††† (Crosses), the side-project of Deftones frontman Chino Moreno and multi-instrumentalist and producer Shaun Lopez, have spoken to NME about what to expect from their new album and upcoming live shows.
The duo, who released their self-titled debut album in 2014, announced their return in December by signing a new deal with Warner Records and releasing a cover of Q Lazzarus’ ‘Goodbye Horses’. Then last month, they shared two brand new original songs, ‘Initiation’ and ‘Protection‘. ‘Initiation’ was described by the LA band as “a soundtrack for uncertain times”, while ‘Protection’ “digs deeper into their influences and electronic textures with its masterful production”.
“We couldn’t just put out one song, because there are so many different moods and vibes to what we’ve been working on and we just want to show everything,” Lopez told NME. “We want to show our different sides and these two songs are quite different from one another. The thing that ties them together is Chino’s voice.”
Asked if they had a new album’s worth of material ready to drop, Moreno replied: “I think there’s beyond a record in the can. It’s just about us now picking and choosing when and how to release it. The idea now is just to slowly put out ‘singles’ and little batches of songs over a long period of time, and then at some point to accumulate it into a full-length record.”
Following on from the rock-tinged electronica meets dream-pop sound of their first album, Moreno said that the next record shares a similar spirit of them “geeking out on sounds” and “trying to steer away from stuff being either too contemporary or too retro”.
“There are certain sounds that we’re drawn to, and that has quite a lot to do with the music we grew up listening to,” he said. “Shaun and I have pretty similar tastes. It’s about using all of those influences, but not making something that sounds like it has been made for today or is trying to sound like the past.
“We’re just taking those influences and running them through us. The moods that we try to create tend to come from quite a stark place. It’s not the most colourful music in the world, but once we tap into it it’s hard to go anywhere else. We just dive deeper into the darkness. We just run with it. It feels organic.”
Moreno also explained how the departure from Deftones’ harder rock sound isn’t necessarily the reason that he’s part of Crosses, but more for the spirit of collaboration.
“I’m not the type of person who makes a lot of music by himself,” he said. “I’m not a solo artist and all of my projects have been me working with different people. Different people bring out different things in me, so it’s never really comparable. It’s just that collaborating with people is one of my favourite things. Given that Shaun and I have known each other since our late teens, we’ve always had a musical kinship.”
Looking back to their formation in 2011, he said: “He was known as the guitarist in a rock band and I was known as the singer in a hard rock band. I love the fact that his musical tastes were a lot broader than what we were doing at the time. I’ve always been inspired by electronic music, even before I was in Deftones.
“We always have this idea to create some sort of music that wasn’t guitar-oriented. I’ve spent most of my life singing over loud guitars, so this just gives me a different palette to use my voice on. I wouldn’t say it’s better or worse, it’s just different and fun.”
The duo also discussed how their self-titled 2014 debut has since taken on somewhat of a cult status, taking pride in how “given that it is almost 10-years-old, it doesn’t feel dated” and hoping for the same from the next album.
“I listened to that last record as we were finishing up some of the new stuff,” said Lopez. “I think it’s important to check yourself and remind yourself of certain things – like there must be a reason why people still love this record and are still discovering it. Are these new songs on the same level?”
Moreno agreed: “I’m really proud of that record, and it’s neat that it came out in quite a soft way,” said Moreno. “We released an EP, people found it themselves, then we released some more with the last one coinciding with the full-length album.
“That’s the plan with this one too: drop a couple songs, then a couple more, then just keep going until we have the full spectrum of a record. That’s a fun way to do it. We’re slowly but surely putting it out with no urgency to it. We made the record gradually over a few years, so I have no problem releasing it that way either.
After their hopes of a full tour to promote the last album didn’t work out, Moreno confirmed that they were “super eager” to hit the road this time and that plans were coming together.
“We have some players who we’ve played with before and some other players in mind,” he said. “This record was pretty much made with all the instrumentation done by just Shaun and myself. We take that and make a live version of it. I’ve seen it with so many bands where their record sounds great and live it’s a rock version of that. That’s definitely not what we want to do. It’s a very fine line of how you bring electronic music into a live format and bring live instrumentation to it, but not making it rock.”
Lopez added: “There was a song we were working on. I put some live-sounding drums on it to make the chorus explode a bit, and Chino was like, ‘I don’t know man, it’s cool the way it is, it’s making it too much like needing to remind people that we’re a rock band and we’re not’.”
As for when to expect more new music, Moreno said to anticipate another two new songs towards the end of April while the band “find a pace and keep them coming.”
Asked about the direction of the upcoming pair of tracks, Moreno replied: “They’re different, I will say that. One of the songs specifically is one that Shaun sent me and told me he didn’t think I would like. Sometimes he’ll send me something and I’ll just throw some ideas and vocals on it and have it back to him in like four minutes.
“Out of all the Crosses material of the past, one of them is a little more uplifting and less cerebral. It has this vibe that we hadn’t tapped into before, but once we dug into it we made it feel very much like us but just from a different angle. It’s coming out just before the summer, so I’m excited about that.”
He added: “With each release, the picture of what this record is will come more into focus – for both the listener and ourselves. It’s going to be pretty exciting.”
Back in December 2020, ††† (Crosses) also shared a cover of Cause & Effect’s ‘The Beginning Of The End’.
Deftones’ last record was 2020’s acclaimed ‘Ohms‘. It was recently announced that the band had parted ways with bassist Sergio Vega, and that they’d be cancelling upcoming shows in Russia and Ukraine due to the ongoing war. The metal icons have a stacked summer of US and European tour dates this summer, including a return to Download Festival in the UK. Visit here for tickets and more information.