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deftones frontman has faith in new band, Crosses
Some performers, to avoid embarrassment, place the name of the city they're playing in prominently on stage.
Chino Moreno could well do the same -- except in his case it would be the name of the band he's with on that particularly night.
Best known as the co-founding frontman for hard rockers deftones, the 40-year-old vocalist also logs time with the bands Team Sleep and Palms. And now he's on the road with yet another group, Crosses (aka), whose debut album comes out Feb. 11 after two preceding EPs.
"My whole thing is just keeping busy, being creative and musical, especially the last three or four years," says Moreno, a Sacramento, Calif., native who now resides with his family in rural Oregon. "I don't know if I was in a slump before, but I wasn't really feeling it. It was like pulling teeth trying to make music for awhile. But now I'm in this creative spurt, and I felt like I haven't wanted to stop. Someone gives me some music, even if it's a piano part with three notes, and I want to instantly react to that."
Moreno credits some of the "spurt" to the November 2008 auto accident that left deftones bassist Chi Cheng in a coma until his death in April at age 42.
"Something like that really puts things in perspective," Moreno explains. "More than anything, it just makes you very thankful to be able to have the opportunity to have what we've had up to this point and not take it for granted and just take advantage of every opportunity ot make music with your friends."
Crosses is indeed a friendly endeavor, started during 2011 in Los Angeles when Moreno stopped by the home studio of Shaun Lopez, an old friend who played in the band Far. Lopez played him some music he'd been working on with fellow musician Chuck Doom, and Moreno "heard something that caught my ear. I said, 'I want to sing on that!' and Chuck and Shaun were like, 'Of course!' I went into the vocal booth, and that was the start of it.
"We ended getting together a few times, and they came over to my house and said, 'If we have a couple more songs, how do you feel about singing on some of that stuff, too?' I was on down time from deftones and was at home and felt like being creative, and what better guys to do it with?"
Crosses' sessions yielded about 20 songs, half of which came out on two free EPs during 2012; the full album will feature those 10 tracks plus five more, which will also appear as a third EP. Crosses -- originally called the Holy Ghost until another band with that name was discovered -- mixes dreamy ambience with hard-hitting heavy rock and plenty of electronics, but Moreno says the sound is "pretty natural," developing simply for "my reaction to the music they gave me."
"It was an experiment and it turned out to be fun," he notes. "We didn't announce it, like, 'Hey, we have a band and it sounds like this or that.' We didn't solicit at all or hype it in any way. We just put it out there and people that wanted to find it found it. It was a very organic, slow-growing process. There wasn't anybody breathing down our shoulders or anything."
With the album coming, of course, that scenario has changed. Crosses has released a video for the song "Bitches Brew" with another just filmed for "The Epilogue," and the group will be part of the Soundwave Festival tour during late February and early March in Australia. But Moreno, who also plans to start work on a new deftones album this year, says the trio is limiting its expectations for the future.
"I think we'll just take it as it comes," he says. "If there's demand for it, we'll do it. But we're excited about it, too. When we finished the third EP and put all the songs together and sequenced them into an album format, I think I listened to it from a different perspective. I really want people to hear this. We've taken the DIY sort of approach up to this point, but now I want as many people to hear it as possible because I'm very proud of it, so it feels like it's a little more for-real now."
Crosses (aka ) performs Monday, Jan. 13, at the Crofoot Ballroom, 1 S. Saginaw St., Pontiac. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 in advance, $20 day of show. Call (248) 858-9333 or visit www.thecrofoot.com.
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