DeftonesFrank Maddocks

Deftones’ Stephen Carpenter: “I Don’t Play In A Metal Band—I Am The Metal Ingredient Of My Band”


Deftones guitarist Stephen Carpenter and frontman/guitarist Chino Moreno recently talked shop with, focusing on their rigs, their tunings and how they play live. Technical details aside, there was also some more interesting discussion regarding the writing process of the band’s new album “Gore“.

You may recall that Carpenter was initially put off by what the band were writing. Moreno himself later assured fans that despite Carpenter‘s disinterest, he did later become a big part of the album. Asked by the aforementioned publication how he tuned his guitars, Carpenter offered:

“Nothing fancy, by any stretch. On my 7-string tunings I used Ab or G#—whichever you desire—and that was for the self-titled [2003] record. On the Saturday Night Wrist record I just drop-tuned the bottom string down to F#. I started playing the 8-string on [2010’s] Diamond Eyes, and that’s just the standard tuning that came on the guitar: F# on the bottom and then your standard B–E–A–D–G–B–E. All I did for the next record, Koi No Yokan, was drop-tune the bottom string down to E. That was about the time I met the guys from Animals As Leaders and Periphery. Tosin [Abasi] told me they were into dropped-E tunings. He said, “Hey you should check that out.” So I did.”

When pointed out that such a tuning was basically the bass register, he replied:

“Yeah, of course, and it’s actually been quite tough for me. Not actually playing it on the guitar, but the coupling in the band—because I wish I had an equal on the bass. It’s just not possible with the actual bass. To match it, you really need to have a synthesizer or something where you can actually go down to that octave. My biggest difficulty is really trying to mess with the bass without sounding like me and the bass are playing a dual part.

I haven’t given a great deal of thought to it, but whenever I’m jamming out, that’s the wall I run into. But that’s largely in part because I don’t play in a metal band—I am the metal ingredient of my band [laughs]. I think if the other guys were more interested in the metal side they’d probably do what it takes to get that register for me.”

On how he takes on sharing guitar duties with Moreno:

“Well, it’s been a mix. On one hand there’s a part of me that loves it, because I love the sound of two guitars. On the other hand, I’ve been marginalized because of it—because everything we do is just based around what he does all the time. If he don’t like it, we don’t do it.”

When asked of how they write, he offered:

“We all jam it out together. If somebody’s got an idea—if everybody is interested in it—we work on it. This has been the toughest process I’ve gone through in making a record because I was coming out of the backend of fixing my rig while we were in writing sessions. I’m just getting myself dialed-in to where I’m excited to play on my rig again and the stuff everybody was coming up with at the time—I wasn’t very interested in. I pretty much battled everybody the whole time.”

When pointed out that the album does have some great riffs, he did state that he was proud of the end result:

“Oh no, it’s great. It’s blood, sweat, and tears—that’s what it was for me. I wasn’t living the dream on this process [laughs].”

Moreno also went on to say that his own guitar playing is a lot more prominent this time around, confirming that he plays on nearly every song:

“I hope it’s gotten a little bit better. Honestly, I just really like to play. You can put out emotions through the guitar without having to speak words or having to talk about something specific. Being a singer and the lyricist of a band, sometimes the difficult part is trying to communicate what it is I’m trying to say—but a lot of times I don’t know what I’m trying to say. The guitar has always been a way to express emotion without really understanding what you’re doing or trying to do.

Nowadays—especially with this new record, where I play guitar pretty much on every song—I’ve switched to the opposite of that. I love writing the songs and love playing them, but now I’m almost restrained a little bit because I have to pay attention to what I’m doing on guitar [laughs]. I really have to use two sides of my brain, coming from a singer’s standpoint and a guitar standpoint.”

For a lot more from Carpenter and Moreno head to “Gore” will be released on April 08th.

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