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 Justine Jones, vocalist of U.K. metalcore group Employed to Serve and hardcore punk act Glorious. We talked to her about her connection to White Pony and its enduring impact on her.
WHEN THE FIRST TIME YOU HEARD WHITE PONY?
I was very late to the party with White Pony. I got into Deftones properly when Diamond Eyes came out ... before that, I'd only really heard the songs that the music channels would play. I loved Diamond Eyes and ended up working through their back catalog and I came across the treasure that is White Pony. What an album.
WHAT DOES THE ALBUM MEAN TO YOU?
This album is one of my favorites for all-night tour drives and was a big part of me transitioning from teenager to adult. The Deftones catalog in general grows with the fan — there's an album for every mood. White Pony's lyrics are amazing as Chino [Moreno]'s lyrics come across more like dialogue between fictional characters rather than things he's going through in his life, which was the first I'd noticed a vocalist doing that at the time.
THE ALBUM TITLE IS UP FOR INTERPRETATION. WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOU?
From my understanding, "white pony" generally is a nickname for cocaine. The overall vibe, lyrically, I get from the album is that it's about addiction in its various forms. For example, "Elite" feels like it's calling out all the narcissistic people jumping on fashion and being addicted to attention. "Change (In the House of Flies)" could be seen as someone enjoying the negative effect they have on other people or could be about drug addiction. From the interviews I've read over the years about the album, I've found that they keep the actual meanings pretty vague and open to interpretation.
WHITE PONY WAS RELEASED IN A VARIETY OF PHYSICAL EDITIONS. WHICH, IF ANY, DID YOU OR DO YOU OWN?
I'm a proud owner of the CD and vinyl!
HOW, IF AT ALL, DID WHITE PONY INFLUENCE YOUR OWN CREATIVE DEVELOPMENT, OR THE WAY YOU THOUGHT ABOUT WRITING MUSIC?
It definitely opened me up to the possibility of writing fictional lyrics. I make a point of studying what other vocalists I admire do as it really helps you develop your own lyric writing.
YOU RECENTLY COVERED "ELITE" FOR SLAY AT HOME FEST AS PART OF A ONETIME SUPERGROUP. WHY THAT SONG AND WHAT DID YOU GUYS WANT TO DO WITH IT TO MAKE IT YOUR OWN?
It's one of my favorite Deftones songs that I've always wanted to cover. The lyrics are perfect for social media culture right now — despite it being released in 2000! We kept it more or less the same because the song is perfect in my eyes.
IS THAT YOUR FAVORITE WHITE PONY TRACK?
Sure is. I just think the riffs and lyrics are some of the catchiest that the band has ever written.
IS WHITE PONY SOMETHING YOU REGULARLY GO BACK AND LISTEN TO? OR DOES IT REPRESENT A CERTAIN PERIOD OF TIME IN YOUR HISTORY?
Oh, for sure, it's definitely in my top three Deftones albums. It just takes me back to when I was dirtbag 18-year-old drinking £2.69 2 litre bottles of cider round my friend's house parties. [Laughs]