Interview: Deftones guitarist Stef Carpenter (Part One)

(Image credit: © Gaelle Beri/Lebrecht Music & Arts/Corbis)

This month Sacramento slayers Deftones released their long-awaited sixth studio album 'Diamond Eyes'. In this three-part interview we caught up with guitarist Stef Carpenter to get the lowdown on their heavy-ass new album.

Check out part two of our Stef Carpenter interview

The recording of Deftones' latest album, 'Diamond Eyes', was plagued with catastrophe. The follow-up to '06's musically-challenged 'Saturday Night Wrist', initially called 'Eros', was shelved following a car crash that left bass player Chi Cheng in a coma from which he is yet to wake. The difficult decision to start from scratch with a new bass player evidently empowered the band and inspired them to produce one of the year's finest metal albums so far. We met with Stef Carpenter in London last week, before a sold-out, one-off gig to find out more about the album, his new eight-string ESP and his relationship with frontman/guitarist Chino Moreno.

When did the writing for 'Diamond Eyes' begin?

"I believe we started in the first or second week of March '09, then we were in the studio at the end of May. It all happened really fast. We were out of the studio in July. For the 'Eros' sessions we did all that in '08. We started writing at the end of 2007, in October. We then made some improvement on our studio in Sacramento before recording in '08."

How do you tend to write? Do you sit with an acoustic?

"I literally never play acoustic guitars. I own one but I never play it. It's organic when we write. It could be any one, two, three of us jamming on some idea and then everybody jumps on it. The 'Diamond Eyes' process was different as we were with producer Nick Raskulinecz and he brought everyone together. It was really fun. [Former Deftones producer] Terry Date is really awesome. He trusts that we're capable musicians and that we can get everything done, but left to our own accord we get distracted. That's our worst problem. Terry has dealt with that for years. His whole take on it was, 'Fine by me, guys. If you wanna waste your money then go ahead'."

Deftones 'diamond eyes' album cover

Deftones 'diamond eyes' album cover

Do you ever write on your own?

"I jokingly say, 'If I'm holding the guitar I can write a song'. It's not rocket science to me, it's just playing the guitar. I don't remotely consider it a gift. My mentality, especially in modern times, is that you're capable of doing anything you want to do physically as long as you're willing to do whatever it takes to achieve it. When I first started playing guitar I had no clue how to grasp it. The first thing I learned was the basic powerchord, the root and a 5th. That's rock 'n' roll, that and the barre chord. I don't need anything outside of that. They are the basic tools for rock 'n' roll."

Check out part two of our Stef Carpenter interview

Chris Barnes

I'm MusicRadar's eCommerce Editor. In addition to testing the latest music gear, with a particular focus on electronic drums, it's my job to manage the 300+ buyer's guides on MusicRadar and help musicians find the right gear for them at the best prices. I dabble with guitar, but my main instrument is the drums, which I have been playing for 24 years. I've been a part of the music gear industry for 20 years, including 7 years as Editor of the UK's best-selling drum magazine Rhythm, and 5 years as a freelance music writer, during which time I worked with the world's biggest instrument brands including Roland, Boss, Laney and Natal.