Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Album That Changed My Life #6 Deftones - 'White Pony'

So the album I've chosen for my own personal 'Album That Changed My Life' is possibly an odd one for anyone that's been following the blog, or maybe not , and came about only after I'd eliminated other great albums that had been a formative influence on my music tastes, and also me personally, but the album that changed my life was 'White Pony' by Sacramento quintet Deftones.

So let me row back almost ten(fuck!) years to a just gone thirteen Stephen O ' Connor.It's not the prettiest picture.Terminally shy, awkward, pimple faced and quite a bit overweight, let's just say I wasn't the most outgoing, or probably well liked kid in my year.The couple of months in secondary school had been a wee bit rough(though when your thirteen EVERYTHING'S rough, so like, bummer) , but suffice to say by the time December had rolled around, I was quite a glum little dude.

Now I had always been a music fan , way back to when my mum and dad would let me stay up late on Friday nights, have a drink and then put on a mix of music that I've only recently come to realise would have a lasting effect on me , a bizarre hotchpotch of Queen, Talking Heads, Squeeze, Bowie, Smokie , REM and the obligatory Irish folk stuff, though even that being the like sof The Pogues, Christy Moore etc, decent enough tunes, and at age nine I had purchased my very first( and last, sad face) Sony Walkman from some  birthday money, and a few random tapes, mostly stuff like Eminem and Stereophonics, then later on The Offspring and Travis(Americana is still one of my favourite punk albums, I am quite happy to say).Later on , hitting twelve, I had bought a discman(awkward, bulky fuckers, remember them?), and had moved on to the righteous(cough) Nu-Metal sounds of such musical luminaries as Limp Bizkit, Linkin Park and em, Staind.

However by the time I was halfway through my first year of 'BIG' school , I was hungry for something more, something darker, leaner.We had just gotten cable in my house for the first time ever, and  through illicit late night viewings of Zane Lowe and MTV2 , I had come across first the seven string, hip hop tinged dissonance of some band called Korn , but also something possibly heavier.One night, watching an hour long 'rock' show that I used to drift in and out of between reading fantasy novels an fapping my brains out( sorry, but I was an adolescent boy), something caught my eye on the TV.It was a music video ,featuring five skater looking dudes , standing out in the middle of the ocean, and roaring the words 'SHOVE IT'!!! to a great white shark in a cage, the shark looking somewhat terrified, and not happy .It was weird, stirring stuff, the rotund singer alternating between a bellicose howl and a heartfelt croon, while the guitars sounded,  to my naive ears anyways,  like the heaviest thing that had ever been committed to tape.The band was Deftones, and the song 'My Own Summer'.I was hooked.

So a few weeks later, again with some of my leftover christmas money, procured from various aunties and friendly neighbours, I persuaded my poor, long suffering mum to bring me to a strange place called HMV, on Dublin's Henry Street.I ran to the metal section as soon as I came through the door, and scouted around.I had money enough for two albums, and so the first I picked up was Korn's magnum opus(well , for them) 'Life Is Peachy', and after a little bit more hunting around , spied but one Deftones CD, 'White Pony', which unfortunately did not contain the song I had been looking for, but I decided to take the plunge, being a fearless little bastard.Bringing the CD's to the counter( and then to my mum when the tosser behind the counter refused me the sale owing to the 'Explicit Lyrics'  content sticker on both CD's), and then later home, I was racked with excitement , finally some proper heavy metal !

'Life Is Peachy' went on first, and proved well, fun, and as heavy as expected, even if certain parts did creep me out (Davis saying he was going to kill his mother being one, ADIDAS being another), while others bored the pants off me(Korn today simply bore me).But when I put on the other CD, it was a whole  different kettle of fish.From the first , stinging riff of 'Feticeira', Stephen Carpenter's wall of sound guitars raping my innocent ears, I was transfixed.'Digital Bath' followed, and it was safe to say that while I had heard heavy music that was poppy, angry, frustrated, etc, but I realised at that moment that I had never before heard heavy music that was this beautiful.'Elite' was next , and brought the aggression, though in a sardonic, knowing way, while 'RX Queen' was again soothing and even  romantic, a concept I hadn't really grasped yet , but at least could now at least try and figure out.
The rest of the album was, and is, just as stunning, and I defy anyone who listens to 'Passenger', the duet between 'Tones' vocalist Chino Moreno and Tool frontman Maynard James Keenan, to not feel bowed by the sincerity of emotion , not to mention sheer passion , of the two singers.This was music to keep you company on shit days, and celebrate good ones with you, emotion, but not the base, senseless anger of the Nu-Metal bands, or the anachronistic sentiments of pop.This was complex, yearning, searching stuff, not meant for mass consumption, but offered up and open to anyone willing to try and understand it, and listen to it.

Today I 'm sitting here typing this a much happier, a little thinner , a fair bit older, but still , I'd like to  think at heart I'm the same gawky kid, with the messed up spiky hair who geeks out a little bit too much about music.I still wet myself with anticipation at new releases, sing too loud at gigs, and crave new sounds, and songs, to feed my addiction.But here was where it began, with 'White Pony', and even listening to it now, it never fails to stir up something a bit melancholic, a bit romantic, and a bit crazy in me. This is the album that changed my life.

Stephen O ' Connor, For Born Again Nihilist
Have you had an album that changed your life?Tell us!Just email us on a short paragraph or two detailing what album and why it changed your life to bornagainnihilist@gmail(dot)com, and we'll put it up!You don't even have to send us in your name, just share that first thrill of hearing something great.

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