“Sexnrocknroll.com” – July, 2000 // Chino Interviewed

Chino interviewed by Sexnrocknroll.com
June 2000

As the hackneyed expression goes, Chino Moreno has issues. The frontman for the alt-metal act
the Deftones is fairly reticent about embracing his dark interior, but his lyrics aren’t.
The group’s highly anticipated forthcoming album, semi-autobiographically named White Pony,
is chock full of Moreno’s sinister sentiment that uniformly blurs the line between art and
angst. Two prime examples are on “Elite,” where he sings “when you’re ripe, you’ll bleed out
of control” and the particularly chilling “Pink Maggit,” where Moreno whispers “I’ll stick you
a little enough to take your oxygen away.” In other words, right-wing be wary.
In relative contrast to the volatile prose is a dynamic soundscape that extinguishes much of
the aggro brushfires prevalent on Adrenaline (1995) and Around the Fur (1997) in deference to a
fuller sound that combines hazy guitars and breathy vocals with a skulking rage. It’s the
Deftones’ subtle way of turning their backs on the indistinguishable and congested alt-metal
sounds that are permeating the airwaves today. “I think when you put records out that fast it’s
only obvious that they’re not gonna be as pristine as they could possibly be,” Moreno says in
regard to bands like Korn and Limp Bizkit that are averaging an album release a year.
The Deftones, on the other hands, have just three releases since 1995, including White Pony,
due out June 20. “It’s like if you’re always in the camera’s eye people just kind of wanna
withdraw themselves from even like looking at you.”

The truth is most people couldn’t pick Chino Moreno out of a police line-up, whereas it’s
difficult to go 24 hours within seeing Fred Durst’s unshaven mug on TV or the cover of a
magazine. Even in relative anonymity, Moreno found another way to be inconspicuous – he
purported changed his name to Pony 1. Now he’ll undoubtedly get some extra special attention
when someone with too much power and too much time on their hands takes a gander at
White Pony’s lyric sheet.

-There was a rumor for a while that you’d changed your name to Pony 1. What was that all about?

It was just, I don’t know, some people just taking shit too far. I used that as alias on a
record that I did some work on for the band Sevendust. I did some vocals on their record and I
had been doing a lot of guest work on a lot of people’s records and I just had an idea to use
an alias on it so people really didn’t know it was me. I mean they’d figure it out, but just
for fun. And everybody [had] been calling me Pony all the time just ’cause of The Outsiders

-Because you look like Ponyboy?

Not at all. I think I just named myself that. ‘Cause we always have to give aliases in hotel
rooms and stuff so just for the fact that fans won’t be calling our rooms or showing up at my
hotel rooms, so that was an alias that I’d give myself…

-I guess that won’t work anymore.

-No, no. So I ended up using it. And what ended up happening was I told them that I wanted to
be Pony Wong cause Wong is my middle name and they thought I said Pony 1, so they put that in
the record. And some publicist got crazy — and I don’t know if it were their publicist or not
— but started telling everyone I changed my name and the next you know I was getting floods
of calls and I had to give a press statement and all this bullshit. It was fucking silly.

-So is White Pony a reference to that name?

White Pony was already gonna be the name of the record and I just kind of wanted to associate
it with, ya know, for people when they kinda realize that Pony’s this other guy and once they
figure out it’s me and realize why because of the record. It was stupid actually. I don’t think
I’ll ever do anything like that again.

-Any time the color white is used, immediately there’s a belief it’s a cocaine reference. Is
that the case here?

In a way. There’s a lot of different references for White Pony. One of them is a cocaine
reference and there’s a lot of stuff…have you ever heard stuff like in dream books that if
you dream about a white pony then you’re having a sexual dream? There’s a lot stuff that kinda
goes around it. And there’s an old song [that goes] “ride the white horse.” That’s obviously a
drug reference song. I just kinda dug it.

-You reference it in the song “Korea” (“Night time cavity to come/in downtown pony”).
Is that song dream based?

No, that song is just really abstract. There’s a lot of underworld kind of life in there.
I’m talking strippers and drugs and all kinds of shit.

-Have you ever had a dream with a white pony before?

I don’t think so. If I had I haven’t remembered.

-There seems to be a prevalance of murder themes on White Pony. Is that accurate?

Some of the stuff. A lot of the stuff is metaphorically speaking and stuff. I just like a lot
of imagery and a lot of that was brought to me by a lot of the music that I grew up listening
to. Like The Cure — which is the big influence on me when I was growing up — and my lyrics
are similar to a lot of that stuff. [It’s] where the imagery kind of takes over and starts to
become more of a like a story. It’s not so much reality anymore and I’m not singing about
anything that’s really real. It’s more or less just giving a lot of imagery and the music
usually gives me that feeling anyway. A lot of it’s somewhat dark and mysterious and I kind of
wanted to go along with that with the vocals but just take it even further. It’s not so much
that I’m into murder and death and all that shit but I think that a lot of the imagery and a
lot of stuff, which a lot of it’s sexual…

-A lot of it’s very American Psycho-esque.

You know I haven’t seen that yet, so it’d be hard for me to compare it to.
A lot of sexual and drug connotations going on in the music. It’s not so much that that’s
the life I live but that’s sort of the fantasy life that maybe I live in some way or forever.

-Have you ever gone to see a therapist about any of this stuff?

I don’t think it’s that extreme. I thought about it before. I think it would be interesting
just to know. I am totally interested in the psychology and the way the mind works and the way
my mind works. I’ve done a lot of things to enhance it. I’ve stayed awake three days in a row
drugged out of my mind coming up with all these crazy thoughts. I think a lot of people have
done that. I mean obviously I don’t do it all the time otherwise I wouldn’t be able to control
my life. This job you have to be on top of shit. And so I can’t just get rocked in the fantasy
world all the time. But I think I’m able to go into that sometimes and not just be like this
normal person. I’m able to step out and live a crazy life. I am on tour all the time, I am in
a different city, I am around different people all the time and I totally see the way people
think and the way people do things and see patterns in the way people do things. And I’m
constantly just like soaking all this shit in and in this record, as much as people think I
might be singing about myself, I’m singing about a lot of things that I see around me, the
ugliness and the beauty that I see around me. Writing about it is fun, ya know.

-It’s a lot more deep than, I guess, “Nookie.”

I agree and I think growing up that was my favorite stuff to listen to. Even a lot of
Duran Duran’s lyrics…some of their shit was just fucking out there.
“Cherry ice cream smile”…all this weird shit that Simon LeBon would say.
A lot of it was sexual and I fucking loved that shit.

-Blair R. Fischer