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Interview:
Stone Temple Pilots Come Back To "Family"
 

By GARY GRAFF
Of the Oakland Press

» See more SOUND CHECK

It’s been six years since Stone Temple Pilots last worked together. But its four members say it’s just like going home again.

“It is kind of home to us,” guitarist Dean DeLeo says of the long-lived and oft-interrupted hard rock band, which has reunited this year for a 65-date concert tour that stretches into October. “We grew up together. We were shoulder to shoulder for over a decade.

“I’d like to think we made some sort of mark on the face of music via STP, and it’s why us getting back together is exciting to people.”

That mark was certainly significant. Formed as Mighty Joe Young in 1987 in San Diego, STP — DeLeo, his younger brother Robert on bass, singer Scott Weiland and drummer Eric Kretz — hit big out of the box with its eight-times platinum 1992 debut album, “Core.” Since then STP has sold more than 35 million copies of its five albums worldwide and scored six No. 1 rock singles — one of which, “Plush,” won a 1994 Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance.

“We’ve been influenced by those guys our whole lives,” notes Jesse Hasek of the Tennessee hard rock band 10 Years, who co-wrote a song with Dean DeLeo for the band’s new album. “I’ve always been a huge fan. They were just, like, one of the giants to us, superstars.”

But STP’s was a troubled history as well. Critics initially derided the quartet as grunge wannabes following the Seattle mold of Nirvana and Alice In Chains; the group was even voted Worst New Band by critics and Best New Band by readers in the 1994 Rolling Stone magazine poll. There were also frequent reports of internal dissension, and the group was regularly stymied by Weiland’s substance addictions. After a 1996 arrest for heroin and cocaine possession he was sentenced to six months in a drug treatment program, and a subsequent voluntary rehab stay forced STP to scuttle more touring plans the following year.

The group took a hiatus between 1997 and 1999, during which Weiland released a solo album and the others formed a new group called Talk Show. STP ultimately broke up in 2002, with Weiland going on to join Velvet Revolver and the DeLeos writing and producing for others as well as forming the short-lived Army of Anyone with Filter’s Richard Patrick.

Despite the acknowledged animosity, the STP members stayed in touch; the DeLeos, in fact, are godfathers to Weiland’s children. And it was Weiland who reached out to Dean DeLeo, 46, in late summer of 2007, although Robert DeLeo, 42 — whose wife received a preemptive call from Weiland’s wife — says he proceeded with caution, even after all the parties hung out at the singer’s birthday party in October.

“The feelers were out there to maybe get back together and do something,” the bassist recalls. “I can’t say I was very open to it at first, but, y’know, I had to put down a lot of my own personal stuff that I think I’ve probably carried along with me for a long time. I feel like this band still has a lot to offer people, and I think we have a lot of unfinished stuff to prove to ourselves.”

With Weiland leaving Velvet Revolver earlier this year, STP’s reunion plans gained momentum. The quartet got together to play music again just a couple of days before performing a seven-song set on April 7 at the Houdini estate in Los Angeles, and Dean DeLeo says that as soon as the group started playing its 1994 hit “Vasoline,” “it was just really comfortable, a soft saddle, man.

“After that rehearsal we went out to dinner with a couple of my dear friends who work with the band,” he adds. “They were like, ‘You know, on that very first chord, man, it was there ... We just went, ‘OK, that’s them.’”

And even though he felt the idea of playing a high-profile gig on just two days’ rehearsal was “pretty ballsy,” Robert DeLeo notes that, “there’s always been a level of professionalism with the guys in this band to be able to do something like that. There was a point in there where I said, ‘Are we gonna be able to do this?,’ and I was pretty happy with the way that turned out.”

STP plans to mine its celebrated past for the tour for shows that will be heavy on hits but also, they promise, include some songs the group has never played live. “I think we could’ve done a new record or done some new songs,” Robert DeLeo says, “but how many times do you go to a show and then when the new songs come up, that’s when you grab a beer?

“I think the whole thing now is kind of getting back and reacclimating ourselves to the things that we know and the songs that we know and to being the band again. I think that’s going to make for a better atmosphere and better performances.”

Nevertheless, both DeLeos predict that “new material will probably come after this tour,” according to Robert. “I think we’re gonna be in a position where we’ve gotten to know each other again, and I think then it’s gonna be time to hit the studio.”

Dean DeLeo, meanwhile, notes that “the four of us are always writing. There’s a lot of material kicking around.” He and Robert, in fact, recently held a writing session with Peter Frampton. But the guitarist says that he and his brother are careful to squirrel away material they think is best suited for STP.

Any new STP recording may have to wait, however. Robert DeLeo notes that nearly six months of touring is “a pretty big goal. In our prime we didn’t get through four months of touring.” And his brother predicts that after that run “everyone will be ready for a good respite” from the band.

And Weiland — who had to serve a 92-hour jail sentence stemming from a drunken driving arrest in November — has announced plans to record a solo album and write an autobiography, both due out before the end of the year. But Dean DeLeo says giving everyone space and time to work outside the band is key to its ultimate survival.

“I think in any relationship communication is the key factor,” he says. “We’re better at that now, I think. We all have to respect what one another’s wishes and needs are.”

Robert DeLeo adds that “I think there’s a lot more clarity this time around, and a lot more wisdom to go along with the music. At this point in my life, I cherish and I value the attention we’ve gotten from people buying our records, listening to our music and coming to our shows.

“And at this point we’ve all got families and other things in our lives. Ten years ago I was really trying to make STP my whole life, and I think for me it’s been a healthier thing to make STP just a part of my life. So it would be nice to just have a good time and be happy with it for maybe once in our career and then see where it leads.”



Temple Pilots perform at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday (June 3rd and 4th) at the Fillmore Detroit, 2115 Woodward Ave., Detroit. Tickets, priced $59.50 and $49.50, are available for Wednesday’s show only. Ashes Divide opens Tuesday’s show, Billy Boy On Poison opens Wednesday. Call (313) 961-5450 or visit www.livenation.com.



Web Site: www.livenation.com

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