Did you know that tensions developed between Deftones singer Chino Moreno and guitarist Stephen Carpenter while recording the band's third studio album? Or that a popular DJ confused them with the Mighty Mighty Bosstones? What about the unintended consequences of inviting Tool front-man Maynard James Keenan to mentor the band in the studio? Stick around as we answer these questions and more, on...
10 Fun Facts About White Pony By Deftones
Tensions developed between Deftones singer Chino Moreno and guitarist Stephen Carpenter while working on White Pony when Chino began playing guitar, encroaching on Stephen's creative territory. However, drummer Abe Cunningham states that Chino only did so out of necessity because Stephen moved miles away, preventing Abe and Chino from being able to collaborate with him in the early phase of the writing process.
As Abe explains:
“It was a bit of a tense time, looking back now it was a good time but at that particular point Stephen had moved down to LA – we were always based out of Sacramento – and that was the first time Chino had picked up a guitar, so he and I started working on a lot of material knowing we had to make a record. And later we all worked on it together...
We wanted to add some more electronic sounds
and Frank’s textures were way more prominent on all the songs – he was
more of a guest on the first two records... and the whole guitar thing with Chino, that
was the start of a huge animosity and tension between him and Steph
that’s been well publicised over the years. That stemmed from Chino
picking up the guitar, but it’s also because Stephen kinda left, he
moved out and so we did what we needed to do. I still think that record
is our best attempt at trying to meld all the sounds we like into one.
It turned out alright…
All being said, it was more brotherly bickering and it was very unified at the time. We had a common goal – I don’t think we thought about it too hard.”- Cunningham, How 'White Pony' Almost Killed Us, Ben Patashnik, RockSound.tv (Nov 15, 2010) - https://web.archive.org/web/20101121102125/https://rocksound.tv/features/article/deftones-how-white-pony-almost-killed-us
2. Album Art
While many people believe that the term "White Pony" is a reference to drug use, the band actually had a different concept in mind when Chino adapted the minimalist clip art that he found on the internet to use as the symbol for their next album cover.
"There's a lot of different references for White Pony... One of them is a cocaine reference... Have you ever heard stuff like in dream books that if you dream about a white pony then you're having a sexual dream? There's a lot of stuff that kinda goes around it. And then there's an old song (that goes) 'ride the white horse.' That's obviously a drug reference song." - Moreno, Deftones: The Complete Guide, Wikipedians, pg 49, (Unknown Year)(accessed through Google Books) - https://www.google.com/books/edition/Deftones/YFaVZzqyU30C?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=%22There%27s+a+lot+of+different+references+for+White+Pony.+One+of+them+is+a+cocaine+reference+and+there%27s+a+lot+of+stuff%22&pg=PA49&printsec=frontcover
"The name started out as the graphic itself, the picture of a pony... I thought we should use it as propaganda to
represent our individuality, to say, 'We are the white pony amongst all
these other bands,' and we stuck with it." - Moreno, The Dark Side of the White Pony, Vanessa Lops, Slamm (Oct 13, 2011)(accessed through DeftonesWorld) - https://www.deftonesworld.com/slamm-magazine-june-2000-chino-interviewed/
3. Maynard The Messiah
Maynard James Keenan, which you might recognize as the front-man of the popular industrial metal band Tool, had been hanging out with Deftones singer Chino Moreno and was invited to work on White Pony as an executive producer. The band were interested in bringing in a fresh perspective to help them navigate some difficulties they were having while writing the album.
Rather than come in and take over the project with his years of musical experience and expertise, Maynard instead played a role more similar to that of a spiritual mentor. Bringing bottles of champagne and Tibetan Singing Bowls to the studio to shake things up. He also made the band perform using different instruments in an attempt to stir their creativity and break them out of their respective ruts.
"I was told the guys were having a bit of writer's block or some turmoil within the band. Who knows? They certainly weren't going to discuss that with me, an almost total stranger... very strong-willed gents. Dare I say stubborn... Up to that point, they seemed to have been able to navigate through their differences in ideas and approaches. Great first efforts. The evidence is all there. I felt like they just needed a bit of new perspective.
I had them each switch instruments, play on the bowls, take one loop and try some improvisation... The look on their faces was priceless. I might as well have been wearing hippie beads and bunny ears. I could just feel Stephen thinking, 'What kind of acid-trip crap is this?'"
