Because if they say something, then he’s probably gonna say another thing and then it’s just like a back-and-forth. In a way I think they they should have said something before. But since he did it, I think it’s better that they just didn’t say anything. But it just probably made it more than it needed to be.”

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