“Bass Player” – 1997 // Chi Interviewed

BASS Player
May 1997

BASS Notes
Chi Cheng, The Zen of Metal


By Thomas Wictor

It's hard to put the Deftones' Chi Cheng into a neat little box - just as his band itself 
defies categorization. Ostensibly a heavy metal outfit, the quartet from Sacramento, California,
is no clutch of head-banging, oafish thrashers. Lead vocalist Chino Moreno is a cryptic 
lyricist who croons wistfully or screams as if he's being boiled alive, guitarist Stephen 
Carpenter alternates between ghostly, poignant chord phrasings and a percussive, blasting wall 
of sound, and drummer Abe Cunningham supplies sophisticated, almost jazz-influenced parts that 
are remarkably infectious.

In the midst of all this mayhem, Chi Cheng's driving, minimalist bass lines serve as an anchor 
- a stabilizing influence that helps to keep the music from blowing itself apart. On the 
Deftones' debut album, Adrenaline (Maverick), such principles as harmony and discord, light 
and dark, and rage and resignation are presented not as contrast but as parts of a unified 
whole. Tracks like the haunting "One Weak" and the disturbing "7 Words" swing relentlessly 
back and forth between extremes of emotion.

In keeping with the Deftones' yin-and-yang motif, hard rockin' Chi is a self-professed Zen 
Buddhist hippie who has studied Taoism, quantum mechanics, chaos theory, and shamanism. 
Though he relates off-the-record stories of beery exploits and "playful" scuffles that would 
make even the most rabid metal fan gasp a reverent "Cool," he himself is a committed vegetarian 
and Grateful Dead enthusiast. ("I don't even listen to metal that much," he grins.)

Chang met up with the rest of the Deftones while studying English at Sacramento State 
University in the late '80s. They began playing at parties and moved on to a local club scene, 
while Chi held down several jobs in addition to tutoring advanced poetry classes at the college. 
After the band began garnering increasingly higher visibility, Cheng realized he was doing too 
many things at the same time. He decided to concentrate solely on the band's intense new brand 
of metal rather than "halfass" everything else.

"I wouldn't really label our music now," Chi says. "I would just call it passionate, it's more 
about intensity than any actual style or genre. We're more about dynamics - songs fluctuating 
up and down like roller-coasters - than being proficient layers. I'm honest enough to know I'm 
not a great bass player. I'm not going to dazzle anyone with my playing. But I stick with the 
groove and put down lines that are good, strong, and passionate. Ninety-eight percent of the 
music out there now is lousy because it's soulless; it isn't alive. It has hooks but no fire. 
And if it doesn't have that fire, it just doesn't click with me."

Cheng believes his own approach to the bass can be traced to a fondness for reggae, soul, jazz, 
and blues. "I read in a Bass Player review that I play a lot of 16th-notes," he recalls. "I 
think that comes from listening to Tower of Power. I'm such a fan of Rocco Prestia; his playing 
is so insistent and tasteful. Also, I'm more concerned about working with the drums than with 
the guitar. I rarely write a bass line to match a guitar part because I'm looking at the big 
picture. If people listen to our album, they can tell it's not just another heavy metal record 
because the bass is doing something under the guitar instead of with it.

"Also, I play with my fingers instead of a pick," Chi continues. "Finger players are outlaws in 
the heavy music industry - but for me, a pick just puts you farther away from the instrument.
It's more organic to play with your fingers. I'd have a much better tone if I used a pick, but 
I refuse to do it. It drives our guitar player nuts, but I'd rather cause friction between us 
and stock with slinky, organic lines than be just another metal player."

On the road for the past two years, the Deftones have opened for such bands as Ozzy Osborne, 
Pantera, Kiss, White Zombie, 311, and Korn - as well as headlined their own shows. 
When performing live, Chi undergoes what he calls a "Jekyll-and-Hyde" transformation. 
"On stage I vent everything," he explains. "I'm extremely aggressive because it's a wonderful 
outlet. Some people paint, some do tai chi or poetry - this is our way of venting. I hope 
people won't see it as violence or anger, although if you catch our show you might think we've 
got chips on our shoulders or had bad childhoods. It's not an angry thing for us; it's always 
been a positive, sacred thing for us to play with as much passion as we can."

Chi is similarly enthusiastic about the two '57 Fender Precision reissues made for him by Alex 
Perez of the Fender Custom shop. One is a standard P-Bass with a maple neck, the other has a 
rosewood board and an additional humbucking pickup. According to Cheng, "Alex put so much 
honesty into the wood that when I got the basses I could feel it. He dumped so much positive 
energy into them it was amazing. You can actually feel the difference between an instrument 
that was made on the production line and one that was built just for you." For amplification, 
Cheng runs two Hughes & Kettner Bass Base 600 heads through four Hughes & Kettner 300-watt 
4x10 cabinets. He also plugs in a SansAmp GT2 pedal enroute to achieving his "simple, 
uncluttered" sound.

Although Chi knows the Deftones are turning lots of heads, he credits his years of meditation 
and self-examination with keeping his feet firmly on the ground. "Wherever I am is where I need 
to be," he shrugs. "I could be washing dishes or teaching English and I'd still be content. The 
truth is many musicians play because they need the admiration of others to make them whole. I 
mean, it's nice that people appreciate our music, and we're flattered by it - but I don't need 
to be told we're the best thing since sliced bread. It's the creating and playing of music and 
seeing how it affects people that's the beautiful, sacred part. That's why I'm going to put 
everything I have into whatever I do. I don't ever really think about where I'm going to be five 
or ten years from now, because it doesn't really matter. Life is what you make of it."

“Guitar School” – 1997 // Chino, Chi and Stef Interviewed

Chino, Stef and Chi interviewed by Guitar School


Over the past two years, the Deftones have toured incessantly in support of their 1995 
Maverick debut, Adrenalize, celebrating the untrammeled id at every stop from coast to coast.
Metalheads, skaters and punks have all been inflamed by the Deftones' firestorm of noise, 
which blends a sensibility for drop-dead grooves with a passion for precision riffery. The ease
with which the Deftones' annihilate boundaries among their audiences is no doubt enhanced by the
multi-ethnic makeup of the band.

"We're two Mexicans, a Chinese and a white boy," says vocalist Chino Moreno. "Metal and punk
don't have to be white, anymore than rap has to be black." Recounting his experiences growing 
up in a racially mixed neighborhood in Sacramento, he continues, "Until I was 11, everybody 
hung out together. Then people separated and got into different gangs; the black kids were 
into rap and the whites were into metal. I was lucky-I got into skateboarding, and we listened 
to everything from rap to new wave. Everybody respected each other. When we started the band, 
we kept that spirit going. We're part of the process of music opening up, and I think it's
something you're going to see a lot more of. We see a lot of different kinds of kids in our
audiences all hanging out and having a great time."

Guitar World Online spoke with these multicultural mosh-pit messiahs in their tour bus just 
prior to a sold-out show in New York City and learned from Chino, bass player Chi Cheng and
guitarist Stephen Carpenter how to become underground heroes and sell over 170,000 records
without any help from MTV or radio. Drummer Abe Cunningham was also in attendance. He made 
faces at his bandmates and talked shit about them under his breath throughout the interview.

GUITAR SCHOOL: You guys have built up a considerable underground following, despite almost no 
MTV or radio support. To what do you attribute your success?

CHI CHENG: One word: perseverance. We've been together for almost eight years, on the road for
two and we do it with honesty and integrity-and the kids can tell. The instant overnight 
success that comes when all of sudden you get steady MTV rotation is a real temporary thing
anyhow. You're dropping some shit on the people that has no legitimacy. You can tell a band
that's put the time, the effort and the love into it as opposed to a band that went the easy

CHINO MORENO: I think they can tell that we do it for the right reasons: to have fun. When we
started, I had never been in a band before. I didn't know what I was doing and I was singing 
some tore-up shit. I was surprised that these guys didn't boot me but we learned how to be a 
band together and I think people see that and dig that.

GS: What inspired you to form the band?

MORENO: Steph had a bunch of equipment he bought with the money he got after being hit by a 
drunk driver. His moms let him do whatever he wanted with the money, so he had a drum set, 
amps and all this equipment in his garage. I was about 16 and up til then we all hung out
together and would skate after school. That was my life back then, girls didn't matter, 
drinking didn't matter, I didn't care about anything except music and skateboarding. 
I introduced them all to each other and then they used to go over to Steph's house to jam. 
One day I went over there and they were playing a Danzig song, and since I was so into the
Misfits I started singing it and they were like, "Dude you sing like Danzig. Do you want to 
sing in the band?"

GS: What kind of music were you listening to back then?

MORENO: Punk rock and new wave. My favorite bands were the Bad Brains, the Misfits, the Cure 
and the Smiths. I got introduced to metal by the band and now I love it.

STEPHEN CARPENTER: I was never into punk until I started hanging with these guys. I was into 
hard rock and metal my whole life. Metallica, Slayer, Anthrax and Faith No More were my

CHENG: All through high school it was Maiden and Steve Harris. That's where all the bass 
players come from who started in the Eighties. Anybody playing bass now who says they 
weren't introduced to it by Steve Harris is a fucking liar. He's the man. He knew how to 
keep things interesting, which is really all that matters.

GS: So what were you guys doing between forming in 1989 and getting signed in 1994?

MORENO: We spent the majority of our time in practice, making up songs. We didn't try to get 
out real quick and tour. We played shows occasionally and whenever we played in our hometown 
it would be crazy. But most of the time we were just trying to better ourselves and grow.

GS: In all that time, how come you never put out an indie release?

MORENO: We got asked a lot. Indie labels came to us and said they'd give us money to put
something out, but we didn't want to get locked into anything and we didn't think our stuff 
was ready yet.

CHENG: We didn't want to half-ass anything, and when finally we did our album, that was the
payoff. We had six or seven years worth of songs we could select from.

GS: Your shows have always had a reputation for wildness.

CHENG: Yeah, lately our shows have been psychotic. We all vent whatever we have on stage, 
which is a beautiful thing for us, but I think that because a lot of the songs are aggressive
people misinterpret it as saying "Please destroy things and hurt the person next to you," 
which is absolutely the opposite of what we want. I don't want people coming to our shows 
because they've heard we're a great band to hurt people to. I'm not saying we're cerebral
rockers, but I want people to listen to it.

GS: There is an emotional honesty in your lyrics that you don't find in a lot of metal.

MORENO: Yeah, maybe I whine a little bit, but it's mostly everyday life. Sometimes I'm 
screaming, sometimes I'm scheming, whatever way I feel when I'm writing the song. If I 
start thinking too hard about it, it's going to come out sounding forced.

GS: What are you trying to say?

