Chino Moreno (Deftones) and Shaun Lopez (Far) of ††† (Crosses) discuss their surprise-filled new album, featuring Robert Smith of The Cure and El-P from Run the Jewels. The Crosses duo talks about crafting ‘Goodnight, God Bless, I Love U, Delete.’ as a journey, wanting listeners to play it on repeat. Chino and Shaun share stories behind the collaborations with Robert Smith and El-P, and how they came about organically late in the writing process.
Donny Fandango from 105.7 The Point and the guys from ††† (Crosses) discuss their personal lifelong friendship and how that influences their experimental, playful approach to music-making together. Shaun and Chino talk about their love of studio experimentation, geeking out over instruments, packing layers of sound into “headphone records,” and striving for albums that reveal something new on every listen.
Check out the complete transcript from the interview:
Donny: Chino and Shaun. Donny from The Point in St. Louis. How you gentlemen doing today?
Chino: What’s up, Donny? So good.
Donny: Well, first and foremost, I would like to, let you know that I listened to this album this morning from start to finish and then start to finish again. And it’s really freaking fantastic. The album is called Good Night, God Bless, I Love You, Delete. and out on Friday (**EDIT** Out Now). So I think the first thing is, gentlemen, nicely done. It’s a great freaking record.
Chino and Shaun: Thanks, man. Thanks. Thank you.
Chino: Also, I like the idea that you listened to it and, started it over again. I’ve done the same thing. I feel like the way the record is sort of sequenced and that’s kind of the thing that we miss, I think making albums where you feel like you kind of go through a journey and then at the end you kind of want to start it over again. So I’m glad that was your experience.
Donny: It absolutely was. And I tell you one of the things because I do our new music show here at the radio station, so like, I’m constantly listening to things every day, every week. And I get so in the habit of listening to a single or two that, man, when you get that record that really catches you from start to finish, honestly, it brings me back to being a younger guy, getting a CD or a cassette tape and putting it in and going along for the ride. and so I’m kind of trying to go back to that a bit.
“Shaun and I have been friends since our late teens”
Donny: But one of the things that I wanted to ask you guys first and foremost is when this Crosses thing started for you guys a decade or more ago, was the idea just a couple of buddies making music and seeing what happens? Did you have sort of an idea of where you wanted this to go or was it just kind of like a fun thing that turned into something?
Chino: Definitely, the latter. We didn’t have this giant plan other than Shaun and I. we’ve been friends since our late teens and, we both grew up in Sacramento and we friended each other pretty young and both in bands playing music and always wanted to do something together, but never really just got it together. and he moved down to Los Angeles. I followed soon after. And we lived in the same neighborhood. And I’d always just go over to his house and just see what he’s working on. And, one time I went over there and he was working on some stuff, and I got involved somehow, and we just started making stuff, like you said, for fun and, kind of put it out there, kind of unsolicited and, just kind of put an EP out on the Internet without really telling anybody about it and kind of let people discover themselves. And it felt like a very organic sort of way to do music. And it kind of kept the fun in it as well, because there wasn’t these big expectations of, here’s another project. It’s more like if you find it and you like it, great.
Donny: Right? I wonder about that.
“Are you guys experimenting a lot in the studio with new equipment?”
Donny: I want to hit on that real quick, Chino, because I really like when you guys have things like this, because, honestly, it feels like, as a fan, I feel not only that the love that you have for the music that you’re making, but just the love of making music in general. And can you kind of talk about what that’s like to be free to record and not have the pressure overhead for it to just be to make you and Shaun happy and that’s it?
Chino: Yeah. I mean, it’s lovely when you can be in that predicament, you know what, you usually once you get record, labels and management and all this other stuff, which is very lovely. But that’s when a lot of the pressure of meeting deadlines and things like that kind of come in. And sometimes that can be helpful for us because it gives us a little nudge to finish things up. but other than that, yes, it’s a privilege to be able to make music, and it not be, in a situation where it’s dire. It’s just something that is a passion. So we’re very lucky for that.
Donny: Absolutely. And it seems as though, and please correct me if I’m wrong that this band very much I guess all bands kind of do but this band seems to really lend itself for what I would believe would be like experimentation in the studio where you guys get to sort of, as we just talked about, have fun and testing things out and trying things out. Are you guys experimenting a lot and quote unquote, playing and having fun there in the studio? Is that how this all kind of comes together?
Shaun: Definitely. I would say majority of these songs are just fooling around in studio and getting a new piece of gear, opening it up, getting out of the box, plugging it in, and then sometimes that’s what I love about, music, especially these days, is that the technology we’ve come so far and how that influences the music. And it’s beautiful. It makes you feel like a 13 year old kid just on Christmas, opening up something and plugging it in and just being inspired.
Donny: I also find it very awesome how it seems like all of the musicians I know are absolute gearheads through and through. So whatever the little newest technology or newest thing that they get, they legitimately are, like, giggling over it, like I did when I got a Super Nintendo. You know what I mean? Like just that kind of unabashed sort of excitement I love seeing. like, just with things like gear and things, it just gets to show kind of the depths, of the love of musicians in which that you guys are. I think you know what I mean. Just like, I guess if a carpenter got a new tool, same kind of situation.
