“Zeromag dot net” – April 2001 // Stef Interviewed

“The Deftones Say….Shut Up, You Don’t Know Me”
Stephen Carpenter interviewed by Jason Pepe (Zeromag dot net 2000)



A lot has happened to the Deftones over the last decade. For years, the band played Northern
California’s club circuit along side Sinister Sam, Seed, Salmon and Disorderly Conduct.
Their sound was considered unique, refreshing and different by all of their peers.
Then, in 1995, mega-label Maverick caught wind, signed the band and released their first album
Adrenaline. It sold a half-million copies, garnered critical acclaim and got the band a loyal
fan base. Two years later, the band released their second Maverick album, Around The Fur, which
hit gold in no time. The band then hit the road, headlining clubs the Ozzfest and the Warped
tour. Now, in the year 2000, the Deftones offer their third Maverick album White Pony.
During the course of the albums recording, the Deftones never forgot about their fans.
They designed a one of a kind internet CD release party and released a special limited edition
of White Pony — 50,000 in red and black jewel cases respectively. These discs will feature a
bonus track and a different J-card. “It’s like a little gift to our hard-core fans,” admits
Stephen, guitar played for the band. “It’s our gift to the hard-core that are going to show up
the first day.”
“The core of our fan base — every fan is important to us — but the ones that have been there
since day one, for those people it our little way of saying ‘You’re cool’,” says Stephen. “It’s
a little extra something different, away from the norm. It’s nothing more than us saying thanks.
It’s not like saying ‘Ha ha the rest of you people aren’t cool. You didn’t get them.’ It’s not
like that. It’s just a little taste for those that have been here. They’ll know about it and go
get it.”
Another extra that is featured on White Pony is a track called “Passenger.” The song is a duet
with Chino (vocals) and Maynard (vocals for Tool & A Perfect Circle) doing a trippy call and
answer thing. “We’re friends with Maynard,” explains Stephen in regards to how the rack came
to be. “He respects our music and we respect his. We wanted to jam and see what would happen.
We actually went to just hook up with him just to bounce ideas off of each other and see how
things would come out if we worked and did something.”
“What he (Maynard) actually did with us — we already had the music worked out and it just
grabbed him,” says Stephen. “He just got involved. We were already doing all kinds of other
things, but that song was like the song out of all of the things we were doing that he just
latched on — it just triggered him — and he just went for it. He just felt it and said this
was the one.”
“We did all kinds of stuff with him (Maynard),” reveals Stephen. “We’ve got a whole bunch of
dat tapes that we did where we’re just jamming, you know. And it’s some tight, tight shit on
that mother fucking shit. And that’s just what we did off of the cuff. That song (“Passenger”)
is the one where, as far as his singing as the vocalist Maynard, that was the one that made him
just jump out and it made him just lay it in right from the start.” Definitely a song to spark
one up and drive to.
Speaking of sparking one up, in recent months the use of marijuana for medical purposes has
been gaining ground. Santa Cruz has pretty much made it legal, while other ventures have raised
the eyebrows of many state and country leaders. Maybe the time has come to realize that it’s a
plant — just a bloody plant. “It (pot) doesn’t have to be praised by the world or nothing like
that, it’s just got to be accepted,” explains Stephen. “If we live in such a civilized society
where we can say alcohol is legal to purchase after a certain age when everyone knows those two
are the killers, and pot can’t? How can you say the same thing about marijuana when no one who
gets high goes out and fights.”
“All the down sides to it (pot) are completely outweighed by the up side,” explains Stephen.
“People would be a lot more peaceful, a lot more creative, because their going to be thinking of
worlds of stuff to create anything new and a bunch of innovators will be born and all local
restaurants will come up. What’s going to happen? We’re going to eat. Eat and think.”

“The bottom line is, you can’t control something that everybody can grow,” continues Stephen.
“It will still be worth money even if you (government) said it was all right. Even if you were
granted permission and had a legal right to grow it, somebody would still want to buy it.
So how can you control that? You can’t tax it if you can’t control it.”
Many people try to find themselves by going back to their roots, back to their ancestry.
“I’m Stephen. I’m here now. Whatever my roots are it’s cool, but my roots don’t make me who I
am now. I make me who I am now.” And what makes up the “me”, which intern creates the “I”?
“If I don’t do what I want to do, I’m not ever going to be happy.”