"I stuck around long enough for them to start itching to not have me around... Eventually, it was time for me to let them be. The result of my interruption was for them to unconsciously remember or feel what connected them in the first place. By the time I saw them again, they had opened their own creative floodgates." - Keenan, Inside Deftones Game-Changing Alt-Metal Masterpiece, Steve Appleford, Revolver (Nov 23, 2020) - https://www.revolvermag.com/music/white-pony-inside-deftones-game-changing-alt-metal-masterpiece
4. Maynard The Passenger
The Deftones song "Passenger" featuring Maynard James Keenan was never intended to include the Tool front man as a guest singer. However, after the band invite Maynard to work on the album as a musical mentor, he improvised some lines over their music while front-man Chino Moreno had stepped out of the studio. While Maynard only intended to illustrate an example for a different songwriting approach, the band loved what Maynard was doing and asked him to be part of the final song.
“It’s amazing that he wants to work with us... what an honor... He never intended to sing on anything. He just wanted to see how we wrote and give us ideas about how Tool does things... So we went down to work with him, and we already had the music for “Passenger” done. We were playing (while) Chino was out getting a beer or something... Maynard was listening and he said, “Why put things in 4/4 when you can go 3/4 or 7/8 or something like that?” And then he just grabbed the mike and started singing... And Chino had come back at that point, so they started trading off and doing their thing. We didn’t ever really intend to use Maynard on the new album, because every band is like,“Okay, here’s our token celebrity guest appearance, our celebrity crutch for the album.” We didn’t really want to go that route. But when we actually recorded it, we couldn’t get Maynard out of our heads. And I said, “Look, dude, just call Maynard and ask him to come in and do the song.” So Maynard came in for two days: wrote, recorded, done.” - Chi, White Pony (Song Secrets). Deftones World (accessed Aug 24, 2023)
"Having Maynard perform on the record wasn’t something that we planned
on doing. We didn’t plan on having any guest on the record. But being a
fan of Tool and A Perfect Circle, once Maynard was involved, it was just
a magical thing for us. Honestly, when he first started working with
us, he wasn’t supposed to sing with us. He was just working on the
arrangements, riff structures, time signatures, and things like that. I
don’t know if you’re a big fan of Tool’s music, but they’re really
mathematical. I’ve been to their rehearsal space, and there’s this big
chart that just looks like calculus–the way they write songs, it’s just
crazy. It was good to have someone else who has different ways of
writing songs, ’cause everyone has a different way of doing it. He came
in and we started working on this one song in particular, and he just
grabbed the microphone and started singing along to it, and my jaw just
dropped. All of a sudden our band sounded like Tool; it was just crazy.
Then, probably two months later, we went in to record the album, and I
went in to record the vocals on it, and I just kept hearing his voice,
this re-occurring melody with his voice coming over it. So I called him
and asked him if he wanted to come down and sing on the record, and he
had no problem with it. Once he came in, I gave him sort of what I
wanted the song to be about, and he wrote a couple of ideas down, and
the next day he came in with all the lyrics written all out with blank
spaces where my lyrics were supposed to be. He’s very professional like
that. He wants everything set perfectly, which is the complete opposite
to the way that I write, so it was cool. And then I
went in and did my vocals over it, and it just seemed that our voices blended together pretty good... so we decided to put it on the record.” - Chino, White Pony (Song Secrets). Deftones World (accessed Aug 24, 2023) - https://www.deftonesworld.com/white-pony-song-secrets/
5. Scott Weiland's Cameo
With lyrics that read, "'Cause you're my girl. And that's alright. If you sting me, I won't mind." Some have speculated whether the Deftones song "Rx Queen" is about an individual with a serious illness who requires lots of medication and that the narrator of the song has fallen in love with, or if it describes the addictive nature of a toxic relationship. No explanation has ever been officially offered but singer Chino Moreno has allegedly stated that the song is about his wife.
What we can confirm, is that the late and legendary former front man of Stone Temple pilots, Scott Weiland, makes an uncredited cameo appearance. Adding some improvized vocal harmonies to the chorus.
As vocalist Chino Moreno explains:
“The way it happened was pretty organic... I met up with him at a studio in Burbank and I was playing him some of the rough music and he pulled out a microphone and started doing his Scott Weiland scatting stuff over it. Then he started kind of harmonizing with me on the chorus, singing this lower register melody...
I was like, ‘Wow, that sounds pretty cool,’ and he
was like, ‘Yeah, you can re-sing it if you want..." But then we mixed the record, I said, ‘His
voice sounds kind of good on there...’ If you listen hard enough, you can totally hear his timbre and the
way that he sings. I mean, it’s totally him. But it was kind of cool
the way that it happened where it wasn’t anything that we promoted. It
was kind of a little Easter egg in a way.” - Moreno, Scott Weiland Made An Uncredited Cameo Appearance, Chad Childers, Loudwire (Sep 22, 2020) - https://loudwire.com/scott-weiland-uncredited-cameo-deftones-white-pony-album/
6. Record Label Shenanigans
Deftones remixed a track from White Pony upon request of the record label, who was seeking an additional single from the album. Singer Chino Moreno was initially apprehensive because the label hadn't even given any other tracks aside from "Change (In The House Of Flies)" a chance to stand on their own. He eventually decided to cave in and re-worked their song "Pink Maggit" to feel more like a stereotypical 2000s era chart topping rap-rock radio hit. Chino does not regret the decision but he did feel a bit dismayed when the label reissued White Pony with the remixed track included on the album. The band felt like this threw off their intended flow for the album as a whole but they were still happy with the remixed song as a standalone track.
