Months after releasing White Pony, Maverick Records reps wanted Deftones to re-record one of the album’s tracks (“Pink Maggit”) to make it more radio friendly. A little downsizing and tweaking of the source material, coupled with some hip-hop scatting by Chino Moreno and more than a little semi-sublimated anger at having to capitulate to this request, and the label had their hit and new lead-off track, “Back to School (Mini Maggit).” There’s nothing wrong with “Back to School,” especially if you’re fond of what Deftones accomplished on their previous two albums. But as the rest of White Pony ably illustrates, the group was ready to graduate.
They could still hit hard when they wanted to — see the Grammy-winning “Elite” for proof of that — but Deftones was interested in more than just throwing haymakers. They wanted to stretch things out (as on the haunting “Digital Bath”), to write new types of songs (like the malfunctioning balladry on “Teenager”), and to see what they could get away with. Turns out their fans felt the same way: While “Back to School” was a success by most standards, it ended up lower on the Billboard Modern and Mainstream Rock charts than the other two White Pony singles, including the monolithic and decidedly out-of-character “Change (In The House Of Flies).” White Pony didn’t signal the end of Deftones as a metal band; it just signaled that folks outside of that subculture better start paying attention.