When Carpenter was 15 years old he was hit by a car while skateboarding. This left him confined to 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, Moreno and Cunningham went to the same high school. 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 1988. After playing with several bassists, the band settled on Chi Cheng and recorded a four track demo soon after.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.While closing for another band in L.A., after the majority of the audience had left, the band impressed a Maverick Records representative. They were soon after signed to the label after showcasing three of their songs for Freddy DeMann and Guy Oseary.
The name “Deftones” was created by Carpenter who wanted to pick “something that would just stand out but you know, not be all cheese-ball at the same time.”Carpenter combined the hip hop slang term “def”, which was used by artists he listened to such as LL Cool J and Public Enemy, with the suffix “-tones”, which was a popular suffix among 50s bands whose music he also enjoyed (e.g. Dick Dale and the Deltones; The Quin-Tones, The Monotones, The Cleftones and The Harptones). Carpenter said the name is intentionally vague to reflect the band’s tendency to not focus on just one style of music.
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