“www.knac.com” – May, 2000 // Chino and Chi Interviewed

Chino and Chi interviewed by www.knac.com
May, 2000

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In separate phone interviews from their respective Sacramento, Calif., 
homes, Moreno and bassist Chi Cheng (Deftones are rounded out by 
drummer Abe Cunningham and DJ Frank Delgado) took a break from the 
hectic run up to White Pony's June 20 release to talk about the new 
album, overhauled sound and the pressure of living up to all the 
expectations. 

KNAC.COM: Are you enjoying your last little stretch at home, it might 
be a while before you get back? 

MORENO: I'm actually looking for a place to live, man, but it's hard. 
I was in New York all last week, the week before that I was in L.A., 
we've been doing all this press and stuff. I've been traveling so I 
haven't been able to come home and look for places. The house we're 
living in right now, the guy wanted to sell it to me but it's kinda 
small and I don't feel right about buying it. He's been trying to work 
me for the price and shit so I said fuck it. I'll look for another place 
live. But the neighborhood where I live, all the houses are so expensive,
so I was thinking maybe I'll just find a place to rent and make some more 
money and find a bigger place. For now I'm just stressed out on it. 

KNAC.COM: Are the other guys all married with children too? 

MORENO: Everyone but Stephen, who is single with no children. We all got 
kids, we're all old and weathered (laughs). Abe has a son who's two, Chi 
has a son who's gonna be three. Frank doesn't have any kids, 
but he's married. 

KNAC.COM: Do you find it harder to adapt to family life after coming off 
the road or band life after you've been home for a while? 

MORENO: I think it's harder to adapt to family life, for me. I come home 
and I don't know how to just sit around at all, I'm so accustomed to 
doing something creative or keeping busy. I'm not into mowing the grass 
and wash-ing the car. I don't mind it, but usually I'll find some excuses 
that are band oriented, find something to do like messing with my equipment, 
or whatever. Doing band stuff usually keeps my mind sane, even though 
it's pretty hectic. 

When it comes to home stuff, like trying to find this new place to live now, 
it just drives me nuts. It's some-thing I'm not accustomed to. The last 
two places we've lived in, my wife found them and I just came and looked 
and said "they're cool" and lived there. But now I have to go out and find 
places and meet with people and it's hard for me to explain what I do. 
I talk to people and then when I tell them I'm a musician they bug out 
and think I'm gonna have band practice in the living room. 

And some people think that because we have two young kids they're gonna 
wreck the place. I found this one place, a dope house, and the lady was 
like "well do you have any pets?" And I said "no, I have two kids." 
And she was like, "Uh oh" and started bugging out, so I said forget it, 
and kept looking. 

KNAC.COM: You'll have plenty of band stuff to keep you sane in the 
coming months. 

MORENO: Yeah, our main concern is getting the record out and focusing 
all our effort on that. This record is gonna be a big step in our 
career and we want to make sure everything is in line. 

KNAC.COM: Do you get the feeling things are going to absolutely 
explode for you? 

MORENO: I think everyone has that gut feeling. But it's never good 
to just rely on that, so we're really working hard about the way we're 
presenting this record. This record to me is way different that a lot 
of stuff that's go-ing on right now. We didn't reinvent ourselves or 
totally change our style, but it's just different. 

CHENG: That's the smoke everyone has been blowing up our butts. 
We'll see. I'm just happy that people dig the album and I would 
like a lot of kids to hear it. Our fans are kind of protective of us 
because they've had to find out the hard way about us and there's a 
feeling of not wanting to share it with other kids you may consider 
lugheads. They've got to realize that we want to bring the music to 
a bigger audience. We're not trying to be the biggest band in the 
world, we don't have any aspirations or cares about being that. But 
we definitely would like to have more kids into the music, more kids 
at the shows. 

KNAC.COM: Are you surprised the band has grown to the point that it 
has given the brutality of your earlier material? 

CHENG: It was all in steps so everything seemed natural to us. The 
first album by the time that we were done with it sold 200,000 maybe 
300,000 copies and we were pretty happy especially considering what 
type of album it was. And then the second album, right toward the end, 
went gold. So fortunately doing everything in steps keeps you humble 
and if nothing's to abrupt or sudden, it's kind of nice. 

