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 Daniel Tracy, drummer of blackgaze leaders Deafheaven. We talked to him about his connection to White Pony and its enduring impact on him.
WHEN WAS THE FIRST TIME YOU HEARD WHITE PONY?
The first time I heard White Pony, I was 12 years old and Around the Fur was my absolute favorite album at the time, so I was anxiously awaiting it's release. The first drum fill of "Feiticeira" had me instantly hooked.
WHAT DOES THE ALBUM MEAN TO YOU?
The album reminds me of being an incredibly shy and awkward middle-schooler who discovered heavy music as a result.
THE ALBUM TITLE IS UP FOR INTERPRETATION. WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOU?
My initial reaction to the title was that it was simply awesome imagery. As I got a little older, the drug connotation was brought to mind. I'm sure it's up to interpretation.
WHITE PONY WAS RELEASED IN A VARIETY OF PHYSICAL EDITIONS. WHICH, IF ANY, DID YOU OR DO YOU OWN?
When White Pony was released, CDs were king and "enhanced" CDs were prized possessions. I still remember how excited I was to play the games and see the graphics and art included when you put the disc into a computer.
HOW, IF AT ALL, DID WHITE PONY INFLUENCE YOUR OWN CREATIVE DEVELOPMENT, OR THE WAY YOU THOUGHT ABOUT WRITING MUSIC?
Abe Cunningham is one of my all-time favorite drummers, and his style is hugely influential for me. The way that he fits crazy tight jazzy fills into a heavy groove is forever impressive.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE WHITE PONY TRACK?
My favorite track isn't one of the singles — it's "Street Carp" with it's ultra heavy riffs and slapping drum patterns. It has the heaviest elements on the record with a nonchalant feel that is pure Deftones.
IS WHITE PONY SOMETHING YOU REGULARLY GO BACK AND LISTEN TO? OR DOES IT REPRESENT A CERTAIN PERIOD OF TIME IN YOUR HISTORY?
White Pony will always [make me] recall being a kid that's just peeling the drapes back on heavy music, but it will always get repeat listens to remind me of why I love it so much.