Chino Moreno Talks Dia de los Deftones

The Deftones frontman talks about the band's namesake SD festival and impending new album

Deftones 11.3.18 Alex Matthews (4)
Alex Matthews

It turns out that there are worse places to host your music festival than San Diego's Petco Park, the No. 1 ranked Major League Baseball stadium in the nation according to USA Today (and plenty of locals). Just ask Deftones frontman Chino Moreno, who debuted the band's very own Dia de los Deftones fest at Petco's Park at the Park last year.

"It's super rad. It's a beautiful park and the grounds, where the actual festival's at, are outside and it's a really cool vibe," Moreno said during a recent morning phone call. "Last year was sort of the perfect vibe, I loved the setting, and this year, there will be a few minor tweaks as to where things are situated, but overall the vibe was good so why change it? Let's do it again!"

Amusingly enough, Moreno himself doesn't exactly know why the beloved post-hardcore/shoegaze/rock group -- who came up in the early-'90s via Sacramento and, aside from Moreno, is comprised of guitarist Stephen Carpenter, drummer Abe Cunningham, keyboardist/turntablist Frank Delgado, and bassist Sergio Vega -- chose our fine city as the destination for the band's namesake event (which takes place this year on Saturday, Nov. 2).

"I don't really actually have a definitive answer for that," he said. "It was brought up last year, like 'What do you think about doing it there?' So, we went down maybe six months before the actual festival and looked at the space and the people there were super nice and to get support from the Padres and Live Nation, who we've partnered with on the festival, it was just a super cool vibe down there ... They took us on the field and gave us jerseys and everything with our names on 'em and it was awesome."

Like most everything else they do, Moreno and his bandmates are obsessive about how the day-long fest is presented and received by their fans.

"Yeah, everything from the music we play before we go onstage, to the video projections onstage behind us, to the lighting, to the set list, to the bands we choose to have play with us -- all that stuff, we're very involved in."

Speaking of set lists, Moreno hinted that long-time fans won't be disappointed with the band's song selection come Nov. 2.

"We did definitely talk about going into some deeper cuts especially since this is our show," he said. "We've been playing these one-off festivals where we get like an hour to play -- we've kind of been doing a 'best-of' sets -- but with this show, since we're headlining and it's our festival, we're just digging in and playing some songs we haven't played in a long time, some songs we've never played from our catalog or things we've sort of ignored for one reason or another. Just sprinkling a few of those in here and there and just trying to have fun with that."

As with last year's event, the band is once again rolling out its commemorative Dia de los Deftones collaboration beer with Belching Beaver Brewery (their fourth), which, as a Mexican lager, meets taste buds with a slightly easier-drinking profile than its more aggressive ABV brethren, the Phantom Bride and Digital Bath IPAs and the Good Morning Beautiful brown ale.

"I prefer to drink IPAs. I haven't been into lagers since my early 20s when I was more of a quantity-over-quality guy," Moreno said laughing. "So yeah, lagers were the go-to. But as I started to get into beer culture, it's kind of drawn to hoppier beers. So, a lot of the first beers we made were higher ABV and a lot stronger beers. But we wanted to make something more for 'day-drinking,' just something a little lighter. We figured we'd do a lager ... It's crisp but it's light.

"We did it last year but only did it in kegs and it was limited just for [Dia de los Deftones]," he continued. "But then we ended up canning it ... and I think they're actually doing it full-on [run] now. But yeah, there will be plenty of it there."

As rumors swirl that the band is hard at work on a new album (the highly anticipated follow-up to their eighth studio full-length, 2016's "Gore"), Moreno talked about their progress.

"We've been working on our record for about a year now. We're not doing that thing where we go in and lock ourselves in a room until it's done; we are kind of enjoying our time making it. It's been a cool process, we get together, we work for a couple weeks, whether that's just making noise and coming up with ideas and then everybody just goes home and comes back to work on 'em a little bit more. So, we've been doing that for a little over a year or so.

"This summer, we actually went into the studio and recorded an album's worth of music. So, the music was pretty much done and the last few months have sort of just been working on the lyrics and the melodies and the singing parts. So that's pretty much where we're at right now."

When asked if that's typically how Deftones records come together, the frontman explained that he generally goes into them with an open mind.

"A lot of times when we're making the songs themselves, I'll have a rough jumble of words or melodies or whatever, but kind of the way we've always been is the music has always been the inspiration for the words. For me, I'm not a person who keeps a diary or a journal or a book of poetry or things to draw from, I'm just inspired by the sounds that are coming out and sort of just react to those sounds. It's kind of a mood board in a way. You start piecing it together and that's just usually the way I've always worked. I like to collaborate and be inspired by the people around me, the people I'm making music with.

"It is a little bit more time-consuming because we've made the one part of the record and now it's like starting all over again and making the vocal part of it. It's almost like starting from scratch again and making a whole other record."

Those worried that might translate into an even longer wait time may just be delighted at this next bit.

"It'll definitely be out next year," Moreno said. "I'm hoping that it'll be earlier on in the year, but I feel like once I give a definitive answer or speculate exactly when, I feel like we'll be held to it [laughs] so I kind of want to continue on. Of course, it'll be out next year, hopefully earlier than later. Our biggest thing is making sure that it's good. We'll be performing it, once it's out, for the next two or three years, so we want to be sure it's the best it can be and want to make everyone happy -- including ourselves."

Dia de los Deftones takes place at Petco's Park at the Park on Saturday, Nov. 2, with Deftones, Chvrches, Gojira, Megan Thee Stallion, JPEGMAFIA, Hum, Youth Code and Brutus. It's all-ages. Tickets start at $75 and are available here.

Dustin Lothspeich is SoundDiego's senior associate editor, a San Diego Music Award-winning musician, and talent buyer at The Merrow. Follow his updates on Twitter or contact him directly.

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