Songs that Made Me Like the Band: "Passenger"

Seeing as I spent last night rocking out to Deftones—for the first time—live at Vegas’ House of Blues, I figured it would be a perfect time to discuss what drew me to this band in the first place.

All of my friends rocked out to Deftones long before I did. Most of them started when their second album, Around the Fur dropped. This was also right about when Deftones toured with Korn (after the joint venture of “Wicked” on Korn’s Life is Peachy) and had become that “smaller sort” of popular band. "My Own Summer (Shove It)" seemed to be all over the radio and my friends’ sound systems. My cousin, in particular, was already hanging their posters on his walls and was quite enamored with the album. As a result, I was forced to listen to it on one too many occasions. But, for me, their sound didn’t mesh. I didn't think Chino fit the band, or that the band didn’t fit Chino. Those first two albums sounded like two people having separate conversations but were too stubborn to give in and join the other. On its own, the band sounded good, and if he’d been soloing it up, I would’ve liked Chino, too. But together, the two positives became a negative.

Of course, everyone thought I might have down syndrome and didn't know what the balls I was talking about. I suppose I couldn't blame them since, at this point, my earholes were living on a steady diet of Korn, The Cardigans, and Failure. And despite Deftones having been compared to Korn, I couldn’t get on board with them.

Then White Pony came out, and their first single, "In the House of Flies" already had my attention: It was so different than their last two albums, and I actually thought the band and Chino were working together—finally. My friends snagged this album up, and “Passenger” was one of the first tracks my good friend Aaron forced on me, as Tool had become another of our crew's favorites. (I mean, really, Maynard has a killer voice. As my coauthor put it, “Voice of calm, words of chaos.” One of my favorite male singers, hands down.)

So when I heard that track, all of the dissonance of Deftones’ previous albums came crashing down around me, replaced by this stunning rhythm and dream-like quality to the vocals. And the way the chorus builds each time with Maynard's "Roll the windows down..." holy shit, it made me want to do just that. Like this was a song that demanded to be blasted in the wee small hours of the morning, when it’s at its darkest moment, with every window down, hand playing in the air currents, and screaming the lyrics at the top of my lungs.

Sadly, I don't recall ever having actually done that, but this song made me feel like Deftones, finally, found their distinct voice. There were still a few “off” tracks with White Pony, some a bit too disjointed for me, but when their next, self-titled, album dropped, I thought they nailed it. And the three subsequent discs are—in my opinion—most excellent.

Oh, and the concert? I screamed along to “Passenger.” And even without Maynard, it was bad ass. Bad. Ass.