|Studio album by Deftones|
|Released||June 20, 2000|
|Studio||Larrabee Sound Studios, West Hollywood, California
The Plant Recording Studios, Sausalito, California
|Producer||Terry Date and Deftones|
Limited edition cover
|Singles from White Pony|
White Pony is the third studio album by American alternative metal band Deftones, released on June 20, 2000 by Maverick Records. It marked a significant growth in the band's sound and is considered a turning point for the band in terms of experimentation, employing an increasingly experimental rock sound and incorporating more new wave, dream pop, trip hop, shoegaze and post-rock influences into the alternative metal sound for which the group had become known. Upon release and retrospectively, the album was met with overall critical acclaim and is generally regarded by fans and critics alike as one of their most mature outings.  White Pony is also their highest-selling album to date. The album was certified platinum by the RIAA on July 17, 2002. The album includes three successful singles ("Change (In the House of Flies)", "Back to School (Mini Maggit)" and "Digital Bath") as well as the 2001 Grammy Award-winning track for Best Metal Performance, "Elite".
White Pony was also the first album to feature Frank Delgado as a full-time member of the band on turntables and synthesizer. Delgado had worked previously with the band as a featured guest on Around the Fur and Adrenaline, producing sound effects on some songs.
Background and recording
After a break from touring, the band spent four months in the studio writing and recording White Pony with producer Terry Date, the longest amount of time they had dedicated to an album thus far. Frontman Chino Moreno explained that the majority of this time was spent trying to write songs, and that the writing of "Change (In the House of Flies)" was the turning point where the band began working as a unit.
Despite being pressured to release the album sooner, the band decided to take their time making the album. Bassist Chi Cheng explained, "We didn't feel like we had anything to lose, so we made the record we wanted to make." Moreno did not have an overall lyrical theme in mind, but made a conscious decision to bring an element of fantasy into his lyrics, explaining, "I basically didn’t sing about myself on this record. I made up a lot of story lines and some dialogue, even. I took myself completely out of it and wrote about other things. Once I did that I was able to sing about anything I wanted to, I could be a lot more general. There’s a lot of stuff on this record that people are going to question me about, and I can just remove myself from it. It’s not me. I’m writing a story here".
Although the band initially did not intend to include guest musicians on the album, it featured additional vocals by Maynard James Keenan (Tool, A Perfect Circle, Puscifer) on "Passenger" and Rodleen Getsic on "Knife Party".
The album's lyrics were included in the CD booklet, with explicit language noted with phonetically similar words. For example, on "Street Carp", the lyric "Now take it home and fuck with it" was written as "Now take it home and have fun with it".
Musical and lyrical composition
Stylistically, White Pony blended the band's alternative metal sound, influenced by bands such as Tool, Faith No More and Nine Inch Nails, with the layered atmospherics of Pornography-era The Cure. The original opener for the album, "Feiticeira," lacks conventional song structure and builds over a background of guitars and bass. Moreno discussed the lyrics to the song: "The name Feiticeira is some Portuguese name that I read in a magazine and just liked. It's based on the scenario of being taken captive. It's completely fictional. I want that people who listen to it feel like they are the ones in the situation. Because of that I sing it in first person. It's up to people to figure out if i'm having fun (with them) or not, even though it sounds a bit eerie". "Digital Bath" features a trip hop drum beat with Moreno's vocals over heavy two-guitar trade-offs and a more atmospheric texture from Delgado. The song tells the story of someone who kills a girl by electrocuting her in a bathtub.
"Elite" is more straightforward and heavy and lacks typical Deftones dynamics, containing industrial rock influences. Moreno said that the song "is laughing at everybody trying to become what they already are. If you want to be one of the elite, you are". "Rx Queen"' contains heavy percussive effects and stuttering bass. Moreno considers it "the most futuristic song in the album". The song tells the story of a man's affection for a girl despite her severe illness.
On "Street Carp", after a brief guitar introduction, the band crashes in with full force. Moreno said: "It's a classic Deftones song, with a rolling riff and some really interesting chords in the chorus. the vocals are kinda crazy - I'm singing out loud over the top of the music, like (The Smiths front man) Morrissey or something, a cool contrast". Although the song was not released as a single, a promo video was made for it.
"Teenager" consists of an acoustic riff and a "scratching" line with a trip-hop beat and glitch influences. The song deals with a youthful romance coming to an end. Moreno stated that he wrote the lyrics when he was 15 after a first date and that it was originally a Team Sleep song.
