“guitar.com” – May 2001 // Stef Interviewed

Stef Carpenter interviewd by Guitar.com

May, 2001

www.deftonesworld.com

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Guitar.com caught up with guitarist Stephen Carpenter backstage at the Riviera Theatre in 
Chicago to talk about his band’s sudden success, the state of the pop charts, and of course, 
guitar playing. Carpenter also shared some playing tips with us in the two accompanying video 
lessons. 

Guitar.com: Your new album debuted pretty high on the charts.

Stephen Carpenter: Yeah it did…I expected higher ’cause I know our shit’s worth it. 
I don’t really pay attention to the charts, so I don’t know who was occupying it or not. 
I don’t know if there was competition or not, but obviously there was. 
Had the two people in front of us not put out records recently, we would have been number one. 
Number three is number one to us. If you put us in perspective to number two and number one, 
we’re pretty much number one in what we’re doing. So it’s pretty cool. 
It’s Britney and Eminem. “Hey man, you guys need to step down.”

Guitar.com: How do you feel about the current state of music? 

Carpenter: It’s weird. What’s really going on, we don’t relate to at all, other than the 
fact that there’s some loud guitars. There’s not even that much screaming going on anymore. 
If everyone was talking about us, let’s just say that it was the talk, and was on everybody’s 
mind –- it doesn’t effect what we’re doing. If there were suddenly 10 million people there, 
it would be the same thing for us, just more people. It’s not, “Oh, now we’re rock stars and 
let’s try to be cool.” It’s like, “OK, what songs do you want to play?” 

Guitar.com: You helped pioneer much of the heavy tone and guitar stylings that are currently 
very popular. How do you feel about that? 

Carpenter: I don’t really think about it. I don’t think that we pioneered anything that hasn’t 
been done. Before us it was Rage, before Rage was Faith No More. 
It’s not like we really pioneered it. I mean we’ve been around longer than Rage. 
We ain’t been around on the worldwide circuit as long as Rage –- we’ve been together 12 years. 
That’s awhile. But it’s not our goal to be famous, just to be successful doing what we like to 
do 

White Pony is full of the aggro guitar tones that Deftones guitarist Stephen Carpenter has 
been cranking out for years. But the experience of a few years on the road and three studio 
albums, has led to a few refinements in his gear, and a few minor changes in his playing style… 
read more

Guitar.com: Were Rage Against the Machine and Faith No More influences for you? 

Carpenter: Well, Faith No More for sure was an influence, not so much Rage because by 
the time Rage came around, we were already doing that same shit. 
We’ve never been a one style of music kind of band. If you listen to our records, 
each song is different from the last song and each record is different from the last. 
But the attitude and emotion that goes into writing our songs is the same all the way through. 
Our sound -– our core sound –- is always there. 

Guitar.com: How do you write your music? 

Carpenter: For me it’s not like trying to be a player more than I’m trying to hear sounds and 
songs, not some bugged out piece no one can figure out. We try to tweak music to where it isn’t 
so perfectly regular. We all know each other so well that before anyone tries to play, 
I know what they’re gonna play. So I change what I’m doing, to throw them off because 
I want them to change. I mean, I love bands like AC/DC but every song is the same. 
I don’t know how they remember what song is what. 

Guitar.com: Have you changed your guitar style much since Deftones started recording? 

Carpenter: No. The different thing now to even five years ago is tunings. 
Other than it’s my same physical approach to my instrument. 
If I find something good, will the rest of my band like it? If I come to the table with a 
thousand ideas, I could walk away with maybe three that everyone likes. As a player, by myself, 
I think everything I’m doing is great. I’m no virtuoso. I don’t know theory,
can’t play a solo to save my life. I don’t worry about it. To me music comes out 
from a sincere point in your person. Even if it’s the most simplistic part. 
If there’s sincerity you’ll know. 

Guitar.com: But critics and even the general public are always asking for something different. 

Carpenter: That’s what’s so dope about our fans. Our audience is a reflection of our taste. 
As a whole, our audience is one audience, but it’s comprised up of so many different kinds of 
kids that like different kinds of music. Someone will come up and tell you, 
“Oh I love this song, it’s your best song ever,” and somebody else will be like, “What?” 
That’s what’s so cool.
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