“There was really no magic to it,” Deftones guitarist Stephen Carpenter says about the writing process behind his band’s upcoming seventh studio album and the follow up to 2010’s Diamond Eyes. “We pretty much did what we always do. If I were to describe a day of writing songs, it would start off by saying hello to everyone, rolling a couple joints, getting real high, jamming out for a little bit, stopping, smoking some more and then playing again.”
Carpenter may have a relaxed attitude toward the creative process, but as the saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. And for close to 20 years, the Deftones—which also includes singer Chino Moreno, drummer Abe Cunningham and keyboardist and turntablist Frank Delgado (former Quicksand bassist Sergio Vega has been filling in for original member Chi Cheng, who has been incapacitated since a 2008 car accident)—have been crafting some of the most expansive and inventive music in the metal world.
It’s an approach that looks to be continued on the new, and as of press time, still-untitled effort. Though the album is in the mixing stages, the band recently performed two of its cuts at a private show in L.A. One song with the working title “Roller Derby” featured aggressive, odd-metered verses that roll into lush and textured choruses. The other, a slow-burning number called “Rosemary,” opened with watery guitars and piled on instrumentation that grew to a crescendo.
Among the tracks the band has yet to unveil onstage, Carpenter points to one, tentatively titled “Dazzle,” as a standout. “I finger tap the entire time on that one,” he says. “I don’t use a pick at all, and I’ve never done something like that before.” He credits progressive-metal acts like Animals as Leaders and Periphery for inspiring his approach on the song. “It’s not like I wasn’t aware of tapping before,” he says. “I’ve been listening to Meshuggah for over a decade, and Fredrik Thordendal has always done it. My favorite guitar player is Eddie Van Halen, and he’s a fingertapping genius. But watching a guy like [Animals as Leader’s] Tosin Abasi, I just fell in love with that shit all over again, and beyond the level that I’ve always loved it.”
Regarding the song’s title, he laughs. “It will probably change, but it came from when we were writing it. I was telling the other guys, ‘I need some fucking dazzle in my style! I don’t play with no dazzle!’ And I figured fingertapping is some dazzling shit.”
According to Carpenter, the Deftones plan to have the new record out by the end of October, at which time they’ll embark on a headlining tour in support of it (the band recently completed a short coheadlining run with System of a Down). As for whether he has any last words to satiate fans champing at the bit to hear the new material, he is characteristically vague: “I would just say that it’s going to be like any other record we’ve put out in that it’s not going to sound like the last one or any of the other ones. But it will sound just like us.”