“Teenvoice” – 1999 // Stef Interviewed

Exclusive Deftones Interview
By Kate Pinsley and Stacey Sublett (Teenvoice Webzine)
© 1999

Being the opening act on a bill featuring Pantera and the recently reunited Black Sabbath is
obviously a daunting task, but if any act can handle it, it’s the Deftones.
Despite the common problem of poor audience attendance for opening acts , the Deftones still
put on an energized show at the Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, N.J. last Friday
night. Before the show, Teenvoice a chance to speak to guitarist Stef Carpenter about everything
from their stint on the Australian Warped Tour to MTV and an upcoming homevideo.

Teenvoice: So, they say that youre the internet guy…

Stef: Yeah, I don’t go online a lot. I go on long enough to get my email, and get off.
Every once and a while I go cruise around and check some sh*t out, but, ya know, I don’t really
got time to sit…No, I’d rather be off doing something more than sitting on my computer.

Teenvoice: How’s the new album coming?

Stef: Nothing’s going on with the new album right now. It’s all talk. I mean, we’re on tour.
We don’t write songs on tour.

Teenvoice: When are you going back into the studio?

Stef: Gonna try and see some time this summer. Get the album out by the end of the year.
Well, not by the end of the year…like, October.

Teenvoice: How was the Australian branch of the Warped Tour?

Stef: Well, it was Australian, so it was like a big camping trip, like all the people that
were on tour. Well, actually, it’s definitely not like the tour here, cause everyone here
had buses, or RVs, or vans, or something. Over there, only the bigger bands can afford to
travel in their own RVs and stuff like this. Ya know, it was still pretty lame travel,
but it was better than traveling in the van. They had, like, the 40-seat passenger van,
where everybody was rolling there.
Just, ya know, hot and tired, a real gross kind of vibe. You get to the gig, and you gotta
deal with these really torn up tents in the night. One night…it rained a couple times and
people got totally, all their stuff all soaked. It’s pretty ghetto, to say the least.
We didn’t partake in that aspect of it. We had our own little RV and stayed in hotels.
We’re rock stars. *laughs* We wanted to go, but we didn’t want to be all “ghettoed out” .
We’ve been doing that for years. Chino and replacement bassist Sergio Vega of Quicksand

Teenvoice: So, now you’re big, huh?

Stef: No, we’re not big. We just can afford to pay for our own stuff now, that’s all.
So it’s either pay for it, and be comfortable, or don’t pay for it…
You don’t really save any money not doing it, so you might as well be comfortable, right?

Teenvoice: Limp Bizkit mentioned you in their song, “Indigo Flow”. What’s your relationship
with Bizkit?

Stef: No, we don’t really have a relationship with them other than that.
They’re like friends of ours, but when we see them…I don’t really talk to any of them,
like call ’em up or anything like that. I think Chino might talk to them, Fred or something
like that, every once in an while. But I mean, we’re not really friends with anyone unless
we’re seeing them. We don’t hang out with bands. We’re not like, ya’ know, homeboys with
everyone. We’re friends with damn near every band there is out there that everyone knows
right now. But, I mean, I don’t call them all up, buggin’ them all up, joggin em’ ‘Oh yeah,
let’s go, let’s kick it, let’s go on tour, man!’ I don’t really care. *laugh*

Teenvoice: You guys don’t use 5-string basses and 7-string guitars like some of the more
popular hardcore bands that have recently become popular.

Stef: Yeah, ’cause that sh*t sucks. *laughs*

Teenvoice: If you could bring one celebrity back from the dead, who would it be?

Stef: One celebrity from the dead? Ummm…So many good ones…ummm…I think if I had to,
I’d bring back Frank Sinatra.

Teenvoice: Why?

Stef: Cause he’s just too cool. He’s done so much for so long and it’s always been quality.
He just been part of mayhem his whole life, in one form or another.

