Revolver has teamed with Deftones for an array of special limited-edition 'White Pony' 20th anniversary bundles including the new White Pony|Black Stallion 4LP release, a hand-numbered Richey Beckett print and Revolver's Deftones Summer 2020 box set. Quantities are limited so order yours now!
Deftones' debut, Adrenaline, introduced a powerful, if still raw and unfocused, new force in heavy music. Around the Fur marked the first evolutionary step toward the transcendent sound and vision we know and love today. But White Pony was the major leap, a dive off the deep end into a sensual world without sonic limits. The Sacramento-bred trailblazers' signature alt-metal grooves were wedded with ambient electronics, synth-pop, experimental rock and trip-hop. Tool's Maynard James Keenan guested (on the immortal "Passenger"). "Elite" won a Grammy. And a generation of fans were inspired to make their own genre-defying music — including Anthony Green, vocalist of Circa Survive, Saosin and more. We talked to Green about his connection to White Pony and its enduring impact on him.
HOW DID YOU FIRST DISCOVER THE DEFTONES?
ANTHONY GREEN The first time I heard them was around Adrenaline. I think the video for "Be Quiet and Drive (Far Away)" was on MTV or 120 Minutes or something … And I was like, Damn this is so cool. The next time I heard about them this girl Lauren gave me a mix tape that had "Digital Bath" on it. White Pony had just come out, but I didn't have it. And Colin [Frangicetto], who's in Circa with me, had the cassette tape of it in his car. I think he'd stolen a promotional copy from the college radio station he worked at, and I listened to it over and over again. I really got obsessed with that record. I had friends who liked the Deftones a lot, but for some reason because they liked them I just couldn't get into it. Then when White Pony came out it was too good to deny it. It was so incredible.
LET'S STEP BACK TO THAT MIX TAPE. WHAT FIRST STRUCK YOU WHEN YOU HEARD "DIGITAL BATH"?
So Lauren gave me a tape with all these crazy bands on it, like Tori Amos and all this shit and "Digital Bath" was arguably the heaviest song on there. But it was not the heaviest song they had. … I was like, Holy shit this is intense but not in a way that I was used to. I liked Strife and Earth Crisis and Minor Threat and this was like intense, but in a really pretty way. [Deftones singer Chino Moreno's] voice goes so high on that song. He hits this crazy note. As a kid who sang with a high voice I was like, Fuck that is so sick. It gave me some weird confidence.
HOW DID YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH WHITE PONY CHANGE OR DEEPEN WHEN YOU EVENTUALLY HEARD THE WHOLE ALBUM IN COLIN'S CAR?
Deftones opened themselves up to me on that record. There was like hip-hop shit going on, heavy-metal shit, atmospheric, psychedelic, King Crimson–type shit happening. [They] weren't being pigeonholed by a genre. It wasn't nu-metal. … To me, I think of nu-metal and I think of fucking Trapt, you know what I mean? [Laughs] When I think of Deftones I think of almost a heavy Radiohead. That record became a heavier OK Computer to me.
THE ALBUM TITLE IS UP FOR INTERPRETATION. WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOU?
To me, I thought it meant a dream. … Almost like Moby Dick, the classic grail-type thing reimagined. It's this thing that's always getting away from you, that you couldn't quite grasp, like a dream. And the record itself is both dissonant and beautiful at the same time. …
They had this masculine quality, which is an obvious thing that's been celebrated throughout rock & roll music. But they were also very delicate. They had this very beautiful feminine quality to them too. I wouldn't say it was something that was common back then. You heard bands like Far and Sunny Day Real Estate doing shit like that. But Deftones just weren't afraid to be vulnerable. Because at the very next [moment] they would be like punching you in the face. It was a natural, organic vulnerability that came from a comfort of knowing. They knew you. They knew you … needed to be shaken and cradled at the same time. [Laughs]
HOW DID WHITE PONY INFLUENCE YOUR OWN CREATIVE DEVELOPMENT?
