Chino Moreno's real name is Camillo Wong Moreno. The name appears in the CD inside covers. I've always thought that was Chino's sister or something, but apparently that's his real name. Chino is his nickname, and it means "Chinese" in Spanish. He is half Chinese and half Mexican.
Camillo Wong Moreno was born here in Sac in 1973, the 2nd of five kids and the first born son. His dad is hispanic and his mom is chinese/irish/native american/hispanic, so you could say that Chino's family background is definitely an ethnically diverse one. In fact, his mom gave him the nickname 'Chino' when he was still an infant because of his strongly Chinese baby features (in Spanish, 'Chinito' means Chinese). It was also his Grandpa's nickname, so it just seemed to stick. According to Chinese astrology, 1973 was the year of the Ox, so that means Chino is 'bright, patient, an inspiration to others, happy by one's self, and possesses the ability to grind nappy quarter pipe coping with much style.' His mom remembers him as a happy and quiet kid who has always liked music. Even before he could properly walk, she'd find Chino bopping around baby-style to whatever kind of music that was playing, not really dancing, just sort of that chubby baby-wiggling-fist-shaking-giggle-drool thing that small ones do. Maybe he was just filling his diapers, but he did it with rhythm, man.
Diapers or no, Chino was always rhythmically inclined. He started singing just as soon as he learned to talk- in fact, the kid was bustin' rhymes at age two in Adidas sweats and a Kangol that was way too big for him.
"I am a toddler walkin'/Gerber food stalkin'/throw back the Similac, and Spock is a Vulcan" (Chino's skills have noticeably improved over the years...)
Chino's mom is a teacher at Fruitridge Elementary School, and Chino got to be in his mom's class (so did his brothers and sisters at some stage). She says that Chino didn't receive any kind of special treatment, but that's what moms ALWAYS say. He had a ton of friends in school, probably through some sort of Mario Puzo preschool extortion racket, you know, (with a squeeky Brando accent), "Billy, you come to me for a favor, and yet I cannot remember the last time you and I sat down to have Chocolate Fizz Bombs together. However, I am a generous 4-year old so I will grant you the two gold stars on your handwriting assignment in trade for your Han Solo Action Log" Chino had LOTS of friends, man.
But if it wasn't the fact that Ma was the teacher which made him a popular kid, it was probably Chino's proclivity towards entertaining others. Even though he was a quiet kid, when he was ON it was like "Wonder Twin Powers-Activate!". When he found an audience, the natural ham in him would take over and he had kids, adults, pets, or whatever totally caught up. It's kind of like today- I've heard Chino speak maybe one or two entire words in conversation, but when he's onstage, his shit goes hopelessly ballistic, and both he and his audience are just gone to some better place.
Chino found his early spiritual inspiration in an unparalled icon of cool, THE FONZ. When he was around 5 years of age, Chino insisted on being called 'the Fonz'. He would sit watching "Happy Days", wading through all of that Joanie and Chachi crap, just so he could catch a glimpse of the pure glaring enlightenment that was the Fonz. Convinced of the righteousness of Fonzarelli's cool, Chino set out on that harrowing journey towards Fonz-ness. Chino, like many late-70's kids wanted to be, in the deepest Zen sense of the word, the Fonz. Yeah, well, whatever, 'cause then he started watching "The Incredible Hulk" and as any kid knows, a big green Lou Ferigno with wicked contact lenses kicks ass all over Henry Winkler with a pompidor and a leather jacket.
So Chino now thought he was the Hulk. You know, "Mom... you wouldn't like me when I'm angry...". But mom knew that Chino was, in her words, "a big chicken!". So whenever Chino would step up all aggro and flexing, eyes crossed and teeth knashing together like he's pooping an erector set, mom would feign terror, pointing at her son and yelling, "OH, no!! Chino you're turning green! You really ARE turning into the Hulk!". At which point Chino's growling would stop, his jaw would drop, and he would full-out RUN to the nearest mirror in panic to check himself out. See, kids may want to be the Fonz, but NO kid wants to be an aging green bodybuilder with a bad wig and a speech impediment. There's a Zen koan to back this up, somewhere.
Chino loved to freak himself out. Kids (o.k., adults, too) perform this weird psychologically sadomasochistic ritual by which they torture themselves with freaky shit to see how much they can take until they snap. Kid logic- "If I turn out all the lights and stare at my glow-in-the-dark Freddy Corpseface poster for a full hour with my older brothers Christian Death album on at 45 rpm, I'll be a better person tomorrow." Wrong, kid, you'll be Jeffrey Dahmer-ing your pet hamster by age 9. Send that kid off to a special school. (Sorry, I think Dennis Miller was channeling through me for a moment).
