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Deftones Singer Talks New Album, Chi Cheng and the Concert That Changed His Life (EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW)

Kael Amaro/STR

For almost 25 years now, the Deftones have been cranking out some of the most exciting and unique metal on the planet. They’ve influenced a score of bands and carved out a legacy that few other artists in the realm of heavy music can claim.

Besides gearing up for the Nov. 13 release of Koi No Yokan, their seventh studio album, Deftones have been keeping busy out on the road. The group recently wrapped up a short tour with System of a Down, and on Sept. 22, they’ll be playing the annual Epicenter festival in Irvine, Calif.

With so much going on in the Deftones camp, Noisecreep decided it was the ideal time to catch up with vocalist Chino Moreno. During our chat, the singer also talks about his feelings for Chi Cheng, the Deftones bassist who remains in a partially conscious state following a 2008 car accident.

Chino, your band just got off a short tour with System of a Down. How did it go?

It was great! I just wish it was a little longer. It was out first time put playing in a little over a year while we’ve been off writing and recording our record, so it felt good in the first place to get back on stage. It was only about nine shows with System but we got our feet wet again and reminded ourselves what is like to be out there playing every night, which is what bands have to do.

And then you have the big Epicenter show coming up with Stone Temple Pilots, Bush, Hollywood Undead and a bunch of other bands. That’s quite a diverse lineup.

Oh yeah. We’re adaptable – wherever you put us we’ll get it done. But the lineup is great for Epicenter so it will be cool to see some friends, and also the range of bands is really cool, too. I’m sure the fans will like it. Whatever you’re into, it’s there for you.

Watch Deftones’ ‘Rocket Skates’ Video
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There’s so much anticipation about Koi No Yokan. What can you tell us about the album?

We were coming out of a tough time, obviously, and our goal was to kind of rebuild what we created over all the years. I felt like we had to prove ourselves. We’d taken so much time between records, had some inner turmoil and our records were starting to get pieced together versus really being created together, so for us it was a chance to get back to basics. We didn’t have an idea of what sort of style we wanted. We just came in fired up and motivated to do something great. It was all very positive. We had more songs than ever, tons of ideas.

Can we expect any b-side cover tunes this time out?

Yes, we have worked up a big list of covers to cut a few b-sides coming up in the desert next week. There are so many of them, we just sat around the picnic table out back building a list. Sort of crazy, we haven’t decided yet since we record in a few days, but we’ll get it done. And the range of songs you would not believe.

So the Elvis Presley and Earth, Wind & Fire covers rumors might be true?

Like I said, you would not believe the range [laughs].

Watch Deftones’ ‘Bored’ Video

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Chino, talk about Chi Cheng, your good friend and band mate. You must have thought about him so much during the sessions for Koi No Yokan.

It’s not just music, it’s every day life. When I was 17-years-old, I moved out of my parents’ house and moved in with him. We’ve been best friends most of my life. I’ll just be doing some random thing in my life and he’s always in my thoughts. The whole band feels very strongly about him and he’s always been a part of things. The main thing we try to do is keep a positive attitude because it’ not like he died – it’s more or less he’s still alive and fighting and we all have hope- that’s the way we handle things.

Lastly, was there a band or a show that changed your life when you were just coming up?

Lucky enough for me, my first concert was probably my favorite band to this day, Depeche Mode, on the Violator tour. It was at huge amphitheater so it was a really big show. I worked my way up to the front. It was loud, the lights, my favorite band – it was just larger than life. At the time, we hadn’t really started the band yet, but it was in my mind then. But the theatrics and power of it really influenced. To me, the sound from their earliest records has always been special. They didn’t use typical sounds, they’d sample some strange percussion, unconventional instrumentation. I liked early hip-hop, but to me, this was so much more – the instrumentation, the dark lyrics – and all those things still make Depeche Mode my favorite band, even today.

Watch Depeche Mode’s ‘Personal Jesus (Live)’ Video
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Deftones’ seventh album, Koi No Yokan, will hit stores on Nov. 13.

Tour dates:

9/22/2012 – Irvine, CA – Epicenter Festival
9/23/2012 – Sacramento, CA – Aftershock Festival

Headline Tour:

10/9/2012 – Ventura, CA – Ventura Theatre
10/10/2012 – San Francisco, CA – Warfield
10/12/2012 – Portland, OR – Roseland Ballroom
10/13/2012 – Seattle, WA – Showbox SODO
10/14/2012 – Vancouver, BC – Commodore
10/16/2012 – Boise, ID – Knitting Factory
10/17/2012 – Salt Lake City, UT – In The Venue
10/19/2012 – Denver, CO – Fillmore Auditorium
10/20/2012 – Kansas City, MO – Harrah’s
10/21/2012 – Columbia, MO – Blue Note
10/23/2012 – Chicago, IL – Aragon Ballroom
10/24/2012 – Royal Oak, MI – Royal Oak Music Theatre
10/26/2012 – Baltimore, MD – Rams Head Live
10/28/2012 -Philadelphia, PA – The Electric Factory
10/29/2012 – Boston, MA – HOB Boston
10/30/2012 – New York, NY – Terminal 5

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