KNAC.COM: It seemed like you guys have taken great pains to prepare 
everyone for the fact that this album was going to take a different track. 

MORENO: The impression got put out there that this was going to be a 
really mellow record and it's not a mel-low record, it's actually 
pretty heavy, but it's not that heavy, aggressive, senseless angry 
music. It's not like that I'm going through this painful time in my 
life and I just need to vent. It's more emotionally heavy as opposed 
to being an angry record with chunky riffs on it. 

The single that we chose, "Change (In A House Of Flies)," it's already on 
the Internet somehow and people are hearing it and all the feedback I've
read is saying it's different, but it's Deftones and it's the most beautiful 
song they've heard by us, and I dig that. It's not like a novelty type of 
song, like, say, The Bloodhound Gang where you know you like it, it's a 
funny song and you dig it, you bob your head to it, but it still gives 
people a lot of reason to hate it. 

Our record doesn't have anything like that on it. It doesn't give anybody any 
real reason to hate it. The songs are pretty well structured, and they don't 
just have a bunch of riffs and nonsense and useless parts in them, they're 
pretty lean and mean. It's more of a trip from beginning to end on the record, 
there's not any wasted time. 

There's all these different moods and they fit in right. There's some songs 
that are real extreme on either end of the spectrum. If you compare a songs 
like "Elite" with something like "Teenager," they are extremely different 
songs, but all the other songs help bridge them together so it's not like 
"here's our wimpy song, here's our heavy song." It all kinda fits. 

CHENG: We have naturally progressed, our band is never going to reach a musical 
plateau where we feel like we've found something we've wanted. We didn't deviate 
from anything we did, we just strengthened a lot of the characteristics of our 
band, the moods, the songs, the ups and downs, we strengthened things that are 
good qualities in our band. 

KNAC.COM: The songs seem more complete and song-like than the blunter, 
more cryptic material of the first two albums. 

MORENO: When we went in to do this record we knew we that didn't want to make 
a record with a lot of riffs on it and a bunch of screaming vocals over the top, 
which, especially on our first CD, there was a lot more of that, attitude as 
opposed to songs. It took us about a year and throwing so many different ideas 
away and coming up with new ones and at the end weighing everything out. 

Stephen and I personally had a lot of differences with this record. At first 
I was hoping he would come up with a lot of the songs and then he didn't, he 
was writing a bunch of heavy-ass riffs, these violent riffs. And I don't mind 
that, but that's all he wanted to do. And when nobody really would play along 
because everything was starting to sound like that we went through this little 
lull where we weren't really writing too much stuff. So I said fuck it and 
picked up a guitar and Abe and I started writing songs. 

But when Abe and I write songs we write way different songs. Most of the stuff 
I write is more melodic, I don't usually crunch on the guitar, it's more strummy 
and open sounding. So there was two different types of music completely going 
on, and right before we went to record is when we started putting it all together. 
Stephen would put his stuff into my songs and they would become Deftones songs 
and vice versa. And when we started playing guitar together, everyone started 
joining in and that's when it started to work. 

A lot of those songs are the ones that made it on the record. A song like 
"Knife Party" is a good example of a combination between all of us. Those 
are usually the best songs when everyone has all their input in them because 
I honestly don't think my songs are the best and I don't think Stephen 
does either. 

KNAC.COM: Was it a battle the whole way, getting this record done? 

CHENG: It was a battle the whole way and it worked out, there was a lot of 
tension and people wanting differ-ent things, but we did end up in some sort 
of compromise. It was a cool album because I don't think anybody particularly 
wanted to showboat. I moved to the backseat as far as trying to be a songwriter 
on this album to just writing the best basslines I possibly could. 

On this album I think it was important for Chino to establish himself as a 
songwriter and Stephen feeling challenged by it and trying to maintain being 
the primary songwriter and I didn't feel like being another cook in the kitchen. 

KNAC.COM: You mentioned your own writing style is more mellow. Are you 
more comfortable singing that way as well or has it been a struggle to 
move away from just screaming to actual singing? 

MORENO: I've always loved to sing. When we did our first record everybody 
was saying, "Why are you scream-ing, radio's not going to play this, blah, 
blah, blah, why don't you sing more?" And I was like, "Well I just feel like 
screaming." That's just the way I was, a lot of these songs were written when 
I was 16 years old, so I was an angry teenager who felt like the whole world 
was against them. That's the way I perceived it and that's what came out. 
Now radio is playing all kinds of heavy shit that they wouldn't even think of 
playing when our first record came out. Now our label and everybody wants us 
to fit back in with all this, but we feel like we've already grown past it. 

