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Deftones' Chino Moreno and Sergio Vega on Album Leaks: "Fuck That Shit!"

Deftones' Chino Moreno and Sergio Vega on Album Leaks: "Fuck That Shit!"

Thanks to Hurricane Sandy, Deftones' sold out show tonight at Terminal 5 has been canceled. (A new date, says the band's management, will be announced soon.) The California alt-metal (whatever that means) outfit drops its seventh studio album, Koi No Yokan, on November 13. Following last year's superb Diamond Eyes, it's Deftones' second release since a car accident left bassist Chi Cheng in a coma. The bassist Sergio Vega, of the New York post-hardcore band Quicksand, appears on both albums, and is currently touring with the band. On Sunday night, a few hours before Deftones crushed a 20-song-set at the Electric Factory in Philadelphia, I chatted backstage with Vega and frontman Chino Moreno. See Also: - Deftones: Here Comes the Rain - Offering a master class in outperforming a storm - How To Make A Crowd Not Mind That They're In The Middle Of A Torrential Rainstorm, By The Deftones

A storm is coming, but hopefully your New York show won't be canceled. Having been on the road for over 20 years now, are you used to this sort of shit happening?

Chino Moreno: Yeah. I think it makes it more interesting. It puts a bit of fire under our toes. The show is always the highlight of our day, but all the stuff around it can become very routine. A storm like this provides something uncertain, something unpredictable for us to think about and talk about.

H.R. of Bad Brains came out on stage a few days ago in Baltimore to play a song with you. Was that the first time he's done that?

Moreno: He's actually done it with us before. I got an email from one of his guys a few weeks ago asking if we wanted to do it. He asked if we were covering "Right Brigade," which we hadn't done in like 15 years. So we re-learned it real quick and did it. H.R. is one of my biggest influences; he's one of my favorite frontmen. I love the way he sings and his style and he just transcends so many different genres. His vocal delivery is very rhythmic and dynamic. He's always just doing his own thing.

H.R.'s a trip, man. The trippiest thing is hanging out with him before the show--just hanging out with him backstage, sitting on the couch, like we're doing now. He's a man of very few words, and everything he says can be taken in many different ways. A lot of times you don't know if he's mad--he wears his sunglasses and stays in this kind of meditative state all the time--so you don't know if he's praying or sleeping or what. And then all of a sudden he'll just start talking. He's definitely an interesting person to be around.

Back in high school, when you first started playing music, did you ever think you'd one day be sharing a stage with someone like H.R.?

Moreno: I actually had the chance to meet him even before our first record came out. We got a spot opening for them when they reunited for the God Of Love album. It only lasted like 10 shows because H.R. ended up getting thrown in jail in Lawrence, Kansas. So I met those guys pretty early on. The first famous people I ever met were H.R. And Madonna. I met Madonna a few months before H.R. It was the first time I went to L.A. and I got pulled into her office because she wanted to sign us. It was such a crazy thing to be sitting there talking to a woman whose posters I used to have up in my room as a kid.

Koi No Yokan is about to drop, and there's some incredibly vague information floating around on the Internet about how it's inspired by the apocalypse. Is that true?

Moreno: I think somebody made that up. But we actually do sit around and talk about post-apocalyptic type of stuff a lot. We're way into those theories and conspiracies. When we were making this record we were talking about the Mayan end of the world thing, but we would never take it so seriously that we'd make a concept album or something. We're not really capable of doing that. For me, I get too confined creatively; I can't do something that has to stay within the boundaries of a preconceived idea. I automatically turn left from that because it makes me feel trapped.

Sergio Vega: Yeah, the concept ends up taking over the music. We just want to be free to do whatever we want, and wouldn't want to be locked into a concept record.

 

What does the title mean?

Moreno: It's a Japanese term that roughly translates to "a premonition of love." It's slightly poetic, I think. The word to me sounds intriguing. When you're trying to pick the name for an album it's always hard because you have to pick something that somehow blankets the entire project. It's about the feeling of love at first sight, or that tingly feeling--whoever's been lucky enough to feel that way knows this feeling. And I think the music has a connection to that. The music's not necessarily built around that idea, but when I look at the album now, I see a lot of warmth in it.

Vega: There's something cool about the subtlety of the premonition of love versus love at first site. It's more restrained, and there's more of a sense of anticipation. It really resonates with these songs, I think.

Have either of you personally experienced this feeling?

