Thursday, September 21, 2017

Song facts: Deftones

California State Capitol


This isn't about school at all. The whole taking notes thing is just a metaphor. The song is an attack on all the bands that stole their sound, meaning the rap-metal genré they helped create.

This bitter attack on school cliques was recorded, according to singer Chino Moreno, when the Deftones' record company requested a hit for White Pony that would compete in the nu-metal market. The band reluctantly reworked that album's closer "Pink Maggit" and White Pony was then re-released with "Back to School" in a contentious move by the label. "I thought, I'm gonna show those f---ers how easy it is to create a hit," said Chino. "And so I rapped a hip-hop part on that song, we shortened it and half an hour later, the hit-single was ready to roll on."


This is the title track and second single from the Californian Rock band Deftones' sixth studio album.

Diamond Eyes is the first Deftones release since bassist Chi Cheng was seriously injured in an automobile accident, leaving him in a coma. Sergio Vega, the former bassist of post-hardcore band Quicksand, subsequently stepped in. Kerrang! asked vocalist Chino Moreno if he wrote about Chi on the album. He replied: "Of course there're a few lines inspired by Chi but I'm clever enough not to write about him directly. If anything it's a celebration of my friend and a really positive twist on where we are right now. It's a little more fantasy orientated but inspired by nightlife, feeling alive and being grateful for everything you have. It's good, positive stuff. It's about the underbelly of the world and about going out and living. I like to think of it as a record you could put on when you're ready to go out, and as a soundtrack to everything from that point of view until the sun comes up."

This song contains plenty of enigmatic imagery. Moreno told Spin Magazine about the lyrical direction that this track and the rest of the album takes: "I've been wanting to record a fantasy album like White Pony, where the lyrics are less, 'This is my life and this is what we're going through.' It helps take us away from reality. I don't like listening to people's problems - I like music. Music has been smothered with that complaining since the early-'90s. It gets old. Instead of going to the opposite side of the spectrum and listening to Black Eyed Peas, which is just straight silly, I choose to listen to more instrumental music. I do very little singing about myself on this record. I love songs where I can totally take myself out of being human. I can sing about really odd things, and they don't necessarily have to pertain to me at all. It paints a picture. Those are the kind of lyrics I grew up with - like the Cure. Really visual images and no storytelling."

Robert Schober, also known as Roboshobo, directed the song's music video. He has also helmed clips for Metallica and Mastodon. The video finds the band performing on a black soundstage as tiny pieces of broken glass float around Moreno.

Moreno explained to Spin magazine how the addition of Sergio Vega affected the record. Said Moreno; "It brought us closer together than we've been in a really long time. Musically, we were really clicking, and Sergio really fits with the band. But he's a different type of player than Chi; Chi plays with his fingers, Sergio plays with his pick. We're just appreciative that we're still alive and able to make music. The recording process was very different - we didn't use ProTools. We wrote each song in a practice place and played them a million times 'til they were perfect. That approach goes back to our earlier days, and it's a lot more personable. We work better when everybody's together - and the songs benefit."


This is the biggest hit for the Deftones, who released their first album in 1995 and spent time opening for Ozzy Osbourne and Korn. It's one of their few songs to get airplay on MTV and radio.

Some lyric analysis:

"Cloud come shove the sun aside" - sadness against happiness.

"And no sun in my summer" - The bad luck of being sad and poor in this world.

"There are no crowds in the streets" - Loneliness caused by social discrimination.

"The shade is a tool, a device, a savior" - Living in the shade is a solution to get far away from this.

"I try and look up to the sky, but my eyes burn" - Someone wants to bring us down everyday.

"Shove It" - These people don't care for anyone but themselves. These people are the "sky" (because they've got the cash), and when we try to get next to them, we want to return to our shade and just say, "Shove It."

According to, this was written in Seattle during the hot summer of 1994. Trapped inside of his room by the heat and sun, Chino Moreno boarded up his windows with aluminum foil and wished for "An apocalyptic-type thing" where all of the people on the streets would disappear and the sun would go away. He called this dream world "his own summer," which is where the song title comes from.

The video features a great white shark. Chino Moreno told NME: "I paid the bill for the director to go to Australia to collect footage to put in the video. The actual sharks in the video were mechanical except the footage they Cgied in at the end."


Frontman Chico Moreno (from Deftones World): "It's a classic Deftones song, with a rolling riff and some really interesting chords in the chorus. the vocals are kinda crazy - I'm singing out loud over the top of the music, like (The Smiths front man) Morrissey or something, a cool contrast."

Chino Moreno had placed a little Easter egg in the song, which no one appeared to have caught on to. He told Kerrang! years later: "There is a recurring line 'Here's my new address…' and on the last time I say, '6150 I confess.' That was my Gmail account for years and years yet no-one ever contacted me."


This song is a fine example of what happens when you want to be in love with the wrong person. After too many failures, you want the person to just go away. When you get back to being yourself without this person, you don't care about them anymore, but in typical human fashion, they want to come back into your life. But now you just say no, because you're so much better than they are. You get the chance to say, "Something's wrong with you and I hope we never do meet again."

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