MORENO: The easiest way I can explain it is the love of music and the love of the ups and 
downs of life. We don't have a message or anything like that. There's nothing I feel that 
deeply about. These are personal lyrics, but it's not like I'm hurting deep inside and I need 
to tell somebody about it.

GS: What inspired "7 Words" and "Bored"?

MORENO: Those two are completely opposite themes, different feelings, but strangely they are 
also sort of the same. "Bored" is a smooth way of being pissed and aggravated. "7 Words" is 
a straightforward way of being aggravated. They are essentially about two different ways
of dealing with the frustration.

GS: Your fan base and musical style are often likened to those of Korn. 
Do you mind the constant comparisons?

MORENO: Not at all. I can see some points of comparison. Korn plays emotional music over 
some heavy shit and both our bands rock. I do however think there is a lot more groove to what 
we do. We're friends with Korn and a lot of the same kids are coming to both our shows, so 
it's essentially the same scene.

GS: Do you think people are more open to extreme music these days?

CARPENTER: I think the people who are into it now were always into it, it's just becoming 
more available to them now. We've always been heavy and had dynamics. We've channeled our 
style so it's become more and more intense.

GS: What are your plans for a new album? You're going to record in April and release it 
in the fall?

CARPENTER: Yeah. We're going to go home and jam, which is something we don't get to do on 
the road. That's where we do our best work. Let's say one of us writes a whole song and brings 
it to practice. It may be only one riff that everybody likes and we'll just jam that one riff 
and then something else will click on.

CHENG: Usually the way we write is that one person has something that everybody else likes 
and then as we're working it out everybody else contributes their own style. In our music you 
can hear four people writing, and that's what makes it cool. Fuck, we don't agree on 
everything, but that friction also helps.

CARPENTER: When I write, often I wouldn't even have a middle section for the song because 
the middle section of the songs I grew up on are a big solo section and I don't like solos. 
I'll goof around and noodle-I play solos all the time-but as far as song structures go, 
I don't dig them. So, when I come to that part of the song, lots of times I draw a blank 
and that's where Chino takes over. In general we'll jam riffs and jam it and jam it, and we 
may not finish the idea, but then another time we may be working on something else and 
those earlier ideas will pop back and we can start piecing things together very quickly. 
Take "Bored." We wrote that song in half an hour-it came out of nowhere. "7 Words" happened 
the same way, were just fucking around and boom, we had a song.

CHENG: Normally we need a bunch of beer, we need to throw shit at each other and then 
have somebody leave practice pissed.

GS: You fight?

CHENG: That's why our music is strong. We're not afraid to say to each other, "That riff 
is sorry! That riff sucks! That's a shitty riff!" And then sometimes you have to stand up 
for that riff because it might just be the riff. That's why when all four of us agree that a 
riff is good it's generally a pretty good riff because we toss out about 90 percent of what 
we write. Hell, I know most of my stuff doesn't make it and I laugh at most of Steph's shit.

GS: The last time you spoke to us [Guitar School, April, 1996] you mentioned that lessons 
were worthless; do you think a lot of people take that as a license to be lazy and sloppy 
when they play?

CARPENTER: No, they shouldn't and practice is an absolute must. What I mean is, there are 
people who learn guitar from a teacher and they read the Mel Bay books and they learn the 
theory and that's all good for people who want to do that-more power to `em. But I have 
never seen myself as needing that knowledge because I never wanted any boundaries, I never 
wanted to worry about any kind of rules. I just wanted to make noise, put it into a rhythmic
pattern and create music. I try to make stuff that has a groove to it and then throw some 
stuff into it that I haven't heard before. I may stumble onto something and then I try to 
twist it in a way that hasn't registered before. I love hearing melodic little things too, 
notes that harmonize with each other, but I love throwing in a note that doesn't fit for a 
little taste of dissonance. There are so many little tricks. Say Chi is playing the root 
note F, I'll throw an E right under it because it sounds bent.

CHI: I think the secret is that even if you have guitar heroes, ultimately it comes to the 
point where you look for your own artistic voice. You have to figure out what you have going 
on with your instrument that's unique. After a while it doesn't matter who influenced you 
because you're just trying to channel your own shit into that instrument. I think where we 
all agree as players is that developing as an individual is where people should focus their
attention as opposed to becoming some sort of precision player.

“Drummer Magazine” – 1997 // Abe Interviewed

(Issue #6)

By Randy Sanders



Hangin' in your hometown with your band budz - getting ready to start a world tour which will 
land you on bills with Pantera, White Zombie and Dick Dale among others, sounds like a cool way 
to kick off the summer! Eve since being signed to Madonna's label, Maverick, Abe Cunningham and 
his band Deftones have already shot a performance take for the movie, "The Crow - City of 
Angels", opened for Anthrax, Korn, Ozzy and finished recording their debut album with producer 
Terry Date, (Soundgarden, White Zombie, Pantera). I talked with Abe from his home in 

What are you doing hanging out there in Sactown? Are you recording, practicing?

We have a couple more weeks at home. We've been on the road for pretty much the past year, 
straight. We're just kicking it, ya know?

Taking a vacation?

Yeah, just for a little bit. We'll go out for the summer time, head to Copenhagen for one show, 
come back and start the Warp Tour for about a month, then go onto the Pantera and White Zombie 

What style of music do you listen to that would surprise a fan of your music?

Oh, everything. I was raised on so much different music. You know, everything, I can't even 
pinpoint anything. Like my music right here, I can pull out like ... Queen, Neil Young, 
anything, Prince, I listen to just about everything.

Do you listen to any avant garde stuff?

Umm... (Pause) like how avant garde? Oh, Coltrane, Miles Davis, Omette Coleman.
Yeah, I have a bunch of Miles right here, actually. We tend to play a lot of heavier music, 
and I think that a lot of people think that's all we can play. I think when we do our net album 
we'll try to change some stuff.

Oh, you are?

Not so different.

Maybe go outside a little bit?

You always would like to, you know, keep yourself refreshed. We have so much different stuff 
that we can draw from. We have a lot of emotion in it, ya now?

How did you guys get together?

I knew our singer from middle school and high school. We just stayed together, we were friends. 
Our guitarist Stephen, he grew up in the same neighborhood as Chino, our singer. He knew that I 
played drums and we were looking for people to jam with. He introduced the two of us. We were 
about 16 at the time... We're just friends, kinda' doing it for fun, ya know?

So did you start playing the local Sactown clubs?

Yeah, you can only play so many places around here, so many bands play. You can only be in every 
week, or every month, whatever. So we sort of went down to the Bay Area and stuff, Berkeley and 
San Francisco then making little trips down the coast to L.A. and San Diego. You know, just 
trying to broaden ourselves, and so we wouldn't burn 'em out here either.

Tell me about the record label you're on.

Maverick. Yep. They're great!


I mean, ya know, relatively small label but... I mean, obviously, look at them they've had 
great success with the bands on their label. There's not that many people on the label, ya know 
what I mean? There's umm... Candlebox, and Alanis Morissett, Madonna... They're great! Totally 
supportive. When we first signed our deal, I didn't expect to have as much freedom as we did, 
ya know? All they ever did was give us suggestions, ya know, check this out, think about this.

So it's kind of like being on an indie label with the support of a major?

Yeah, exactly.

How did you get signed?

They wanted to fly us down )(to L.A.), so they rented us gear, .....we flew down for the day, 
and Guy and the president, Freddie, came out, just the two of them and we played 'em a few 
songs and they said stop, when do we sign? And we're like, totally excited at this point!

Totally stoked.

Oh yea, no doubt! we played a bit more and then went back to the office and talked to them for 
awhile... and that was pretty much it. Ya know? It just sort of happened. We had offers from 
different labels, I hope to think that we made the right choice, and I think we did.

When you guys are off tour, like now, do you talk daily?

Oh, yea! Oh my God!

You're all into it?

We're tied together. We're like brothers, ya know what I man? You get home and the first thing 
we're all doing is calling each other up! It's like, what's up? We[r getting antsy. We've only 
been here for two weeks and ...oh, man I'm ready to go!

Tell me about doing the record.

When we did our album it was like, this is our first record ya know what I mean? It's like, not 
thee word scary, but I think everybody was a bit, intimidated. It was the first time we were in 
a beautiful studio. It was like, Shit! This is our first record, or whatever. All that was on 
our mind. We did the record with Terry Date. He lives up in Seattle. He's donee all kinds of 
people. He's done Pantera records, he did the first couple Soundgarden records, he did a White 
Zombie record, it was great! Anyway (playing) live is beautiful, but you can have so much fun 
in the studio if you're not, you're not... Ya know. It's perfect if you can juts cut loose if 
you want. Ya know what I mean? But I think a lot of people are... Especially being newer bands 
and stuff kinda' get... I mean, I'm not saying everybody does, but you get a little bit 
intimidated for the first time.

Do you listen to stuff you did on thee first one and say, "Oh, man, I wish I'd have played 
that differently"?

Oh God yeah! I play so much differently now, just from being on the road for the past year.

Are you a real meter-type player, or are you more into what's happening with the licks?

I don't know, I'd have to feel it out as far as the band goes. I mean yeah, the meter of course 
is important. As I get older I can totally see my brain maturing.

How old are you?

Twenty-two... But you get older and you start thinking the song, .....what's there for the 
song. I'm growing, you know as we go on.

Is this what you want to do the rest of your life, play the drums?

Umm, I would love to, if I could. I've always been interested in sound too, ya know? Recording. 
Our guitarist and I, we would have a studio that could operate on it's own. Ya know what I mean?
But I would love to see how far we could take this. Right now the things are going so well, and 
we're having a blast. Everybody's happy together. If I could play drums for the rest of my life 
I would love to. Yeah, sure. Ya know, see how far we can take this.

“Deftones.com” – 1996 // Critical Soundbites

"On the outside, Sacramento's DEFTONES are all pummeling rhythms and high anxiety, but delving 
further into the music turns up some surprising nuances: traces of post-punk pop, tinges of rap, 
a pinch of industrial grit. Chino Moreno rants, sobs, croons and even works some Middle Eastern 
overtones into his vocals, while Stephen Carpenter's guitar shifts from coarse outbursts to 
crisp Helmet-ine precision. A bracing blend of extremes." 

