In What Are You Playing This Weekend?, we discuss gaming and such with prominent figures in the pop-culture arena. We always start with the same question.
Chino Moreno, a founding member of the alternative metal band Deftones and the lead singer of the spacey supergroup Palms, doesn’t play video games much anymore. But even though Moreno—third from the left in the above photo—spends more time writing songs than firing up the PlayStation, he still makes room for some Nintendo family time. The Gameological Society caught up with Moreno on his 40th birthday to talk about Nintendo GameCube nostalgia and his new album with Palms.
The Gameological Society: What are you playing this weekend?
Chino Moreno: Mario Kart.
Gameological: Which Mario Kart?
Moreno: This week, I’ve been playing with my daughter. She loves Mario Kart. It’s a great family game that we can play together. There’s also something nostalgic about it. We’re playing the GameCube version, which is a little older. The music in it and the graphics—it’s very nostalgic. I dig it. It’s crazy that it connects to so many generations. My son, who’s 16, will play with us too, and my daughter who’s eight. I turned 40 today. I love video games, they’ve been one of my favorite things since I was a kid—since the first Nintendo and the first Super Mario came out. That was awesome.
Gameological: In an interview you did days after the album White Pony came out, somebody asked you what you do in your spare time. Your immediate answer was playing video games. Then, in an interview you did after your most recent album, Koi No Yokan, came out, and you said music is your hobby. That it’s all you have time for, and you don’t play games anymore. What happened, beside becoming a parent?
Moreno: I realized, even back then, that my musical output wasn’t that much. I really didn’t do that much music. I’d make a record, and then I’d go three years touring the record but wouldn’t do anything in between. There’s something really gratifying about music. It’s like creating something from nothing. Spending an hour with a drum machine in my hand, I can create something that was never created before, and I can do something with that to benefit my life and my career. If I spend an hour in front of Halo, there’s nothing that’s going to change in my life except an hour that I’ll never get back. That’s the dichotomy of where I would usually spend time.
On the tour bus, video games were a big part of that. We used to game a lot with, like, Tony Hawk. When the first one came out, that was when we were making White Pony, and I would say we added a couple months to the record-making process because of that game. We’d be in the lounge playing that thing nonstop. Our producer, Terry Date, would come in and be like, “Come on guys, we got to get this take of this song,” and we’d be like, “All right, just one more minute.” Seriously, the game was ruling our time. As much fun as we had, I realized, especially on the bus, instead of playing a game, you can sit in front of Ableton or [learn] Pro Tools. I tried to inspire my son with the same thing. The time that he spent mastering any one of these games, he can master a recording software like Reason or Fruity Loops.
I don’t want to say I’m completely anti-game, but I realized I could get so much more done by focusing on music. So in hindsight, my musical outlet, whether it be Palms, Crosses, or Team Sleep, any of these projects I do on the side, if I focus my time on that, there’s so much great stuff that can happen.
Gameological: How did Palms come together? How did you start working with the dudes from ISIS?
Moreno: Aaron [Harris], the drummer, and I befriended each other a few years back. We’re just buddies. We have mutual respect for each others’ bands, and we have a lot of stuff musically in common. We both also like to cycle, hike, and run—do outdoors stuff. When ISIS broke up, the band continued on by doing music with three of the guys, and during that time, he asked if I would be interested in adding some vocals to it. It’s not like, “I’m not fulfilled with Deftones so I have to start a new project.” It wasn’t anything like that. It was like, “This is my buddy, these are my friends and we’re hanging out regardless, so why not make some music out of it?” And that’s what we did. It was a very gratifying experience.
Gameological: So what would be the Palms video game? What would it look like?
Moreno: The music is pretty cinematic. There’s a lot of scenery and landscapes in the sonic landscapes. It has an intergalactic feel as well. I’ll say something like Star Fox—some kind of interstellar game where you travel to some planets in different times and space.
Gameological: What’s the record you haven’t had a chance to make yet, that style of music that you have to check off your bucket list?
Moreno: I don’t think about it that black-and-white. It’s not like, “This is something out of confines, so I need to do this.” I actually feel pretty fulfilled with what I do with the Deftones. Although we’re considered a metal band per se, there’s not any sort of influence that would be weird to bring into Deftones, as long as it’s done faithfully, and came in organically and not forced. There’s tons of stuff. I grew up on rap music. I love a lot of hardcore rap. Now, would I ever make a hardcore rap record? Probably not. But I would love to have something to do with one someday, whether it’s creating the music for it, producing, or making the beat, putting something together. That would be fun.
And now, we put the question to you. Tell us what you’ve been playing lately, and which games—video or otherwise—are on your playlist for the weekend.
[Photo: Travis Shinn]