The opening chords for "Knife Prty" lead into a distorted introduction with a moving bass line and a vocal bridge sung by Getsic in Spanish-Arabic style. Chino said, "It's a seductive song with a lot of violent imagery. People don't tend to like sex mixed with violence. The mid section has amazing vocals from a girl called Rodleen who worked next door to our studio". An atmospheric song with a bleak guitar line and a bridge featuring a scratch solo by Delgado, "Korea" is considered one of the album's highlights. Chino said of the song, "This was the first song we wrote for the record. It's a little heavy. It talks about the white pony, strippers, and drugs". "Passenger" features a guitar intro and vocal interplay between Keenan and Moreno alongside piano and keyboard lines, leading to heavy guitar that introduces the choruses. Moreno said of Keenan's collaboration:
- "We didn't plan on having any guest on the record. Honestly, when he first started working with us, he wasn't supposed to sing with us. He was just working on the arrangements, riff structures, time signatures, and things like that. It was good to have someone else who has different ways of writing songs, 'cause everyone has a different way of doing it. He came in and we started working on this one song in particular, and he just grabbed the microphone and started singing along to it. All of a sudden our band sounded like Tool; it was just crazy. Then, probably two months later, we went in to record the album, and I just kept hearing this re-occurring melody with his voice coming over it. So I called him and asked him if he wanted to come down and sing on the record, and he had no problem with it. Once he came in, I gave him sort of what I wanted the song to be about, and he wrote a couple of ideas down, and the next day he came in with all the lyrics written all out with blank spaces where my lyrics were supposed to be. He's very professional like that. He wants everything set perfectly, which is the complete opposite to the way that I write. And then I went in and did my vocals over it, and it just seemed that our voices blended together pretty good. Yeah, it came out pretty good, so we decided to put it on the record".
"Change (In the House of Flies)" was the album's lead single, and became a radio hit. Moreno compared it to earlier single "Be Quiet and Drive (Far Away)", considering it "a beautiful metamorphosis". The closer, "Pink Maggit" is a bleak and moody song with a whispered melody from Moreno, concluding with a final explosion. Moreno described the song: "The title comes from a Kool Keith song. We just thought it was some funny stuff. The song is meant to be triumphant. I'm trying to spread a little confidence. Lots of artists try to make songs for the kids who are tormented in school, telling them it's okay to be tormented. But it's not okay. Don't be ridiculed. Become the leader of your surroundings. Confidence is one of the most important things in life. If you are confident, you can do whatever you want".
Leading off the reissued version of the album, "Back to School (Mini Maggit)" is a reinterpretation of the album's closer with additional rap or hip hop influences. Moreno later declared that he regretted the creation of the song and its placement on the album. "The Boy's Republic" is a song exclusive to the limited-edition releases of the album, with lyrics about someone desperately seeking redemption, and comes after "Pink Maggit," making it the final track on the limited edition.
Album name and cover
- "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". Crystal methamphetamine use is commonly referred to as "riding the white pony."
The original gray cover for White Pony was rumored to have been inspired by the album cover for the Hum album, You'd Prefer an Astronaut, which Chino had mentioned in an interview, saying "...it's where Deftones get a big part of our influence from, tone-wise" and "Deftones were definitely influenced by it". The art mimicked Hum's mostly empty one-color cover, with Hum's zebra in the lower left corner being replaced by a pony in the lower right of the Deftones album.
Release and variations
Four different editions of the album exist. On its release date, limited-edition numbered copies were released with solid red and black jewel cases. The two differently colored cases also featured different booklet inserts. Both limited-edition versions included "The Boy's Republic" but not "Back to School (Mini Maggit)."
The edition with a gray cover was released as the initial non-limited version of the album and did not include "The Boy's Republic". This, along with the red and black versions, were the properly sequenced version of the album as the band intended. The gray version was later superseded by the current white version, which added "Back to School (Mini Maggit)" as the first track. This was only added as a marketing strategy; Moreno stated that he was not happy about it. The original release was also pressed on clear red vinyl for a promotional run of about 1,000 copies.
|Los Angeles Times|||
White Pony was well received by critics, garnering an aggregate rating of 72 on Metacritic. Several reviewers praised Moreno's increasing lyrical sophistication and the group's sonic experimentation, with Spin stating: "Far and away Deftones' most daring and impassioned work to date".
