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Chino Moreno Of DeftonesClemente Ruiz

Deftones’ Chino Moreno Talks On His Early Clashes With Hardcore Kids, Unreleased Palms Material & Madonna Gifting Him A Naked Poster


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Deftones frontman Chino Moreno appears as the guest on the latest episode of ‘The Peer Pleasure Podcast‘ with Dewey Halpaus of (Portugal. The Man, etc. fame). The wide-ranging conversation, which you can hear at the above link or the embedded player below, delved deep into Moreno‘s creative process, his inspirations, his reluctance to social media and more.

When asked about the pointed turn away from the nü-metal scene that the Deftones made with their platinum-selling 2000 album “White Pony“, Moreno revealed that it wasn’t just not wanting to be lumped into that genre that motivated the band to step outside themselves:

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“When we made ‘White Pony‘, it was definitely an answer to what sort of what was happening around us. Like I think we sort of were a little tired of the music at that point as far as like, not even so much the sound of it—I mean probably the sound too—but I think the whole of idea of this music that was so tortured…

If you listen to something by most ‘nü-metal music’ it’s so tortured. And at the point we made ‘White Pony‘ I was probably in my late 20s or something like that. And like our first record [‘Adrenaline‘], some of those songs I wrote when I was sixteen-years-old, so we’re talking about eleven years later and I can’t be singing about my childhood or whatever. I was an adult. I lived on my own. I toured, had been touring the world. I wasn’t a kid that was like bullied or whatever.

Art didn’t come from a tortured place for me or  just something I needed to get off my chest. Like art was something, music was something, like experimental and exploring and taking you away from whatever. So the last thing I want to do is make music coming from some vulnerable place.

And not to dis anybody out there because I understand that music is therapeutic for a lot of people, but that’s just not where I was. I don’t think that’s where we were as a band.

So when we made that record, I looked at it as we were just sort of pioneering something, but not with a preconceived idea of what we were doing, we just knew that we wanted to venture out and spread our wings a bit and just go different places. We didn’t know where, just different places.”

He would also go on to speak on how clashes with the local hardcore scene in Sacramento, CA during the band’s early years in part fueled the aggression found on their 1995 platinum-selling debut album, “Adrenaline“. That conversation started when he was asked if he was bullied when he was younger, he offered:

“No. Not at all, not at all. I understand that some people were and you know, the music that they make is therapeutic for them for that reason, so I would never say anything negative about that. But I just I just knew that that wasn’t me so if you listen to our first record, you hear a song like ‘Seven Words‘ or something like that, you know I’m angry, I’m sorta angry at society. I mean maybe it is a form of bullying but it’s like when people just like sort of don’t believe in you and stuff like that whatever and people kind of talk shit.

I went through that thing where there were a lot of bands, like you know some of the other groups, especially the hardcore kids and stuff like, that were straightedge kids or whatever—if that’s what you do, that’s great, whatever—but I remember a lot of those kids had beef with me, they tried to fuck with me.

They’re like kind of on their whole kick like whatever, blah blah, and that just wasn’t me either and I just didn’t get along with them. So I got a in a few fights. It was like a year of my life I remember where I was just getting in fights like a lot

And this was around right before we got signed, but we were sort of like a big group as far as in Sacramento. We were well known and all our shows, we would sell them out, a lot of people would come to our shows.

And then with that came in a little bit of backlash and jealousy from a lot of the hardcore kids who had been toughing it out for years and doing whatever, but so had we. But we weren’t in their clique ,we weren’t hardcore. We were us, we’ve always been us.

And we didn’t fit along with their agenda so we’d be at parties, and things would like… I used to get in straight up fist fights. And then one day I just decided I’m not gonna fight anymore. Like if I have to I would, but I just realized like what does it matter.

So I guess that could be a form of bullying in a way or sort of getting messed with or whatever. But back to what I was saying, is our first record, I think there was a lot of that angst and that anger kind of like you know like fuck you, whatever…

But after a while that sort of like dissipated and it’s like why would I make music concerned about someone who’s going to say something negative? Or just base my whole sort of emotions off that. Even in Deftones records now its not like it’s all happy music at all times. There’s still a little discontent and certain things in there and dark themes and imagery sprinkled in there.

But it can’t be that all the time, it can’t be anything all the time, I think it has to be true to how the music sounds and the music is kind of what inspires every single word that comes out when I’m sitting down writing.

It’s just like ‘how do these notes make me feel?” I mean I don’t actually say that to myself, but I kind of just write as I’m going. And in retrospect I sit back and look at it go ‘oh’ you know what I mean? Some certain things will come out but it’s pretty much just me responding to the the song. The sounds of what we make.”

Speaking further of his clashes with members of the hardcore scene, he commented

“I wouldn’t say it was any specific gangs. It was just other kids, they were all my same age, so they were just kids too, but in like other bands. But their music of choice was like hardcore music.

I know a lot more about it [hardcore music] now then at the time, like I didn’t know much about hardcore music. When I heard it it just sounded like metal music to me whatever but it had a message I guess to it, which is great.

Please don’t don’t get me wrong, like I’m hating on hardcore music. But I’m just saying at the time when I was a kid I didn’t know it because I wasn’t in the same scene as them.

But I just remember there was a couple individuals who were just dicks or whatever, so I shouldn’t say it was all them, it was just a couple dicks. And it would probably mostly stem from like we’ve all been making music since you know we were like young teenagers and now like Madonna is signing our band. So they were probably just like ‘fuck these dudes. Why are they getting attention?'”

Sadly his 1997 guest appearance on Strife‘s 1997 album “In This Defiance” was not broached as a possible connection or reaction to that. The conversation then steered to his personal relationship with Madonna, who headed up the band’s early label home of Maverick Records. He revealed that she gave him a poster of herself naked, offering of it:

“I have it in my house, a poster that she gave me. A naked poster of herself—I don’t know if it was ever for sale—it’s not like lewd or anything, it’s sort of a portrait kind of thing that she signed for me and I cherish that thing.

I was a little kid that loved Madonna, Micheal Jackson, Prince. That’s mega iconic shit so that don’t think at any point that I was not tripped out when I would hang out with her. I would bug the fuck out.”

Speaking later on his time with Palms, a group which united him with various former members of Isis, he went on to say that he felt the material they made together generally translated better live. Speaking of his time with the group, he said:

“We did it with the intentions of it not being a band… It was just fun. I’m hanging out with my friend [Aaron Harris], we’re just experimenting and making music. But it wasn’t like a band. It was a bunch of music that they’d already been jamming on and I just sang over what they had.

I didn’t have any part in the creating of the songs themselves or whatever or playing guitar. Eventually we played live and I played guitar and I felt like the live version of that a lot better because it was more bombastic and dynamic I think.

But yeah, it was tough because the expectations of what that could have been. I personally felt a little bit let down. So if I felt that way, then I know that a lot of other people must have felt that same way too.

But that being said, I’m glad I did it. It was super fun and we actually wrote a few songs now—ones that we did together as a group—and we probably got like four or five tunes of those that we started working on, that we’ve done some recording on them actually; and then kind of paused it out because I had to go in and do a Deftones record or whatever. We weren’t able to get around to it.

We still may at some point, because obviously the songs are there and it’s kind of up to me to write some more vocals and stuff over it. But its actually a lot more a mix of Isis and Deftones type of thing, its a lot more guitar-driven I guess you’d say—distorted guitar, dynamic.”

Deftones will be releasing their ninth studio album “Ohms” on September 25th.

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