Deftones - A chat with Stef Carpenter
An interview with Deftones, musically one of my all time favorites. Ever since I joined Metalrage.com I had fantasized about it and on June 10th 2006 it was scheduled to take place. As I walked towards the entrance of the venue a huge guy on a chair asks me what’s up. I told him I was there for an interview. The intimidating big guy, of whom I later heard that he is ex-head of security for Metallica, went inside to arrange things. After checking the press list and some discussion about the attendance of a second Metalrage crew member, I met Stef Carpenter, the guitarist, and we sat down in a room to have a conversation.
In an interview Abe said that he read on the internet that ‘Saturday Night Wrist’ was going to be the title of the next record..
“Yeah I don’t know anything about the title of the record, none of us in the band has even spoke about it as a whole.”
Okay, because how did that come up?
“I don’t know how it came up, it was probably likely Chino. Whereas someone made it up, if it wasn’t him someone else made it up.”
Your performances on stage are always pretty intense and after all these years you still have a lot of contact with the audience, where do you draw this energy from except from the audience?
“I don’t know. It’s just what we do. We just go and do how we do it, really, there’s no recipe or guidelines for how we do it, that’s for sure. It’s just chaos at its best.”
I read it all the time that Deftones inspire other artists. For instance a few weeks ago I read this article about a string quartet that will be releasing a Deftones tribute album..
“I haven’t read that but I’ve heard about it.”
Okay, so what’s your feeling about inspiring other artists?
“I think it’s really cool. At the end of the day all musicians are inspired by other musicians. To be part of it is pretty cool. The fact that somebody can draw influence from our own stuff, that’s pretty cool.”
For the new album you chose to work with Bob Ezrin, fired him and then you hired Aaron Sprinkle. What brought you to this decision and what do you think is his influence on the sound?
“Well, Ezrin was chosen by Chino and Abe, and was also fired by Chino and Abe, because they were the two guys who had the hardest time working with him, hahaha.”
So eh, what was he like in the studio?
“Well, he’s just used to working with professionals that’s all, you know, people that have got their stuff together. We don’t ever operate like that. We deal with stuff in the moment all the time. What feels good at the time. There’s not a huge regiment of (…) responsibility, I guess that’s the ultimate word, we just go with the flow of the time and place we’re at. Sometimes it’s very productive, other times we get nothing done, hahaha.”
Is that also why the release dates get postponed all the time? I was wondering, when do you consider an album is finished?
“When it’s in the stores.”
Yeah, okay but when do you guys think ‘Okay, this is cool, this is it, we should release this!’?
“Well, the reason why people are always confused about release dates is because Chino goes off to people telling when we’re gonna do stuff. He does it with a good heart, he’s got well intentions, but he never sits down and works it out with all of us, you know what I mean? September 12th was something that seemed like a good idea, so he told people that’s what it was gonna be, and I’m like, well, I remember one time being there and he told somebody September 12th, and I’m sitting there and I am like ‘How can you tell somebody September 12th when you yourself aren’t even finished?’. Come on man use your brain!”
I also heard October third..
“Yeah, well that date is also being said and it’s official with everyone. If it doesn’t come out on that date, something else got in the way, but it won’t be because it wasn’t a group effort to decide for that date.”
I read rumors on the internet that Serj from System of a Down collaborates on the new album. Can you tell something about that?
“I heard he did stuff but I’ve never heard it. I wasn’t there when he was recording, I am not part of that. Serj is a good guy, but like I said it’s still unknown to me.”
(Frank Delgado, from the back of the room): “Supposedly it wasn’t much, he just sang a little part on a song, it wasn’t like a couplet.”
One track on your new album is rumored to be called ‘America’, that title brings up a thousand questions, what is the song about?
“I know nothing of any of our lyrics to any of our songs of any record.”
Recently you performed at the Dutch festival Pinkpop, where you did ‘Head Up’ with Max Cavelera, was it an option to do ‘Passenger’ with Maynard from Tool?
“As far as doing ‘Passenger’, ever I think to date if Chino goes and ask Maynard to come do it with us, he’ll come do it, until Chino ever asks him to come do it with us, he’s never gonna do it. He’s not gonna just show up and ask ‘Hey guys, can I play with you and play ‘Passenger’’?. It’s not Maynard’s style, he’ll never do it, we’ll never play it with him until Chino asks him.”
Is that the way it went with Max?
“Yeah well I’ve asked Max! We’re all down with Max, I didn’t invite Maynard on when we recorded the song, that was Chino’s thing. Maynard is a cool dude but his bond to our band is through Chino, so if we’re ever gonna play that song Chino should ask.”
How were the vibes during the recording of the new album?
“The vibes are always the same. When they’re not good it’s only other people saying they’re not good. We all hate and love each other just the same at all times, no matter what stuff we’ll say to each other or about each other, at the end we’re still friends. We say hard shit about each other to each other, hahaha.”
But no hard feelings whatsoever?
“Well, feelings get hurt, but that’s kinda how we do it though, you see somebody at their weak spot and you go for it…”
What would your ideal Deftones album be like?
“There is no ideal Deftones record. The whole bases of it musically is that we can do whatever we want, we’re not trying to have a boundary where we’re trying to stay in. If anyone wants to step out of the line and try something different anyone can, as long as we make sure we do it right when we do it.”
How much influence do you have on the artwork and videos?
“In a perfect world we all have an equal say in it, but lots of times Chino just throws his emotions around till he gets what he wants. A lot of things live and die by what he says.”
So it’s mostly Chino having a major vote in that?
“It’s not mostly, it’s generally because in the end of the day nobody wants to hurt his feelings so we end up going with what he wants to do. Most of the times we all like it but there are times where I don’t really care for it. But, you know, whoever gets the most votes wins, if it even comes to a vote…”
You’re playing in a relatively small venue this evening, is that something you requested yourselves?
“I didn’t personally request it, but I’ll enjoy it.”
Will there be any special things happening?
“I wish I could tell you there was something different but no... We’ll play longer in here than at the festival stages, because it’s our own show. We’ll get to play more songs, more sweat, everyone is going to be soaking wet.”
Yeah it’s going to be great he he! Well so far for the questions, thank you!
“All right man!”
That night Deftones played a flawless set in a boiling Tivoli. What a perfect day.
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