White Pony, Deftones’ revered album, was released on June 20, 2000.
Now 20 years old, the album will be reissued along with a remixed version of the LP called Black Stallion, including work by DJ Shadow. White Pony was not only Deftones’ most critically successful album, but their most commercially successful. It debuted at number three on the Billboard album chart and went platinum in 2002. Three singles landed in the US alternative chart top 20, ‘Change (In the House of Flies)’, ‘Back to School (Mini Maggit)’ and ‘Digital Bath’. ‘Elite’, though not a single, won a Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance in 2001.
A digital press conference via Zoom last week revealed each of the band members dialling in from their homes. Frontman Chino Moreno revealed little about the remix collaborators, only saying some of them “inspired some of the writing of the record.”
They also revealed a Global Listening Party on Monday 22nd (Tuesday 23rd our time) via their YouTube channel. The band have been leveraging all their social media channels to share DJ sets via Twitch, guitar and bass play-alongs and archival footage.
Fans of Deftones have been pleading with the band to release new work since Gore, released in 2016, an album that was Deftones to the core – heavy, dark, romantic and industrial in equal measure.
Wait long by the river and the album of your dreams will float by, it seems. Their ninth studio album has been completed, according to Chino Moreno, in time for a September release.
While nu-metal has divided those who are adamant fans and those who see it as a soulless, immature version of real metal, Deftones have managed to work right on the edge of the nu-metal category where they can’t be lumped in lazily with forgettable bands like Limp Bizkit (‘Nookie’, anyone?) and Crazy Town (remember ‘Butterfly’ from 2000?)
Their sound crossed borders with industrial, a la Nine Inch Nails, the growling, dark underbelly of Sevendust and Sepultura, and the harmonious and melodic sound of goth and new-wave bands like The Cure or Echo and The Bunnymen (try ‘The Killing Moon’ to test out my theory).
Like friends and colleagues Korn, Deftones channel fury, pain and passion into an aural wave that builds into a climax before crashing unforgivingly upon listeners. Their efforts were hit and miss amongst critics and fans until White Pony. At that point, there was no question of their evolution as songwriters, performers and masters of how to sculpt their sound post-production into a muscular, fat-free version of their sound: raw, sinewy and mature.
“White Pony was really tough to make,” Moreno told Loudwire in 2011. “We definitely weren’t on the same page. There were some parts where I wanted to play guitar and I had written parts for the song and at first, that didn’t sit well…From that point on with every record until we did Diamond Eyes in 2010, there was always some kind of tension going on with the band that made it difficult to make records. But after Chi got into his accident, I guess we all looked at things from a different perspective and realized that there are things way more important than whether we agree on a guitar part or whether a song is heavy enough.”
As for the name, White Pony is street slang for cocaine. Though Moreno has indicated the reference is closer to mythology and dreams, saying “There’s a lot of different references for White Pony. One of them is a cocaine reference and there’s a lot of stuff… have you ever heard stuff like in dream books that if you dream about a white pony, then you’re having a sexual dream? There’s a lot of stuff that kinda goes around it. And there’s an old song [that goes], ‘Ride the white horse.’ That’s obviously a drug-reference song.”
Fans of both Deftones and Tool should revisit ‘Passenger‘, one of the few tracks on the album to welcome a guest performer. Played on repeat, it may tide you over until the listening party and if you miss out on that, the White Pony reissue plus Black Stallion and a ninth studio album in September should provide plenty to look forward to.
For Aussies, the listening party will take place on Tuesday morning at 11am AEST.