STP returns with a vengence

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May 31, 2010
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June 2, 2010
Authorities: Now’s the time to prepare for storm
May 31, 2010
After 25 years, SLLD looks to continue staying flood free
June 2, 2010

(Editor’s Note: Dave Norman is on hiatus this month, but will be back with a lineup of tunes in July.)

As he reflects on Stone Temple Pilots’ history, frontman Scott Weiland quietly breaks into song: “The long and winding road.” His band mates – guitarist Dean DeLeo, bassist Robert DeLeo and drummer Eric Kretz – spontaneously sing backup.

It’s an apt description for the journey the quartet has been on from its grunge-rock beginnings to its self-produced, self-titled album, released this week. The band has weathered drugs, breakups, arrests, a changing music business and some 20 years together. They’re all grown up now, with families and studios of their own, and they drew on that maturity – and their shared musical history – for the new record and world tour set to follow.

“Every record’s different and that’s kind of the way we like it,” Weiland says. “If you look at it, the greatest recording band and writing band of all time, the Beatles, that was their philosophy, so why not try to aim at that kind of goal?”

Some of the songs on “Stone Temple Pilots” were a decade in the making. Some, like the new single, “Between the Lines,” came together during sound checks on STP’s recent reunion tour. Others “were just written right after dinner,” Kretz says.

The sound is pure “sweet but meaty” STP, says Robert DeLeo. Perhaps the biggest difference from their five previous albums is that the foursome recorded and produced this one themselves. Using their own studios, they had unprecedented flexibility, time and control.

“For my studio, I built it around all the experiences we had as bands and the studios we’ve been recording in, so it had all the pluses and the sound we wanted to get,” Kretz says. “But having the different studios, we could explore so many more avenues.”

Musically, they challenged each other to reach new heights, says Dean DeLeo.

“We’re our own worst critics,” he says. “It’s actually healthy, because there’s a lot of talent within this band, and if you want a song on the record or you want your song to be accepted, there’s a pretty high bar set.”

Sitting side-by-side in a plush suite overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the band is united. But things haven’t always been so smooth for STP. Weiland, 42, has been dogged by drug problems since the band’s early days. His arrests for drug possession and stints in rehab led the group to cancel tour dates and contributed to their breakup in 2003. He went on to front Velvet Revolver, and the DeLeo brothers formed a band called Army of Anyone.

Weiland says those side projects helped the rockers eventually reunite in 2008.

“We’ve been able to fortunately do other musical projects with other people,” he says. “That is inspiring for a while but it leads you back to feeling like, I miss home.”

The band hit the road for a reunion tour in 2008, and they’ll be away most of the summer supporting the new album.

There’s still a big appetite for STP, says Michael Endelman, senior editor at Rolling Stone.

“That ’90s alternative guitar rock sound is still a big part of what modern rock is today,” he says.

“The reunion kind of gives it a little more expectation and excitement,” he continues. “Scott is a big rock star and people are just curious to see what he’s going to do.”

Maturity inspired STP to change its approach to the road as well. Instead of staying away for months at a stretch, the band builds in breaks for family time and sometimes brings their broods along.

“You have to figure out a way where you don’t get burned out,” Weiland says. “It’s really hard when your kids call you at night and they’re crying, saying, ‘Daddy, can you come home tomorrow?’ It’s a very difficult thing. It’s not the same as it was when we were in our 20s or 30s.”