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Deftones' Chino Moreno

Deftones’ Chino Moreno Discusses New Songs From “Gore”, Details His Writing Process


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Deftones, etc. frontman Chino Moreno sat in for a near hour-long chat with Daniel P Carter (of ‘BBC Radio 1 Rock Show‘ fame) on Carter‘s new podcast, ‘Someone Who Isn’t Me‘. The chat centers around the band’s forthcoming new album “Gore“, but also finds Moreno sharing his thoughts on his songwriting process, attraction and more.

There’s some interesting tidbits about “Gore” to be found amidt the conversation: the song “(L)MIRL” takes its name from the chat room phrase “let’s meet in real life” and one track was recorded during the album sessions that didn’t make the final cut. Some excerpts from the chat, which can found on acast and iTunes, include:

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On “Gore” being the title and the info leaking (plus his tweet):

“The four letter word thing is one of the main things that drew me to it. Obviously the word itself is provocative in some way. And it gives you… the main visual it gives you is very graphic. But obviously juxtaposing that with the actual artwork was something that represents that ying and yang of what it is we do as a band. But yeah, it was difficult to make that decision, because anytime you’re trying to name a record, with one word, or one phrase or whatever, they’re obviously… you want every song to stand on its own. You don’t want to hear the first 30 seconds of any record and feel like ‘ok I heard it all, I know what’s coming next.’ So, just to kind of put it in a box and have one name is definitely hard. But I don’t know, I like it. I think it really sort of makes you think a little bit and question ‘what’s inside this?'”

“The Martin Gore thing was funny because we actually didn’t release the title yet, of the record, we were going to release everything together. We had like a pretty much mapped out plan of how we were going to roll the record out—or at least announce the record, and the title and everything. And somebody screenshot—you know sending out the stream that we sent out for the press to hear.

A journalist decided to screenshot his phone and put it up online. So I had a good friend of mine who scours the internet all the time for any information, like sent me the picture and was like ‘hey is this real?’ I looked at it and was I like ‘yes that is real, that is the record. That’s all the song titles, that’s it. I was like ‘was it playing?’ and he was like ‘no it’s just a screenshot, you can’t push play on it’ so the music didn’t leak out—which is fine, but that did.

So then the internet was in an uproar, ‘oh is this real? is this fake?’ So then I decided to just play a joke and put that picture up there just to almost confirm in a sly way that yes this the actual album title and whatever. So a lot of people were saying I was toying with people, but I actually though I was giving them information. Just a little coded information with Martin Gore on there.”

“I think it is what is, I mean I can be bummed, I can sit around and complain about it or do this or that. But I think a worse thing would be if people didn’t care, honestly, you know what I mean? It shows that there’s still excitement around our band and the fact that 20-7-9-whatever years since we’ve been a band really the fact that people are still somewhat interested in what we’re going to do, I can’t get mad at that.”

About Alice In ChainsJerry Cantrell guesting on the album track “Phantom Bride“:

“I’ll tell ya what, honestly I wish that… Whenever we have any guests on the records, I like not telling people anyways. I think what happened was, somehow it happened where—probably me, I probably slipped up and said ‘oh yeah, I was working with Jerry or whatever.’ But I’d love the fact if people didn’t know. Because it’s one of those things on the record where it happens, I’m sure you might have noticed this too, it’s on song 10, what’s the name of the song?

Phantom Bride“. And there’s a part of this song where you’re probably going to go ‘wow Deftones‘ really took a left turn right here.’ So, you know it’s one of those things where it’s a little unconventional for us—we never play solos. I can’t play solos, Stephen might be able to play solos, but he doesn’t… So that’s all it was the song itself was already written… and then it’s one of those things where we sat around and we were just kind of joking around like ‘wow, it’d be really cool to have a solo right here.’

And the names we started coming up with, that was like what was really funny. Like ‘should we get Steve Stevens?’ Like people who we grew up listening to… Then obviously we came back and we were like maybe we will. Let’s call Jerry and see if he’ll come in and play on this thing. And actually at that point we hadn’t even recorded the song.

We had a recording from our practice place. Obviously he’s somebody we know, we’ve been friends for a long time, so I sent him the song, texted him and said ‘hey I got this song would you be interested and he said ‘yeah send it over.’… I sent it over and he sent it back the next day with that exact thing the did on the record on it and it was something very organic.

But what I was saying about people not knowing, I like the fact of people just finding it out or hearing the song. Like with “White Pony” when Maynard was on “Passenger“, we didn’t put like ‘”Passenger” featuring Maynard Keenan‘, or it wasn’t in the press that he was on the record, so people just heard “White Pony” and they got to whatever song it is on the record and they’re all of a sudden like ‘hold on that kind of sounds like Maynard‘ and then ‘hold on that is Maynard!’ I think it’s more interesting when people figure stuff out for themselves. So sadly, people already know already, it’s not a surprise.”

On the new song “Doomed User“:

“It’s drawing inspiration from straight metal. When I hear it too, I’m just like ‘that’s pretty fucking metal.’ Obviously, I feel like the way I approach it is a little different, vocally. But I think that’s what makes it us. Like you said, you hear it and you say wow ‘this is Deftones‘ but obviously for us, we flirt with metal all the time, just like we flirt with all sorts of inspirations, genres and whatever, blah blah blah. But it’s kind of cool to hear a straight metal riff from a band that shies away from being straight metal at times, ya know?”

