Title: “White Pony”
Release date: June 2000
Favorite track: “Change (In the House of Flies)”
Not many records are nostalgic for me — I haven’t been alive that long.
Deftones’ “White Pony” is.
This was one of the first albums I listened to from start to finish, courtesy of my edgy mom. I grew up in a small Oklahoma town, and she played it in the car every time we drove out of town to eat at a nice restaurant or to go school clothes shopping. One hour there, one hour back.
If it wasn’t Korn, Limp Bizkit, Rage Against the Machine, The Smashing Pumpkins or Kittie, it was Deftones. A million times I curled up in the backseat and drifted to sleep to the sound of Chino Moreno’s breathy vocals.
I loved it. Still do.
My mom grew up near Sacramento, California — where I was born and where Moreno grew up — so I think that’s probably what drew her to Deftones. Her email address was “moshpitmama” with a series of numbers after it I’m sure — don’t worry, she was still sweet and small.
Growing up, I thought all little girls listened to metal and alternative rock. I didn’t understand my mom's email or the true meanings behind rock music. For the longest time, I believed the lyrics of Rage Against the Machine’s “Bulls on Parade” referred to seashells. I collected seashells as a girl, so it seemed like a good topic.
Despite not conceptually understanding the music, Deftones was always my favorite. I loved when my mom popped in that CD.
While “White Pony” wasn’t the most uplifting album for a child, it shaped my musical taste today in a fascinating way. I crave a little darkness in my lyrics, seek out off-beat drums with parsed-down guitar and prefer even my pop-rock singers to croon a bit.
“Digital Bath” gives me chills, because it instantly transports me back to those nights spent riding in the car with my family. This was the first album Frank Delgado was an official, full-time band member on the turntables and synthesizers, so I feel like the song title is appropriate.
This album feels a bit like taking a digital bath because it’s genre neutral. It has a lot of musical influences; words often used to describe it are metal, trip-hop, dream pop, shoegaze and experimental. “Digital Bath’s” lyrics, however, have a much darker context expressed in the song title.
“White Pony” frequently alludes to drugs, as indicated in the album title. But conceptual albums like this one are a gift because you can truly mold them into what you need them to be. I often find myself doing this with the likes of Radiohead, Bonobo and other musicians.
The most widely known song on the album is “Change (In the House of Flies).” This track truly set a tone in my life and, again, dictated my musical taste in an unexpected way. The theme of this deeply resembles a favorite song of mine I discovered much later in life, Modest Mouse’s “Fly Trapped in a Jar.”
I took you home
Set you on the glass
I pulled off your wings
Then I laughed
— “Change (In the House of Flies)”
If I haven’t already, when he whispers “Blow me away” at the three-minute mark, I completely lose myself in the song.
From what I’ve read, I don’t think Moreno was super psyched to sing “Back to School – Mini Maggit” because he was over rap rock. It’s a nice parting gift from that style.
The right words don’t exist to thank my mom for placing this record in my life. It’s featured on Rolling Stone Magazine’s “100 Greatest Metal Albums of All Time.”
Moreno is responsible for the iconic white pony depicted on the album art. He comes up with the graphic concepts.
The basic white pony against the silver backdrop is a clever depiction of this record’s theme and digital flair.