An Interview With Deftones: Always Reacting

Art is subjective. What might appeal to one person, might not fly with another. That is why playing in a band is such a feat. You have two, three, or four other people who have their own distinct taste and style. It is a matter of melding these different tastes and finding something everyone can agree on. Bands could either work well together or they could work against each other. Some bands will have their rough moments and work through it or call it quits. For Chino Moreno and the rest of the guys in Deftones, this period was the three years prior to the Saturday Night Wrist full-length. They came in, did their part, and left. Before and after the LP, the group experienced moments with the complete opposite effect. The members would explain their sides as to why they wanted to go in a specific musical direction on the new material.

That being said, the band worked through everything and kept on trucking. Their latest effort, Gore, recently reached number two on the Billboard charts. I had the pleasure of speaking to Moreno where we discussed the writing process and what it was like working with the guys again. He also chatted about some of his daily routines, playing inside a volcano, and a few of his hobbies while on the road. Check out what Chino had to say below:

First off, congrats on the success of Gore on the Billboard charts.

It definitely feels good and it is gratifying to know there have been people along with us for the ride all these years. I knew as this one was getting finished up that people might not gravitate towards it immediately. I think this one is a grower, you know, the more you listen to it the more you get out of it. It isn’t filled with all of this immense riffage and I know it may be a hard listen for some. But I think our fanbase does have a good amount of patience and it definitely feels good at the end of the day to know that.

Was there any pressure throughout the process of making Gore?

There wasn’t any pressure in terms of time and trying to get the record out. It was all really self-imposed. We are all so focused on making something that is exciting to us, and we all come from different areas of thought. These differences make us who we are, but it makes the process a bit more time consuming and taxing in some ways. Overall, our goal is to walk out of the studio with something each of us is equally excited about. It may not always be easy to get there, but when we do, it is always a great feeling.

There must be positives to working together and having all of these different ideas to throw around. Even with the pushback you might get from each other.

I think so. Because at the end of the day, I know that everybody is equally engaged. At our worst point, while working on the Saturday Night Wrist album, there was no pushback, no discussion. Everybody was sort of doing their part and it was just enough to get by. We had to get back to the point to where we could communicate with each other and say what we felt. I think it is incredibly important for each of us to be outspoken to a certain extent and listen to each other and argue our points when they need to be argued.

 And how is the dynamic in some of your other projects?

With other projects, it is different because it is usually just me being introduced to music that is pretty much done, and I just add vocals to it.

What are some of the most important elements for you when it comes to working with others?

With anything I need to be inspired by it. I don’t necessarily make music just to make music. It’s funny because I have a studio in my house and I might go in there about once every two weeks and I end up just going in there to listen to records (laughs). I don’t really have the urge to make music by myself. I don’t feel like I have all of these ideas that I just need to get out. I am really a reactionary person. I just love to react to other people and their ideas. That is the most interesting aspect to making music for me.

Out of curiosity, what have you been listening to lately? Anything grab your attention as of late?

I actually downloaded a few records this morning (laughs). Spotlights are the band going on tour with us and they’ve got a great new album. I basically download records in the morning and just try to find time throughout the day to listen to them. Other than that, I also like listening to a lot of podcasts in my spare time. I Am Rapaport is a pretty sports-dominant podcast that is really funny. I listen to that one as much as possible. That’s probably my favorite one right now.

Is that the kind of stuff that helps you kill time while on tour?

Most definitely. I’m not really that big into video games. I wish I was, I just can’t really focus on it (laughs). If I had the time to figure out how to conquer a level, I feel like I should be using that time to play guitar or something that may be a bit more important to my career than a video game.

You guys are covering a lot of ground this year on the road. Is there any difference or shift in how you approach and prep for Europe versus the U.S.?

Not really. It all comes down to how much time you have. If you are headlining, of course you will add more to the set. For festivals and the shorter sets, you will pick the ones you can do the best or gets the most reception. Maybe a more commercial set, one where you can showcase what you are all about. But every place has a different feel and every night could even have a different feel. Some nights we may be great, other nights we might not be so great (laughs). We try to be great every night, but obviously it might not always be the case. Every night is really its own thing and that’s what keeps it interesting.

For example, this summer we will be playing a longer set and really try to incorporate more of our new record. So far we have only really played two or three of the new tracks. Obviously we don’t want to overbear our set with the new record, but we want to sprinkle in more than we have.

Any track in particular that you are looking forward to playing?

I am interested in seeing how “Phantom Bride” translates. That is the next radio single and it is the one where Jerry Cantrell plays a solo on. We will have to tweak it for the live show and I’m sure we will figure something out to where it sounds close to the album version but we’re also doing something different and not trying to mimic it. Stuff like that is challenging, but it is also a lot of fun.

And just to touch on it real quick. You recently played that show inside the Thrihnukagigur volcano in Iceland. How does something like that even come about?

I got a call a couple weeks earlier and I was going to be in Iceland at the time anyway for the Secret Solstice festival. It was definitely an interesting request (laughs). The performance might have actually been the least exciting part. I was more nervous about playing than going down into the volcano. I’ve never really played solo or even acoustic, so I picked three songs and practiced them the day beforehand. I played a Morrissey song, a Bowie tune, and one from Deftones.

I was definitely nervous about the performance and I think it might have showed through a bit. That’s probably not the best thing, but the overall experience overpowered it all. The weather was actually pretty crazy and we almost got stuck up there and the Coast Guard had to get us out of there and to the show. I went straight from the volcano to the festival we were playing.


Deftones will be playing at the Sands Bethlehem Event Center in Bethlehem, PA on Aug. 2, the Coney Island Amphitheater in Brooklyn, NY on Aug. 5, Festival Pier at Penn’s Landing in Philadelphia, PA on Aug. 6, and the Stone Pony Summer Stage in Asbury Park, NJ on Aug. 10. Gore is available now. For more information, head over to