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Deftones' Chino Moreno

Chino Moreno Opens Up On Deftones’ Early Days, “Eros”, Past Struggles With Cocaine & More


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Deftones vocalist/guitarist Chino Moreno opens up on the band’s career in a meaty new piece over at Teamrock.com. It’s a candid look at the band’s career, beginning from their early days to now, complete with the highs and lows. Some excerpts from it can be found below:

On opening for Kiss:

“One time – I still don’t know how we even got on this tour – but we got a chance to open up for Kiss for a whole month, playing in arenas. The hardest band to open up for ever. The people that go to see Kiss are there to see Kiss, they could give a shit less who’s the opening band. Our songs were pretty abrasive, that sound had not really developed yet and people didn’t really understand it.

So we’d be playing and there would literally be guys sitting in the front row in full Kiss make-up just standing there flipping us off for the whole set. Wouldn’t put their arms down. There’d be times where I’d be like ‘motherfucker, I know your arm’s tired, you can put it down, I know you hate us.’ It was really rough, but at the same time still the experience of a lifetime.”

On the drug usage that nearly derailed “Saturday Night Wrist“:

“I had a fucking huge drug problem at that time, which caused a lot of my vocal problems. You get to that age and everything was so easy cos I didn’t pay attention to shit, and then all of a sudden I’m dealt with reality, all this shit has accumulated, my life has become really fucked up because I ignored everything for so long. And instead of picking up the pieces I just ran away from everything. I blamed everybody else instead of looking back at myself. So I had to slowly learn how to take responsibility for myself. But everybody was doing that individually. We were very dysfunctional.”

“We didn’t start doing hard drugs until when we started making White Pony, but at that point everything was pretty new so we were able to sort of maintain what we were doing. But we got off that run and we got home, and everything escalated. Everyone went to their own seedy worlds, and that was the start of it.”

When asked if he was abusing cocaine, he replied:

“Yeah, it was cocaine, and it was easy. For some reason everyone was taking it at the time. And it wasn’t just on the road, then you start doing it when you’re at home, and that’s like a no-win situation. Luckily we were able to come out of it, but it took a long time to figure it out, like, I’m doing this to myself. And it’s a total cliché, every band has been through this shit, but instead of learning from other people’s mistakes, some of the things you just gotta figure out the hard way.”

He further went on about the band’s dark days:

“That was a long time. That lasted through the whole dark days, from that record [White Pony], the self-titled, right through the Saturday Night Wrist record. We got to a point where we were like a shell of ourselves, of what we used to be as a band. And that depresses you and that gets you even deeper into the hole. A lot of it was my environment as well. I was hanging around the same set of friends who were doing the same shit every day.

And I moved to Los Angeles and I had a moment of clarity, like what the fuck was I doing? And from that day I just decided I was never going to do that shit again. I was very lucky, I didn’t have to go through rehab or anything like that. At that point I just made that decision that I would never be that cliché again. Honestly, it wasn’t that hard. Everything started to come into focus and get better, it only affirmed that yes, that was what was causing it.”

On getting sober, writing and recording “Eros” and bassist Chi Cheng‘s 2008 car accident:

“Me and my buddy Shaun [Lopez] went into the studio and pieced the record [‘Saturday Night Wrist‘] together. And it worked, it came out, we toured on it, and we started as a band reconnecting, started to get into a good place. Everyone was clean, Chi was clean and sober and Abe was as well. We were the toxic trio. Stephen never really did drugs. So it was time to go and make another record.

It was the Eros record. We got two thirds of the way done. At that point I still lived in LA but I was staying in a hotel in Sacramento, and it was a rough time. I was a single father, I had split up with my wife. So even though it was a good time as a band it was a fucking hard time. So the kids moved with me to LA and I was going to finish the record there.

We were a good couple of months finishing that record, and then I got a call that Chi had his accident [bassist Chi Cheng was involved in a car crash in 2008 that left him in a coma – he eventually died in 2013]. And then at that point everything was just kind of up in the air.”

“We didn’t know what the future was going to be or what we were going to do. All our thoughts were with Chi and the band was secondary. It took a good five or six months until we discussed the future of the band. It almost wasn’t a question, we all saw each other and the first thing we did was we started talking about Chi and all sort of broke down and really connected. And then from that point we just dove into our creativity, and that’s when we started writing Diamond Eyes, that day.

The Eros record is unfinished, I don’t know if it’ll ever come out. But working on Diamond Eyes felt like a rebirth, that was when we were given our second chance. We realized our mortality, how lucky we were to have the chance to have the platform to make music and have people care about it.

Life is short, our friend is in a coma, and we just put aside all our grieving and everything we were going through and just focused on music. Locked ourselves in a room and we wrote a brilliant record. And that was the second chance we had at our career.”

There’s a whole lot more to be read over at Teamrock.com.

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