June 2000: Deftones Release WHITE PONY

Thursday, February 25, 2021

It was the dawn of a new millennium, and Chino Moreno and the band Deftones were ready for change. With two albums of hardcore thrash with a decided twist under their collective belt, the group made a hard left turn for third album, White Pony.

"I've always loved to sing," Moreno told KNAC radio back in 2000 (via Revolver). "When we did our first record everybody was saying, 'Why are you screaming, radio's not going to play this, blah, blah, blah, why don't you sing more?' And I was like, 'Well, I just feel like screaming.' That's just the way I was, a lot of these songs [from the first two albums] were written when I was 16 years old, so I was an angry teenager who felt like the whole world was against them. That's the way I perceived it and that's what came out. Now radio is playing all kinds of heavy shit that they wouldn't even think of playing when our first record came out. Now our label and everybody wants us to fit back in with all this, but we feel like we've already grown past it."

Indeed, as White Pony found Deftones delving into a wide array of textures and sound, digging deeper into the melancholy and evocative lyrics to conjure sprawling and hypnotic tracks next to aggressive blasts of furious energy.

"If you take one song off White Pony and play it to somebody," keyboardist/DJ Frank Delgado explained on the band's website when the album was released, "You can't say, 'This is what the new album sounds like.' Because each f**kin' song is different, and how many albums can you say that about?"

It was the album's first single, "Change (In the House of Flies)" that eventually charted the course for the new Deftones LP: "When we wrote 'Change (In The House Of Flies),' that was one of those defining songs where we all wrote together," Moreno recalled to Alternative Press in August 2000. "It started out with Stephen and I playing guitar and Frank doing his keyboard thing over it. Right then, everybody joined in. Nobody told anybody else what to do, it all just came out freely. That's when it all started to come together."

Released on June 20, 2000, the album instantly galvanized the band's fans, as White Pony set Deftones apart from the growing pack of rap-rock outfits populating the late '90s/early 2000s charts, such as Limp Bizkit and Korn. The record rocketed up the charts, selling over a million copies and peaking at #3 on the Billboard 200 for the week of July 8, 2000. The #1 album in America that week: Eminem's The Marshall Mathers LP.

The album's mind-expanding approach to face-melting hardcore rock was rife with echoes of Pink Floyd's 1973 classic, Dark Side of the Moon. It's a comparison that thrills the Deftones: "Pink Floyd's influence pleases us so much," drummer Abe Cunningham raved to Blitz. "What we've done [is] to move back until the Seventies, when bands made that long records, almost like performances, then people put some headphones [on] and listened lots of strange noises and peculiar effects ... I think that this is a great record to listen with your headphones, you'll understand better the different textures involved on each track."