KNAC.COM: I talked to Stephen when your first album came out and he likened 
your voice to another instrument. Do you still feel this way, or do see 
your voice as more of a complement to the music? 

MORENO: I think I've grown out of that. On the first record, especially, 
my vocals were kind of intertwined in the music. It was more like an 
instrument, I was just singing in and out of the music. On this album 
there's still some of that intertwined stuff, but now I find myself singing 
more over the songs a lot more. That's where we have progressed and I feel 
like I can do this now and I've figured out how I can do it. 

KNAC.COM: With your vocals standing out more, has that changed the way you 
write lyrics? The first album was very cryptic, do you now try to tell a 
complete story or make a definite point? 

MORENO: I'm probably telling more stories now, but they're still pretty 
metaphorical. I still don't really speak just straight out or tell blatant 
stories. This album, if anything, has a lot of scenarios, but not a lot 
of it is straightforward, it leaves you thinking, "I know he said this, 
but does he mean that?" 

KNAC.COM: The titles help add an air of mystery, too, a lot of them are 
quite perplexing and seem to have no relation to the song. 

MORENO: Some of them do and some of them are just more of an idea of 
maybe what the song was inspired from or where it came from. Honestly, 
the titles are like the very last thing that I do. I usually like to 
be a little bit out there. For me to call the single "Change," that 
was hard from me, but I didn't want to alienate people too much. 
I felt that since this was going to be a single, I wanted the title 
to have something to do with what was in the song. 

But another song, like the first song "Fieticeira," that song doesn't 
actually have a chorus in it, it's a really weirdly written song, that 
title was this name of a Brazilian game show host I read about in a 
magazine. I liked the way it sounded. And then a song like "Teenager," 
the word's not in the song, but the story of the song is a total teenage 
crush or teenage love song. 

KNAC.COM: How did Terry Date [who has produced all three Deftones albums] 
factor into the new album, did you consider other producers to capture 
the changing mood of the band? 

CHENG: He was on track the whole way and he was great. Our relationship 
with Terry has been growing and he's learned a lot to grow with us. So he's 
open-minded and cool. We considered everyone for this album, we didn't 
really consider using him because we didn't want to do anything we'd done 
before thought it might be cool to bring in another producer. But it ended 
up being like a full-circle where we realized musically we were going to be 
the ones to change things up and that Terry is open enough to capture what 
we want. There was quite a bit of tension and I don't think another producer 
would have understood what was going on. 

KNAC.COM: Where did the White Pony concept come from and why did it stick? 

MORENO: I don't why it stuck, it was just an idea that I came up with 
from no one specific place. I just liked the imagery of it all, and then 
we created that little logo with the horse and decided "let's just use 
this, let's run with it and see how we far we can manipulate this." 

Coming up with artwork is really hard, especially for a band like us, because 
it's really easy to want to go along with the music and make everything 
really dirty and scary or heavy metal or really artsy. To me it's not 
really artsy, it's not really anything. It stands on its own, it's kind 
of militant in a way, it has its own look to it. 

KNAC.COM: I read where you said you felt pressure doing this record. 
Is that the pressure of the expectations that this re-cord is really 
going to blow the band up big or the creative pressure of your musical 
metamorphosis and making sure you got it right? 

MORENO: If anything it was knowing that everybody expects this record 
to be huge. We don't have any formula for making a hit record. But when 
you're a band that can make novelty songs, hits are a lot easier. A band 
like Sugar Ray, for example, if they had to make a Sugar Ray song a hit 
from their first album it would have been difficult. But they did it by 
changing their style completely for one or two songs on each album since, 
and every hit they have now is that different style. 

Or Limp Bizkit, that song "Nookie" it's goofy and it has that novelty thing 
to it. But I can't do that, I feel I have already earned this respect to not 
do anything silly. A lot of times being silly might sell you some records, 
but I don't think we're going to be going there any time soon. We're just 
going to make our records and hopefully the people will come around to it 
instead of us changing our ways and going somewhere else to make a hit record. 

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