Chino's chosen implement of creul and unusual self-punishment was the tired and true modern day horror movie. He loved horror movies like Evil Kneivel loved to throw himself across mile-wide canyons with twenty-foot jet engines strapped to his butt. Chino would go through all the requisite begging; "Mom, please please please, can I watch "Flaming Intestinehead II" tonight, pleeeeze?" "Chino, you know if you watch that movie you'll be asking to sleep in my room again..." "No way, mom! It's cool, it's not that scary, I won't get scared by a movie, mom, puleeeze?" "O.K., O.K., Chino you can watch the movie, but you'd better be asleep in your OWN bed in the morning."
Then, of course, at 12:48 AM; "Mommy, can I sleep in here with you?"
Chino was always into music. However, the music he was into may surprise the average Deftones fan. Oh, yeah... let's talk about how his sister got him heavily into DURAN DURAN, or how he was so into the raw punk flavor of, uh, well... BOY GEORGE that he even dressed up as The Boy for Halloween one year (see photo for proof, man). Not to imply that Boy George doesn't rock, because (let's be honest here), who DIDN'T grow up in the early eighties without poring over the lyrics to 'Karma Chameleon', trying desperately to fathom the double entendre of a line like, "I'm a man without conviction, I'm a man whose love is strong"? That shit is deep, no joke.
Around age 11 or so, Chino, gave up things like Little League and playing with Star Wars toys (o.k., so he still plays with his Millenium Falcon) in favor of what would become a lifelong passion. Not the Deftones, that came a little bit later... We're talking about SKATEBOARDING here! Ollies, Nollies, Frontside Grinds-to-Fakie Nosepick-to-Trannie Bombs-to-whatever, man! Chino would spend hours watching Tony Hawk vids and reading Thrasher and learning to say things like, "I hella leaned back on the coping and bombed the fall line." According to mom, he was ALWAYS skating, and he built his first half-pipe with a friend in his back yard at the age of 12. And now-a-days he calls home at 3 in the morning; "Mom! Guess where I'm at right now!" "Uh... Chino, what time is it?" "Mom, I'm at Christian Hosoi's house!!" "Who?"
Chino still skates all the time; as with all real skaters, he's totally obsessed. Well, almost totally; it was around this time, too, that Chino found his other neurotic fixation - MUSIC!
At age 12, he started listening to BAD BRAINS. A lot. Hella. Bad Brains to the power of infinito. You get the point. The next logical step was, of course, ... Latin percussion. He traded some of his skates for some funky latin-percussion-type drums. Mom didn't realize that this had happened until it was too late. She would find Chino in his room, going off on some crazy rhythm, eyes rolled back in his head, dancing around. She feared the worst- could this mean that a full-fledged drum kit was on it's way into her relatively peaceful home? Oh, No! Tune in next week to...
Chino hooked up with Stefan, the Deftones guitarist, when he was about 14. Chino's cousin had heard Stefan playing in his garage, and introduced the two skate-rock kids on a fateful summer day... They looked steely-eyed at one another, sizing each other up. And then Chino said those magic words, "Hey, do you want to totally rock, play to huge crowds at skate exhibitions, and eventually sign a fat major record label contract, enabling us to occasionally hang out with Madonna and eat all the free catered food at big Hollywood parties?" To which Stefan could only reply, "Fuck,Yeah!" Whoop, there it is! The Deftones were born, sorta, kinda.
All of this was very beneficial to Ma Deftone, 'cause the latin-percussion thingy was moved to Stefan's garage the very next day.
And all of this was not very beneficial to Ma Deftone, 'cause pretty soon, she was hearing things like, "Mom, can you give me a ride to our show in Reno in your van?" Chino's mom is very supportive, so it was like, "Of course, no problem, let's go, it'll be fun!" And, as many rock mom's have discovered, what was to be a peaceful road trip up the hill with her son turned out to be a packed van full of drums, guitars, amps, and the entire Mountain Dew-fueled band, various girlfriends, and funny smelling roadie types with names like "Shredz". If rock and roll moms would just unionize, they could make a killing off of their kids.
