They share Sacramento roots and a musically adventurous spirit that took them beyond the hard-edged alternative rock for which their bands were known in the 1990s.
Chino Moreno of the Deftones and Shaun Lopez of Far played on the same bills at Sacramento clubs and toured Europe together after both bands were signed. They stayed friends after both moved to Los Angeles, where Lopez has produced Deftones tracks.
Moreno, 38, still lead singer for the Deftones, and Lopez, 40, guitarist for the much shorter-lived Far, officially play in the same band now.
Crosses, their electronic-based group with Los Angeles musician Chuck Doom, plays tonight at Sacramento's Ace of Spades.
Blending electronic and organic instruments, Crosses showcases Moreno's breathy tenor and evokes Deftones' dreamier songs. Some Crosses songs are reminiscent of another Moreno side project, Team Sleep, though Crosses' music tends to be denser.
Moreno, speaking by phone from Los Angeles, isn't into distinctions.
"I don't like to say, 'This is my electronic band, this is my rock band,' " Moreno said. "(Crosses) is actually in the same vein as everything. I go in, hear the music that is created, and come up with melody ideas and rhythmic ideas, and words just usually fall out."
Several Crosses songs already had been partially written, by Lopez and Doom, when Moreno came on board.
"Chuck is well-versed in jazz, and it was always an enlightening experience with him," Moreno said of Doom, who will play bass at Ace of Spades. "He uses a lot of crazy old gear in his house. He will record these little segments little loops or segues and email us a 30-second loop. He and Shaun will build that into a song."
Moreno met Doom at Lopez's studio. "I actually frequent Shaun's place, and I stopped by one evening and he and Chuck were working up" some ideas, Moreno said. Moreno entered the vocal booth to see what he could contribute.
Lopez and Doom asked Moreno if he wanted to sing on several songs. He wanted to sing on all of them. Originally envisioned as a producers project with several guest vocalists, Crosses instead became a Moreno-fronted band.
"Chino knew I was starting to talk to some other people, and he was like, 'I don't want anyone on these tracks. I like all this stuff,' " Lopez said in a separate phone interview.
In his off time, Moreno listens to ambient and experimental music. "I use music to soothe me into another state," he said.
Crosses achieves that effect even though "it is a little dark," Moreno said. Indeed, a few songs are almost funereal, their electronic soundscape chantlike.
Photos and other imagery on the band's website are part Catholic, part Kubrick, and Moreno's typically abstract lyrics sometimes evoke blood and bad times.
But there's an inescapable musical joy to Crosses as well, on songs like "Telepathy," which includes a spirit-lifting, Psychedelic Furs-like swell of electronic instrumentation.
Crosses has completed about 25 songs. The band is releasing several at a time via EPs, the second of which was released last week.
Moreno said he always admired Lopez's experimental bent.
"Even to this day, I don't think (the Deftones) are comparable to a lot of bands, but Far is one of those bands," Moreno said. "The music is heavy rock-based but always had a penchant for melody and using dynamics. The songs kind of take you somewhere."
Moreno's vocals, recorded over the past year and a half on the rare days he was not on tour with the Deftones, helped determine the music's course.
"The way he chooses notes a lot of times, it is not the note you would expect him to sing," Lopez said. "When he sang over the first few tracks, it made the writing a lot easier. A couple of times, we wrote songs that we could never even think (someone could sing to), and he just surprised us."
Crosses' music is more traditional than some electronic-based music in its verse-chorus-verse structure. But within that structure is pure experimentation and a chance for more stretching by Lopez, who over the past decade has produced, mixed and written songs for other acts, fronted the Geffen-signed band The Revolution Smile and reunited, briefly, with Far.
Lopez, a bit burned out on guitar rock, said he welcomed Crosses' loop-generated songwriting process. The guitar he plays with Crosses doesn't always sound like guitar, he said, since he experiments with "various effects pedals, and bad, terrible toy amps miked up to a $5,000 mic."
Tonight at Ace of Spades, he will play guitar, lap steel and keyboards.
"I would never call myself a keyboard player, but this presents a challenge for me, and I want to stay challenged," Lopez said.
Reproducing Crosses' in-the-moment studio tinkering presents a challenge as well.
"When we started playing this music (in the studio), we never thought about playing it live," Lopez said.
Tonight's show will include Jono Evans, from L.A. band Endless Hallway, on guitar and keys. Dino Campanella (Dredg) and Chris Robyn (Far) both play drums.
Facing each other on stage, Robyn and Campanella play acoustic kits and use pads for programmed tracks. Campanella plays keys as well.
The setup continues to intrigue Lopez.
"I am not saying we are reinventing the wheel, but the way we are doing the two-drummer thing, it is hard for me to play music because I just want to turn around and watch," he said with a laugh.