“Plow Magazine” – 1997 // Chino Interviewed

PLOW snowboarding magazine
March 1997


“The Deftones” by Bob Hernandez

Their music has been described as being situated somewhere between industrial,
hard-core and rap. They’ve played with seemingly every band out there today, everyone
from Anthrax to L7. Kiss to No Doubt. And despite being ignored for the most pat by MTV
and mainstream radio, their album has sold remarkably well. Likewise, they’ve managed to
win over a huge amount of fans. Who are they? Is the suspense killing you yet? Sacramento’s
own Deftones have come a long way since their skateboarding (“That was our life back then”
they humbly admit), garage-playing days.

Describing their evolution as a “slow process,” Deftones – Chino Moreno (vocals), Stephen
Carpenter (guitar), Abe Cunningham (drums) and Chi Cheng (bass) – have been together for quite
some time now (seven and a half years), with three of the members friends since childhood.
One of the more curious elements of the ban’s history is their melting-pot of musical
inspiration. For starters, metal played a big part. And as Abe describes it, “the energy of it
all” was what appealed to them most. Chino, however, opted for something a little different,
revealing, “I grew up on all that (80s) new-wave pussy stuff.” And even though some of their
songs carry a telltale hard-core interlude, their only real hard-core influence came from Bad

For the band’s Maverick debut, Adrenaline, legendary producer Terry Date (of White Zombie,
Soundgarden and Pantera fame) was brought in, an aspect that initially made Chino a little
nervous. His anxiety about working in a major studio with a big name producer for the first
time was somewhat overwhelming. But Date helped Chino work through the rough times. As Chino
remembers, “At times when I’d be trippin’ out, I’d be like, ‘I can’t do this, Terry,’ he’d just
be like, ‘You know what, go ahead and go home, take the day off, rest, come back tomorrow, we’ll
do it.’ He was real supportive.” The end result was an album everybody in the band was pleased
with, adds Chino. “He wanted to make our record just sound like us, and not get too crazy, and
not try to [overproduce] it, just make it raw, make it how we are live.” The experience
strengthened Chino’s love of making music. As he puts it, “That’s one of the best parts of
being in a band, creating the music ….. that’s the funniest part.”

Adrenaline is an explosive mix of extremes, musically showcasing a savage and abrasive blend of
harmony and chaos. Chino’s emotional, melodic singing of abstract, “stream-of-consciousness”
lyrics only enhance the music, moving from passionate whispers to frenzied screams, as evident
in songs like “Minus Blindfold” and “7 Words.” Many have compared their sound to that of Rage
Against the Machine or Korn, to which the guys respond, “We just do what we do – you don’t have
to mention other bands.”

Touring extensively has been key to their success, but the guys now know that it’s not all it’s
cracked up to be. “It’s hard to keep healthy on the road,” reveals Chino. “You’re sitting around
all day long, you start to get bored, so what do you do? You’re drinking beer ….. you end up
not eating that good, because you’re drinking all [the time].” Abe adds, “The road can turn you
into whatever you let it. We’ve been on the road for almost two years [solid] now.” Road life
does have its redeeming moments, though, like when the guys visited Copenhagen, Denmark for the
Roskilde Festival. “I didn’t think that we really had any fans there,” begins Chino, “and when
we played, there were so many people singing along, people who probably didn’t even speak that
much English.” Abe continues the thought, “The kids, they were just so into it, they knew every
word. They’d bounce up and down in unison [to the music] rather than smashing the shit out of
each other.”

Ultimately, playing live is one of the gratifying elements of being int he Deftones. “You see
all kinds of people at our shows,” says Chino. “There’s punk rock kids, and rocker kids and
skateboarder kids. I think that’s fresh, to see them all together. You could tell they probably
wouldn’t be hanging out together at school, because they’re so different looking, but they’re
all at our show, and they’re all hanging out.” As for the future, it’s back to the studio in
March or April of this year to work on their next release. So, is this still fun for Chino and
the boys, I ask finally? “Hell, yeah,” he says, “otherwise I would not do it. I wouldn’t mind
getting a job, if I had to, if I wasn’t having fun anymore, that’s what I’d do. I would get me
a job.”

Let’s hope that doesn’t happen anytime soon.