--Sandy Masuo,
Los Angeles Times, January 1996
(three-out-of-four star review) 

"Influenced equally by Helmet, Pantera and Smashing Pumpkins, the band is a ferocious contrast 
of harmony and discord. Their debut album, ADRENALINE (Maverick, ****), pitches between 
gloom-saturated melodies and explosive riffs, lashing out like a sleep-deprived paranoiac 
awakened by noisy neighbors. The rhythms are crisp and crafty and the vocals resonate both fury 
and sensitivity in a way that's similar to, but far more blatantly metallic than Nirvana." 
--Jon Wiederhorn,
Pulse, December 1995 

"For those who prefer their rock on the foul-mouthed side, the DEFTONES deliver. The band's 
solid style crosses the rawness of the Red Hot Chili Peppers with the cheeky vocal of British 
poppers EMF." 
--Larry Flick,
Billboard, January 1995 

"An abrasive mix of tortured screaming and edgy guitars that are set up with lulling passages 
not unlike the calm before the storm." 
--Paul Semel,
Bikini, March 1996 

"Though Moreno can bellow and howl with all the anxiety and anger of a Trent Reznor or Kurt 
Cobain, he is also capable of a distinct melodic lilt that's reminiscent of Robert Smith. All 
in all, the 11 tracks are adrenaline." 
--Sandy Masuo,
RIP, December 1995 

"Flesh-peeling, tuned-down riffs form the backdrop for vocals that range from cryptic whispers 
to bone-chilling screams." 
--Don Kaye,
Request, November 1995 

"The aptly titled ADRENALINE (Maverick), (guitarist Stephen) Carpenter and his band lay down 
the law with undeniable authority. A hyper-dynamic collection of angst-ridden sonic booms, the 
album is a 40-minute primal scream, built on Carpenter's percussive riffing, judiciously applied 
bursts of dissonance, and delicate, if creepy, open chord patterns." 
--Tim Kenneally,
Guitar School, April 1996 

"Sledgehammer power chords, swirling textures, and relentless riffs." 
--Chris Gill/James Rotondi,
Guitar Player, March 1996 

"The Sacramento, California band shifts deftly between nerve-shredding hysteria and subdued 
calm--yet they manage to sustain their intensity throughout by using tons of tension and 
sinister atmospheres. (Chi) Cheng's insistent 16th-note ostinatos highlight the quieter moments 
of songs like 'Minus Blindfold,' and he's adept at navigating the band's frequent shifts in feel 
and tempo." 
--Karl Coryat,
Bass Player, April 1996 

"If this is what heavy metal is evolving into, it's a damn good thing. The DEFTONES' powerful 
debut is full of aggro riffing, low-end rhythms, and heavy guitars coupled with genuine 
melodies...Categories aside, DEFTONES have undoubtedly produced one of the better, 'heavy music'
debuts to pulverize the world in a while." 
--Katherine Turman,
Car Audio, January 1996 

"There are many bands these days that lay claim to a diverse section of influences. But no one 
band is as subtly boisterous to about their eclectic mix as are DEFTONES. Blending together 
everything from funk to metal, rap and hardcore, DEFTONES' coalesce these different energies 
into one coherent electrical stream of sound. DEFTONES' course is piloted by vocalist and 
frontman Chino Moreno, who expresses his smooth, melodic lyrics emotionally one minute before 
giving way to abrasive, maddened screams the next. Backed by the serene and apocalyptic guitar 
of Stephen Carpenter, this Yin-Yang formula keeps DEFTONES' debut ADRENALINE progressively 
--Tomas Pascual,
LiveWire, June/July 1996 

"ADRENALINE is one of the year's most jarring and intense releases, mixing (Stephen) Carpenter's 
corrosive riffage with the seething rhythms of Chi Cheng and Abe Cunningham--topped off by the 
cryptic, cathartic wail of Chino Moreno. Picture Korn duking it out with Pantera and you've got 
DEFTONES in a nutshell." 
--Peter Atkinson,
F (Foundations), November 1995 

"It whispers. It cries. It roars. It sighs, screams, bleeds and it buzzes. Loud. It can't be 
ignored. Once it's in your ear it's in your face. It's about a rush of ADRENALINE. Of sonic 
berserkery, of crippling angst, of boredom channeled into something beautiful. It's what it is. 
And nothing more: DEFTONES, a band of skate kids who do it for fun, whether at a backyard 
barbecue or a 20,000-seat arena. A band that not only attracts your attention, but demands it." 
--Sue Nolz,
Metal Maniacs, August 1996

“Entertainment Ave” – December, 1996 // Stef Interviewed

Stef interviewed by Stu Gotz (Entertainment Ave!)
© December 4, 1996 


I first met Stephan Carpenter of Deftones after a KISS show here in Chicago. 
He was just hanging outside his tour bus while Chino was on a tirade spouting out about what 
rock and roll really is all about. Wedge, Deftones tour manager, was also hot and vociferous 
about the treatment they received from KISS. There were all these people standing around 
bitching and amid them all stood Stef just chilling out with some bottled water and not saying 
much. I struck up a short conversation with him and thought him to be the shy and quiet type. 
I guess he was just tired then because when Deftones came back through Chicago, about a month 
later, Stef had lots to say...

S.G.: We're talking to Stephan from the Deftones. Let's take a look at my notes here.. 

STEF: You don't have your notes memorized? 

S.G.: No. I'm not that professional. 

STEF: Oh no. 

S.G.: I know this is a cliché of a question but I gotta ask it… Tell us about the name Deftones? 
How did you guys come up with that? 

STEF: It pretty much came out of nowhere. I was just at work one day and thought of it and that 
it was cool, that's about it really. 

S.G.: So, it just came off the top of your head? 

STEF: Well…, like, its got a story, but I mean it's not that big a deal. 

S.G.: Nothing profound? 

STEF: It all depends on how you wanna look at it. Like one day, I was at work. I used to work 
at a pizza place and I rolled the dough basically and so, I was all off by myself all the time, 
right, and had my headphones on and I'd just be rockin' out. But I listen to everything. 
I listen to a lot of rap, rock, R&B, you know, rap, I said rap twice didn't I? 

S.G.: Yeah you did. 

STEF: I listened to a lot of rap at the time, but, I always imagined being in a band but I 
could never pick out a name. I was like, "how do bands just pick their names?" You know, some 
bands, you got these metal bands that try to make their name all ugly and whatever. I wanted to 
pick a cool name, something that would just stand out but you know, not be all cheese-ball at 
the same time… Well, I was really into old classic music, like from the 50's and shit like that…
I was like, "Tones," you know there's a lot of bands from that era that has "The Tones" in it. 
And "Def," just cuz I listen to a lot of LL COOL J, Public Enemy, you know, like Def Jam and 
all that. Then I thought, "Deftones," that would be kinda cool. Def would be mean "cool" and 
Tones would be like… the sound of the old days but being vague… cuz we didn't do just one kind 
of music. It was pretty heavy, but it has never been focused on one particular style of music. 

S.G.: Well, going along with that, some people, I've read, have classified your music as kinda 
being thrash and others just don't know how to describe it. What would you say the Deftones are? 

STEF: I just say - We're us. I mean, the bottom line is it's metal, cuz it's heavy but, it's 
not. I can't even say it's not typical metal cuz you know it's typical metal for where we're 
at in our point in time. As far as I consider, when most people are afraid of being metal cuz 
they don't wanna be compared to all the so-called metal bands of the 80's, like Metallica, 
Anthrax and Slayer…that's what metal is as far as I'm concerned. I mean, there was hard rock 
and has progressed up into that - that's the way I always viewed metal… It's so diverse now, 
it's not just solid metal anymore. Not even Pantera is just metal. They're the heaviest band on 
the planet but they're not straight metal, you know what I mean? 

S.G.: All right, going back to the cliché questions, how did you guys get together as a band? 

STEF: We all just knew each other from growing up really, that's about it. We just all used to 
jam together. It was never like, "Hey, let's make a band." We all used to play and we became a 
band really. It just happened. 

S.G.: The last time I saw you was back in October. You were here in Chicago and were opening up 
for KISS. Care to share any stories about that whole tour? 

STEF: Yeah, it sucked. 

S.G.: Why so? 

STEF: I mean, we were playing for people who weren't even in our own generation… there were 
fans of ours that were out there and they were great cuz they knew what they were coming for… 
but the majority, they had no idea who we were - they had no reason to even care who we were. 
They came to see the explosions and the lights and Gene spit blood and it wasn't like, let's go 
check out the opening act, you know what I mean. They were paying hundreds of dollars to see 
KISS, let's go see KISS. 

You know, Chicago stands out because it was our last show and at no show did we ever got booed 
and we did that night. We got fuckin booed! I was like - these people are so hard. I couldn't 
even believe it. I think they were doin' it just to see if they could rile us up and we were 
crackin' up. I remember Chino was talking a hell of a lot of shit and called them all "Sorries" 
and it was beautiful because we'd go up there and he'd be like telling the audience "Hey, were 
KISS' favorite band, you better fuckin' act like you like us so they don't get mad." And people 
would be like, "YEAH!" - they'd be trippin'… shows like that we'd always do like, 
REO Speedwagon, you know what I mean. It's the only thing these mother fuckin' people even 
know. I mean, they're not going to recognize us. Yeah, let's play something new…, they'd be 
"YEAH!" They're all happy and I'm like, "Yeah, Shut-up." 

S.G.: So how did that experience differ from your Pantera and your White Zombie experience? 

STEF: I think the difference would be obvious. 

S.G.: Let's have it in your words. How was that experience then? Tell me about Pantera and 
White Zombie. 

STEF: That's my best experience ever. I love Pantera, not just as a band musically. 
You know what I mean, but just as people. They're all just great people and fun to be 
around -full of life and not like - "Oh, I hate this shit…," they're having a good time 
and livin it up, you can't go wrong there. It was a blast. We had a blast every day. 

S.G.: Well, definitely a better experience. 

STEF: It was just more exciting. Musically, it was more fun to hear them play than it was 
to hear KISS. I loved KISS, that was my favorite band when I was a kid. I don't think anybody 
didn't like KISS when they were kids. But, I mean, I don't listen to KISS now, ever… 
I watched them every night on that tour, except for Chicago because I was hangin' out with 
everybody... But like, I only had a few highlights from that whole show that I wanted to see 
and that was like, "Black Diamond," cuz that was like, my all time favorite KISS song and it 
was just, every night, that song was sweet. And then it was great watching Ace and Gene do 
their solos. 

S.G.: A lot of musical artists have political causes. On what political soapbox do you stand on? 

STEF: Fuckin' none. I got no time for politics. 

S.G.: How about the members of the band? Anybody? 

STEF: Nah, we don't got no political views that we need to even convey across in our music. 
That's for clowns. Let people fuckin' have a good time - they get pummeled enough by TV and 
the news - they don't need some band that they fuckin' like, or their music telling them how 
to live their fuckin' lives. You know what I mean. I'm not saying people can't do that cuz 
obviously people have their right to do what they want, but I think that shit should be left 
at home. …but when you write music it should be about fun, you know, things that are fun, 
things you like, happiness, sadness, but you don't have to be like, pound your opinion on other 
people because the reality is kids hear their shit from their favorite bands and they're like, 
"Oh, I better go out and do this,"…just cuz the band is doing it. If anything… it should be 
people teaching people how to be their own individual selves, how to make choices for their own 
and I'm sure in a round-about way, that's what they're trying to say, but when it comes to 
politics, you know bands do it - I don't need to name names. But, they're out there and it's 
not interesting for me. It ruins the music for me. I don't like it. 

