“Rocksound” – April 2003 // Chino Interviewed

transcribed from ROCKSOUND magazine
by Adam a.k.a. çhëçk thë çløüds


In a special news report, rock sound scribe
Robyn Doreian talks to Chino Moreno about
life in the Deftones camp and their hot1y-anticipated
fourth album.

It’s 7pm at the Palace venue in Melbourne, Australia, and the Deftones
have just finished sound checking. In the dimly lit dressing room,
drummer Abe Cunningham and guitarist Stephen Carpenter slump on a bench,
tired and totally bored. DJ Frank Delgado, sandwiched between them, is
asleep on top of his overnight bag. Meanwhile vocalist Chino Moreno sits
scribbling curiously, compiling tonight’s set list, and clearly finds the
opportunity to discuss the band’s newly recorded fourth album an unwelcome
interruption. As he turns his attention to talking about the Big Day Out,
it’s hard to tell whether he’s nervous, arrogant or just plain shy. “Last
time we came to Australia we did club shows,” explains Moreno, “so it was weird
going straight into the Big Day Out arena. Probably my least favorite show this
time was in Melbourne, as I wasn’t feeling well and the crowd was kind of dead.
It wasn’t their fault, as the way it was barricaded off made it difficult for
people to go where they wanted to. The set up was a little weird, and I think
we could also have played better, but that’s why we have tonight’s show.”
Prior to coming to Australia, the band put in a solid week’s worth of rehearsals,
but Moreno is the first to admit that the extended time off the road has added a
little flab to the live muscle of Sacramento’s finest. “Of course we are out of shape,”
he says. “It’s obvious, as we’ve been at home for two years. We forgot some parts to
songs and all kinds of shit, but when we get back home we’re going to rehearse and
get into better shape. While at home, there was nothing that I saw musically that
made me feel threatened in any way by any band that is around right now. Mentally,
I am ready to attack. I ain’t scared of no one.”

During the band’s hiatus, several of its members explored projects away from the
focus of the Deftones. Drummer Abe Cunningham rejoined Phallucy, a Sacramento rock
band he had previously spent time with and recorded an album, bass guitarist Chi
Cheng has been penning poetry and writing a novel he never intends to publish, while
Chino Moreno recorded and toured with his mellower outfit, Team Sleep- “I was home for
a while and just wanted to create some music by myself with a couple of friends,”
recalls Chino, “and that’s what we did. We made some music and went out and did a
short tour and it was great fun. It’s always fun to make music with other people.”
The front man is adamant that the outside projects did nothing to detract from the
individual members’ commitment to the Deftones. “It wasn’t like we had chosen to be
away from each other,” remarks Moreno, “as we all had time off and everybody wanted
to do something creative on their own. You can only watch so much television or sit
around and not do anything for so long- If anything, I think everybody just got to
enjoy their life a bit more.” Chino’s air of supreme confidence comes from the knowledge
that the Deftones have made an astonishingly good record. The lyricist claims to be
“ecstatic” at the end result. Work on the album began two years ago, when the band got
together and started playing and writing music in their home studio – a rigorous process
where they would keep the strongest tunes, bin the weaker songs and continue to write.
Chino has his own process of arriving at lyrics, which consists of singing along to the
melodies and writing words as he goes – a process which he continues to repeat until he’s
satisfied with what he’s written. “Every time you write a record it’s harder,” explains
the vocalist, “but it should be. Obviously you don’t want to repeat what you’ve done before.
Sometimes I find writing words really hard to do, as I write things and then
I don’t like them. It is a little time-consuming, but I enjoy doing it.
“The most stressful part for me is just finishing a song. That’s why it’s taken so long.
When I’m working on a song, I question every little detail, and it hangs over my head as
I’m constantly thinking about it.” While Chino point-blank refuses to reveal what the
album is called or any song titles, he does however allude to the album’s mood.
“There is no mood that is unwelcome on a Deftones album,” he says. “On this record
there are a lot more dramatic choruses and notes and things going on- It’s maybe a
little deeper than some of the previous records, and musically it’s all over the place,
but the Deftones sound is definitely present. There is no other band like us in the world,
and when you hear the album, you will know it’s us.” As to the secrecy surrounding the
album he reasons, “it is a pretty impacting record and I think everyone should hear it
at the same time. It doesn’t need to be leaked out, and I don’t want to hear anyone’s
opinion on it until it’s done. We have always felt that way about our records, but
maybe this time we are just being a bit more vocal about it.” The recording of the
album started at Studio X in Seattle in September 02, with mixing in LA. But during
the whole process, there is one outsider’s opinion that is relied upon in the
private inner sanctum of the Deftones. “Terry Date is a really good guy and has
produced our last three albums,” states Moreno, “and his opinion has really mattered to us.
He doesn’t come in and make you
change stuff or get you to try this or that, but he will let you know if you are not
working to your potential, and that’s something
that is really important. A lot of times myself or someone else in the band will get
lazy and when you get lazy you get comfortable and don’t do your best work. He is real
good at keeping you on track and focused.” After the release of the ‘Back To School’
EP of 2001, the Deftones are intent on exerting more control over what is released and
how their music is marketed. “This time we are going to shoot anyone in the foot who
does anything without us knowing!” So be warned. Don’t fuck with Mr. Moreno.
Expect their as-yet-untitled album in May/June.