On June 20, 2000, the band released their third album, White Pony, again produced by Terry Date and Deftones. It was recorded at The Plant Studios in Sausalito, California and at Larrabee Sound Studios, West Hollywood, California. The album debuted at number three in the US Billboard chart with sales of 178,000 copies.Delgado (DJ Speedboat) was now a full-time band member, adding new elements to the band’s music. The melancholy “Teenager”, for example, was a radical departure in style and mood, a “love song,” according to Moreno, which incorporated elements of glitch and trip hop, with programming duties carried out by Moreno’s friend and side-project Team Sleep bandmate DJ Crook. A collaboration with singer Maynard James Keenan of Tool is present on “Passenger”. The refrain in “Knife Party” features vocals by Rodleen Getsic, and Scott Weiland did some backing vocals on “RX Queen”. Moreno has also started contributing additional guitar on several tracks.
An interview with the band in Alternative Press explained the recording process of White Pony. After a break from touring, the band spent four months in the studio writing and recording White Pony, the longest amount of time they had dedicated to an album thus far. Moreno explained that the majority of this time was spent trying to write songs, and that the writing of “Change (In the House of Flies)” was the turning point where the band began working as a group. Despite being pressured to release the album sooner, the band decided to take their time making the album. Cheng explained that “We didn’t feel like we had anything to lose, so we made the record we wanted to make.” Moreno did not have a common theme in mind lyrically, but made a conscious decision to bring an element of fantasy into his lyrics, explaining that “I basically didn’t sing about myself on this record. I made up a lot of story lines and some dialogue, even. I took myself completely out of it and wrote about other things.”
Reviews were generally positive, noting Moreno’s increasing sophistication as a lyricist and the group’s experimentalism.Of White Pony, one reviewer wrote that “Deftones went soft, but in an impressive way, to twist around its signature punk sound.”
The album was originally released as an 11 track version beginning with “Feiticeira” and ending with “Pink Maggit” and featuring gray cover art. A limited edition print of 50,000 black and red jewel case versions of White Pony were also released at the same time with a bonus 12th track entitled “The Boy’s Republic”. Later, the band released “Back to School (Mini Maggit)”, a rap-influenced interpretation of the album’s closer, “Pink Maggit”. “Back to School (Mini Maggit)” was track 11 on the leaked pre-release version of White Pony in April 2000, but not included on the original (official) issue of the album in June 2000. The leaked version of White Pony also included the slower version of “Pink Maggit” which appeared on the first official White Pony CDs. That song was listed as a bonus track (track 12) on the leaked pre-release version.The song was picked up as a single and placed as the new opening track (with “Pink Maggit” still the closer) of a re-released White Pony on October 3, 2000 featuring altered white cover art. Not entirely happy with re-releasing the album, the band negotiated to have “Back to School” made available as a free download for anyone who had already bought the original album. Chino noted that “Everybody’s already downloaded our record before it came out anyway, otherwise I’d be kind of feelin’ like, ‘Man, why [are] we putting [out] all these different versions of the record?’ […] that’s the best way we can actually get this song out to the people who already purchased this record, for free basically. And if they wanna buy the record again, it’s cool.”
White Pony achieved platinum status on July 17, 2002,selling over 1.3 million copies in the US, and earning the band a 2001 Grammy award for Best Metal Performance for the song “Elite”.
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