Tony Van Groningen from Stylus Magazine praised the band for departing from its nu metal stylistic roots, saying: "They’d finally done it; here was an album that was undeniably innovative, frequently amazing, and indisputably unlike nu-metal". Billboard gave it 4 out of 5 stars, but stated that the band's continuous inclination toward a bludgeoning experimental sonic attack and Moreno's violent, impressionistic lyrics made the album a tough pill to swallow for most listeners. Publications such as Rolling Stone and Q were less enthusiastic, with the latter wondering if White Pony was "their most adventurous and assured album to date?". An unfavorable review came from Select, which said that "maybe when they abandon their arrested development and stop convincing themselves the world is aligned specifically for their personal displeasure, they'll arrive with something listenable".
In 2016, Jonathan Dick of NPR Music retrospectively praised the album as a watershed moment or turning point, not only in regards to the Deftones' sound but also, more generally, heavy and experimental music in the new millennium, describing the album as signaling "not only a change for the band but a new trajectory for heavy and experimental music entering the 21st century". Dick especially noted the album's "shift into the heavy post-rock, shoegaze spectrum" and contended that, within the span of five years from the band's debut album to the release of White Pony, Deftones had distinguished itself as a band "whose sound no longer fit too comfortably under any genre-specific title". Similarly, Mike Diver of Clash magazine asserted that White Pony "changed everything – not just for Deftones, but metal as a whole", noting the album's "distinct air of progressive rock" and its ability to weave electronics into aggressive yet reflective songs.
Awards and accolades
Alternative Press ranked White Pony as the second best album of 2000, and in their September 2010 issue, placed it in their list of the "Top 10 Most Influential Albums of 2000". UK rock magazine Kerrang! named White Pony their third best album of the year behind Queens of the Stone Age's Rated R and At the Drive-In's Relationship of Command. In 2011, Complex Media Network's music website, Consequence of Sound, honored White Pony on a "List 'Em Carefully" installment dedicated to writer David Buchanan's top 13 metal records released between 2000 and 2010, noting that Deftones was one of several acts who "helped usher the popularity of complex structure meets MTV audience".
The album's third track, "Elite", won the Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance in 2001. Deftones drummer Abe Cunningham commented on the awards night: "All the people were on the ground, on the floor, and we were up sort of in the balcony, we were like, 'We're not gonna win. Look where we're sitting.' Everybody else who was winning, they'd get up there quick and get back. So we were just watching it and the whole thing was rad, just seeing the (stuff) go down. And all of a sudden they called our name. We just jumped over this balcony down onto the floor and ran up there. It was pretty cool, man".
All songs written and composed by Deftones. "Passenger" also features Maynard James Keenan.
|Original Edition (gray cover)|
|9.||"Passenger" (featuring Maynard James Keenan)||6:08|
|10.||"Change (In the House of Flies)"||5:01|
|Limited Edition bonus track (red and black covers)|
|12.||"The Boy's Republic"||4:38|
|Reissue Edition (white cover)|
|1.||"Back to School (Mini Maggit)"||3:57|
|11.||"Change (In the House of Flies)"||5:01|
- Note: "Knife Prty" (track 7, or 8 on the reissue) is spelled "Knife Party" on most of the european versions of the album.
- Chino Moreno – vocals, rhythm guitar
- Stephen Carpenter – lead guitar
- Chi Cheng – bass
- Frank Delgado – keyboards
- Abe Cunningham – drums
- Kim Biggs – creative director
- Robert Daniels – assistant engineer
- Terry Date – production, mixing
- DJ Crook – programming
- Michelle Forbes – assistant engineer
- Scott Weiland - additional vocals (on "Rx Queen"; uncredited)
- Rodleen Getsic – additional vocals (on "Knife Prty")
- Maynard James Keenan – additional vocals (on "Passenger")
- Frank Maddocks – art direction, album design
- James Minchin III – photography
- Scott Olson – Pro Tools engineer, additional engineering
- Ted Regier – assistant engineer
- Jason Schweitzer – assistant engineer
- Howie Weinberg – mastering
- Ulrich Wild – additional engineering
|United Kingdom (BPI)||Gold||132,812|
|United States (RIAA)||Platinum||1,300,000|
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Jeff Buckley would have been thrilled at how “Knife Party” expands the hard-rock notions of his Grace — the track’s bridge finds singer Chino Moreno pulling off a worthy tribute to Buckley’s falsetto —
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