Chino Moreno on ††† (Crosses), Cult Movies, the Supernatural and Creating New Deftones Songs

Categories: Q&A

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Jim Louvau
Chino Moreno of Deftones and ††† (Crosses).
As a frontman and songwriter, Chino Moreno tends to go all out -- be it physically, emotionally, and especially vocally, whether it's his tempestuous banshee-like screams and wails or his sultrier crooning.

Deftones, the alt-metal band he's most famous for fronting, has successfully created a brand of smoldering sound that blends heavy metal, post-punk, art rock and a touch of hip-hop.

The result touches a wide audience, offering up a style that appeals to the pop rock fans with its psychedelic and ethereal vibe, yet still severe and powerful enough for the metalheads. Over the course of almost 15 years and seven albums, the Deftones have experienced immense success -- and loss, most recently with the death of bassist Chi Cheng last year who was in a car-accident induced coma since 2008. Now working on a new album, it will be interested to see the musical direction.

Moreno has been involved in an array of other side projects, like Team Sleep, a rock band that incorporates a healthy dose of electronica and imaginative lyrical imagery; Palms, a mellow yet gritty brand of American rock-meets-California dreaming; and ††† (Crosses).

Comprised of Moreno, Shaun Lopez (of Far) and Chuck Doom, it's hard to pin down specifically what sort of music fan this electronic trio is aimed at. Listening to the band gives you that heart-pounding, dream-like feeling of being haunted and in love, all at once. The act started out as a fun project before the realization hit that the music was something to be shared, and the musicians went on to release EP 1 (2011) and EP 2 (2012), all with song titles that replaced the letter "t" with their signature dagger-like crosses.

This past February, the band released its debut full-length album, full of remastered versions of songs from the two EPs as well as five new songs that were originally to be released as EP 3. While fans might be disappointed that they've heard half the music on the album before, it hasn't stopped ††† from selling out venues in Chicago, NYC and Nashville, scheduling a performance at Coachella, and kicking off their current tour at SXSW.

Tomorrow night, ††† will venture to Crescent Ballroom. Up On the Sun spoke with Moreno recently regarding the project, Deftones, and other subjects.

How was South by Southwest for you guys?

It was good! It was my first time experiencing it actually. There was tons of different stuff besides music, but there was also all types of music. It was one of those festivals where there's a wide variety of music to check out. I just kinda like, experienced it as a fan, walking around checking stuff out in different spot.

How did the concept for ††† come about?

It pretty much started with these other two guys, Shaun [Lopez] and Chuck [Doom], who had been working on some new music for a while. Obviously I had known Shaun for a long time, he does guitar in a band called Far. He also produced some of the Saturday Night Wrist record for Deftones.

We had always talked about doing something together, but it just so happened that one time I went to his studio and he happened to be working with Chuck on some music that was to become ††† and I liked what I heard. I asked if they had a singer and they didn't, so we tossed around some ideas and I threw down a couple songs. A couple songs turned into a few more songs, and then....it all happened over a long period of time, like a year and a half, of just us meeting up at random times and recording a little more here and there.

At that point I didn't really have an idea if it was going to be a band or just a project, um, and we were just taking it day by day. Before you knew it we had an album's worth of material, so we decided to split it up and put out some EPs for free and released it under the radar without any big information on it; nothing on social media or like that. We just put it out to be like, "Hey people, check it out." And it just sort of spread by word-of-mouth which is kinda cool, especially because we didn't have too much pressure on it since it started like just a project.

I've been following ††† a bit from the beginning, and I know you've mentioned in the past that there's a lot of reference to religion, and that you guys were watching a lot of classic cult horror while recording songs. Those two things often go hand-in-hand. Can you elaborate a little bit on how both of those things came into play as an influence?

Well the music itself has a certain vibe to it. I mean, it sort of has those occurrences that are already in them musically. And yeah, we just sort of ran with it since we always had some really cool visuals going on in the room when we were working, whether it was movies, other music or just imagery. We just ran with that vibe. We didn't think about it ahead of time. It just came out that way. The record was sort of a product of its environment, which was fun. All three of us were really into that at the time; sharing these visuals.

So what specific cult horror movies were you watching that you feel affected the songs specifically?

It wasn't even so much horror movies actually. A couple were -- it was mostly just like more cult movies in general. The Holy Mountain is a big influence on the record, by Alejandro Jodorowsky. It's pretty out there. I've been a big fan of a lot of his movies for awhile, but that one in particular is, very influential on the album, at least aesthetically. But even you know, watching Russ Meyer films, like '60s cult movies.

And mainly it was just at a time where, you know, we're still doing our own thing but we were all looking for new, older movies that we might have missed, because that's sort of a hobby that we all share. If someone finds a movie we share it, and that was sort of the catalyst for bringing us together besides music.



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