Deftones’ Chino Moreno Talks Writing ‘Gore’ Album, Childhood Influences, Band Formation + More
Deftones frontman Chino Moreno was a guest on Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio show. With the well-received Gore album out now, the singer discussed delays in the release, how the members schedule time to write and record and pushing their boundaries. He also recalls starting to jam together back in 1988 and his childhood new wave influences. Check out the chat below:
We're here to talk about Gore, which was originally expected to be released last September. Why was it pushed back six months?
We just like to shatter expectations. (laughs) No, I mean we never really actually like were too adamant on trying to rush to get a record out. We really sort of took our time on purpose making this. I want to say we spent a good year and a half I think from the time we started writing it until now I guess.
But, we really took our time as far as like, we didn't work that whole time. We did like little short spurts of writing and then took a few months off and then went in for like a week. We all live in different cities now too as well. As we all grow old we all sort of are spread out around the country so for us to get together, it kind of has to be planned. So yeah, we just looked ahead a year and sort of picked these little pockets of time and just in those time got together and worked, and you know, there were a couple little hiccups I guess in mixing and things like that that I guess pushed things back a little bit further, but for the most part we just kind of did it at our own pace and felt really comfortable doing it that way.
There's a clear evolution across the Deftones catalog. Before you started working on Gore, what specific goals did you have for how it would further develop that evolution?
You know sadly, we don't have any goals in that way. We don't talk about what we're going to try to do. We really try to make it a sort of, in the moment experience and it seems like the most exciting way to make records, I feel. Like if we talk too much about it or planned it out too much or like decided what type of record we were going to make we would sort of be boxing ourselves in, to have to stick to that. So we kind of just, like, let it happen.
I mean, you know, we don't write before we get in there as far as like — everything is pretty much written together while we're all in the same room, and for that reason, I feel like it has this sort of you know, this sort of live, communal kind of feeling to it. Everybody very much shines in the right ways.
And hopefully, we do evolve when we make records. I think that's the sort of important place too. We try to challenge ourselves and try to think outside the box as well. And I feel like it's still very much a Deftones record, but like anything I think it should progress and should expand on what it was before and I feel like we did that.
Growing up, what band was most important to you and how do they continue to influence you now?
That's a tough question because there's plenty of those. I usually always refer back to you know, new wave stuff. I mean that was like really when I got into music, like found exactly what spoke to me the most and bands like Depeche Mode where they had these really cool futuristic sounding samples and electronics, but these really dark and haunting melodies and I just connected with it. It really spoke to me at an early age. So, like, that band is forever, you know. They still put out records and every time they do I'm there the first day buying it, and you know, still a very avid fan of them.
Duran Duran was the same thing to me, you know growing up musically they were just great. I was listening to some 12-inch remixes that I found, like these Japanese imports the other day in my living room while I was putting together some furniture. It was so refreshing to hear and it still felt so musically, just really... I still really connect with it that. I don't know why, it's just you know the album spoke to me and as a band and Simon [Le Bon] as well as a lyricist, and you know as musicians.
You guys have been doing this for a long time. What is the exact year, the first year, was it 1988?
Well, that's when we started playing in the garage, I mean like, we were still in high school. I want to say we were in 10th grade? I think — at that time? And Abe [Cunningham, drums] and I were in 10th grade and Stephen [Carpenter, guitar] was a year older or actually two grades ahead of us.
But yeah it was one of those things were like after school we took the bus over to Stephen's house from school and I introduced those two and they started playing. And I really wanted to be the drummer, but he was obviously much better drummer than me, so I kind of needed to find something to do to be a part of it so I just kind of taught myself how to sing and that was pretty much the birth of it all.
And you know, obviously we didn't really get out and play much. We spent a lot of time just in the garage just like, learning how to do what we wanted to do before we actually got out and you know had a name for a band and started playing. But yes, it was 1988 when we first got together and a group of guys playing.
Now that you've been together for so long, what do you feel like the band does better now than it did at any other point since you started?
I don’t even think it's a musical thing. Hopefully we make better music, or our music evolves, but more so I just think our friendships. It's not easy sometimes to make music with guys that you've known your whole life. As much as we know and understand each other, sometimes we're very, brutally honest with each other at the same time. There's no holds barred. We say exactly how we feel when we feel it.
I think it's a good thing. We know how to communicate with each other and make the communication - we never argue for the sake of arguing. If we are having a disagreement, or if we are trying to work something out, it's all for the better of the song. To make sure that everybody is happy, that's the main thing. We all enjoy making records together. It's not the easiest thing sometimes, but at the end of the day, everybody — the goal is for everybody to be equally decided about it. Sometimes it's harder to get there, but most time we do. When we do it's one of the greatest feelings.
Periods of disconnect seem to be a recurring part of Deftones history. Most recently, Stephen stating that he didn't want to play on Gore. How has tension ultimately benefitted this band?
Pretty much how I answered it. I think when we question ourselves, as well as others around us, we are pushing the boundaries of what we're doing. Stephen, not understanding stuff right away. You also have to understand, Stephen actually wrote a huge part of the record too. He's not just speaking like, we wrote songs. He's talking about the songs he wrote too.
Also, after speaking to him, he didn't say he didn't like it — it was just harder for him to get into and wrap his head around it. I think that's a good thing too, sometimes, because when things are too — when you don't have to actually question things, look deeper into things, even if you're just following a formula, you're not really challenging yourself at the same time.
Because of that and because he's brutally honest, and because we are all honest with each other, and sometimes with the media, it seems like a weird tension thing but it really isn't. It's almost like us working through trying to create an art piece together that everybody has a hand in. People have different ways of approaching that and pulling it off. Us as individuals have different ways of doing things, but like I said, when it works it's one of the most beautiful things.
There is a lot of Deftones tour dates coming up this summer. Beyond that, it just seems like you guys have a lot of touring for the rest of the year?
We have a bunch of stuff going on here in the States. We go overseas and play a bunch of countries and places we've never been. End of the year, I think Australia is working it's way in and then we see what's up for next year. Most definitely gonna be busy for the next year and a half, off and on, out there playing music.
Thanks to Chino Moreno for the interview. Pick up a copy of Deftones' 'Gore' at iTunes or Amazon. The band will be hitting the road again on July 31 with Swedish hardcore legends Refused linking up for part of the tour. A full list of stops can be seen at our 2016 Guide to Rock + Metal Tours and find out where you can hear Full Metal Jackie’s weekend show at this location.
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