Part of the enduring appeal of White Pony is its marriage of music that hits immediately with oblique lyrics that often defy direct interpretation. Then again, you don’t need to understand what Chino means when he sings ‘I taste you much better / Off teeth taste’ on Korea – you just feel it. What’s more, for all the poetic abstraction on offer, there remains a vivid cinematic quality to the narratives of songs like Change (In The House Of Flies), Digital Bath and Passenger. Abductions. Drug-induced hazes. Sexual fantasies. Doomed teenage romances. Murder via kitchen appliance and bathwater. Religious visions. In many ways White Pony is an album just waiting to be turned into a David Lynch film.
Released on June 20, 2000, it debuted at Number Three in the United States – catapulting the band onto the same shiny MTV shows and countdowns that typically featured Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys. Here, then, is an album that belongs in a rarefied fraternity of classic albums such as Nine Inch Nails’ The Downward Spiral, Soundgarden’s Superunknown, Tool’s Lateralus and Nirvana’s In Utero – a defiantly dark, scrupulously artistic and profoundly anti-commercial record that somehow tapped into an audience of millions worldwide.
Naturally, as with Adrenaline and Around The Fur, bands tried to imitate it, but this new blueprint was too complex to mimic (insert your own Shite Pony examples here). Bands could approximate the energy of Deftones’ music, but not the nuances, the musical intelligence and the lyrical abstraction. The Sacramento band had reached a summit even their most accomplished of peers could not.
What follows here are collated observations and reflections given to Kerrang! over the years by Chino Moreno and Abe Cunningham on the classic album that left indelible hoofprints on modern rock music…