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Being in Stone Temple Pilots is "surreal" for new frontman Jeff Gutt
Jeff Gutt says being the new frontman for Stone Temple Pilots is â€śpretty surreal.â€ť And has been for quite some time.
The former Clinton Township resident and â€śX Factor USAâ€ť finalist was revealed as the Grammy Award-winning groupâ€™s new singer on Tuesday night, Nov. 14, during a special private show at the Troubadour in Los Angeles, where his 9-year-old son, Talon, was cheering from the balcony. It was the culmination of a 13-month period during which the Marine City native first auditioned in Los Angeles and then was offered the position in May.
Now heâ€™s the voice of a new single, â€śMeadow,â€ť and will be part of STPâ€™s sixth album â€” and first in eight years â€” due in spring, with a tour to follow.
â€śIâ€™ve had some time to get used to the idea,â€ť Gutt, 41, said by phone from Los Angeles during his first interview since the announcement. â€śI was just sitting on the sidelines watching it all unfurl and knowing what was going to happen before anyone else did. I knew I had a secret I was about to reveal, which was cool.
â€śItâ€™s a very strange feeling, but at the same time Iâ€™m blessed and very honored. Itâ€™s like joining the Led Zeppelin of my generation. I feel like Iâ€™m living in a movie.â€ť
Gutt is aware heâ€™s filling some big shoes â€” both of original STP singer Scott Weiland, who died in 2015, and of Chester Bennington, who was with the band from 2013-15 and died in July. As a fan Gutt said he â€śstudiedâ€ť Weiland in particular, and he feels ready to both honor his predecessorsâ€™ legacy and bring something new to the band.
â€śI donâ€™t really feel that pressure,â€ť Gutt says. â€śI was studying Scott when I was coming into singing myself, and I learned so much from (listening to) him. It was fun to incorporate all those things in my own way and still sing true to Scottâ€™s stuff and really keep that as true as I could.â€ť
Gutt fronted the bands Dry Cell, Acrylic, Punch and Band With No Name before gaining the worldâ€™s attention on â€śX Factorâ€ť in 2013, where he finished in second place. After that, he became a headline act on his own and also formed a band called Rival City Heights.
Gutt was touring internationally when STP began soliciting new singers. The group received 15,000 on-line submissions and auditioned 29 other hopefuls. Gutt came to the bandâ€™s attention through friends, one of whom promoted him to STPâ€™s management, and another introduced his music to bassist Robert DeLeo during the all-star Hollywood Vampires tour stop at the DTE Energy Music Theatre last summer. STP brought Gutt to Los Angeles in time for the last day of the auditions.
â€śI walked in there like the gig was already mine,â€ť Gutt recalls. â€śYou canâ€™t be cocky, but you have to be confident and you have to believe in yourself.â€ť And STP was impressed.
â€śHe can sing. Heâ€™s a singer,â€ť Robert DeLeo said in an interview earlier this year. â€śThere are many singers that come in that can sing, too. Thatâ€™s not only what weâ€™re looking for. Thereâ€™s a lot of things to look at to really, really choose someone to move forward with.â€ť His brother, guitarist Dean DeLeo, added in a statement that, â€śWe wanted someone who would not only do our earlier songs justice, but would also write new songs and carve out a different path forward with us. It took some time, but we found our guy.â€ť
Gutt is happy about being embraced as a writing partner in STP. He wrote to six instrumental tracks on his first day, including â€śMeadow,â€ť and he said the partnership has grown more comfortable during the past 13 months.
â€śItâ€™s like they wrote through me and I wrote through them,â€ť Gutt noted. â€śIt was a really great process.â€ť
With the word out, the newly blond Gutt â€” â€śIâ€™m a very young guy with very white hair. Itâ€™s easier for me to keep it blond,â€ť he said with a laugh â€” is biding his time as the STP engine revs up under him. Heâ€™s moved to Los Angeles full-time and plans to work with a personal trainer to prepare for next yearâ€™s touring. And heâ€™s ready to show the world heâ€™s worthy of this opportunity.
â€śIâ€™ve studied my craft for a long time,â€ť Gutt said. â€śIf anyoneâ€™s going to be ready to do it and if anyoneâ€™s been trained for this throughout their life, itâ€™s me. Iâ€™ve had a lot of failures, but itâ€™s OK â€™cause itâ€™s all working out now.â€ť
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