“I’ve never been one of those people that seeks out to really know my ancestry because I really
don’t believe that it has any relevance to where I am and what I am,” reveals Stephen. “I don’t
ever want to rely on that (roots). It’s nice to know what you are (blood lines), but a lot of
people always want to know what they are so they can put themselves into a category and I hate
Some find their paths through life’s experiences. Some find their paths through spirituality.
Spirituality does not equate to religion. Religion is organized, while spirituality is more
within ones self. Despite not believing in Christ, Stephen is a very spiritual person. “I still
to some extent, from being raised Catholic, believe in the Catholic views,” explains Stephen.
“But I don’t really believe them because I know it’s such a brain washing control thing. And I
don’t know other religions and all of the details of them, but any religion that you pay money
to, there is no spiritual love there. Whether it be by donation or someone trying to raise the
money — it’s the same — it’s not spiritual.”
“The pyramids — the story is told — they hold the secret to our true origin, but that’s a
story as far as I’m concerned,” says Stephen. “I believe in science more than I believe in a
story and even then I got too many questions to say I believe it for sure. I grew up a religious
person and I’m not religious now. A lot of mother fuckers say that I’m crazy, but you know what,
I’m the furthest thing from a crazy person. I definitely trip out and over think some things too
much, but you know what, science can’t exactly prove where we’re from. And why is it that on our
dollar bill we have a pyramid with an eye? What’s that? And it says ‘In God We Trust’. Who’s
“Some years ago a friend was telling me about the pyramids and there is no human on this planet
that built the pyramids,” explains Stephen. “Who ever thought that the Egyptians built the
pyramids, they’ve been smoking crack and their family before them have been smoking crack too.”
Rumor has it, some time ago, during one of the big pyramids expeditions a metal door was found.
Next thing you know, the pyramid is shut down to the public. “That’s for real,” continues
Stephen. “They found a metal door in the middle of the pyramid that was unknown origin.
It was years ago I heard that. I had already lost my faith, but when I heard that shit I was
gone for good. I was like, man whatever.” Just remember, it’s never too late to turn back,
embrace Christ and the sacrifice he made for each and every one of us.

The whole alien / pyramid thing may sound a bit over the edge for some folks. That’s just fine,
because the Deftones music has always gone over the edge. “We’ve always done it (gone over the
edge) with subtly,” explains Stephen. “It just seems more apparent now because more people are
able to notice us now. I think people are looking at us more now than they’ve ever done that’s
why it seems more apparent. You know, I listen to our new record and I hear the same band that
I hear on every other record. I just hear it with a better production. That’s all I hear.”
Every band has their own unique formula for writing songs. Some have a sole songwriter. Some
bite from other bands songs. Some simply find structure through jamming together. For the
Deftones — it’s a combination of all three. “We try to make stuff all together,” says Stephen.
“Sometimes I might have a whole idea. I may bring it and it might get demolished right off
the bat. Whoever has an idea — bring it. Chances are, someone is going to like it and someone
isn’t going to like it. We just keep trying to go through things until we all find something we
all like.”
By writing in their own unique style, the band has created their own unique sound — a sound
that has influenced many bands and even influenced some of the bands influences. “That’s dope
man,” says Stephen. “It’s a good thing you know. When it first started happening it was kind of
weird and we were just a young band ourselves as far as the world was concerned. Then I was
like, that’s pretty fucking cool that people actually like our shit to that extent to want to
actually want to play like our music, or even that our music would even make them want to make
“Even Max from Soulfly,” explains Stephen. “We had a talk a long time ago. We’ve only known each
other for a few of years. So we were rocking to our record Around The Fur because it was just
coming out. It hadn’t come out yet but we already had our album and stuff.”
“We were kicking it and he’s like ‘Wow, that’s the riff where I got this song from.’ You know,
like telling me where he got his song from,” continues Stephen. “Then we were like ‘No way,
because that riff that you’ve got to put on your record, we got it from your other record.’
It goes in circles — you know what I mean.”
As Stephen brought up, people like Max have been playing these New Metal / Groove-core riffs
for nearly two decades. “The gods of it as far as I’m concerned are Faith No More,” admits
Stephen. “Faith No More was like one band out of so many that were doing it. I mean, look at
Primus. Primus were rap-rock, but none of them were rappers. Primus is rap if you break it down.
