Deftones Guitarist Stephen Carpenter Portrait Sessions
Deftones guitarist Stephen Carpenter, all images ©Chad Lee photography
Stephen Carpenter was born on August 3, 1970 in Sacramento, California, to an American father and a Mexican mother. He has a sister named Marci. He grew up in the Sacramento area and pursued many hobbies, including skateboarding.
When Carpenter was 15 years old, he was hit by a car while skateboarding. He used a wheelchair for several months. It was at this point that he began teaching himself guitar by playing along with bands such as Anthrax, Stormtroopers of Death and Metallica. It has been reported that the driver paid Carpenter a cash settlement that allowed the band to purchase equipment, but drummer Abe Cunningham commented in an interview that this was “a myth about how our band was started.”
Carpenter attended McClatchy High School with future bandmates Chino Moreno and Abe Cunningham. They were childhood friends and remained friends through the skateboarding scene in Sacramento. When Moreno found out Carpenter played guitar, he set up a jam session with Cunningham and the three began playing regularly in Carpenter’s garage circa 1989. After playing with several bassists, the band settled on Chi Cheng and within two years the band began playing club shows and later expanded their playing territory to San Francisco and Los Angeles where they played shows alongside bands such as Korn.
His relationship with Deftones lead singer and bandmate Chino Moreno has been recorded as being fraught at times. Apparently, recording of Saturday Night Wrist was protracted due to their “warfare”. With regards to musical tastes, Saturday Night Wrist being described as “more aggressive” equated to it being “more aggressive for him [Chino]”; Carpenter said he’d “definitely be glad to take it to the next level, but that’s asking too much right now.” He is Testament singer, Chuck Billy‘s, first cousin.
Carpenter has stated that he mostly listens to hip hop, but outside of hip hop, Meshuggah, Fear Factory, Metallica, Slayer, Anthrax, and Faith No More are some of his influences. He has also stated that his favorite album of all time is Chaosphere by Meshuggah, saying: “The most brutal record I’ve heard, from second one to second last. It left me wondering where the hell I’d been the whole time.” While recording Deftones’ Diamond Eyes, he claimed that the only artist he listened to was American rapper Tech N9ne.