S.G.: Now, as far as the politics of music, not necessarily the government politics but as an 
industry, I understand that the music industry is getting very political these days. Did you 
have to do a lot of ass kissing to get where you're at today? 

STEF: No. I think it's not so much ass kissing. I know what you're saying. There is definitely 
people out there who kiss some ass. Like, as far as, you do favors for people if you want 
something, you could help somebody out, but its gonna come around and you don't even have to 
do things to get people to do it. If you just do cool stuff, people come back and it comes back 
around later on, you know, you're just nice and it always come back around basically. 

S.G.: OK, going back to record labels, I have a little scenario here for you. Lets say a record 
label or whoever is having a big party just for you guys - The Deftones. You're there, just 
hanging, when some big stuffed shirt walks up to you out of the crowd, doesn't recognize you 
and he starts asking you questions like: "Oh yeah, those crazy Deftones, what do you think 
about them?" How would you respond to a question like that? 

STEF: I'd say "They rule man, go buy their records" Ha-Ha. (laughs) 

S.G.: I've read through some of your press releases. You guys did a couple of songs that showed 
up on movie soundtracks. One was "Crow II-City of Angels," and another from "Escape From LA." 
Did you get a chance to see those movies, and were they the right kind of movies for your 

STEF: "The Crow" music, I saw that movie and that was definitely right for the song. I mean 
the song was good in the movie. "The Crow" is really based around music… the soundtrack made 
the movie just that much better, you know. "Escape from LA"… I never even seen "Escape from 
New York" all the way through myself…. I've seen commercials for "Escape from LA" and it seemed 
down right cheesy. I didn't even want to go see that movie. 

S.G.: I know I grew up idolizing rock stars and wanted to be a rock star myself. What are some 
down sides of being in the music scene that people wouldn't think about? 

STEF: Without making it sound like a complaint, cuz it's not, I mean, the only down side that 
I can say is that the more popular you get, as far as the public knows, the less respect they 
have for you as a human, as a person. … You know what I mean. If you start making things happen 
in your own life without being in a band, nobody would say anything. But if you're in a band 
and you start making things happen, you know, people start thinking you're a rock star and they 
forget that you're a person. And you get that label. Once people say that you're a rock star, 
even if you ask for just a little thing here and there, it's like, "OK rock star, blah blah 
blah." I personally listen to it and laugh at them and say "whatever." 

But, the biggest misconception with the whole thing is that people tend to forget that people 
out here are real people doing this. People can't really understand unless you live it. It's 
not like you go to your job every day, you come in, you work and you hang out with everybody. 
You're all employees and stuff like that and you're all friends but you're at a job so you 
don't think much of it. Out here, everybody thinks it's a big party and for the most part, a 
lot of it is a good time - you should be having good times and partying as much as you can, 
but, every day is still a job and there are things that have to get done every day. You know, 
there's deadlines to meet, there's all kinds of things that people don't see. They just see 
the band on stage, they just see the band on TV, or they hear them on the radio. They don't 
know about everything else that goes on behind it, you know. That's the biggest downside for 
me, I mean I have no complaints at all other than I wish that people would understand that, 
and I know they can't, and for the most part, most won't ever understand that, so it's not like 
it's a complaint, it's just an observation of it all. I can deal with it. If anyone wants to 
call me a rock star cuz I want or do whatever I want, you know, I'm totally fine with that 
because I would do it even if I wasn't in a band and I don't care what people say about me 
in that way. I'm sure there's people that think that, and anyone that knows me, knows I'm not, 
so it's people that don't know you that would give you those kind of labels, and I don't really 
worry about that too much. I love the whole thing, everything about this, the traveling, the 
playing, the getting up, I love doin' all the interviews, I love doin' everything about it - 
I've got no complaints. The only time I complain is when I gotta go home, It's like "NOOOO!." 
But I mean it's great - it just gives you time to get something else done. Years ago I would 
never have been focused. This has helped me be focused on a lot of stuff, see things that I 
would have never saw, like different opportunities for everything. Things you can take and do 
with your life. 

S.G.: How has this whole experience changed? I mean how long have you been on the road first 
of all, and prior to that, compare yourself to now and then, what are the big changes in your 
life, do you think? 

STEF: Well, like I said, the big changes in my life are just my mental outlook on everything. 
I've become a more positive person than when I was younger, years ago. It's made me realize 
that,… when you don't deal with your bad stuff when it happens, it just gets worse so it makes 
you handle problems and I just got more control of myself. You know what I mean. I can see 
where I want to go - I know all the different avenues I want to explore and that's why I said I 
hate going home cuz I love doing this, but when I go home, going home gives me the time and 
space to explore the other avenues that I want to do. It's good. There's just so many things 
that I wanna do. It's like I could start forty things at once but I'm gonna be creeping along 
at every one of them so I'm just trying to focus on one or two things here and get those things 
going so I could have that stuff going and maybe branch off to do another thing. It's not so 
much even music, more or less, it's just, like, musically, I love doin' what I'm doin' in this 
band. I love to jam with other people…, but I just want to get into art and stuff like that. 
Not like paintings. Like graphic arts, stuff like that. 

S.G.: Pardon me while I grab a list I here… Some people E-mailed questions, just in general, 
and some of the people from our staff came up with these goofy questions, so forgive me if 
they're a little stupid. I didn't necessarily write them. (pause) What do you remember most 
about your first car? 

STEF: I never had a car, ever. I ride a bike when I get home. I ride the bus, get a ride from 
friends, or ride my bike or skate. I never owned my own car, never even thought about having 
my own car. I still don't to this day. I have no need for one. Maybe one day I'll get one. 

S.G.: Are you more of a club, pub or bar person? 

STEF: I'd rather hang out, like, in a small bar and shoot some pool. 

S.G.: So, when you're hangin' out, what's your drink of choice? 

STEF: Captain Morgan and Orange Juice. 

S.G.: Can you finish the following line for me-Never leave home without.....? 

STEF: Money. 

S.G.: Here's a question that was E-mailed to our advice column. We had two people answer this 
on staff but lets get your answer to this. Is it OK to lie to someone that you love, in order 
to avoid hurting their feelings? 

STEF: Yes. 

S.G.: Wanna expand on that? 

STEF: There's a lot of people in life that can't handle the truth. You know? It doesn't mean 
they might not be able to ever, but sometimes you don't need to tell the truth all the time. 
I mean, it's great, telling the truth is a great thing, and maybe you should tell the truth. 
Maybe a person who couldn't handle the truth, maybe they should get it, that way so they can 
learn to deal with it. I don't know. Everybody lies and for anyone to think that they don't is 
insane. To live in a truthful world is a big wish. I myself am too honest. I tell the truth 
almost all the time - so much, it drives me crazy. It drives me crazy because I know so many 
people around me don't and it's like, it kinda gets in the way of communications as far as I'm 
concerned, you know, cuz sometimes I don't wanna deal with people because I don't wanna have to 
deal with lies and when I do deal with lies… it bums me out. But I mean, I'll lie. I've lied 
before. I think why it bums me out is because when I was younger, a child, not like a kid but a 
teenager, I went through a phase where I lied about everything I did so I wouldn't get in 
trouble all the time. I learned how to lie so I would never get in trouble, and no matter how 
much I lied I always got in trouble. I kept getting in trouble then I was like, "Fuck, I need 
to just start busting loose and giving out the truth cuz I mean, I've got nothing to lose." 
I'm fuckin' getting everything taken away so I just changed. I eventually got rid of most of 
my bad habits of lying. I have, on occasion, slipped out and got a good lie in there, but it's 
for more entertainment value than like anything that has to do with my life. 

S.G.: All right. O.J., guilty or innocent? 

STEF: I used to think he's innocent, but I don't really know. I really think both, I think he 
coulda did it, but don't think he really did cuz, well you know, we could debate about that 
forever too. 

S.G.: All right, fair enough. Your last question here… Tonight is your (the Deftones were the 
headliner) show, do you have anything special planned now that you're headlining, making any 
changes to your set, doing anything special just for yourselves? 

STEF: You know, I don't think we have anything special just for the fact that in the past two 
years we've never had time to sit and practice - we've never had time to create anything. 
Pretty much were going to go play our set, have a good time with people and just get everybody 
juiced up with us, you know. That's about it. We got a lot of stuff we want to do but we need 
to actually sit down and try it all out. When we come back out next year, it's gonna be just so 
much more fun - we'll have so many things that we'll try and we could add to the set and just 
make it more entertaining. I think it's entertaining enough now but, I just want to take it up 
another level. 

S.G.: Great, thank you very much for your time. 

STEF: You know, if you want, you can print our E-mail address for people if they ever want to 
ask us that too. They can ask me that direct cuz I answer all of our E-mail. 

S.G.: What's your address? 

STEF: It's deftones@wbr.com and I get all the E-mail. On the road I'm kinda slow getting back 
to people cuz I don't get a chance to plug in very often but when I'm at home, I'm on and 
answer all the time. 

S.G.: You have a page set up or is that just for E-mail? 

STEF: Just for E-mail. Anything people want to know or just say comments, questions 
suggestions, whatever. You know, someone will want to call in, write in, talk some shit. 
I love it, I'll talk some shit right back. 

S.G.: Thanks for your time.

“Phoenix News” – October, 1996 // Chino Interviewed

Stage Fright 
Desert Sky damage put at $150,000 after besotted musician allegedly incites riot
By David Holthouse 
The mood was surly in a dressing room inhabited by the Deftones, the ninth of 
ten bands scheduled to play at the 1996 U-Fest, an annual rock festival that erupted 
into a riot, causing a reported $150,000 in damage to Desert Sky Pavilion on October 5. 

The Deftones, a rap-flavored heavy-metal band from Sacramento, California, had 
been touring for 16 months, and were scheduled to stay on the road through December. 
The band members complained bitterly to their manager about the backbreaking schedule. 

Singer Chino Moreno--the man TV news reports would later blame for inciting the riot-
-was feuding with drummer Abe Cunningham. “Everyone’s nerves were obviously frazzled,” 
a source close to the Deftones says. “Every time Chino came in the room, you could 
feel the tension.” 

The musicians were also drinking heavily. Several sources said that the four Deftones 
and two roadies went through a fifth of Malibu rum, a liter of Captain Morgan’s rum 
and “a cooler full of at least 30 Budweisers” in the hours leading up to the band’s 
disastrous, three-song performance. 

“They were in no condition to walk onstage,” says Joel Grimes, a critic for an online 
music magazine who went backstage just before the Deftones began to play. “Chino was 
pretty polluted.” 