Teenvoice: You write most of the music…

Stef: I write all the music…here’s my breakdown, I do about 85% of the music, and not because
I’m like ‘its my music’ or anything like that, it’s just, me and Abe we jam a lot and I just
come up with a lot of the riffs stuff like that. And the other 15% is really kinda if someone
else brings an idea in or somebody changes what ideas I’ve already had, you know, and its not
like I don’t wanna hear anyone else’s stuff, just, you know, no one really comes to the plate
with a lot of stuff, so I brin g it in. Chino does all the lyrics you know, I’ve never ever,
I never get involved with his lyrics, that would be pointless, why? I mean for me to hand him
some words to sing when I’m not singing them…he can’t say something that I feel, or
understand only in my brain, you know what I mean, so it would make no sense for him…
so I don’t even bother. And its kinda like that for every one of us, I mean Abe plays drums,
I’m not gonna tale Abe how to play a beat. And he’s a better drummer than I, so he just does
what he does, and same thing for every one of us. They all think they can play better guitar
than me, so they’re always trying to tell me how to play a song or whatever.
And the greatest is when they tell me I played something wrong, even though I made it up.
Like how can I play something I made up wrong? I’m allowed to change it, it’s my stuff! *laugh*

Teenvoice: Do you think that some your fans may overlook the more subtle qualities of your music?

Stef: No, I tell people all the time around the world, you know, when I hang out with different
bands, friends, and stuff like that, I tell them, I said, We definetly don’t have the largest
crowd there is in the world yet, but the people that do love our band are the coolest people,
cause they actually like music.
‘Ya know? I’m sure there are people out there that like us cause we’re, like, popular.
It’s inevitable. But I think the real fans out there are not fans of us because of who we are,
but they actually love the music. They’re music listeners. They enjoy listening to something
that actually makes them feel something versus like it being some kind of popular music,
and it just being exploited or anything like that. We’re not, we’re like so many kinds of
music, but becaus e it’s so loud or distorted people don’t hear the different subtle things
that we put into it. Ya know? And I know for sure..like, we said this before, when we did our
last record, even when we start doing newer stuff, the heavier stuff’s just gonna get heavier,
and the more moody stuff’ll just be more moody. But not because we’re trying to be more moody,
or more heavier, we’re just gotten better at it, and know how to mess with the music more.
I make it a little more creative. Instead of just ripping off somebody’s style and being part
of some scene, we don’t want to be like any band. We love too many bands to be like any one
band, and quite honestly, it’s really weird ’cause, being a guitar player, people always ask
me, ‘What do you listen to? What makes you play guitar?’ I don’t listen to guitar bands at all.
I listen to drum & bass all the time. That’s what makes me get excited. I just happen to play
guitar. If I’m excited, I have my guitar, then I’m having fun, that’s wh at I like.
I don’t listen to what’s the latest happenings of bands so I can be, like, part of that…
I’m not trying to fit in at all, none of are trying to just fit in.
We’re doing what we want to do and sometimes it’s what’s going on, and sometimes it’s not.
But we don’t pay attention to it. I mean, we notice it…you’re gonna notice it,
just being a part of something, ya know you see it. But we didn’t try to…we’re not active
participants in trying to be parts of this new scene of bands, trying to be cool.
We just wanna have fun and look back on it 40 years from now and go, ‘remember that time we did
that show?’ Just having good memories, good life experiences is what we do. We’re not trying to
be rock stars. Rock stars is like one of our…it’s not an inside joke, but, ‘ya know,
an inside joke for us, like I joke around, playing the rock star thing out to a hilt at times
cause people want to see it. They kind of expect it from you instead of just going, just coming
up to me and saying, ‘Hey Stef, how ya’ doing?’ ‘Ya know, like I was just anyone else, like,
they just assume I’m a rock star, so I give them the rock star thing. *laugh*

Teenvoice: Take it while you can, kind of?

Stef: Well, no, I mean it’s just for fun…We don’t do anything like, ‘Well, we can only
have green M&M’s’ or anything like that. You know what I mean? It’s just the antics, rock
star antics, if you will. It’s more of, we put on a show for people, not because we want to
give a show, but we get a kick, like we don’t get the same thing that our audience gets, in
the sense that they come and watch us play and they hear the music. When we go onstage,
we love playing the music and we have fun, but we lo ve watching the audience. In the audience,
I don’t think anyone notices themselves in the audience, but when you’re onstage, you see
everyone’s face and what everyone’s doing. It’s like tons of different little activities going
on, and you get to see it a ll happen. If the lights are on the crowd…usually the lights are
on you don’t see past the front of the stage its like ‘be careful, don’t go near the end of it
you’re falling off…’

Teenvoice: What do you think about the current popularity of boy bands?

