“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.