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

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


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

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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