From all reports, their playing was well below par. “They sucked,” says Patrick McCleary, 
36, an “old-school punk rocker” who was near the stage. “The lead singer was so wasted 
he was stumbling, and they were sloppy. But I wasn’t that interested in their music . 
. . I was more concerned with the crowd at that point.” 

Paid attendance at the U-Fest, which is sponsored by radio station KUPD, topped out 
at 11,228, and the crowd got rowdy early. About three hours before the Deftones went 
on, teenagers in the grassy “cheap seats” set several fires during a set by the Hunger. 
(The U-Fest is infamous for crowd behavior. Last year, several dozen people stripped 
naked, and several bonfires were set during a headliner performance by the band Korn.) 

During the Hunger’s set, a member of the band called for the kids in the cheap seats 
to hop the metal barricade separating them from the reserved seating and VIP areas 
beneath the pavilion’s canopy. 

“Hundreds surged over the gates and made it to the front stage area before security 
could get the crowd under control,” says local music writer Emma Tenney. “People in 
the VIP section were waving and encouraging the gate crashers to join them.” 

About 30 minutes later, a gang of teenagers launched a raid on a concessions tent 
and ran off with a keg of beer. The drained keg was soon seen being “crowd surfed” 
in a mosh pit close to the stage. 

McCleary says many among the mostly under-21 crowd were obviously intoxicated. 
“I’ve never seen so many shit-faced teenagers . . . except for maybe at a 
Rolling Stones concert 15 years ago.” 

The Deftones went on at 9:45 p.m. and muddled through two songs before 
Cunningham stood up from his drum set, kicked over a cymbal and stormed offstage. 

Moreno took the drumsticks and played a meandering percussion solo for several 
minutes before Cunningham returned and the band launched into its final song. 
During that number, a fan climbed over a wooden barricade and tried to get onstage. 
A security guard--one of more than 160 that Desert Sky officials say were on hand-
-tried to drag him back, but Moreno ran to the foot of the stage, grabbed the mosher’s 
outstretched hand, then helped pry the security guard’s grip loose. 

A sound man cut the Deftones’ power, and all hell broke loose. According to a 
written statement by Desert Sky Pavilion, the stage monitors were turned off 
because “. . . the Deftones had performed their entire prearranged 30-minute set. 
It is customary at the conclusion of a band’s set to turn off the stage monitors 
in anticipation of the set change.” 

Moreno didn’t see it that way. “He yelled, ‘Fuck that shit, we’re going to keep 
playing,’” says Grimes. “Their manager was trying to get them to just get off the 
stage, but [Moreno] wouldn’t leave.” 

What happened next is the subject of debate. Evidently, the stage monitors were 
cut off--so the band couldn’t hear anything onstage--but the main speakers were 
still on. Grimes, who was on the stage, and Tenney, who was in the crowd, both say 
they heard Moreno yell something akin to, “Come on and help us trash this place.” 

But McCleary, photographer Craig MacNaughton, and Joey Nugent, a former Deftones 
roadie, all say they heard Moreno yell something like, “Okay, these guys are being 
assholes. Come help us show them what assholes we can be.” 

In any case, the kids stormed the stage--a few dozen at first--and began kicking 
over monitors and gesturing wildly for more to join them. More did. 

“That second wave stretched from one side of the stage to the next,” says Grimes. 
“It looked like a horde of Mongols coming over the wall.” 

The Deftones manager grabbed the mike and tried to calm the crowd. “He said, 
‘Listen up. Please, everybody, get off the stage,’” says Nugent. “And then he told 
the sound man, ‘If you don’t turn the sound back on, there’s gonna be a riot.’ But 
the sound stayed off.” 

By this time, the stage teemed with teens. The Deftones started to play again, 
without monitors, and some of the kids got off the stage. But the band quickly gave 
up, grabbed its gear and ran. 

Someone lowered the stage curtain. “That did no good,” says MacNaughton. “They 
just ripped it down, and it was pretty much anarchy from then until the cops showed up.” 

Once the kids took over the stage, Nugent says, “It was pretty obvious they were 
going to destroy everything they could. They started picking up monitors and throwing 
them, and jumping up and down on speakers.” 

McCleary says there were 20 or 30 security guards near the stage when the rioting began. 

“They were way outnumbered and really scared,” he says. “You could see it on their faces. 
They were thinking, ‘This is not worth five bucks an hour.’” 

Witnesses say they saw several security guards crouched in a section reserved for 
handicapped patrons, watching the action around them and making no attempt to intervene. 

McCleary and MacNaughton both say they saw one red-haired security guard beaten with 
folding chairs. Amateur video taken from the stage shows kids ripping up seats, 
setting fires, throwing water coolers, scaling ladders to catwalks and mooning a 
Phoenix police helicopter that hovered overhead. 

Witnesses say 20 or 30 minutes of mayhem elapsed before a 20-member Phoenix police 
“quick response team” in riot gear arrived and dispersed the crowd with tear gas and 
pepper spray. 

Detective Mike McCulloch, a Phoenix police spokesman, says seven people were arrested 
and cited for disorderly conduct. McCulloch says no serious injuries were reported. The 
case is still under investigation, he says, and will be referred to the Maricopa County 
attorney, who may charge Chino Moreno with inciting a riot. 

Rock-concert veteran McCleary doesn’t believe Moreno is guilty of that charge. 

“I was watching those kids all day,” he says. “And they were primed for this sort 
of thing. That guy [Moreno] didn’t say any more than I’ve heard a lot of other 
assholes say onstage. 

“The problem was the people running the festival let the momentum for violence build 
up too high. They should have stopped it earlier. Instead of all these condescending 
announcements to settle down, they should have just sprayed the crowd with water and 
tossed out seven or eight giant beach balls. That usually works.” 

After the crowd was dispersed, MacNaughton says he was taking photographs when he was 
approached by three security guards and a man who identified himself as general manager 
of Desert Sky. MacNaughton says the man demanded the film from his camera and, 
when MacNaughton refused, ordered the security guards to strip his camera of film. 
The guards grabbed MacNaughton, put him in an arm lock, and did just that. 

Asked about the incident, Desert Sky director of marketing Mike Styles replied in a 
written statement, “Our standard venue policy requires that film from unauthorized 
photographers be forfeited.” MacNaughton, however, had a press pass for the event 
that he says he showed the security guards. (As the photos accompanying this story 
attest, MacNaughton managed to escape with two rolls he had shot during the melee.) 

Even after things calmed down at Desert Sky, the Deftones could find no safe haven. 

Chino Moreno, Joey Nugent and other members of the Deftones’ entourage had adjourned 
to the Purgatory, a Phoenix bar at 24th Street and Van Buren, when members of 
the goth band Type O Negative, which had been scheduled to follow the Deftones 
onstage at the U-Fest, came into the bar with their road crew. 

“It was crazy,” Nugent says. “All these guys with long black hair walk into the place, 
and one of them points out Chino, so Chino gets up and comes in front of the table, 
and he’s like, ‘What?’ And Type O Negative’s drummer [John Kelley] goes, ‘You’re a rock 
star, you act like a rock star, and you’re a fucking pussy.’ And, wham! He just hit Chino 
in the throat and everyone started fighting. [Inside info tells me that Kenny hit the guy, 
not Johnny. JG] 

Nugent says Moreno ran out of the bar with Kelley in pursuit. He says band members 
fought for about five minutes. “There were bottles flying. Punches flying. It was 
insane,” he says. 

Through a publicist, the Deftones have refused to comment on any events before, 
during or after the U-Fest. The band has also canceled all scheduled interviews. 

KUPD is not commenting, either. 

Asked whether Desert Sky planned to sue anyone, Styles replied in his statement that 
“KUPD and Desert Sky are still investigating the incident and we have not yet 
ruled out litigation.” 

No word yet on the lineup for U-Fest 1997.

“Flavir” – July, 1996 // Stef Interviewed

Chino and Chi interviewed by Flavir
©July, 1996


Flavir: Chino, your band is quite fat. Your vocal style is unique in that you're not 
constantly barking. I like it. How was that inspired? When and how did you decide to use 
this style?

Chino: I think the style just came from the music I listened to when I was younger ... 
I had a lot of different types of friends. I never fell into one click. I liked everything. 
I was really into punk-rock, Morrissey and The Cure. Lyrically, I'm really influenced by 
more of the new wave stuff. I like more of, I'd say, love stuff. Even our music now revolves 
more around love. You probably wouldn't think so. The actual vocal style wasn't inspired 
by anyone. It was just sort of natural. I didn't feel pressure from any certain style of 
music. When we first started out, I didn't sing. I was just friends with Abe and Stephen. 
I actually introduced them. They found Chi and asked me if I wanted to sing. I didn't know 
how to sing but, hell yeah, I wanted to do it. I was pretty sorry, but I was passionate and 
just kept doing it. One influence would probably be Perry Farrell because he was one of the 
only singers to take you from here to here (high to low, hard to soft) in a matter of seconds,
in one song. He'll draw you in.

Flavir: Would you say that your lyrics, which are poetic and seem to have taken serious 
thought, had an influence on your vocal style? Did you want to be certain that people 
could understand what you were singing?

Chino: Nah, not so much. When people sing along, that's the greatest thing, but I'm not 
really trying to say, "Hey, I'm a singer and this is what I have to say." It's not like that 
at all. I wouldn't feel comfortable doing that. I like singing and getting my emotions out, 
which is the best part about being in this band. The people who do understand what I'm, 
saying, that's cool. I don't want to force myself or come across as insincere. The way I 
write songs is the only way I know. If I tried to write any other way, it would probably come 
out all wrong.

Flavir: Chi, you're the bass player in the band. I read in your personal liner notes 
(thank you's) that the first person you thanked was, "The Almighty Spirit That Moves Through 
All Things." Could you take some time to explain your religious philosophy?

Chi: Hmmm. I don't know. A guy named Tom Brown Jr. studied under an Apache elder. 
instead of categorizing under one God-head, he saw that everyone was going to have their 
own interpretation of God and a sense of harmony. So, "The Almighty Spirit That Moves Through 
All Things" refers to the harmonious nature of whatever you chose to call God, as it moves 
through everything, even down through sub-atomics. The way Tom Brown summed it up was the 
best. He didn't have any prejudices when talking about The Spirit That Moves Through All 
Things. He wasn't' being judgmental. He was describing the harmonious, underlying thing, 
which kind of rolls everything together. Actually, I don't know what it means ... I just 
want people to think I'm cool (laughs). No, he was just a really cool shaman that described
things in a way which was more applicable to everyone.

Flavir: What kind of tour support does Maverick give you?

Chino: Basically, the money to get out. We don't ask for anything extravagant. 
The bus is probably the nicest thing we have. We've done a lot of tours in vans and it 
(the bus) makes you more sane. With the last tour we were on, we were out for three months, 
and we were in a van. Spending three months in a van with the same people every day, 
no matter how good you are as friends, it just gets crazy man. In the bus, everyone has 
their space and time when they can be by themselves. That's probably the most glamorous 
thing we have.

