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New look, fresh goals for Stone Temple Pilots
Stone Temple Pilots' 30-year career has been a turbulent one.
But these days the group members feel like things are settled and, dare they say, normal -- or as normal as possible.
At the end of February 2013, STP -- which formed during the mid-80s in San Diego -- fired founding frontman Scott Weiland and has continued with Linkin Park's Chester Bennington in his place. Both parties filed suit against each other, which were settled out of court, and Bennington and the other three members of STP -- brothers Robert and Dean DeLeo and drummer Eric Kretz -- are able to continue touring and recording under the band name.
Now, bassist Robert DeLeo says, it's time to move forward and establish the new-look STP as a valid, going concern.
"It was a very, very difficult decision to do this," DeLeo, 49, says by phone form his home in Los Angeles. "Y'know, we were all together for over 20 years and I feel extremely fortunate to have made the records we made with Scott, and I'm very proud of the music we made together. And I look at this as a new chapter of Stone Temple Pilots, and creating something new.
"I think it's time for it to happen, for STP to move on and live on."
STP has certainly had a charmed life to this point. Its first four albums were platinum or better (1992's debut "Core" sold more than eight million copies in the U.S.) and the group piled up a rash of rock radio hits that includes "Plush" "Wicked Garden," "Vasoline," "Interstate Love Song," "Big Bang Baby, "Down" and many others.
Weiland's relationship with the band had been tenuous over the years, however, especially as the singer very publicly battled substance abuse and legal issues. STP actually broke up between 2002-08, and while the reunion was successful at first but things came to another head during 2012 and early 2013.
"After the last record we all made together (2010's 'Stone Temple Pilots') it was very clear to me and Dean and Eric that was probably the last bit of music we were going to make," DeLeo says. "I don't think there was any more music to be made there. I think Scott made that clear. When you're making a record and your singer's somewhere else doing his performance and mailing them over to you, it's not a band at that point, y'know? It was a grueling experience.
"We tried to make this work, but it just wasn't there anymore,man."
Weiland, 47, who's released two solo albums since his dismissal, not surprisingly takes a different point of view. "My feelings were definitely hurt because it wasn't something that was handled right at all," he explains. "I don't think that it was smart for them to do that. I've played with them for a long time. But then on another side of it, I can't say that I'm that surprised. There's things that have happened in the past that are somewhat similar, so I guess nothing is totally shocking.
"But I am surprised at what they did, and without checking the legality of it how they just decided to go and use the (band) name and go and hire another singer and start playing shows with a name that I still am an owner of."
Bennington seemed a surprising choice, especially since Linkin Park represents a full-time commitment.. But he says joining STP was "a pretty easy decision for me to make" when the offer was tendered.
"I've loved those guys forever. I was a big fan when I was a kid, before I joined Linkin Park, obviously," Bennington, 39, says. "I didn't really think about it when I said 'yes;' I just reacted 'cause it wounded like it would be awesome. Then we got to know each other and moved forward and decided to take it really seriously."
The Bennington-fronted STP has been touring since 2013 and released one EP, "High Rise," which spawned the No. 1 Mainstream Rock chart hit "Out of Time." "We were getting inspired by each other from the start, man," DeLeo recalls. "There were a lot of ideas floating around. It's a different range; there's many different things we can cover with Chester singing, and he's got a good idea of what to do over the music that Dean and I are writing.
"Call it chemistry. It doesn't always work with a lot of people, and to be able to have that is a great thing."
STP recently tweeted a photo of the group back in the studio working on new material, but it's a complex situation because of Bennington's ongoing commitment to Linkin Park. "That's my first priority, and the other guys understand that," Bennington notes. And DeLeo -- who also plays in the band Delta Deep with Def Leppard's Phil Collins -- adds that, "We try to use our time wisely. When he's out with Linkin Park we're back home writing and sending him ideas, and when the schedule allows we get together. We just want to move forward and produce, any way we can."
And, DeLeo adds, STP wants to prove its current incarnation can be as potent musically and commercially as its predecessor.
"We have a lot to prove. We know that," DeLeo acknowledges. "There are a lot of people out there who are writing us off, but there's other people who come up to me and go, 'I get it, man. Great choice and move on and I want to see all you guys happy.'
"I understand how people feel about being fans of Scott and fans of STP with Scott. I get that, too. But the thing I say to them is 'You weren't there,' , and we did all we could to make that work for many, many years. So let's move on and move ahead and do good work with Chester."
Stone Temple Pilots and U.S. Elevator
Wednesday, Sept. 16. Doors open at 7 p.m.
The Fillmore Detroit, 2115 Woodward Ave.
Tickets are $49.50 and $30.50.
Call 248-377-0100 or visit www.thefillmoredetroit.com.
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