Atmosphere on the Side

Chief among the reasons Deftones is one of the most compelling hard-rock acts of the past 15 years is Chino Moreno’s gripping vocals, which often act as a moody, atmospheric foil to the band’s raging guitar riffs. But with Team Sleep -- Moreno’s long-running side project -- pretty much everything is atmospheric: His inimitable voice sidles up to trip-hop, dream pop, shoegaze, and ambient electronic explorations. After years of rumors and delays, the quintet finally put out its self-titled debut album in 2005; the promised follow-up isn’t slated for release any time soon, but Team Sleep does have new material and is currently out on a brief tour. We caught up with Moreno a few days before it began.

So where are you guys at with the next Team Sleep album?
Well, my initial plan was to come off of Deftones and release a Team Sleep record and do some touring on that, but Deftones stuff picked right back up when we got home in August — the next month we started showing up at rehearsals and started writing music again, so obviously, that being my priority, I just picked that right back up. And then I decided that since I’m not gonna try to squeeze in a Team Sleep record between this cycle, I figured I’d at least do some shows, and we’re talking about releasing some free viral EPs.

That’s pretty cool.
Since the last time we toured, everybody’s been writing music, and we trade files over the Net and pretty much create the songs that way. There’s no overhead for it. It’s not like we’ve spent a bunch of money in a studio recording, so why not just give it out for free? Hopefully, at the end of this next Deftones touring cycle, we’ll actually have time to dedicate to Team Sleep, where we’ll be able to go into a studio and do a proper full-length album.

Your desire to tour with Team Sleep a few years ago caused a pretty big rift in Deftones.
Yeah, that was part of it. I think now I’m better at following through and explaining stuff to people and planning things out. The last time, I just kinda bounced out in the middle of making the Deftones record, and I think at that point I was overwhelmed with what we were doing. We had already worked a year and a half on the record in the studio, and we were writing it all in there, and I was so overwhelmed with songs and parts and files . . . I just wanted to get away, and I did. And it was a trying time — it was one of the hardest times of our existence as a band and our friendships and everything — for me to take off, everybody was pretty upset. Me, I didn’t think it was the coolest thing to do, but deep down, I needed to do it. And when I got back after six months, I totally could see everything in a different light and I was totally recharged.

So you’ve found a better balance between everything now?
Yeah. And also, at that time in my life, it was a real downer -- I was getting a divorce.

Sorry to dredge all that up again.
No, it’s cool. It’s reality, is what it is. That’s the way shit was at the time. Today’s a brighter day!

(Monster in the Machine, and Sonny are also scheduled to perform at the event).
Wed., Dec. 12, 7 p.m., 2007