For as much drama as Puddle Of Mudd
vocalist/guitarist Wes Scantlin
has been through in the past few years, he still has an amazing way of accentuating the positive. Although 2 members left Puddle Of Mudd and he found himself banned from Graceland after jumping in the estate's pool fully clothed, Scantlin doesn't dwell on the unpleasant episodes that occurred during the recording of his new album Famous
. The latest release may have taken 4 years to complete, but Scantlin says that the lengthy recording period allowed him to learn more than he would have initially.
That sense of appreciation extended to pretty much every topic covered during Scantlin's interview with UG writer Amy Kelly
. Whether discussing the Halloween activities he enjoyed with his son or going on about how stoked
he felt to be endorsed by Gibson guitars, you instantly got the sense that Scantlin has not taken one day for granted since becoming a well-known figure in the public eye. When it was time to begin the interview, rather than immediately rush into the details of Famous, Scantlin decided to turn the tables by discussing the one and only Ultimate Guitar
So this is Ultimate Guitar? I bet Chris (Stone, guitarist) goes there all the time. People are pulling up tablature so fast off of the Internet now. It's weird!
UG: You're a guitarist as well, so do you ever seek out tablature?
It's a trip because back when I was growing up, you had to go to the music store and hopefully they would have the musical books of the actual artist. You were trying to figure out what the riff was or the chords in general, and now all you have to do is open your laptop up and go straight to the website. There you go. It's so quick. It takes him maybe 3 or 4 minutes to figure out a certain part on a song.
I gave my computer to my girlfriend, and I'm getting a new one. So lately I haven't had a computer around to dilly-dally around on, but I've seen him do it. Everybody else is always using their computers to figure stuff out, too.
It's cool to finally talk with a musician who is a Kansas City native like myself.
I was just there this morning! I came in really quick to go trick-or-treating with my kid. We trick-or-treated, went to bed, got up, went to the airport, and then I went to freaking Indiana. There were this 14-year-old boy band - not boy band
- but a rocking band. They were playing Van Halen and Bark At The Moon by Ozzy and all this stuff. They were set up in a cul-de-sac. Maybe it was because of Ultimate Guitar that the kid was just insane awesome! He played Eddie Van Halen solos like it was no big deal. It was like second nature.
How old were you when you started to play guitar?
I was 13, but I wasn't that good. I was not anywhere near the level of talent they had yesterday in the cul-de-sac.
Did you teach yourself?
Yeah, I taught myself. I'm still to this day not even very good at reading tablature or anything like that. I can, but it's a patience factor.
Your latest album Famous was released 4 years after Life On Display. What were some of the problems that happened along the way to push the album back?
There are a lot of different situations that were really heartbreaking to me. We went through a lot of little switcheroos. I've had many different guitar players in this band, by the way. It's not just Paul Phillips. There have been countless amounts of guitar players, bass players, and drummers in this band. We had Greg, our drummer, and Paul, our guitar player, both decide that they wanted to do different types of things in their lives with different people. So we kind of got stuck with the short end of the stick there for a little while. We kind of had to regroup.
It didn't take away from the songwriting ability because I never really wrote anything with them except for a couple of things. We had many different situations with many different producers and a few different writers on this record, which I think pulled a lot of really amazing inspirational types of emotional performances out of myself and Doug. We have Ryan Yerdon and Christian Stone in the band now, and they're really talented guys and really positive guys.
I had to really open my mind up and just soak it all up and learn from it. I tried to improve upon the situations that were handed to me. So there you go. It got pushed back and pushed back, and it's very aggravating to me. I think I learned a lot from it and I'm actually happier that I had to go through all of that. Fortunately, I think the record turned out really, really great. We have like 35, 40 other songs that are already recorded.
