Chino Moreno

Chino Moreno


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Chino Moreno is best known as the frontman of Californian alt-metal veterans Deftones. His distinctive singing -- which can explode from a mellow tenor into a piercing, blood-curdling scream -- served as the center point connecting the music of each of his distinctive musical projects. Born Camillo Wong Moreno in Sacramento, California, he got his nickname from Mexican relatives' affectionate nods to his mother's Chinese heritage. In addition to his multicultural upbringing, Moreno's vast musical diet put a clear stamp on his distinctive style. Citing influences ranging from the Cure, Depeche Mode, Duran Duran, Sade, and the Smiths to Mogwai, My Bloody Valentine, and Cocteau Twins, his love of texture, experimentation, and the soft side of the emotional spectrum lent Deftones a depth that many bands of the nu-metal era could not match. Indeed, as contemporaries from the early '90s began to fall into obscurity, Deftones continued to evolve their sound. Formed in 1988 with Abe Cunningham, Stephen Carpenter, and the late Chi Cheng, Deftones got their start playing alongside Korn in the Californian metal club circuit. Incorporating their hip-hop influences with the occasional rap verse, the two bands were eventually lumped in with the exploding rap-rock/nu-metal genre, which Moreno felt was an inaccurate categorization. In 1995, Deftones signed with Maverick Records and released their seminal debut, the raw and heavy Adrenaline. Their follow-up, 1997's Around the Fur, featured the hits "My Own Summer (Shove It)" and "Be Quiet and Drive (Far Away)," which maximized the loud-soft dynamic of Moreno's vocals that would become a Deftones staple. It wasn't until White Pony was released in 2000 that Moreno's new wave, R&B, and avant-garde tendencies would come to the fore. Among typical moments of frenzy and fervor, the iconic album also included quiet, scream-less songs ("Teenager"), a near-ballad ("Rx Queen"), and electronic atmospherics ("Digital Bath"). The album went platinum and was a clear turning point in the evolution of the band's sound. In the White Pony era, Moreno also began to employ outlets beyond the scope of Deftones. In 2000, he formed Team Sleep with Todd Wilkinson and DJ Crook, who previously contributed to Deftones' "Teenager" with Moreno. Indicative of that song's sound, Team Sleep's aesthetic was moody and dreamy, combining electronic and trip-hop on their debut self-titled EP released in 2005. A follow-up arrived a decade later on the live Woodstock Sessions, which was released in 2015. During the Team Sleep years, Deftones released their self-titled fourth album, a B-sides collection, and Saturday Night Wrist. Their sixth album, Eros, was set for early 2009, but the release was halted when founding bassist Chi Cheng was in a car accident that left him in a coma until 2013, when he sadly passed away. As the future of Deftones' original line-up remained uncertain, they set Eros aside and recorded another album, Diamond Eyes, in 2010. Moreno went on to form two other side projects: the darker, more ambient Crosses and the dreamy indie Palms. Crosses released a pair of EPs and an LP, while Palms -- which he formed with members of the defunct band Isis -- recorded a single self-titled LP in 2013. Meanwhile, Deftones carried on with Koi No Yokan (2012) and Gore (2016). Moreno has also appeared on a bevy of songs with peers like Sevendust, Dead Poetic, Thirty Seconds to Mars, Korn, Ice Cube, Soulfly, Cypress Hill, Handsome Boy Modeling School, Bad Brains, Tech N9ne, Bassnectar, and Lamb of God, and on the Raid: Redemption soundtrack, composed by Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park and Joseph Trapanese (Straight Outta Compton, Tron). ~ Neil Z. Yeung, Rovi