The fundamental core of that record … changed the way I thought about heavy music as something that needs to be overtly aggressive. It differentiated aggressiveness and delicate atmospheric melody — and that is literally the foundation of every band I've ever been a part of. From Saosin and Sound of Animals, Circa … There's Circa songs … that I feel like you could hear a direct influence from White Pony. There's a song called "Phantom" [from 2014's Descensus] we wrote that I definitely feel like I was channeling Chino.
Dude, I've kinda ripped him off for so long. [Laughs] I've gotten away with it for one reason or another, but I've ripped him off in every way possible. I've watched him move onstage and done stuff later at shows where I'm like, This is kinda how he was moving. [Laughs] There was a song that he and I sang together called "Right Outside" that I literally wrote after I listened to the Crosses song "This Is a Trick."
I was like, I'm going to write a song that sounds like Crosses. [Laughs] I ended up sending it to [Chino] from the suggestion of a guy who was putting the record out. And he said he would do it. It was crazy because I wrote it thinking, What would he sing here. He has such like an R&B almost funk, Motown aspect to his vocals, but because he screams a lot I think people miss out on that. Dude, his rhythms are insane. Even when he's screaming, he's screaming in a tempo that's opposite to the kick drum — it's like made for you to chop wood and fuck shit up to, or slow dance underwater. It's the perfect thing to accompany a trip on mushrooms, but also it's really good to go to the gym and lift to.
YOU'VE COVERED DEFTONES "DIAMOND EYES" BEFORE [FROM 2010'S DIAMOND EYES] — EVER TACKLE ANYTHING FROM WHITE PONY?
When they had the anniversary, on our Circa Patreon I did an acoustic cover of "Change (In the House of Flies)." It's like my favorite thing. … That song is just so incredible. The lyrics are so simple in a way … Like when you sit down to write sometimes you can overcomplicate things because you're putting your own spin on something. "I watched a change in you. It's like you never had wings." You know? Holy shit. It's so simple. I think that's why so many people are able to grab on to it because he was able to tap into something that everybody understood. All the lyrics on that record … "Tonight I feel like more" [from "Digital Bath"]. Dude. If you just like say that to somebody it's the most poetic thing ever. Holy. Fucking. Shit. For a schizophrenic manic depressive like me hearing that, it's so obscure and clear at the same time — I know exactly what he's talking about. [Laughs]
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE WHITE PONY TRACK AND WHY?
Oh man, "Passenger" [featuring Maynard James Keenan] is so sick. Those two forces together, it's such a crazy vibe. It's hard to pick a favorite though. "Knife Prty" is so sick too! "Rx Queen" is a great song … I would probably say "Digital Bath" is my favorite song on the record, but it's so hard to pick.
IS WHITE PONY SOMETHING YOU REGULARLY GO BACK AND LISTEN TO?
A lot times I'll put on a record that just makes me feel like, Fuck, I want to write today. White Pony does that to me. If I put it on in the morning to go on a run, at the end of the day I'm like, Dude, I want to start five bands right now. I want to start a screamo band, a mellow acoustic electronic side-project, and I want to learn how to rap. [Laughs] Which I promise you I will never do. Or if I do it, I'll never let anyone hear it outside of my house. Just my kids.
AFTER 20 YEARS OF LISTENING TO WHITE PONY — WHAT DOES THE ALBUM MEAN TO YOU NOW?
When I think about how they had their first couple records out and then they had this big record. I think that as an artist that wants to have a career making music, I see that they're playing the long game. They're not trying to make something that is going to be appealing to everybody, they're carving out a niche, they literally already had a following when that record came out and became huge. If the record didn't cross the barrier that it did it still would have been the biggest record ever because their fans and the people that love them would carry it for them. But it just so happened that it happened in that period of time where it broke through — and who knows how and why those things happen. But the one ingredient that you need is something next level — and that's what White Pony was. The songs are just undeniably classic in structure, theme and feel … Everything came together. It was like obsession and opportunity just collided in this perfect moment in time to make it so they could continue to do what they do. And I want a career like that.