Flavir: How did you hook up with The Crow II movie soundtrack? Is the song in the movie or 
just on the soundtrack? (Featured song will be "Teething")

Chino: We're actually in the movie, playing. Our manager used to manage Rage Against 
The Machine and they did a thing on the last Crow record. The producers asked our manager, 
"What can you give us this time?" and our manager said, "Well, I've got something for you.
" We gave them our CD and they loved it. They said they wanted us to not only play the music 
but actually be in the movie. It's (the part of the movie deftones appear in) actually a 
Spanish-Mexican celebration. It's called The Day of the Dead Festival. I guess they have 
it in Mexico, but it's in downtown LA (in the movie). We're laying in the festival. 
The song, "Teething," was recorded as a demo and put on the B side of a "7 Words" single. 
They (the producers of Crow II) really liked it. We'll be in the movie and on the soundtrack.

Flavir: I wanted to talk about your lyrics because they're extremely abstract. I like 
your writing style, you lead the reader well. It seems that you're providing an explanation 
which you're just about to complete, then you shut up, leaving us to figure out the rest 
for ourselves. I think it's a tough style which meets the music well. Is your abstract 
style intentional or is it just that your brain is moving faster than your pen?

Chino: Sometimes it is that (brain faster than pen). Sometimes I'll sit down to write 
something and I can't, everything comes out really blunt. I don't like to be so blunt 
sometimes. Some nights I'll just be laying in my bunk writing, just to state some things, 
whatever I'm feeing. When we go to make songs the melody and everything usually comes together. 
I throw in my abstract ideas and then I'll put something very blunt in there, in the middle 
of everything. It sticks out more. I'm basically explaining something to you. A lot of 
people don't pay attention to lyrics, but the people that do,it's cool because they trip out 
on it. I like that a lot, it makes me feel good.

Flavir: In the beginning of the song "Root" you use a pretty tasty guitar riff. 
It's melodic and belligerent. How does the music tie to the lyrics?

Chino: It's weird because not one of our songs means one certain thing. I don't know, 
it's a trip. I can't really explain it.

Flavir: Can you explain the general emotion?

Chino: That's one of the first songs we ever wrote, when Chi first joined the band. 
There are feelings of love, feelings of trust. Just wondering what's going on around you. 
Morrissey really inspired me in one song when he said, "God come down if you're really 
there, when you're the one that claims to care." It's like, "Where am I in all of this?" 
It's like, giving up my feelings and what I get in return. That kind of thing. it's a 
pretty metal song but i try to throw some sweetness in there too. That's basically the 
concept of our music. it's sweet, ruthless music.

Flavir: I've been looking for this type of music for quite some time. 
I've been looking for the right mix of lyrics and vocals with this type of music.

Chino: There's another band which has come out. They're called Far. They're from my hometown
too. They have a real hard edge. The singer has a really, really beautiful voice. He has a
beautiful voice but he also screams, he mixes it up really well. They just got signed for 
a record that came out on Immortal. You should check that out.

Flavir: You said you were born in Sacramento, CA. Could you explain the environment 
around you as you were growing up and how it affected you and/or your music?

Chino: Where I grew up, it made me strong, I think. I grew up in a shitty, shitty 
neighborhood. There was a lot of gang stuff going around. For some reason I didn't get 
into anything. I got into break dancing when I was about 11. Then I got into skateboarding. 
There were probably only like five of us, in a three mile radius, that skate boarded. 
We got together and hung out, did our own thing. We didn't really get caught up in all 
that stuff, the bad things that we could have easily gotten caught up in. But the cool 
thing was that I still had a lot of friends who were involved in all that shit but never 
treated me like I was, ya know, a pussy. They respected me, never made fun of me. It was 
cool like that. I made some cool friends growing up. It made me strong because it made me 
think I could do what I wanted to do ... and people still respected me. That's good because 
I made my own decisions.

Flavir: I read that you paid particular attention to the sound in the studio. I remember 
reading about "7 Words," how you sang the 'suck' part in a foam tunnel. What pats did you 
record live to tape and what parts did you need to do individual dubbing for?

Chino: A lot of the stuff that I recorded wasn't with distortion on the microphone. 
It's just distorted now because we recorded live and they had me compressed to hell. 
The band was playing live around me and I had monitors in front of me.

Flavir: Who was your producer and how were they an asset?

Chino: Terry (Date). He was really supportive. I was tripping ya know, pretty scared to do 
this record. We'd never recorded anything besides those little two song demo tapes. 
And especially with the major label, big studio, big producer ... I was a little scared. 
He (Terry) was really cool. Sometimes I'd be in the studio and get frustrated. I think it was 
on "Bored," that part where it comes in with 'GET BORED.' That part, I could not do. 
I couldn't come in at the right time. I was just so out of it. I was trying to fix that 
pat because it just didn't sound right. I was trippin' and just about crying. I was like, 
'I cant' do this Terry, I can't do it!' He was like, "It's cool, you can do it. If you want, 
go home and chill and we'll do it tomorrow." He didn't let me get too frustrated after that. 
I wanted to quit a couple of times, just because I was so frickin'... nervous. I felt like 
I was failing sometimes. That's the main thing that I like about Terry. You said I was 
real particular. I wasn't real particular. I trusted him (Terry). If I liked it and it 
sounded good to me, he would be like, "OK, cool."

Flavir: Obviously, people mosh at your shows. What else do you want them to take away besides
bruises and that "I just got out of a war" type of feeing. I mean, that's definitely a 
good, healthy drain, but do you try to convey a specific message or emotion?

Chino: Nah, not really. I mean, I like people to have fun at the shows. 
Basically they're getting out whatever they have to get out at the show. They're having a 
good time, I'm having a good time. I don't want to be the only one up there having a good time. 
I want everybody to join, it should be a fun thing. People also have to realize what they're
doing and if there's a small person in there, don't trample on 'em ... It's cool if they 
leave the show really tired, but still feeing better than they did when they walked in. 
There's a lot of bullshit that comes along with all of it too. Sometimes, it hasn't really
happened a lot lately, you'll be laying a slow song that's more mellow, but kids are making 
it their goal to see who can get the most stage dives. It's like, I wish the people would 
just feel it more, rather than just doing it (moshing) all the time.

Flavir: That's what I was driving at. Do you think people are missing a deeper message?

Chino: Not so much now. It's getting so much better now that people now our music, more 
of what it's about. They know it's not just a place to mosh. It's cool to sometimes see 
people not mosh, to see them nodding their heads and watching the stage. Then you can 
tell they're really getting into the music. People can slam to, ya know, Alanis. 
It doesn't matter what it is, anything.

Flavir: What are you looking forward to most about the Raskilde Festival in Copenhagen,

Chino: Well, I've never been in Europe before, so it will be a trip just to be in a 
different country. Probably Sepultura. I haven't seen them in a couple of years and now, 
with their new record out, I want to see them really bad. Cypress Hill, looking forward 
to seeing them.

Flavir: You are going out on so many tours. You're national one now, then The Warped Tour, 
then with White Zombie and Pantera starting in August. Are you truly happy or what?

Chino: Yeah, (laugh) I'm pretty happy about it. It's just getting better. Everyday it's 
just getting better. The Warped Tour will be pretty cool. The only thing with it is that 
you get shoveled in with so many bands. You get to the show and see the band schedule and, 
well, kids could miss your show. This year they have more of a schedule to check. 
Last year, we played like five days of it, and it switched off every day, so you didn't 
know which band was playing, or when, and you could miss something. I think that's really 
cool (Pantera, White Zombie) that Pantera is letting us tour with them. A couple of them 
(guys in Pantera) came in to see us while we were doing our record.

Flavir: I see some of this style music becoming more popular. Some groups are really 
catching the mainstream. Is that good or bad? Does it piss you off? What about Korn?

Chino: Nah, man. It's a beautiful, beautiful thing. This type of music needs to start 
getting out. That's just the radio people starting to get involved. Before, you would never 
hear that type of music on the radio. this type of music in general, raw type music, has 
been around for a long time and the radio, the big top 40, have ignored it for so long. 
Finally, people are starting to realize that. Korn's record didn't go gold for nothing. 
There are people out there buying it. It (radio) helps out a lot with fan base and record 
sales. Plus, ya know, I think it's cool to hear yourself on the radio. It's not like selling 
out or anything. Like with us, we have this record, but what if we decide to make our next 
record a record of hits just so we can get on the radio. That's different, you know what I 
mean. As long as we stick to our own shit, and they play it, that's only good for us. We're 
doing what we want to do and they're supporting us. Korn's pretty much, I mean, I've got 
nothing but love for them because they've helped to pave the way for this kind of music. 
I feel like we're a band who is trying to pave the way for others, too.

“LiveWire” – July, 1996 // Stef and Chino Interviewed

June/July 1996

Def Jamming
Deftones vocalist Chino Moreno and guitarist Stephen Carpenter 
explain the origin of their band's funk/metal/pop/hardcore blend.

By Tomas Pascual


There are many bands these days that lay claim to a diverse section of influences. But no one 
band is as subtly boisterous to about their eclectic mix as are The Deftones. Blending together 
everything from funk to metal, rap and hardcore, The Deftones' coalesce these different energies 
into one coherent electrical stream of sound. The Deftones course is piloted by vocalist and 
frontman Chino Moreno, who expresses his smooth, melodic lyrics emotionally one minute before 
giving way to abrasive, maddened screams the next. Backed by the serene and apocalyptic guitar 
of Stephen Carpenter, this Yin-Yang formula keeps the Deftones' debut Adrenaline progressively 

Originating without a classification per se, The Deftones got their start playing gigs with the 
West Coast's Primus-inspired funk-metal scene. Stephen explains: "We've been together almost 
seven years right now and when we started to play our local scene consisted of the funk-metal 
thing. Primus was just getting big at the time, and there were a lot of those types of bands 
around. We never actually played with them, but we wanted to. We liked the bands, but we just 
wanted to play out, rather than become part of some scene."

"If there was a scene I wasn't in it," says Chino, joining the conversation. "When we played 
we did kind of get thrown into the funk category for some reason. This was back when Primus 
first came out, and since we're from Sacramento and we're close to the Bay Area, every band 
out there was doing that sloppy bass kind of shit. So we got thrown on to all those bills 
because we weren't just straight metal, or straight punk. We always stuck out. What ended up 
happening is that we just started doing our own shows headlining."

