Guitarist Stephen Carpenter was the focus of the latest Ernie Ball docu-series String Theory - an artist spotlight series in which the musicians themselves better detail their inspirations, their evolution as artists, and what continues to drive them to create at such a high level.
Taking it all the way back to the very first three records he ever owned, Carpenter shared how his musical introduction came by way of his mother getting him a solid base of three essential records in KISS Alive II, Queen's News for the World, and the Saturday Night Fever Original Soundtrack. Skipping ahead to his first inclination to play guitar, Carpenter explained that at sixteen he saw Ratt playing the power chord in the video for "Round and Round" and discovered the kind of rhythm that he developed an affinity for. He was in.
Going back to the garage, Steph revisited the earliest stages of Deftones and how a young Chino Moreno would come over to see the guys jam. Carpenter explained how Chino's ability to sing everything from Morrissey to Danzig with accuracy made him an appealing acquisition in cultivating an actual band. Once Moreno was in, Steph says Deftones began to take shape.
Speaking candidly, Carpenter retold a formative story in which he decided he was fully invested with regards to pursuing his musical career. He explained that his lack of punctuality would get him into trouble at work. Working at a taco shop, Carpenter's boss was a young Abe Cunningham, and due to his bad habit of arriving late, Steph would eventually get fired from his gig and Abe was the one that had to make the decision.
While getting his last check however, Steph would thank his boss - not for the opportunity but rather for the direction. The guitarist revealed that at that moment he knew there was no looking back - he was fully committed to his career as a musician. That was three years before Deftones debuted with Adrenaline.
Carpenter would better explain his headspace as a musician and some of the stylistic elements that interest him. Detailing his appreciation for rhythm, Steph explained that of the Big Four, while Metallica was always important to him, Anthrax was among his very favorite. He explained that Scott Ian's groove as a rhythm guitarist was always appealing to him. Carpenter shared that his personally, he had "zero desire to play a solo" and that he just wanted to "crunch it up".
Steph also provided some insight to the creative dynamic to Deftones and how he sees himself as the "odd man out" when it comes to influences. Leaning towards a more modern sound, Steph explained that his tendency to stick to the power chord means that he has to force himself into a different mode to achieve melody in his music. He also shared that while he has love and appreciation for more classical influences, he doesn't want to repeat that sound. While that clash of vision might hinder other bands, it seems to create a dynamic duality that has allowed Deftones to endure and remain relevant for so long.
Watch the complete episode of Ernie Ball's String Theory featuring Ernie Ball below. Deftones are set to begin their spring trek with Gorjia and VOWWS next month starting April 14th in Portland, OR and wrapping May 28th in Minneapolis, MN.