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!
Twenty years ago, as nu-metal's popularity was cresting, Deftones broke away and broke through with their own brooding, contemplative and adventurously textured brand of heavy music. The album that resulted, White Pony, was almost instantly heralded as a masterpiece, a singular work of art so extraordinary and inventive that it threatened to overshadow the rest of the young band's career. Instead, over three decades and nine albums in, Deftones — currently comprised of singer-guitarist Chino Moreno, guitarist Stephen Carpenter, bassist Sergio Vega, drummer Abe Cunningham and turntablist-keyboardist Frank Delgado — have continued to release career-defining music. The proof's in their latest offering, Ohms, not surprisingly named Revolver's top album of 2020. Helmed by Terry Date, who produced the band's first four LPs, Ohms feels as familiar as it does fresh — that crystal clear Deftones sound taken in a slightly new direction.
The same can be said of Black Stallion, the White Pony remix album, which was conceptualized 20 years ago but only just released today (December 11th). Featuring reworks by DJ Shadow and the Cure's Robert Smith, Black Stallion proudly embraces artists who influenced White Pony's approach, while also inviting a newer generation of electronic musicians — Clams Casino, Blanck Mass, Purity Ring and more — who were inspired themselves by the heavy etherealism of Deftones' watershed album, to add their own spin. A perfect "full circle" moment, as Moreno notes.
To celebrate both Ohms and Black Stallion, Revolver spoke to Chino Moreno about making the year's best album, giving new life to White Pony, and what he's been listening to this year.
HI CHINO, CONGRATULATIONS ON HAVING OHMS NAMED REVOLVER'S ALBUM OF THE YEAR.
Why thank you.
HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE GETTING THESE KINDS OF ACCOLADES FOR AN ALBUM SO FAR INTO YOUR CAREER?
It feels pretty good. When we go into making a record, the first thing we try to do is make ourselves happy and have fun doing it. That's the most important thing — you have to enjoy doing it. After so many records, yeah, it is pretty crazy that we can still do that. That's the biggest accolade that we can give ourselves — just the sheer fact that we're still able to do this and enjoy doing this. When something like this happens, it's definitely a bonus, for us to be appreciated in that way.
YOU'VE SAID IN THE PAST THAT STEPHEN SORT OF TOOK A BACKSEAT WHEN YOU RECORDED YOUR PREVIOUS ALBUM, GORE, SO HOW DID YOU ENSURE THAT EVERY SINGLE BANDMATE WAS FULLY ENGAGED AND IN IT THIS TIME AROUND?
It was a lot of hard work. We did spend more time writing this record than we did with Gore. With that record, we just had a timeline—we had an idea in mind of when we wanted to get it finished by. So I feel like if we did spend more time on it, Stephen would have eventually come around. I wouldn't say that he wasn't involved in that record, but it wasn't until the 11th hour that he really got on the same page as everybody else. I think his perception would be that he finally accepted the songs that we were doing, and he was willing to go along with the program. But with this record, without having a timeframe in mind, we'd meet up and have sessions every month, which lasted a week-and-a-half to two weeks. We'd just get in a room and everyone would make noise. Then we'd retreat, come back the next month and do the same thing. This record was a lot more of that than doing the writing online or whatever. We basically worked on it together in the same room, and I think that added to the camaraderie and allowed everyone to be on the same page, for sure.
I WANTED TO ASK YOU ABOUT BLACK STALLION, AS WELL. WHEN DID THAT CONCEPT — THE LITERAL INVERSION OF WHITE PONY — FIRST COME UP? I REMEMBER YOU RELEASING A SONG OF THE SAME NAME WITH YOUR PROJECT CROSSES.
Oh yeah, we did have a song called "Black Stallion"! The name of the record and the idea was thought up 20-something years ago when we were writing White Pony. We had the name of the record and we were writing songs for it. We weren't quite that deep into it yet, but at that time, in the late Nineties and early 2000s, as a collective, we were pretty influenced by a lot of what was happening with electronic, beat-driven music. You can hear that on the record, a drum-forward-sounding approach. So, not only did that inspire us, but at the time, we thought it'd be awesome to have this sister album to White Pony, a remixed version. Unfortunately, we weren't able to pull it together at the time, but fortunately, after twenty-something years, we re-approached the idea, and we were able to make it happen. I think it's kind of cool we waited for so long because there's so much more of a palette to pull. Plus, I could guess that a couple of the artists that made the record were pretty young when White Pony came out and maybe weren't making music themselves yet. It was cool to have certain individuals be a part of this who might even have been influenced by the White Pony record. It's like seeing it all come full circle.
LISTENING BACK TO WHITE PONY ALL THESE YEARS LATER, IT'S SO COOL TO HEAR A HEAVIER BAND TAKING INFLUENCE FROM ELECTRONICA AND TRIP-HOP SO EARLY ON. WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO BRING THOSE INFLUENCES FORWARD NOW?
It's a little bit of nostalgia for one. We'd always had that idea, like I said, but — and I have to preface this — especially with a rock record, there's only going to be a niche amount of people who are going to appreciate it like we appreciate it. It's hard to take something that's already been set in stone, this rock record, and try to turn it inside-out, do something with it and have everyone be on the same page. So, I will say that it is a little self-indulgent as a project for us as a band, but going into it, no harm no foul. We were like, Let's just do this and enjoy it. Now, as band members, we can listen to this set of songs and the reinterpretations of them, and have it be a fun thing for us, individually, as well.
WHAT ARTISTS IN PARTICULAR INFLUENCED YOU TO GET THAT ROCK-MEETS-TRIP-HOP SOUND ON WHITE PONY?
DJ Shadow, of course, and even earlier stuff from the Nineties, like Portishead and other stuff that used drum samples from old records — all that breakbeat stuff, which to me, bridged the gap between early hip-hop music and music with melody. Although a lot of the stuff I was into was instrumental, because you can lose yourself in the beats and the melodies without being force-fed lyrics or the ideas of what the song is about. The songs are very freeform in that way. You can really put your own interpretation on them and almost enjoy them as background noise or fuel for skateboarding or whatever else we were doing back then. I'm speaking for myself, of course, but for me, it really encapsulated this freeform, almost jazzy breakbeat stuff. It captured that moment in time for me in my life.
HAVE THERE BEEN ANY RECORDS RELEASED THIS YEAR THAT HAVE REALLY SPOKEN TO YOU OR THAT YOU'VE ENJOYED A LOT?
I'm sure there have! I don't have anything on the top of my head. It's funny because I'm always listening to nostalgic stuff. I usually go back to stuff like Afrika Bambaata and a lot of old breakdancing music — stuff even from fifth, sixth grade. That music has always spoken to me. Also, all the early New Wave stuff, from OMD to Depeche Mode. That's always been my wheelhouse, stuff that bridges that gap between melodies and drumbeats. I remember the first time I heard the Thompson Twins or the Human League, the early records. It was so brand new to me because all of this early electronic music had all these romantic lyrics and things that, to me, sounded so odd, but really spoke to me and made sense. They've been a constant influence in pretty much all the music I've made throughout my life, I think. Let me have a think and I'll text you a couple records from newer artists I've been listening to lately.