'White Pony' Turns 20: Mike Shinoda reveals how Deftones's iconic album inspired Linkin Park
One of the stand-out alt-metal bands from the American music scene, Deftones, recently came in for some richly-deserved recognition and praise for their stellar contributions to the world of metal and avant-garde rock. The Sacramento-based four-piece band recently celebrated the 20th anniversary of their 'White Pony' release on June 20, 2000, which was one of their most iconic and seminal albums. Filled with hard-rocking nu-metal anthems as well as a swirling, experimental sound with layers of melodic shoegaze and trip-hop textures, the genre-blurring album was certified platinum two years later. This was also the first album that featured turntablist Frank Delgado as a fulltime member, with another first being vocalist Chino Moreno starting to contribute rhythm guitar parts to songs. Other artists who featured on the moody masterpiece included Stone Temple Pilots' Scott Weiland, Tool's Maynard James Keenan and actress Rodleen Getsic.
Thanks to their wonderfully finessed song structures and otherworldly, dreamy sounds, Deftones soon got labeled "the Radiohead of metal" following the release of 'White Pony'. And plenty of other talented artists and up-and-coming musicians had been following their rise to mainstream success and taking inspiration from their incredible approach to sound. One of them was Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park fame, who along with a bunch of stars like actor Colin Hanks, rapper Murs and Derek E Miller from Poison the Well, paid tribute to the legendary band in a recent Spin article.
Shinoda said, "I think everyone who was following what the band was doing was really excited to see what would come next. Deftones just has such a unique sound and aesthetic, and 'White Pony' was the album that took such a big step up in terms of communicating who the band was."
Talking about their harsh-yet-lush sound, the star emcee said, "Chino’s sense of eerie and unconventional melody, the band’s technical chops, and the engineering and production all felt really innovative and fresh when it came together. Nobody was making anything that sounded like that, and when people did, you could tell they were inspired by Deftones." He also admitted that some of Linkin Park's music was inspired by Deftones, which is the ultimate compliment. "We wouldn’t have written a song like 'A Place for My Head' if not for them. There was a bounce to their music that reminded me of my favorite hip-hop songs. And even though the guitars were super heavy, oftentimes they felt smooth like a keyboard, as if the distortion had flattened it so much it was just a wash of chords."
Shinoda also paid tribute to the Deftones' songwriting abilities, saying, "White Pony was one of the few albums I was into where I barely knew any of the words. They felt like estimations of lyrics, to me — really abstract and intuitive. I probably still think some of the lyrics say things they don’t say. But isn’t that the beauty of music? A listener’s experience with it can be such an integral part of the song, that it takes over the song's actual intention or meaning."