Chino Moreno reflects on the past, present and future of Deftones
26.02.2020

Chino Moreno reflects on the past, present and future of Deftones

Words by Jakeb Smith

The band’s frontman Chino Moreno talks Download Festival, their new album and the unreleased Eros.

Deftones are returning to Australia once again for Download Festival and Chino Moreno couldn’t be more excited.

It’s the fifth time the Sacramento quintet will have played the festival, including its inaugural year in the UK in 2003, long before the festival arrived in Australia in 2018. Speaking from his Los Angeles home, Moreno is upbeat about the prospect of returning. 

“Festivals in general are always exciting. You get to see a lot of different bands and a lot of different vibes. You get a little taste of different flavours. Whether you’re attending it or playing it I think it’s just an event that’s special and when you’re done with it they’re fond memories that you carry with you for years to come. 

“If you ask me, ‘Do you remember when we played that festival there or whatever’. I’m going to think about it for a second but I’ll remember.”

Moreno quickly proves his claim when asked about the Vans Warped Tour in 1999, a festival which had famously brought the likes of Pennywise, 311, and Blink-182 to places like Byron Bay, Coffs Harbour and Ulladulla the year before. 

“Hell yeah!” Moreno exclaims. “Hell yeah, I remember that.

“That was a brilliant time in our history. It was one of the first times actually touring Australia where we drove. We were in a little campervan and we drove from city to city and just seeing the outback was really, really cool and to just experience it on like a different level was really fun. That whole era was really good. I remember Suicidal [Tendencies] was on that tour and just hanging out with them every day was just a good time, man.”

Download punters will get to hear tracks from those early days, possibly all the way through to the band’s latest, yet-to-be-released album.

“We’re just going to try and make it as dynamic as possible and go through the years. We’ve been going there since the late ‘90s so we want to give a taste of our career but never lean too heavy on any one thing. I’d like to play one tune from [the new] record.”

It’ll be a rare insight into the new material, but fans should expect it to continue to push the boundaries of Deftones’ sound. 

“That’s always an undercurrent whenever we try to make music, just to move forward. We’re just trying to expand on what it is that we do. The main thing is trying to not repeat and to not fall easy on whatever works right away. That is basically just like the formula of us making music together. We go inside and make noise and it turns into songs.”

Moreno told Kerrang! last year that the record would be more experimental, along the lines of 2000’s White Pony. Whatever it is, it’s fresh enough to have the veteran singer-songwriter animated.

“We’re just mixing it now and it’s brilliant. I’ve just been listening to it in my truck and it’s exciting. I’m a little jaded by a lot of stuff. I try and find the faults in a lot of stuff. [With this] I can’t find things that feel tired or just rehashed. To me, it sounds fresh and it sounds a little more upbeat than our last record and I think that’s a good thing.

“We’re a band that’s been doing it for 20-plus years and whatever it is – I’m pretty excited about it.”

The new record isn’t the only album fans have been clamouring for, however. Deftones abandoned work on Eros in 2008 when bassist Chi Cheng fell into a coma after a car accident. Cheng died five years later as a result of his injuries and the record has become something of a Holy Grail for fans. 

“The thing about it is: there’s so much mystery surrounding it, right? People probably imagine that it’s like this lost gem of like the most awesome Deftones songs ever. And the reality of it is: there’s some cool stuff on there, there’s some stuff that’s okay, it could be really cool, it would have been awesome if we’d have finished it. 

“It’s not this polished gem that’s sitting in a cupboard somewhere that we’re hoarding to ourselves. It’s kind of this unfinished piece of work.”

It’s obviously a subject which gets broached a lot, as evidenced by the lengthy fan-made YouTube videos dedicated to piecing together quotes, Instagram posts, and supposed bar-room conversations with band members. And while he won’t rule it out, Moreno is conscious of the practical realities of digging into ideas which are over a decade old. 

“In order to do that it would be us abandoning anything we’re working on in the present and go back and open those files and teach [current bassist] Sergio everything that Chi did. I would have to write a bunch of lyrics over songs that are now probably 12 years old or something.

“I can see us revisiting it … I won’t say never, but I can’t say when. And that’s all I can really say.”

Deftones play Download Festival when it hits Melbourne Showgrounds on Friday March 20. Check out the lineup and grab your tickets via downloadfestival.com.au.