Like you said earlier — Fungo Mungo man. That was one of my favorite bands. I don’t know what
the hell happened to them.” The last this writer heard of Fungo Mungo, they had signed a deal
with Island Records, but that was years ago.
“And as far as influences go — not as far as the band, but me — I wrote a lot of the songs in
the beginning and back then they were real Primus influenced,” explains Stephen. “But it was
more metal based. I totally liked the band (Primus), it’s just that I never wanted to be like
them. And the guys in the band all wanted to be original, so we made our own sound with each
other. And to this day, we still don’t have one particular sound or style. We are always going
to be original in what we do as a band.”
Critics and writers have dubbed the Deftones “innovators of New Metal.” The band has been
credited by these same people for helping start a whole new kind of metal. “Everybody’s like
‘The new breed of metal’ and I’m like you don’t even know what New Metal is,” says Stephen.
“People talking about New Metal now a days makes me laugh, because they don’t even know what
original metal was about to begin with, otherwise they would understand that what’s out now is
not New Metal.” I guess metal is just that — METAL!

Sometimes success changes people. Sometimes the national spotlight morphs people into something
they never were but may have wanted to be. Other times, it robs them of their very soul. For the
Deftones, it’s only exposed them for what they are — a bunch of young men pursuing their
dreams. “We’ve definitely grown to where we’re at,” says Stephen. “We’re all the same people
we’ve always been. We do a lot of the same things we’ve always done and just doing it (playing
together) for so long you always look for different ways to express yourself.”
As seen on recent video footage and live performances, Chino (vocals) seems to have stepped up
and raised the intensity level to an all time high. “He’s still doing everything that he’s
always done,” comments Stephen. “He’s more into it than he’s ever been. He’s got more emotional
and mental freedom to deal with. He can just see things a little clearer and it makes him a
little more psyched up to do things. He’s always been psyched, but it’s just gotten better.”
When listening to any of the band’s three albums, there’s no denying that they’re all in your
face. Their music always pushes the envelope of what’s the norm, of what’s expected. And so far
as lyrics go, Chino always seems to take the strangest approach to the subject matters he
tackles. So where does it (lyrics) come from? What inspires them?
“It’s from his experiences and generalizations of how he feels and sees things from his
perspective,” says Stephen. “He doesn’t sing things in a way where it’s like ‘Hey this is what
you should do.’ It’s not like telling people to follow him — it’s not preachy. It’s more of a
release for him. He creates lyrics that make him sound good to himself and make him feel good
to sing them. Just being himself. When he does his lyrics he wants to make what makes him feel
good sound the best he can.”
“In his lyrics, I think he’s saying to give respect because he gives it to you,” says Stephen.
“It’s like — who are you to decide who I am or what I’m worth and not worth. That’s where he
gets a lot of his inspiration.” Now that’s turning a negative situation (being judged by others)
into a positive situation (writing a song about your own trials).
It’s no secret that the Deftones are huge video game fanatics. Hell, their promo picture is of
four of the five members gazing at a video game while Chi (bass) is sprawled out in mid air
like an Asian Superman. Seems they use video games to unwind and relax. Thus, it comes as no
surprise that the band will be featured on a video game. Their song “Street Carp,” the White
Pony logo and extensive video images of band (taken from their EPK) will be featured in THQ’s
new action game entitled “MTV Sports: Skateboarding Featuring Andy MacDonald”. Slated for a
fall release, the video game is being dubbed as “one of the most advanced skateboarding games
The concept for “MTV Sports: Skateboarding Featuring Andy MacDonald” is for the player to
choose one of thirty professional and fictional skaters, including 1999 X-Games Gold medal
winner Andy MacDonald, Colin McKay, Danny Way, Rick Howard, Steve Williams, Jen O’Brien and
many more. During the course of forty levels, the player has the option of combining any number
of the sixty featured tricks in an attempt to skate into the top spot. This video game is
slated to set new standards for its genre.
Now-a-days, many top bands release an EPK (electronic press kit) with their albums. For the
most part, a EPK is a video sampler of the album. With the Deftones, the EPK is more of a short
film than a video sampler. The film — written and directed by Shawn Foster of Naked
Productions and shot at Lacy Studios in downtown Los Angeles — is based in the abstract,
offering the viewer a chance to witness an eight minute journey through a morbid, yet erotic
The worlds humans have to breath with the help of a tank labeled White Pony. If one chooses to
take off their (oxygen / White Pony) mask, enforcers dressed in black appear out of nowhere and
take the violator away, as was the case for the futuristic woman who, at the moment of orgasm,
takes off her mask.