But Debbie is definitely Chino's biggest fan, and Chino knows this. When she went to her first Deftones show, Chino, onstage, would stop and say "Sorry, Mom." in between the songs whit the, uh, flavorful language. Maybe he was embarrassed; maybe he was just trying to score the band a ride home.
Chino has always been a player mack supreme. When he got married to his sweetheart fairly recently, thousands of young girls across the Tri-State area wept in agony, pulled their hair out, and burned their baby doll alternarock tee's in protest. You go to a Deftones show and yes, you will see the special Deftones Gravity Inversion Mosh Pit, you'll see tsunami's of Vans in air crowdsurfing, and what you will also see are girls checking out Chino. Approximately eight bazillion girls checking out Chino. He's got ka-raz-muh, kids. The guy's a player mack supreme.
So his mom had a great story that gives us insight into what kinds of trouble a young player mack supreme can get into... in fact, it was Chino who just recently told her this story, thinking (rightfully so) that he was too old now to be punished for what he did in the past. You know, the whole 'hey mom hey dad let's have a glass of wine with dinner i'm mature now yeah wait'll you hear about this' -confessional sort of thing.
So young PlayerMack Chino (he was about 15) sneaks out of his bedroom window one evening to pay a visit (totally innocent, I'm sure) to his girlfriend of the time. He skates over to her house and tosses pebbles at her upstairs bedroom window, the whole bit. She leans out and whispers (in true high-school romance fashion), "My parents are home!" "Well, can I come up?" "Yeah, but be careful! Don't wake my parents up!"
So the young PMC, in his eagerness to hold hands or whatever, bounds up the staircase to meet his girlfriend and before he even gets to her open door - WHAM! - he hears her parents hallway door slam open! There stands THE DAD, all 869 pounds in his underwear, looking pretty pissed off in sort of a WWF- "I'm-going-to-eat-the-skull-of-the-creature-who-has-defiled-my-daughter's-puri ty-and-goodness" way... "HOLY SHIT!" - and Chino's off like a doe being chased through the woods by Ted Nugent. Rather than confront the situation with any sort of rationality or even a lame explanation about how he was just going to help with homework at 2 a.m. on a Saturday, Chino wisely just runs as fast as he can. And the incredible DAD is yelling after him, "I know who you are, Chino! I'm going to call your mother in the morning! You're in DEEP, mister!" etc. etc.
The next morning, Chino, who hasn't slept at all cuz he's sweatin' it- "Man, I don't wanna get my skate taken away like the time the fire department had a talk with mom about me an' Shredz blowing up old man Feldenburg's gunpowder shed", get's up and wakes his big sister up and convinces her to call his girlfriends' folks. He figures, I'm gonna preemptive strike this shit before it gets out of hand. So big sis calls and pretends that she is Mom and yes, Chino told her about the whole shameful thing this very morning, and yes, he will be punished, blah, blah, blah. And it's working! The pissed off DAD actually believes that he's talking to Chino's mom! They are pulling the scam off!
But, it turns out that Sis has her own agenda with this little conspiracy (we'll call it Skatergate). The mission is accomplished, DAD is calming down, comforted by the fact that Chino will be grounded from skating or whatever. But Sis keeps going off over the phone, saying how extraordinary the punishment will be for the young PMC. "Oh yes, Mr. Incredible, he will be grounded from skating, as well as flogged with wet leather whip, and his unnecessary limbs forcibly thrown into a John Deere lawn mulcher." And Chino's gesturing like, "CUT! CUT!". Sis, with an evil, knowing grin, proceeds to have a casual half-hour conversation with Mr. WWF; all the while Chino is freaking out, trying to get her off the phone. Total Ferris Beuller.
But they managed to pull it off... Chino's mom never even knew about Skatergate until a couple of weeks ago. And now, thanks to her, you know about it too. Mom's rule!
Debbie Wong tells all in another maternal expose of a local entertainer... No actual mothers (or tortoises, or pet hamsters) were harmed in the making of this column... Super Way Big Thanks to Debbie for her cooperation and cheerful willingness to share embarrassing stories about Chino. Also thanks to Celeste, Chino's wife, for her help in keeping this a secret from Chino and putting us in touch with Debbie. And, of course, thanks to Chino, who probably won't see this until he gets off the Deftones' latest tour. I'm sure when he gets back, he'll be calling Jerry, "Who's the guy that wrote that slag article on me?" But I'm told by a reliable source (namely his own mother) that he's a nice guy. And everyone knows mom's tell the truth, right?