Moreno: Yes, I have. I don't want to get too personal, but I've definitely had that feeling before. Like Sergio was saying, it's something to look forward to. When you feel something like that, there's an excitement that there's something new in the future. It's optimistic, I guess. I don't really know how to explain it. Along with the music, it's a perfect marriage of an idea and melody.

This sounds nothing like the apocalypse, and much more uplifting.

Moreno: We just made a batch of songs that capture a moment in our existence; I feel like we were all in a very good place in our lives. We'd just gotten off a year and a half of touring the Diamond Eyes record, which we were all really excited about. We got a lot of positive feedback and the tour was successful. We'd been on a roller coaster for quite some time--with Chi's accident and other things going on. This felt like we were just trying to get comfortable again and have fun making a record.

I think that we rebuilt that foundation completely when we did Diamond Eyes; it felt like we reached the peak of feeling good again. When we got off the tour, we didn't want to stop. We took a few months off and went right back into the studio to write new music. We wanted to capture that whirlwind of energy. The music came out very easily, unlike in the past, where we've had to really sit down and work for a long time. There were so many good ideas, it was hard to pick which ones to use. We just followed our guts and this is where we ended up.

Vega: Diamond Eyes really galvanized us. We went into the studio and were really excited. We had so many cool ideas, and it felt like the wind was behind our backs and we had to keep going. The songs bubbled up very organically. There's definitely an uplifting feeling to the songs, but not overtly talking about how great everything is.

 

Did you have more of an active role in the creative process on Koi No Yokan, or did that already happen with Diamond Eyes?

Vega: Everyone in the band was open to new ideas right from the beginning, back when we did Diamond Eyes. We just started jamming. It was very comfortable. I hold these guys in such high regard as people and musicians; they have such great energy, and it's very exciting to be around them.

Moreno: Sergio was involved in the process from day one. We didn't hand him these finished songs to play when he first joined the band. He came in and we were like "What's up dude, glad you're here, let's play." We started writing new music that day. When we decided we were going to carry on as a band, Sergio was one of the deciding factors. We'd played together before, and he's a great bass player with great energy and ideas. It was very natural; we just started playing. There wasn't even much talking involved and we just started making sounds. Diamond Eyes and the new album were both very much a collaborative effort.

I haven't heard the full album yet, just the two songs you've released online, "Leathers" and "Tempest."

Moreno: The label didn't get you a copy?

No, they didn't want to share it with me. They must not think I'm cool enough.

Moreno: They've been really tight about it, but you know what? It hasn't fucking leaked yet. Two weeks out, and no leak. That's crazy. It bugs me out, because even albums I really like, I find them online months before they come out. Every morning I wake up to see if our album has leaked. There are a bunch false leads, but it hasn't happened yet. I'm impressed.

When I was 16-years-old listening to Adrenaline, I didn't even know computers existed. How has leak culture and declining album sales impacted the band?

Moreno: It's definitely changed things, but we were never really a band that relied on album sales. We've always relied on going out on tour and doing shows; that's always been our livelihood. Downloading and stuff has definitely impacted us; our finances have definitely been cut in half, if not more. We did it right in the beginning, though, by going out and building a strong fan base out on the road. We do that with every record, and we're still able to make a living because of it. We never had to rely on just record sales. We still make money from sales, but we make much less now.

Would it piss you off if the new album leaked tomorrow?

Moreno: Yeah, it would definitely upset me. I can understand the excitement of people wanting to hear it, but I don't think people understand what they're really taking for free. The album is six months of my life, and I put a lot of hard work into creating it. I was at the studio every single day, singing parts 15 or more times to make sure it's correct, you know? It does piss me off. And it's not so much about the money, but it's like "Who the fuck is this motherfucker giving away my shit for free?" It's like somebody going into your house, stealing something, and then giving it to someone else.

Vega: People try to act like it's taking some sort of political stance against the opulence of the music industry, but that's bullshit.

Moreno: But once it's out, it's out, and people are gonna share it. Our music is meant to be shared, so I don't really mind. I want people to buy it, of course. But it's that one motherfucker who leaks it that's ripping us off. Fuck that shit!

Vega: Yeah, fuck that shit!

Deftones show tonight at Terminal 5 has been cancelled. We'll let you know when a rescheduled date has been confirmed.


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Terminal 5

610 W. 56th St.
New York, NY 10019

212-260-4700

www.terminal5nyc.com


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