On the new song “Xenon“—which took its name from the 1988 video game of the same name:

“You know anything from the 80’s—growing up like that—is nostalgic for me, I’m sure for you as well. I was actually inspired by that… I was walking by, I think I was in Germany, I think I was in like Cologne or something like that and I was walking aimlessly. And I walked by this arcade and in the window they had [‘Xenon‘]. And I stopped and took a picture, I love the artwork in that video game—the way it looks and everything.

I actually still have it in my phone, it was just a cool picture and the reflection of the video game through the window and the lights in the back, it just looked like I was on another planet so I was just like right away ‘I love this picture.’ But why I named that song that is ’cause if you listen at the very beginning of the song the sounds that are made—there’s this kind of little electronic loop thing that happens before the guitar kicks in—and it totally just reminds me of an 80’s video game. So it was more of like a working title thing that I just ended up keeping.”

On his writing process:

“It’s a very honest reaction to it. I mean I don’t have a notebook. Sadly, if this is going to crush someone’s dreams, I’m sorry, but I’m not a poet. I don’t have like a book of poetry that I keep on my bed and open it and say like ‘oh yes and like write something, this is so, oh yeah…’ What you’re hearing is my reaction to the music that is presented in front of me, simple as that. Stephen will play a riff and I’ll be like whatever comes to my head and out of my mouth and through my arm and down to my pen and the paper—however it may be, it’s almost like an initial reaction, you know?

Obviously I’ll go through, I’m not like Jay-Z or something where I don’t write anything down and just spit it out. I actually do sit after the initial… I mean honestly it’s usually melody first obviously, rhythm or how I want to sing over or through within the track. And then words just sort of start to pop out and then sentences and then sort of themes and it just kind of builds in that way. But yeah, it’s a very organic way of just straight reacting to what I’m hearing.”

“But I do actually keep notes on words or phrases or things that are inspiring. And I will reflect on them when I’m creative or writing music, but that’s usually like the third step. Like I said, first it’s like the melody and then it’s the thing and then words start coming out. And then, I look into my phrase catalog—even word catalog—I’ll hear a word sometimes or I’ll read a word in something and I’ll go ‘wow I like that word” and I’ll put it down and I’ll try not to overuse it.”

“The truth is that I hate writing lyrics. I mean, I don’t wanna say I hate it, but it’s the hardest part of making a record, honestly. For one, I don’t feel like I have anything to say and I know that sounds weird, but I really don’t. Listen, I’m not a political person. I don’t have like all these opinions or things that I feel like wow, ‘you need to know about this, because this is the way I feel about this or that.’ Or ‘here’s a story that I think you should be interested in.’

Honestly, I want people to hear the music, be affected by it and take what they want from it. And so when I’m writing lyrics, it’s hard sometimes to just be myself—it’s not hard to be myself, it’s easy to be myself. So I starting just sometimes saying too much… So it’s like yes I am giving away, like I am talking about myself and I am still trying to be ambiguous about it, but there are… As much as it is, I don’t… I’m uncomfortable with it in a certain way, so I don’t want to… I’ll try to steer away from that as much as possible. And in doing so I’m sort of binding my hands because it’s like I’m trying so hard to not say certain things in order to keep it interesting and ambiguous.”

Continuing on from that, he added:

“To be too literal is dangerous—not dangerous, to me it’s lazy, I guess, you know what I mean? That’s the way I perceive it and because of that it takes me a long time sometimes to write a song out lyrically. And then also, it’s like with Deftones I have a big part in the songwriting itself. I mean from the inception of the first melody or beat or whatever—which I enjoy—I love writing the songs. But it’s basically like we’ll get it, we’ll write a song and then the song is done musically and then I have to approach it from another aspect and it’s like starting all over in a way, you know what I mean? It’s like bobbing and weaving throughout something that I already think is great instrumentally and not mess that up.”

On teaming with Lamb Of God on “Embers“:

“When I got hit up by them, it was like, ya know, it was presented like ‘there’s this spot in the song that we think you’d sound good in.’ …And actually it’s funny ’cause they only sent me that section of the song. so I didn’t even hear the whole song. I just got sent that section of the song. So it was like it was 30-45 seconds of music and then I was like ‘ok’ so I kind of put the melody in my head and I was in L.A. a couple months later and Randy hit me up and was like ‘can you come up to the studio and record tonight?’

And I was like ‘Ok.’ I went up there, and literally we did that in like an hour, like one hour. I sang him the melody that I’d come up with and he was like ‘ok, give me a minute’, he walked outside and he wrote the lyrics and it was really cool for me, because I have never sang anyone else’s lyrics—I always write my own stuff. So it was obviously like an experience… And he wrote it and kind of explained to me what the song was about and I went in and sang my part and not until the album came out—Or actually he sent me the full version of the song, I think a couple weeks before it came out and I got to hear the whole song—you know what I mean? How it was with everything else in it ’cause up until that point I had only heard the section I was on.”

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