One band that started out around the same time as The Deftones whom they are always getting 
compared to is Korn. "It doesn't really bother me," says Chino. "It gets annoying sometimes 
when someone talks to me and that's the first thing they ask me about. They're a great band, 
and we've been around as long as they have. I didn't know anything about them at all until one 
day, they got a hold of our demo tape and we got a hold of theirs and they asked us to play 
with them. When we played with them that first time I remember thinking 'what the fuck?' We had 
never seen each other play before, and there was a lot of similar shit going on. I remember 
thinking they were really good and hoping this style of music would go somewhere, with another 
band going out there and doing this shit."

Chino's unique vocal style is one of The Deftones' most distinguishing characteristics, part of 
which he attributes to a strong influence HR of the Bad Brains. "I just started singing. That 
is how I learned. I listened to a lot of new wave stuff, bands like Depeche Mode and stuff like 
that. So I was really inspired to want to really sing. At the same time, my roots were in rap, 
so that just came out without me consciously trying. That was a trip. I didn't get into Bad 
Brains or any punk rock until after that. I was more into new wave and then I got into punk 
bands like The Misfits, and then for me came the Bad Brains. I tripped out when I first heard 
them. They really inspired me, HR especially, because of his honesty. Maybe lyrically I'm more 
inspired by Depeche Mode, and execution wise I'm more influenced by HR and Bad Brains. Now I 
can look back on a record and see a lot of the different things that have influenced my style."

Alternating smooth vocals and abrasive ones can bee a chore to many vocalists, but for the 
hard-drinking Chino it flows like liquor down his throat. He explains, "It's not really that 
difficult for me. I am a real moody person, I can be in a good mood or act like an asshole and 
that is exactly what comes across in the music. Everything pretty much revolves around love and 
hate - those two moods. All the songs on the record have a lot of feelings of love, or feelings 
of hate. I'll go through both of those moods in one song many times, so it just comes out 
naturally in the music for me. I don't write about one particular subject, so much as just 
talking about how I feel at the moment. I think there are one or two particular songs where 
I talk about a specific incident. But mostly I'm just talking about how I feel at the moment, 
and the transition that I'm going through, that the music is making me feel. The must that the 
band makes trips me out and gets me thinking about things. Like '7 Words,' for example. I was 
really pissed when I wrote that song. If I wasn't pissed, even though it's a heavy song, I 
would've been singing about something sweet."

The Deftones have hit the road in a heavy way in support of their debut, jumping on a variety 
of tours including an aborted Bad Brains tour, Monster Magnet, CIV, Anthrax/Life of Agony, and 
the Ozzy tour, before going out headlining on their own. Chino comments on the diverse crowds 
they've played for, and their reactions. "Well it is weird now because Korn is starting to get 
big now, and a lot of their crowd was at the Ozzy shows. But mostly the people that were at the 
Ozzy shows were there to see Ozzy. You can't blame them for that, they're there to see him and 
he's great. It's not that they were disrespectful, but in between songs during our set they'd 
be chanting "Ozzy, Ozzy!' But, other than that, we never got booed and overall we had a good 
response from most of the shows we've played. I think the best tour we've been on is this one 
right now. We're headlining and all the kids that are showing up are coming because they're 
into what we're doing. It's not like the kids who saw us on the Anthrax tour, who hear power 
chords and immediately begin slam-dancing, without paying attention to our music."

The Deftones are looked upon as an "alternative" band by many, and their video for "7 Words" 
recently aired on MTV's 120 minutes. But really the band's driving guitar-based sound shows a 
lot of metal influence. Stephen explains, "If I had a label to our music, I would describe it 
as Deftones music. The only way you could categorize us is from our heavy drum and guitar 
sound, so that would make us heavy. But there are too many styles involved to just call us one 
thing. I listen to a lot of heavier stuff, Pantera, Sepultura, Down, Helmet, but I listen to a 
lot of other stuff as well. But that's where my influences come from. But even though I play 
heavy there are other things involved in Deftones."

The Deftones will be doing The Warped tour this summer so check out the band's energetic live 
performance, even if you don't bring out a board, you assuredly will not be "Bored".

“Loudside” – June, 1996 // Chi Interviewed

Chi at the Warped Tour in Denver, interviewed by Eric Nielsen (loudside.com)
© June, 1996


Q: When are you guys going to go into the studio to record the next album?
A: Hopefully in January. We'll tour up until December and take some time off.

Q: Will any of your old demo songs that didn't make it to Adrenaline make it to your next one?
A: No, those songs are sooo old. Those songs are like 6 or 7 years old.
Q: Do you plan to re-release them?
A: No, we let all our old songs die.

Q: What's your favorite color?
A: Green. Why what's your favorite color?

Q: What's with Chino's hair?
A: Oh, how he shaved it? He wanted to look more like... A MONKEY
Q: Really?
A: Yeah, I think he's achieved that ChimChim look. I think it looks really good.

Q: Do you plan to head to Europe sometime soon?
A: Hopefully. As soon as we can head over seas we want to.
Q: Do you have anything in the works?
A: No, we don't even know yet. Right now, we're just doing the Warped Tour and then 
Pantera/White Zombie in August. After that, it's all up in the air. We'd like to tour with 
Sepultura, because we're really good friends with them. Ideally, that's what we'd like to do.

Q: What's your musical influences?
A: Me personally?
Q: Yeah.
A: Reggae music, old blues, jazz, that's about it. I really don't listen to anything heavy.
Q: What about Weezer?
A: We all like Weezer. We know the whole album. We're fans. We're WEEZER GROUPIES. We wanna 
meet Weezer.
Q: Is Weezer your favorite band?
A: No, I'm really into an artist called Taj Mahal.
Q: Big Blues guy...
A: He's the bong. He's definitely my favorite artist. Otherwise, strictly reggae music.

Q: There's a lot of people wondering how the Deftones got put on a supposedly PUNK ROCK tour 
thinking that you guys are more of a "metal band."
A: I think it's cool. There's a lot of variety on the tour, which is cool. CIV's got alot of 
really cut-the-rug grooves. We're pretty heavy. I think, it's really cool. We did five dates 
last year. I think it's good. It makes us stand out sometimes. But, I think all the bands are 
Q: Are you having a good time on the tour?
A: Yeah, we're having a great time. We like all the bands on it. Everyone's really cool.

Q: How long have you guys been together?
A: 7 years.
Q: Did you guys know each other before?
A: Well, Chino knew Stephan and Abe from skating and he hooked Stephan and Abe up playing 
together. And, they needed a singer and he singed Danzig or some shit like that, so they 
asked him to sing with them. And, I joined a year later.
Q: Didn't you hook up through the paper or something?
A: Yeah, my brother had put an ad up for a band and Stephan tried to call him and ended up 
hooking up with me.

Q: So, what's the origin of this whole Screaming Cat logo? Is there some sort of signifigance 
to it or is it some sort of marketing ploy?
A: It's a random cat. We saw the picture and we were really into it, so we started using it . 
Looks like the cat is peeking at a yawn. 
It's rad.

Q: Did you start using that before or after you got on with Maverick?
A: Someone at Maverick came in with the logo. Someone had a picture of a cat and we were totally 
into it.

Q: What was your favorite band to tour with?
A: Bad Brains... we did the Bad Brains last year. That was the best tour we had done for me. 
Just because that is one band we are all really big fans of. We were really honored to tour 
with them. The band's been around for so long. It was incredible to tour with them.

Q: What did you think about the buck show you did for KBPI in Denver a couple months ago?
A: I thought it was great. I'd like to do more under 2 dollar shows. When we open up for bigger 
bands we can't control ticket prices or shirt prices or anything like that. Whenever we have a 
chance to keep costs low, we try to do it.

Q: So, what are the dynamics of sound writing for the band? How do you go about writing songs?
A: We beat the shit out of each other. We fight the whole time. We fight alot.
Q: Does one person kind of come up with a riff?
A: Pretty much we all write. Someone will come up with an idea and then everyone will write and 
expand on it. There's really no one song writer in the band. Chino does the lyrics. We come up 
with the music, he'll come up with the melody, and then do lyrics for it.
Q: Do you write songs on the road?
A: Well, we haven't really come together since we've been touring, 12 or 14 months now. We all 
have our own songs that we've written. We haven't come together to write as a whole yet, so we 
need to start doing that. I have a drum machine and a bunch of guitars and basses at home so 
I'm trying to record a bunch of stuff. I know Stephan has a bunch of stuff, and Chino and Abe. 
We've a ll got stuff. We just need to come together and put it together, because they're not 
really songs until all of us contribute our own styles to it.

Q: I heard you played Slayer the other day and you played Weezer today, any other covers you 
guys are known for, or is it just spur of the moment?
A: Yeah, spur of the moment. We did at some college a Steve Miller song, 4 times in a row to 
irritate the crowd. I forget which one it was, but they were knocked into submission after that. It was pretty cool.

Q: You mentioned some of the other guys are into skateboarding. Do you see yourself fitting 
that whole niche of being in snowboard/skateboard videos? Are the guys really into the 
snowboard/skateboard scene at all?
A: Yeah, we're trying to get some snowboard endorsements right now, so we can start 
snowboarding in the winter, but Chino and Stephan have been skateboarding for quite a long 
time. So, they're still really into it. Chino's the best skater among us. Touring is alot of 
downtime, so it's good to have other endevours that you can actually pursue while you're 

(side note: the next time the Deftones came through with Orange 9mm and Downset, there was a 
kegger held for the band after the show and a skate area was set up. Who was out there first? 
Chino, of course.)

Q: You have a track on the forthcoming Escape from LA soundtrack, right?
A: Yeah, it's called CAN'T EVEN BREATHE. We wrote it in like 45 minutes, recorded it, just 
FINISHED it. It's slower than our other stuff. It's real mellow. It's our power ballot. It's 
our FREE BIRD song.
Q: What's on the Crow2?
A: Teething's on the Crow2, Can't Even Breathe is our power ballot for the radio. The Crow2 was 
cool, we got to be in the movie.
Q: What did you do in the movie?
A: We just played. We just rocked out.
Q: Like in some seedy bar?
A: No, it was in the final scene at the day of the dead festival.
Q: Were you wearing that hat?
A: No, I only wear this hat when I assume my Rayden personality.

“The Vine”– January, 2011 // Chino Interviewed

January 2011 is an interesting time for Australian fans to be witnessing Californian hard rock act Deftones. Here in the country for their first tour since 2007 – they headlined the Soundwave Festival that year – it’s been eight months since the five-piece released their sixth album, Diamond Eyes, to extensive critical acclaim (TheVine included). They’ve been on the road for most of that time, seemingly becoming comfortable with splicing new material amongst enough tracks from their big-sellers – second album Around The Fur (1997), and follow-up White Pony (2000) – to keep the long-term fans happy.