As Chino explains:
“They wanted a second single and they didn’t think there
were any more on the record. I said, ‘Well how do you know, because you
haven’t tried with any others?’ I remember them sitting me down and
pointing me out Papa Roach and Linkin Park had sold 6 million albums
while we hadn’t sold a tenth of that. To me, they were saying they
wanted some rap-rock, and at the time I was already way over making
music like that... my response was no way at first, and then they
pointed out the chorus of ‘Pink Maggit’ was so great, so they asked me
to rewrite it as a three-minute song. They kept hounding me about so I
was like ‘Watch this’, because formulaic songs are so easy to write...
In one day I rewrote the music and the lyrics, we recorded and then I said ‘Is that what you were talking about?’ And then they said they were going to release it with a video, they were going to get Paul Hunter who directed Eminem videos to do it, so at that point I was like ‘Whatever, I’ll trust you, I don’t care’. When a record company gets behind you like that it’s hard to say no, because the years prior they wouldn’t give us the time of day. So the fact they wanted to push things and pay for things was great. I look back on it now and I don’t regret it – it’s not a terrible song – but the only thing I made a point on was that when it came to do the reissue, they reissued the original record without that song on. It came out and it did what it did.” - Moreno, How 'White Pony' Almost Killed Us, Ben Patashnik, RockSound.tv (Nov 15, 2010) - https://web.archive.org/web/20101121102125/https://rocksound.tv/features/article/deftones-how-white-pony-almost-killed-us
Some Deftones fans have speculated that the song Feiticeira borrows it's name from a popular Brazilian celebrity named Joana Prado Belfort, who danced under the stage name "Feiticeira" which translates to "witch." Some Portuguese Deftones fans have expressed that they believe the song is intending to describe someone so beautiful and captivating that she can put a man under her "spell," leaving him at her complete control.
As songwriter Chino Moreno explains:
"The name Feiticeira is some Portuguese
name that I read in a magazine and just liked. It's based on the
scenario of being taken captive. It's completely fictional. I want that
people who listen to it feel like they are the ones in the situation.
Because of that I sing it in first person. It's up to people to figure
out if i'm having fun (with them) or not, even though it sounds a bit
eerie." - Moreno, White Pony, Wikipedia (Accessed Aug 24, 2023)
8. Change (In The House of Chino's Mind)
It's a bird! It's a plane! It's... a fly? Many people have speculated upon the meaning of the Deftones hit song "Change (In The House Of Flies)."
With lines such as "I watched a change in you" and "I pulled off your wings and I laughed" the overall feeling is that the song may describe a person who watches someone they once admired turn in to something much worse that they no longer recognize, all while feeling deep down that it was their own fault. Some fans have alluded the song to a feeling of incidentally watching a friend spiral downward through a drug-addiction while knowing that it was themselves who introduced the substance to the person in the first place.
The song may also borrow imagery inspired by The Fly, a 1986 horror film starring Jeff Goldblum where a scientist fuses his DNA with that of a common housefly and gradually turns in to grotesque and ugly creature while all his girlfriend can do is watch helplessly as this man she once admired deteriorates far beyond either of their desires. Spoiler alert, but she's forced to help her boyfriend end his own life at the end of the film when both of them realize he has changed far too much and is suffering as a result.
While Deftones singer Chino Moreno has never given a direct translation of the lyrics, he has offered this explanation for the song as a whole:
“It’s a metaphorical song. You could take it in the literal sense of me watching someone turn into a fly and taking them home with me and pulling off their wings and laughing. It spawns from me being a complete asshole and getting the complete repercussion for it by having my life taken away.” - Moreno, A Deep Dive Into Deftones' Change..., Mike Rampton, Kerrang (May 25, 2019) - https://www.kerrang.com/a-deep-dive-into-deftones-change-in-the-house-of-flies-video
For anyone else seeking a deeper knowledge or meaning of the song, bassist Chi Cheng offers this explanation:
“Nobody knows what it’s about except for Chino,” - Chi Cheng, A Deep Dive Into Deftones' Change..., Mike Rampton, Kerrang (May 25, 2019) - https://www.kerrang.com/a-deep-dive-into-deftones-change-in-the-house-of-flies-video
9. Change (In The Mind Of Chino's House)
The music video for "Change (In The House Of Flies)" features a bunch of party goers in a mansion, many of which appear to be quite out of it. The concept was created by Deftones singer Chino Moreno along with bassist Chi Cheng after they were unimpressed with any of the potential ideas others had pitched to them. Not wanting to film a stereotypical video of the band performing with a bunch of rowdy fans or skateboarders in the background, Chino wanted to film something a bit more personal, even offering to film the video in his own house.
