Deftones are back, sounding more brutal than ever. Singer Chino Moreno tells Mark Beaumont about their return
Chino Moreno, alt-metal icon and renowned nice man of rock, has been making music with his group Deftones for close to 30 years, but there’s still a sense of marvel as he recounts their creative process. “I react to the noise the guy next to me is making and he reacts back,” he explains. “There’s no sound an hour or two prior, and the next thing we know we walk out of the room with a song.”
Four years on from FX-laden ‘Koi No Yokan’, the Sacramento group’s eighth album ‘Gore’ – out this week – takes a brutal, punchy approach to the art of epic alienation. When Deftones – often dubbed the metal Radiohead – make music, the rock community rushes to devour, dissect and analyse it for signs of the future. They’re the thrashers who set hard rock on a fresh course by experimenting with glitch and trip-hop on 2000’s seminal ‘White Pony’, and they’ve since pushed boundaries into psychedelia, electronica and shoegaze.
This time, it feels like they’ve come out of the studio in fighting mode – the singles ‘Prayers/Triangles’ and ‘Doomed User’ are two of the heaviest, most intense tracks they’ve released. According to Moreno, that might be down to the band treating the studio like a pressure cooker. “The majority of the record was very reactionary,” he says. “I feel like the weight lifted when we were done recording, because the creating of the music, as fun as it may be, it’s taxing in a lot of ways.”
The band hit the UK in the summer for a set of shows, including a second-headliner slot to the mighty Black Sabbath at Download, rumoured to be the last ever show from Ozzy’s lot. Chino is suitably awed. “If it wasn’t for them we wouldn’t be talking to you now,” he admits. “We toured with them in 1995 and even back then I was like, ‘Man, Ozzy is kinda getting up there.’ That he’s still kicking out the jams is impressive.”
Like Sabbath, Moreno can’t see Deftones doing this for the rest of their lives. “I certainly wouldn’t want to carry on forever,” he says. “The fact we’re still out there making music is far beyond what I could have imagined when we started out, but to imagine doing it for another 20 or 30 years? I’m not sure about that!”