Diamond Eyes holds some of the heaviest tracks the band have ever committed to tape. Built around Stephen Carpenter’s Meshuggah-like downtuned guitars and Abe Cunningham’s punishing percussion, the album’s 11 tracks marry beauty and brutality in a way that Deftones had never – up until this point – fully realised. Despite the melancholy the band had been confronted with in the last few years – an underwhelming fifth album in 2006’s Saturday Night Wrist; drug addiction; and bassist Chi Cheng’s car accident in 2008, resulting in a severe head trauma that has kept him in a semi-conscious state ever since – Diamond Eyes, against the odds, is arguably the band’s most uplifting and optimistic release in their 23-year history.

In the middle of the national Big Day Out tour, The Vine connects with singer – and occasional live guitarist – Chino Moreno on Friday 28 January, the eve of their first BDO sideshow at the University of NSW Roundhouse.

Andrew: I’m interested to know what an average day as part of the Big Day Out tour looks like.

Chino: It’s pretty mellow. We play semi-early, in the middle of the day, and I’ve not yet adjusted to the time change here, so I’ve been waking up every single morning at like 5 or 6am. So I’m up super early. I go out, I get coffee. I usually go for a run or something, and cruise around. I don’t get there until a little after noon. I get to the venue, and there’s usually a little bit of press or something like that, and then I get ready to play. We’ve been averaging to go on stage between 4 or 5pm. We play our set, and then hang out, and check out some of the other bands. There’s a few good groups who I’m into who’re on the lineup this year. So I cruise around and see some good stuff.

I saw a video interview with a New Zealand website from last week, where you mentioned that you’re digging a band called The Naked and Famous.

Yeah, I actually met them on the first night of the tour. They gave me one of their records, and I’ve listened to it, and I’m digging it. It’s similar to a lot of the stuff that I listen to, when I’m not listening to very loud music [laughs].

Have you made any other musical discoveries while here on tour, so far?

I wouldn’t say ‘discoveries’, so much. I got to see some bands live that I’ve never seen, like Crystal Castles. I got to see them perform live, which I was really into. I really like the records, so it was good to be able to see them live. Tool, as well; a lot of the time, I get to see them.

Has Rammstein’s stage production convinced you to look into including pyrotechnics in your set?

[Laughs] I don’t know, man. I don’t know if that’d work for us. I don’t know if we have the finances for that. They have, like, flames that go off every three minutes. That’s gotta be pretty pricey. But no, it’s cool; I always enjoy watching them play, because it’s very theatrical. They’re great dudes; they’re super nice. When you watch them on stage, you think they’re these huge beasts. But they’re very humble.

I saw you at the Gold Coast show on Sunday. I’ve followed your music for over a decade, but hadn’t seen you play live before. I get the impression that as a live band, you’re in your prime at the moment.

Cool, thank you. I don’t know about this week; maybe a month ago, we were a little more in our prime. We were at home for like a month, and that was the longest break we’ve had since we started touring on this record. That, accumulated with the heat, and coming from winter into summertime… But I think musically, we’re having a lot of fun. More fun than we’ve had in years. We’re enjoying the shows. I think we’re playing pretty decently, but it’s a matter of getting accustomed to, for one, the sleep. Usually, a couple of hours before we play, I’m yawning, so I’ve been drinking Red Bulls and stuff, and trying to shake it off and get energised. But that sun – it’s a beast, man.

I don’t see many bands wearing red jeans anymore, which is a shame.

Are they favourites of yours, the ones you were wearing on Sunday?

I have a few pairs of them. I try not to have one ‘look’, I guess. I don’t wanna make that my ‘thing’, so I’m gonna have to switch it up a little, or else people will start to think I’m the dude in the red pants, you know what I mean? [laughs] It’s kinda like I don’t wanna be the dude in the red hat.

You’re in pretty good shape at the moment. It seemed like you couldn’t wait to get your shirt off and show everyone.

[Laughs] No – I was really hot. I was actually embarrassed after I took it off. I had to put on another shirt. But I was just so damn hot. I thought the long sleeve would work for me, but the shade was slowly disappearing. I’m still a little self-conscious. I mean, I work out and stuff, but I can always use a little more definition. That’s a goal – a good goal.

What prompted you to lose weight in the last couple of years?

Just feeling better, and looking better. I’d been depressed for a while, man. For a lot of reasons. It probably started five or six years ago, from just going through divorces, taking so much time making records, and record company crap. Those were sort of dark days. It was a dark period in our career, but also my life. Just drugs, and shit that was not getting me anywhere fast. Once I cut that stuff out, and started to see things clearly, I started to realise that if I sweat a little bit every day, I sleep better. And if I sleep better, I wake up feeling happier. It’s a vicious cycle; pretty soon, you look at yourself and you start recognising yourself again.

I heard a lot of people chanting for ‘Passenger’ on the Gold Coast. [A collaboration from White Pony with Tool singer Maynard James Keenan] Were you expecting that?

We’re going to play it tonight [at the sideshow in Sydney]. Obviously it’d be great if Maynard was to perform with us. But he ends up getting to the gigs later, for one, and he’s real particular about his voice, as far as ruining it, or straining it before he has the Tool show. Which is understandable. We’ve done it before, though, on the same day that he’s played with Tool. So there could be a chance that it could happen once on this Big Day Out [tour]. But it wouldn’t be during the first stage [of the tour], and I figured if we included it in the [BDO] set, the best time to do it would be if he was to perform it with us. So we’ll see.

I notice that you’ve been mixing up the setlists a lot here in Australia. Your set at the second Sydney BDO was really heavy on White Pony material. Did that just come down to how you guys were all feeling on the day?

Yeah. We write the setlist usually a couple of hours before we play. But we obviously knew that we wanted to play a different set than we did on the first day, minus a couple of songs that stayed the same. But when I started writing it out yesterday, I just felt a little bit heavier on the White Pony stuff. And I know that a lot of that stuff is a little darker, too, and I figured it mightn’t go over that well, being in the sun, and the whole festival vibe. But at the same time, I said “Fuck it, I think it’ll be cool, and a little different.” And unexpected. We tried it, and I think it worked out pretty good.

To be honest, I was pretty worried about your voice when you played ‘Elite’ on Sunday. I was afraid that you were doing some real damage.

Yeah. I’m used to screaming that thing, though. Luckily enough, my voice has maintained itself pretty well. I think that has a lot to do with, what we were talking about earlier, as far as just taking care of myself a little bit better. I’ve had less throat issues ever since, so hopefully it stays that way.

Are there any specific tactics you use to care for your vocal cords these days?

Not necessarily. I mean, I don’t smoke anymore, which is probably the most important thing. I still don’t really warm up. I don’t have the warm up ritual that I should do. I do a couple little singalongs to different music; a half-hour before we play, I start singing along with whatever’s on my iPod. That warms me up a little bit. I try to sleep well, which I think is very important, because when I sleep well I can always tell that my voice is stronger. And not smoking. That’s helped me out.

I read an interview from back in 2006 where you said that you’re a big tennis fan. Do you get the chance to play much when you’re on tour?

Lately, over the last few months, I…I don’t know if I actually have tennis elbow, or whatever, but I’ve had a sore elbow. It’s on my right hand, which is my tennis racket hand [laughs]. And it hurts when I do that, or when I play basketball. So I have to look and see what’s up with it. But I do still love playing, and I will still play. It’s not like I’m incapable of playing, but I can’t get to serious about it because of [the injury]. But it’s definitely a fun sport. Especially if you have someone playing along with you, because it’s a good rival sport where you can talk a lot of mesh. And when you get a good shot, and you slam a ball on somebody, there’s not a better feeling than that!

Are any of your musician friends into tennis?

Yeah. Gavin Rossdale [of Bush], he’s a big tennis guy. We’ve still yet to play, but every time we meet, we talk about playing. A couple of my managers play, and another couple of friends who live close to me. I’ve got [tennis] courts right by my house, which is great.

I’d like to discuss the video for ‘You’ve Seen The Butcher’. Who came up with the concept?

Deftones – ‘The Butcher’

I did. And that was only because… It wasn’t like I wrote the song and had this whole idea of what the video was supposed to be like, or anything like that. It was pretty last minute. We had sent the song out to a bunch of different video directors, and they all sent back treatments that were just complete rubbish. Every one was in, like, a post-apocalyptic world; they were all so away from what the song was. Either that, or they took the song so literally that it was just corny. So at the last minute, I said, “Why don’t we just make it a performance video. Take us out of our element, so we’re not in a club or something. Put us in maybe a library, or something, so we’re all set up in our little area.” And then I said: “Why don’t we just have all women? No-one wants to see a bunch of dudes.” [Laughs] “Wouldn’t it be nice if they were all scantily-clad women?”

And so we did that, and then I said “Wouldn’t it be cool if it just rained blood on everybody?” And that was it! Those four little things. I gave it to a director whose reel I liked, Jodeb, and he wrote out a treatment which was pretty close to what I explained. We went in and did it, and it was one of our cheapest videos, and one of the funnest videos to make. It was cool; the majority of the girls in the video… We just put up on Twitter that we were filming a video here, and that we were looking for girls to come. So they were actually fans of the music, and there wasn’t so much acting going on, even though making a video is definitely acting, because you’re playing along to the recoded music. But it was fun. I can easily say that it’s the funnest video we’ve made.

Were the menstruation overtones intentional?

The what?

The menstruation overtones. A crowd of women, covered in blood.

Oh. Intentional? No! [Laughs] It was supposed to be more of a gory, sexy thing. I don’t think that was on my mind. [Laughs]

I note that a few Deftones videos over the years include you being accosted by hot chicks. Is that intentional?

Probably, yeah. [Laughs] It’s safe to say that a lot of music that I listen to, and that we make, is influenced by hot chicks. [Laughs]

On a completely unrelated note. I was looking at photos from the Big Day Out and noticed the demon tattoo on your right bicep. When did you get that done?

Via fuckyeahchinomoreno.tumblr.com

Oh, the baphomet? I got that a few months ago in Belgium.

Is there a significance behind it?

I don’t know. I mean, I have other religious tattoos as well. I like the art a lot. I’m really into religious art, but I don’t feel too strongly about any one religion. I just take it as it looks. It’s probably the only tattoo I’ve got that I really appreciate, and really like. I wanted a baphomet, and I had a guy draw it up the way I wanted it. He did it perfect, so it’s like, you know, something fun to look at.

Finally – will there ever be a second Team Sleep album? [An experimental alternative rock group fronted by Chino, who released their debut album in 2005].

I would think, maybe. I can’t say for sure when. The reason the record came about was because, at the time, I was living in Sacramento, and [my bandmates] were my buddies who were around at the time. We were just making music, and that’s the way it came out. Right now, I’m living in LA, and they live in Sacramento. Everybody’s doing different things, so if we get in the same place together, and we have time to do it, I think we all would love to. We have a lot of music that we’ve been working on over the years, that we can probably put together. It’s just about getting the time to do it.

Andrew McMillen