Vega began filling in for Chi Cheng in 2009 after the latter fell into a coma following a horrific car accident, and remained with the band following Cheng’s death in 2013. However, Vega claims he never became an “official member” of Deftones despite handling bass duties for roughly 12 years.
Vega, who’s also the bassist for New York post-hardcore band Quicksand, took to Instagram TV to read a lengthy statement explaining the situation. As he tells it, an unreconciled contract negotiation related to Vega’s limited role in the band led to his exit last year.
The statement read [as transcribed by Blabbermouth]:
“To give a brief history about me and my friendship with Deftones. We met in 1995. I filled in for [late Deftones bassist] Chi [Cheng] — rest in peace — in 1999 and was asked to work with the band after his tragedy in 2009. Because of the love they have for Quicksand, I was asked to bring the same approach as a songwriter and arranger to them as well. I was also told that, similarly to Frank [Delgado], I would be brought in over time to become an official member. I had worked with the band for 12 years, and at the start of every album cycle, I asked about becoming an official member, but the contract would be improved instead.
COVID was a breaking point for a lot of people and I started to question my place in the band and the future that I wanted for my career. I really started to need something stable, because, at that point, my contract with them was canceled. One day I got a call from the guys about an internal band situation, and they asked me if I was solid and that I would have to fly out to L.A. to help work it out right away. I said, of course, I was all in, and ‘we can handle my situation later. But I can’t go back to my old contract.’ Our respective management had a conversation to discuss a new contract and they offered me the same deal. At that point, it was clear there was no opportunity for growth for me, so I declined the offer. And then I called the guys immediately to see where the miscommunication was to resolve it but there was no response.
A couple of days later, I received an e-mail from their lawyer that their offer was withdrawn and that they wished me the best. So I left the band early last year and since then I’ve been focused on my band Quicksand as well as working as a producer and writer for other artists and projects. And I’m mentioning this because there was some speculation about me selling my gear and quitting music altogether.
Out of respect for the people who have held tickets for this tour the past couple of years and everyone who supports the band, I felt it important to bring some clarity to the situation.
Lots of love and thanks to Deftones’ amazing fanbase for always being engaged and supportive of the band through good times and bad. I appreciate every single one of you. All my love to the fans that have become friends, the people that have supported my other projects. It brought me so much joy to see Deftones shirts at Quicksand shows and I will cherish this forever.
Lastly, thanks so much to the ‘tones. I wish they had the chance to tell you this in person. I want you to know that I appreciate all the years we spent together, writing, performing, being taken into your worlds. I learned a lot from each one of you. When you brought me in, you created a new sense of passion for music that I will always cherish and carry with me. You truly changed my life.”
Vega contributed to Deftones’ last four albums: Diamond Eyes (2010), Koi No Yokan (2012), Gore (2016), and Ohms (2020). He’s also remained active with Quicksand since the band reunited in 2017.
Deftones will finally embark a twice-postponed North American headlining tour with support from Gojira in April, with tickets available via Ticketmaster. There’s no word yet on who will play bass for the band.
Below you can view Vega’s video statement.