Deftones' "White Pony" album was released on June 20, 2000.
In terms of the band's history, this album is an important turning point.
Although after the first two albums, they were put into the same nu-metal slot along with Korn, Limp Bizkit, and the like, Deftones did not really feel like they belonged. They have always felt more influenced by New Wave bands like The Cure and Depeche Mode and on this album, you can feel the impact well, an amazing combination of energies, sounds, and New Wave atmosphere with heavy and slow metal.
Let's start with the name of the album because that's where it all really started. The name even started earlier from the graphics... Chino Moreno decided that the white pony symbolizes the Deftones. A band that was different from everything that happens in the music around it and not just in the genre with which it is associated, but in the music in general of those years. He liked the fact that the term "white pony" has a lot of meanings and definitions like a nickname for a cocaine drug or if you have a dream about a white pony then it means a sex dream. The band loved the idea and the name accompanied the recordings from the beginning.
Even before the members entered the recording studio they knew they wanted to do something different this time, they felt they needed to find their identity and create something more uniform and complete. Even before writing, they wanted to take a producer other than Terry Date who had produced their previous two albums to help them find a new way. After a rather short search, the band decided that the change should come from within, from the members themselves and not from the producer.
(Photo: Frank Maddocks)
The band members entered the studio and all together started writing for the album, none of them came with pre-made songs, an initial sketch, or a demo. The recordings took four months in which they recorded 11 songs from scratch, and according to Moreno, the start was not very easy. Moreno wanted to look for something different and more diverse than the power, noise, and heaviness of the previous two albums, he was also looking for softer and more melodic sides. But Stephen Carpenter the lead guitarist of the band who very much loves and is influenced by the Swedish extreme metal band Meshuggah insisted on making a heavy and strong album. At first, he was not willing to compromise on softer and more pleasant melodies that Moreno offered. There were not easy wars and it took Moreno a long time to convince Stefan that one can be heavy even in softer sections.
This is the band's first album that Moreno came to without any concept or special theme on which he wanted to base his writing. He decided to write the lyrics on imaginary stories unrelated to him as in previous albums, with no special theme but a collection of imaginary motifs that are incorporated into the writing of the songs.
And it all came together in the song "Change (In the House of Flies)", which is also the first single released from the album. Moreno who this is the first album where he took on the role of accompaniment guitar started playing something improvised along with Stefan, then came in with the keyboards Frank Delgado which is also his first album as a full member of the band, after he joined the bass session by Chi Cheng and drummer Abe Cunningham and everything connected perfectly as if Tinkerbell had arrived and sprinkled magic powder over all the band members. At that moment everyone felt the connection and everyone realized that this is exactly the "atmosphere" they were looking for, this is the sound, and this is the melody and character of the music that should accompany the album.
By the way, this song is the band's best-selling single to date. Moreno used here the metaphor of a butterfly that becomes embodied in a beautiful creature and then the main character takes him home and tears off his wings until he dies.
If we already mentioned "atmosphere"... then the members wanted to give this album a different atmosphere also in terms of dynamics and sound in addition to the guitars and drums. There are quite a few tracks on this album, like in the songs: "Change (In the House of Flies)", "Digital Bath", "Passenger", "Pink Maggit" and "Knife Prty" which put the listener in inexplicable curiosity. As the album progresses the addition of the heavy and weird sounds takes the listener to new places and unfamiliar districts.
Some even compared the sound of this album to Pink Floyd's "Dark Side Of The Moon" album.
Another song that was significant in terms of recordings on the album is the song "Passenger" which features James Keenan, the singer of "Tool", "Puscifer", "A Perfect Circle", and more. Although other members are hosted here such as Scott Weiland in the song "RX Queen" and singer and actress Rodleen Getsic in the song "Knife Prty", but with James the experience was different. Moreno and James are friends from the acquaintances they had together at Ozzfest and James invited his friends to him to Los Angeles, they are jammed in James' home studio and were thrilled by his way of working. Their work style was very "drunk" and "lazy" and he on the other hand was very systematic, consistent, and accurate. Within three days they had finished recording the song but did not know much about what to do with the vocals. James who took the reins also took the microphone and began to sing. The band members recorded the song with drooping jaws and returned home. Despite the amazing result, Moreno had a lot of doubts about James' inclusion on the album. He did not want to use his name as a celebrity to promote the album or create around it some kind of aura unrelated to the music itself, but eventually, he relented and the song was inserted into the album.
A funny story from the recording process is that even though they lasted four months, it would probably have been possible to finish the album much faster if the members had not played the video game "Tony Hawk's Pro Skater". Moreno said they would play for hours on end in a game that was in the studio, there were days they would not even record but only play despite Terry's many pleas.
This is the band's most successful album to date, it was awarded its only Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance in 2001 with the song "Elite".
Moreno highly recommends listening to this album with headphones to feel the sounds and special atmosphere of the album, so listen to it, put headphones on your ears, and click on: Spotify, Apple Music