“El-P from Run the Jewels and Robert Smith from The Cure are both on this record”
Donny: All right, so on this album, you have two of my very favorite human beings, outside of you two, of course. And that is the brilliance that is El-P from Run the Jewels, and then also Robert Smith from The Cure are both on this record. When you have them on the album, do you have an idea at first that that’s who you want to do this part, or do you just kind of make a call? How do those kind of things come together, gentlemen?
Chino: Well, both were pretty done pretty late in the game. I mean, we had both songs already sort of 85, 90% finished. and it was towards the end of sort of our recording this record. And, for instance, the Robert Smith thing was, something that I just thought, this would be really cool if we can obviously, I have a friendship with him, so it wasn’t like just a complete cold call. I hit him up and said, hey, I have this idea, I have this lyric and this song, I’ll send it to you, but it’d be really neat if you would be down to just sing over it and sort of surprise people. As far as, like I mean, I know the news is out now, but my initial idea was, like, wouldn’t it be awesome to just be hearing the song? And you get a quarter of the way through it, all of a sudden, his voice comes out. his unmistakable voice is sort of in there, and then people start to question it. So, I mentioned that to him, and he was totally down to do it. And at that point, I told Shaun because I actually wanted to surprise him, too. And, yeah, he came through. it turned out wonderful just to hear his voice, especially singing something, a phrase that I wrote was just insane. one of those things where if I was a kid and you told me that, I would not have believed you at all.
Donny: He just sounds beautiful on that track, too. Holy cow.
Chino: Right on. Thanks. Yeah, I mean, to me, it’s probably one of the saddest songs on the record. So I just feel like that vibe is just like it just sort of is the perfect marriage of his voice and the vibe of that song, for sure.
Donny: And what about El-P?
Chino: El-P, as well. It was like the song was almost there. We had this bridge section and we had an idea to build it out musically. But then Shaun had mentioned, like, what if we get someone to throw, like, 16 bars over this? And the first person that came to both of our minds was El-P. The Run The Jewels record at that time was we’d been listening to that record a lot and been fan and friends with him for a while. so kind of the same thing. I reached out to him and, we actually sent him a version of the song with him already in it where Shaun found an acapella of him from Run the Jewels and threw it in there just as a placeholder to kind of see what it sound like. As soon as we threw that in there, we were like, wow, this is awesome. Sent it to him and he was like, I’m down. And ended up writing a new part, obviously, for it and sent it back. And another one of those things where it wasn’t something that we had planned all along, but the fact that it was kind of just on a whim, we thought of it and, it just worked out.
“Crosses makes some of the best god dang headphone records out there right now”
Donny: Do you guys make these? I’m sure you don’t, but there are inherently a few records that are in my record collection that when I go to listen to them, I want to put headphones on and listen to them. The first one that comes to my mind is Radiohead ‘OK Computer.’ Because I want to hear every single, everything. I feel like Crosses makes some of the best goddang headphone records that are out there right now. Do you guys this is kind of a silly question, but do you guys sort of do that on just there’s so many layers and so much depth to what you guys do here. I just feel like I want to have a closer ear on what it is so that I can catch the things that you guys are doing. But I assume that that’s not like a purposeful thing.
Chino: I would say Shaun and I both come from that same cloth. I mean, we’re both very into sounds and stuff. And it’s funny you use that. OK computer reference because yesterday I was actually reading an article. I actually didn’t finish reading it, so I saved it. But it was basically kind, of going through all the gear that they used making that record. So I went song to song, like every piece of gear that they making on the record and that’s kind of stuff we nerd out on, for sure. Go ahead, Shaun. What were you saying?
Shaun: Yeah, to me, always the best albums know, every time you listen to them, you hear something new that you didn’t hear the time before. And I guess maybe I probably don’t even think about that, but when we’re making it but it’s probably just in my DNA at this point. I listen to music the same way. And sometimes you’ll hear an album on the left side, you were like, oh, what’s that sound that comes in at a minute 30? but it’s only on the left, right? And just stuff like that is so cool.
Donny: It’s so amazing when you can geek out with your friends about little parts of songs and things. That’s just one of my very favorite things to do. And I think that, again, as I said before, that you guys just lend yourselves so much to that. The new album from Crosses is out on Friday (**OUT NOW**). It’s called Good Night, God Bless, I Love You, Delete. and you guys are doing some tour dates. You’re playing, I saw, at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, which just has to be amazing and eerie and creepy and awesome all at the same time to play at a place like that, I would assume.
Chino: Yeah, I’m looking forward to I think Shaun has been there for a show before, but I haven’t and I’ve only heard great things about it. So it’s going to be a mean, I think it’s one of the first shows us playing back too. So I’m very excited about it.
Donny: Well, that’s fantastic. Gentlemen, thank you so very much for your time. Continued success. The Permanent Radiant EP that came out last year was fantastic and I played it on my new music show. We started with “Invisible Hand” way early as soon as we got it because it’s so good. So we are just fans here in St. Louis, we love what you guys do, keep doing it. And we would love to see you in St. Louis at some point, if that makes sense.
Chino and Shaun: Awesome. Thank you so much. Really appreciate it.