Stef: I think they’ve always been popular, they never stopped being popular, I just think
there’s more of them now than there ever has been, that’s all. I think before, when it was
years ago, it was more like people looked up to one boy band vs. there being a whole posse
of them out there and everybody having MTV bombard them with nothing but hip-hop and boy
bands and any solo girl artists and duets and just f**king crap *laugh*.
I don’t even watch MTV at all, I just never turn it on cause I know what I’ll see, and it’s
nothing good. It’s not saying what’s on there isn’t good, I just don’t want to see it.
If I want to hear what the latest top 40 hip-hop/rap song is, I’ll turn on MTV and see it.
If I missed the ‘dopest’ new video, I’ll see it the next hour. They show it all just over and
over and over. There’s no need to be sitting in it. Half the time I turn on MTV there’s not
even a video on, its some program of some sort. You now, “Real World,” “Road Rules,” “Road Rules
Meets Real World,” “The Old Cast Battles out the New Cast, of this show.” Who cares?

Teenvoice: I heard a rumor that you weren’t going to make any more videos…

Stef: Well we stopped making them for the last record yeah.

Teenvoice: But for the next record?

Stef: Actually, I’m really into multimedia stuff, I do lots of graphics and I’m just now
getting into video-editing and all that. I’m probably gonna do our home video this year.
When we get home I’m starting. I got myself, my personal self, I got at least 100 tapes of
things to go through. And Abe’s got probably a good 60 tapes to go through. And we’re
talking like 90 min. tapes, 120 min. tapes. I’m not gonna have a life when I go home if I
do this video, I’m gonna be browsing, gonna pray, gonna hope I can do it fast and still be
learning the software at the same time. I’m gonna have no life, I’m gonna be a complete dork
when I’m done this year.

Teenvoice: So tell us about your involvement in Subharmonic Interface?

Stef: In the what?

Teenvoice: Subharmonic Interphase…

Stef: Where’d you get that from?

Teenvoice: Isn’t that your side project?

Stef: Yeah, that’s mine, but how’d you hear about that? Cause I don’t ever be talking about
it…it’s just like Chino’s Team Sleep, it’s more talk than existence right now.
Me and my friend Chris, he used to be in Horace Nine,now he’s in Helmet or he was in
Helmet and now he’s doing his own thing. We’ve been talking about jamming together for
the last 4 years. But with our scheduling, his scheduling, we’ve never been able to hook up.
So when we go home to do this, that’s another thing I want to do when I go home. So I’m just
gonna be like busy busy busy busy….I’ll never stop, this will be like the busiest year I’ve
ever had in my entire life.

Teenvoice: What plans do the Deftones have for the future?

Stef: Well, lots of stuff. I mean, we’re gonna do the record this year, and we’re gonna try
and get the home video out. We’re gonna…we’ll do videos for the next record out, like no
question, that I’m sure we will. I don’t think they’ll be anything like the ones we’ve done
before, but those were kinda like, we put fait h in our record label and they picked people
out. It’s not like, nothing against them, but those videos, the videos we have done have got
nothing to do with us or what we want. And it’s like we just want, it’s gonna be our way or
the highway on the videos . We’re either gonna do them the way we wanna do them, or we’re just
not gonna do them. They’re a huge waste of money. Cause they just…There’s no way our videos
are gonna get played, so what’s the point of spending half a million dollars on a video?
Just give me half a million dollars, lemme go buy a house, and I’ll tour for the next
5 years straight. I mean, I’d much rather do that than pay for a video that’s never gonna
get played but maybe a handful of times. It’s just not that important to me.
We’re not selling…we don’t sell albums from video play. We don’t sell albums from being on
the radio. Those places are like where we’re at a minimum right now. It doesn’t have no big
impact that I feel we go out there…..
(break in tape)
…cause you really don’t know what’s gonna happen at the show. We don’t even know!
It’s like a circus. It’s not planned out.