As he told Kerrang:
"We got a ton of video treatments sent to us and they were all pretty much over-artsy, trying to take us out of our element... Or they were just straight up silly, basically having us perform and having all these skateboarders and s*** like that. Everything was either too complicated or too easy. So I just ended up writing my own treatment with Chi. The label sent it out to Nigel Dick, the director. I wanted to have performance in it, but not be us on a stage with a bunch of kids with tattoos and piercings stage-diving. I don't think we need that. And at the same time we don't need us in a desert dressed in Gucci clothing trying to look weird. I figure if we film at my house it's pretty much us, so it's a true sense of what we do." - Moreno, A Deep Dive Into Deftones' Change..., Mike Rampton, Kerrang (May 25, 2019) - https://www.kerrang.com/a-deep-dive-into-deftones-change-in-the-house-of-flies-video
The video would not be shot at Chino's house and was instead filmed at a mansion in Hollywood Hills.
“The concept behind the video is a never-ending party, going on for three days or so – a wild, exotic, indulgent party. The band doesn’t seem to be the primary focus.” - Frank Delgado, A Deep Dive Into Deftones' Change..., Mike Rampton, Kerrang (May 25, 2019) - https://www.kerrang.com/a-deep-dive-into-deftones-change-in-the-house-of-flies-video
One of the models who performed in the video also offered this explanation:
“The whole premise is like we’ve been up on drugs for three days.” - Change Video Model, A Deep Dive Into Deftones' Change..., Mike Rampton, Kerrang (May 25, 2019) - https://www.kerrang.com/a-deep-dive-into-deftones-change-in-the-house-of-flies-video
10. Black Stallion Remix Album
Deftones released a White Pony remix album titled Black Stallion, inviting various artists to provide electronic remixes of songs from White Pony. They even approached DJ Shadow to produce the album because they were fans of his work. However, DJ Shadow was unfamiliar with the Deftones and may have mistakenly confused them with the Mighty Mighty Bosstones when he was approached for the collaboration.
As Chino explained to an interviewer with The Quietus:
"Black Stallion is something that we had an idea for about 20 years ago when we were making White Pony. At the time we were heavily influenced by a lot of electronic breakbeat type of music. DJ Shadow and UNKLE had made some of our favourite records at that time. So we approached him before the White Pony album was even recorded. We asked him if he would be interested in remixing our record for us but he didn’t know us, he thought we were ska: “The Deftones? Are you guys a ska band?”...The coolest thing for me was finding out a lot of the guests were already familiar with our music which I didn’t know. You kind of get people’s real interpretations and they use the parts of the songs that they most connect to and that’s cool. Sometimes it can be a chorus or a verse or a drumbeat or a whisper, they choose that bit to focus in on and to us, the creators of the music, it’s super interesting to hear that interpretation. It’s kind of a self-indulgent project but it turned out really well."- Moreno, What's In A Name?, John Doran, The Quietus (Sep 29, 2020) - https://thequietus.com/articles/28998-deftones-chino-interview
11. Stupid Music
The term Nu Metal can often elicit polarizing responses from those who either love it or hate it. While these opinions are debatable, the undisputed fact is that it was a genre of music which reached mega-mainstream popularity in the early 2000s. As many of these albums pass or arrive upon their 20th anniversaries, people look back on them with varying degrees of nostalgia. Some look back on the music as a guilty pleasure while others look back with some level of embarrassment.
Chino Moreno of the Deftones sees nothing wrong with admitting to liking a style of music that is often referred to as "stupid."
"I don’t think it’s us so much but definitely Limp Bizkit and s*** like that. I think motherf****** were embarrassed for that s*** back then, too. You can’t deny it. It’s f****** stupidly good, some of it, but they knew back then that it was stupid. I mean, listen to the words. It’s stupid. So it’s not like in retrospect they’re like, “I can’t believe I listened to that.” It’s like, “No, when you listened to it then, you knew it was dumb, but you liked it.” And that’s okay. No one should be embarrassed by s*** they like that’s dumb. Just like what you like. Who cares? Don’t try to be holier than thou. If you liked it then, don’t be embarrassed, because it wasn’t any smarter back then. It’s the same music it was 20 years ago. And you know what? It’s catchy. I get it. There’s nothing wrong with that." - Moreno, The Deftones Have (Almost) Found Balance, Craig Jenkins, Vulture (Sep 21, 2020) - https://www.vulture.com/2020/09/deftones-chino-moreno-interview-ohms.html