After watching this short film (EPK) and taking notice to the albums release date under a video
screen and the White Pony labels on all of the oxygen tanks, I had to know. “What is White
Pony?”, says Stephen. “You know, it’s kind of what ever you want it to be. How ever you can put
yourself into the equation. You know what I mean? We’re pretty neutral. It’s more like a freedom
The film paints a vivid picture of a tainted world, yet if we look at our present day world,
it’s nothing to brag about. I mean, we still have sickos lynching others for their skin color
or sexual preference. I guess this fictional reality is not too far from the reality we all
share. There’s always going to be someone trying to oppress someone else. It seems that it is
in our nature to try and control and to judge others. Just because it’s in our nature doesn’t
make it right.

“That’s the truth,” agrees Stephen. “I tell people all of the time — ‘You’re welcome to be
what you want in your life.’ If you want to be something within your own culture, that’s a
beautiful thing too. But it’s a beautiful thing for other people to be with who ever they want
to be with. What ever your shit is, do your thing. Do your thing, but do it with respect.
You don’t have to do everything all out, just because you hate people or to spite people because
you think your opinion is the best. Every culture has something good about it and people just
take it all out of control.”
at themselves. That’s where all of the problems stem from.”
“You know, I’ve always grown up in Sacramento and hearing people say that it’s a dump,” says
Stephen. “They say that they have to get out and I say go ahead, it’s going to be a dump where
ever you go. And the only reason I can say that is because I’ve been to San Francisco, I’ve
been to LA, New York, Chicago and Paris and London and I can honestly say that I’m the same
person everywhere I go. If I’m bored, it ain’t because of my surroundings. If there’s no party
it’s because I’m not partying.”
“People are always waiting for something to happen instead of making something happen,”
explains Stephen. “You know what happens when you make something happen? You get all of the
people that were wishing something was happening coming to you. It’s not that you’re doing
something else that no one else is doing. It’s that you’re doing something. Most people don’t
ever do anything. They always just sit around and wait for something to fall out of the sky and
hit them in the head. That’s not what life’s about. Just sitting around waiting, it’s (life)
just going to pass you right by — every last bit of it.”
“And it’s weird, because when I was younger I used to think like that,” reveals Stephen. “I
didn’t know any better. I look back on my childhood and I’m not mad. I wish I would have known
more or even better had the opportunity to know things better or even accepted what I heard.”
It sounds like Stephen has his head out of the fog and can see life clearly.
“I just started doing that really,” offers Stephen. “I’ve been working on it for maybe only
four years now. It was more like, I know I’m a good person and I don’t have to prove it to
anyone. I don’t even have to be liked by anybody. I like myself and I’m going to do what I want
to do. And by doing the things that you want to do and not worrying what anyone else thinks
around you — whether people say good things or bad things, just not worrying about it — it
frees your mind completely of all the shit that everyone deals with and you’re actually able to
see and achieve things. You’re able to experience things.”
“Experiences only come in life because you try to make them happen,” explains Stephen. “If you
don’t try to make them happen, it’s not going to happen. You might see someone else experience
some shit or some shit might happen to you, but it won’t be what you want unless you go out and
do it. And I know that just by trying it — I mean, I didn’t always succeed in everything I
tried to achieve — but the fact that I know that if I keep trying and if I look at things with
a positive attitude it will be positive.”
“There’s always going to be a negative,” admits Stephen. “You can’t have one without the other.
But when I do have experience with the negative side of things, it’s so much easier to handle it
because I have a positive attitude that I can step outside what is the negativity and look at it
from another angle and go ‘that’s not so bad’ and handle it. Once again, I’m back in the positive,
because I can role with it.”
“And just remember, I’m not really psycho,” admits Stephen. “Don’t take all of my alien shit and
place it against me, because I’m not psycho. I speak solely for myself (aliens, pyramids, taxes,
pot, culture). My opinions are purely mine and I don’t expect anyone to hear, adhere or be
taught by my thing.”
“The only thing to tell anyone — and would love to tell everyone — is to just be cool to one
another, respect each other because we’re all just people. The bad people are good people and
the good people are good people. Everyone has both good and bad in them. Before you look at
someone and pass judgment because of what you see, before you even know them, look at yourself.
The problems you see in them is what you see in yourself,” finishes Stephen.