This Place Is Death- An Interview With Chino Moreno of The Deftones

November 4, 2013 by Chris Grosso

12:30pm, Tuesday March 15th. I lay in bed with a nasty fever as I receive a call from the Deftones publicist letting me know Chino would be available for an interview at 3:30 that day. I knew I had an upcoming interview with him, but no idea it would be that soon, so needless to say, I was not completely prepared. Luckily, I, along with some close friends (who also love the Deftones) were able to come up with a quick interview in the short time we had! My gratitude goes out to them as well as Chino Moreno for taking the time to do the interview!

The Chino Moreno Interview

TIS: So can you tell me what, if any news you have on Chi Cheng’s coma?

CM: Hopefully we’ll see some more progress pretty soon. That’s what we’re doing, just hoping for the best. It’s been a little over two years since his accident and I think he really wants to make it. He’s a strong guy and for him to be fighting this long, we know he really wants to come around.

TIS: Well obviously the fans best wishes are with you guys and his family.

CM: Thank you.

TIS: Of course. So I wanted to talk about Diamond Eyes, which is a hugely respected album by fans and critics alike.

CM: We’re really proud of this album. Going into it, it was sort of a tough decision to make, as with Chi being so inactive, we didn’t know what our future was, if any, but once we got together and talked about it, the decision wasn’t even a decision anymore. It’s what we do and we’re just very appreciative we still have one another and the opportunity to make music together. I think that was a very therapeutic  experience for us to get through and we’re definitely very proud of the record we made. We’re having a lot of fun being together as friends, and the shows energy levels are just awesome. It’s been about a year since the record came out and it still feels really fresh for us. Usually by this point of the record cycle we’d be more into writing new music, and while we do have plans to write new stuff this summer, we’re still very fresh where we’re at with this.

TIS: So do you personally have a favorite Deftones album?

CM: Well I mean I think all our records hold a special place with me. Some of them I can appreciate anything on, and some I like a little less. A lot of it has to do with how difficult the process was of making the albums.  Like the last couple of records especially, Saturday Night Wrist etc, there was so much hardship going into making those records, albeit self inflicted hardships I guess really, but by the time they were done it was tough. I’m of course still proud that we accomplished them and there is some great music on them.  But those were probably the records I don’t look back so favorably on.

 I think obviously the Diamond Eyes record we completely kind of switched gears and changed our work ethic and it helped it in making it a pleasant experience for all of us. Making the record was really fun but what we were going through with Chi, it was really tough. As for favorites though, I would put it up there next to Around The Fur. I think of that record as being one of my favorites we’ve ever done. The songs and really everything about it, like the way we recorded it. We did it really fast, all in about a four month period. But I don’t think it lacked any kind of creativity because it was fast, if anything we were really focused. I think we were coming of our first record and were just so happy to make a second, so we went into the studio so amped up and didn’t second guess ourselves or what we were doing. I think that’s huge for us while recording. To follow the natural, organic things that happen. Those are some of the best songs we’ve ever made and that album is full of them. All four of us in the room together just making something out of nothing and walking out of the studio everyday with something we were very excited about. That’s one of the best things about being an artist in general…just creating. Then with a few records after that, well White Pony was an exception, but the others were done over a long period of time and everyone was writing at different places and we’d come together and put our parts together. I mean it worked out, but there’s still something to be said about writing together organically in a small room, it’s very, very precious. So that record along with this one are some prime moments in our career.

TIS: Awesome. And can you tell me about some of the obscure bands you guys cover like Drive Like Jehu and Jawbox, which I don’t think a lot of your fans are too familiar with. Where does that decision come from?

CM: Well towards the end of the recording process on each of our record, as soon as we’re done with our songs, we record a couple of covers just for fun and it usually goes well. Everyone comes up with a bunch of songs we like and usually together we’ll either put some names into a hat or make a disc with a bunch of songs we all like on it. It’s really very random the way it happens. It’s always something random and we usually just try it and oddly, most of times it just kind of works out. Music for us isn’t just a job but a hobby as well, and to cover music is a lot of fun for us, to put our own spin on it, paying homage to some of our peers.

TIS: Very cool. And I know a lot of people often wonder about Team Sleep and if we can expect anything in the future?

CM: Yeah there’s definitely as chance, I just spent this last weekend with my buddy who plays guitar with them and we’ve had some ideas. That project really started up as a lo-fi idea. We were actually trading 4 track cassettes with ideas to one another. So it’s always been more of a lo-fi idea than a full on band, but we’ve been talking about taking it back to doing a recording process like we originally did. We don’t really have a time frame on it, or how we’ll do it, but we do have some things we’ve worked on that have just been sitting around for the last four years. Obviously, I’ve been preoccupied with what I’ve been doing with the Deftones over the last couple of years, but hopefully when time frees up we can work on it because it’s a fun project, which is why we did it in the first place.

TIS: Great, so what’s next for Deftones?

CM: Well I hope we can get through the rest of this next year, and do a bunch of touring. We still have a ton of touring plans for the album. We have recording plans this summer, not because we’re done with this record, but because we’ve been very aggressive with it since we started. We’ve been touring on it and going strong, and just want to keep up with the energy going into a new album and keep moving forward.

TIS: Cool, and was Dillinger Escape Plan a conscious decision for you guys to have on tour?

CM: Yeah, they’ve been friends with us for a while and we’ve talked about playing some shows together so everything finally fell into place. It’s going to be a lot of fun and we’re really looking forward to it.

TIS: Awesome. Well thanks so much for your time.

CM: Very cool. Take care.

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Chris Grosso is a public speaker, writer, recovering addict, spiritual director, and author of Indie Spiritualist: A No Bullshit Exploration of Spirituality (Beyond Words/Simon & Schuster) and Everything Mind: What I've Learned About Hard Knocks, Spiritual Awakening and the Mind-Blowing Truth of it All (Sounds True). He writes for ORIGIN Magazine, Huffington Post, and Mantra Yoga + Health Magazine, and has spoken and performed at Wanderlust Festival, Yoga Journal Conference, Sedona World Wisdom Days, Kripalu, Celebrate Your Life and more. Chris is passionate about his work with people who are in the process of healing or struggling with addictions of all kinds. He speaks and leads groups in detoxes, yoga studios, rehabs, youth centers, 12-step meetings, hospitals, conferences, and festivals worldwide. He is a member of the advisory board for Drugs over Dinner.
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  5. […] Clarita, Calif.; the band was recording its sixth studio album Diamond Eyes at the time. Moreno said as recently as 2012 that he hoped his bandmate would recover. Indeed, Cheng had shown improvement in recent […]

  6. […] Clarita, Calif.; the band was recording its sixth studio album Diamond Eyes at the time. Moreno said as recently as 2012 that he hoped his bandmate would recover. Indeed, Cheng had shown improvement in recent […]