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Interview:
Scott Weiland Plowing A Solo Path
 

By GARY GRAFF
Of the Oakland Press

» See more SOUND CHECK

Acertain level of success has allowed Scott Weiland to step out of the platinum rock ‘n’ roll rat race. The singer has been to the rock ‘n’ roll mountain top with not one but two bands — Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver — that achieved multi-platinum sales and an array of radio hits. But now, the 41-year-old singer, known for his facile vocal abilities, an energetic stage presence and high-profile battles with heroin addiction, says he’d rather work below that plateau.

“I’m at the kind of point where I’m really not happy being in a massive rock band anymore,” says Weiland, whose second solo album, “Happy in Galoshes,” debuted at No. 97 on the Billboard 200 chart after its late November release.

“Flying in private jets and the whole hoopla doesn’t thrill me. If I never play another stadium or ... Madison Square Garden again, I’ll be happy.

“I feel like I’ve made a pretty substantial mark in music that I’m very proud of. Now it’s time to do things differently. I just want to make music and be in control ... It’s time to do things differently, time to do things the way I’d like to do them.”

Born Scott Kline in Santa Cruz, Calif. — he changed his surname after being adopted by his stepfather, David Weiland, when he was 5 and moved to Ohio — Weiland started in music with the band Mighty Joe Young, which he formed after meeting bassist Robert DeLeo at a Black Flag concert in southern California.

The band morphed into Stone Temple Pilots, and was a hit from the start when its first album, “Core,” sold more than 8 million copies.

Despite interruptions caused by Weiland’s drug problems, including arrests for possession in 1995, 1998 and 2007, and occasional trips to rehabilitation, STP remained a hit-making concern despite the band’s on-and-off history.

Weiland released his first solo album — “12 Bar Blues,” in what he calls “a narcotic blanket” — in 1998, and he joined former mem bers of Guns N’ Roses in Velvet Revolver in 2003, during a prolonged STP hiatus.

It was a falling out with Velvet Revolver in early 2008, after two albums, that set Weiland’s resolve for a new solo career in motion. “I had already talked to (guitarist) Slash, and said there was gonna be an STP (reunion) tour,” Weiland explains. “Then (drummer) Matt Sorum just went on the Web site one night and started talking (trash) about me, and I responded. I basically said from the stage that ‘This is the last Velvet Revolver tour.’

“Some people thought I was kidding, but I meant it.”

Slash, for his part, says he and the other Velvet Revolver members were happy to have had Weiland in the band for as long as they did.

“You can’t really get (angry) at Scott, ‘cause we knew what we were getting into going into it,” the guitarist notes. “He managed to do pretty well, but he sort of turned around. And it was aggravating and frustrating and all those negatives, but at the time you can’t sit there and be surprised, you know?” Weiland spent most of 2008 back with STP for a successful concert tour. There also were promises of a new album, but problems began to surface within that band as well. Some were personal.

“I ended up missing my kids,” says Weiland, who has two — son Noah, 8, and daughter Lucy, 6 — with second wife

Mary Forsberg, who he’s currently divorcing.

STP’s continuing contract with its label, Atlantic Records, also has soured Weiland on continuing the band.

“When we first talked about putting STP back together, it was ‘Do this tour, and then see about doing a creative deal with another company,’ “ he explains. “So, if it ends up being we have to make a certain amount of records for Atlantic in order to be free, then I don’t know if I have that in me.”

The wildly eclectic “Happy in Galoshes,” meanwhile, is a project that’s spanned nearly the entire decade since Weiland’s first solo album. Working with Doug Grean — a songwriting and production partner with whom he’s also built a recording studio and started a label, Softdrive Records — Weiland says some of the double-album’s songs date back nearly a decade, to shortly after he released “12 Bar Blues.”

“Doug and I just kept on writing and writing and writing,” Weiland says.

“Finally one day Doug called me up and said, ‘You’ve got to come down and take a listen. We’re a lot closer than you think we are,’ and we ended up having close to 40 songs.

“And I wanted to put out a double album because I knew there was a lot of material, so we whittled it down to 19 (songs).”

The breadth of that material spans the glam rock of “Missing Cleveland” to the industrial muscle of “Hyper-Fuzz-Funny-Car” and also encompasses jazzy sambas, dance tracks — including a remake of David Bowie’s “Fame” with Paul Oakenfold — electro-pop ditties and ethereal, ambient pieces.

“There was absolutely no mission,” explains Weiland, who also collaborated with members of No Doubt and indie rock icon Steve Albini. “The whole idea was to throw in every influence that I’ve ever had. It was just, wherever the inspiration takes me and takes us, we followed.”

Grean, 42 — who met Weiland when the singer was his brother’s roommate in rehab — feels “Happy in Galoshes” is more true to the singer’s artistic bent than anything he’s done before.

“Scott’s into a lot of stuff,” says Grean, who has also worked with Sheryl Crow, Cyndi Lauper, the Crystal Method and others. “He’s got a real interest and love of this strange, noisy kind of interesting, eclectic, artsy stuff that I never would have guessed from hearing him in Stone Temple Pilots. I don’t think his (bands) let him get off on his super-artsy side too much, which is why he really wanted to tap into that on his own.”

“Happy in Galoshes” also finds Weiland delving deep into personal territory — he refers to it as “a personal concept album.” One song, “The Man I Didn’t Know,” is about his birth father, while a couple of the more recent tracks were inspired by the struggles of his brother, Michael, who died of a drug overdose in 2007. But most of the album, Weiland confesses, “really tells the tale of the relationship between my wife and I from the beginning until, y’know, kind of the end.

“Most of the work on the album was done in times when I was really sort of down,” he recalls, “like periods in my relationship when things were not going so well — when there were separations and divorces filed. The studio is my second home; every time there were hard times, I would just kind of go to the fort and write and the songs came really easily.

“There were some periods of time when the pain created the most prolific periods I’ve ever done. I probably wouldn’t write these songs or have the ability to write them if I didn’t go through the experiences that I go through.”

Weiland knows that the combination of different sounds and dark subject matter may turn off fans who know him mostly from his bands, and there have been complaints during the solo tour about the lack of familiar material. But, he says, “commercial success ... doesn’t really matter to me, because I think that my true fans will be into it for what it is.”

And, he promises, those “true fans” will be the recipients of much more music from him in the future — and mostly likely of his own creation rather than as part of STP or any other band opportunity that might come along.

“The real priority now is making my own music,” Weiland says. “There’s a lot of stuff I want to do, and with my own recording studio and (label) I can do it quickly and I can do it when I want to and how I want to.

“I’ve been waiting to do this for a long time, and I’m not going to let anything get in the way anymore.”



Scott Weiland performs at 8 p.m. Wednesday (Jan. 28) at Saint Andrews Hall, 431 E. Congress St., Detroit. Tickets are $35 in advance, $38 day of show. Call (313) 961-8137 or visit www.livenation.com.





Web Site: www.livenation.com

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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