The title track definitely has a little bit of cynicism focused at the Hollywood lifestyle. What inspired you to write Famous?
|"We went through a lot of little switcheroos."|
We wrote famous with a fellow named Brian Howes. It was one of those last-minute songs that kind of came in there. This guy is just an amazing producer, a really amazing songwriter and guitar player, everything. He's just great. I don't watch a lot of TV, but the TV that I've been seeing lately, there's so much going on news-wise. It seems like everybody is trying to get famous for doing something crazy. It's just wild. It's very different from when I was growing up watching TV. They've got everything down and documented. If it ain't on TV, it's on the computer. So we're just poking a little bit of fun at it. Me and the rest of the boys all sat around in our rooms and we practiced for like 15 years. People are just getting famous for not doing much.
Considering that you are a celebrity in your own right, does it feel fairly odd to fit in with that scene?
It is what it is. It's funny. I don't worry about that stuff. Fortunately for me, I don't have to worry about getting out there and getting in the news really too bad, for anything really seriously terrible. I'm not doing anything terrible. Some of these celebrities are getting popped for drunk driving and having drugs on them and stuff like that. I'm just not doing that kind of crap. I feel like maybe they just need to polish up their game. Everybody has got a cell phone camera now. You may not get popped by the cops, but you're going to just get popped by a phone!
Of course, I have to ask about the Graceland incident
You know, the thing about that was we weren't drunk. We were just being dumb little rock stars. We thought, Wow, maybe that's like the holy water of rock and roll!
It was all just fun. We didn't break anything and hopefully didn't hurt too many people's feelings. I know my tour manager, she was the most upset about it out of anybody that I know. So she wasn't too happy about it because she knows the Presleys. But that was the only really cruddy thing about it. It was all good fun and we didn't break anything. We weren't drinking and driving, and we weren't getting arrested for anything bad. That's how I look at it, and my dad said it was all right!
Was Elvis a big influence for you?
Huge, huge. Maybe the biggest. I used to dance in front of the TV. I always forget about mentioning that guy. He was just an amazing talent and an amazing artist. He was a force to be reckoned with when I was growing up, and even now. He really was inspirational. There are many different artists that inspire you and lead into your art, and Elvis Presley was one of them. I watched all of his movies, danced in front of the TV like a little fool.
Was there one particular person who inspired you to pick up the guitar?
Eddie Van Halen. I really enjoy listening to how Eddie Van Halen plays, even though I couldn't ever really play like him. A lot of other guitar players inspired me to play guitar that aren't really anybody well known. Anybody that was learning how to play guitar at the time was inspiring me to play the guitar. My mom inspired me to start writing songs and not just learn other artists' songs. I wasn't very good at it until my mom was like, Well, if you can't do that, then why don't you just try writing your own songs.
It's really the way you make a living at it anyway. It also makes you feel good when you write a really good one, too.
I'm sure there have been plenty of instances where fans approach you to say how they connected with a particular song.
|"It's really nice to touch people in a really great way, through music."|
Yeah. I've had a lot of people - men, women, kids - say how I've helped change their life or helped them through different situations. I'm like, Yeah, that song helped me get through this situation as well.
I'll talk to them and I'll explain to them what the song is really about. Sometimes people misinterpret it and they think it's about something that it is kind of about, but that's not the whole purpose of it. It's really nice to touch people in a really great way, through music. It really is.
Is there a song on the new album that was the most personal to you?
I like them all. They're all fun, and you can be inspired in a fun way. You can be inspired in a serious way. It Was Faith is a song that's really inspirational. It's about finding a way through a really black part of your life through a higher power and getting through it. There are a lot of positive messages in the songs. We Don't Have To Look Back Now has got a really positive message in there about a relationship. You get through it and it's really painful because love is heartbreaking. It doesn't always work out, and it's a pain in the ass to get through. It's a break-up situation with a person that you really have feelings for.
Did you have a different approach going into the studio to make Famous than you did on previous records?
I did my thing the way I've always kind of done it. There weren't too many people that were brought in. Just a couple were brought in to maybe make me look at something in a different way, vocally and musically. I look at it as a very humongous learning experience for me. There are a lot of things in this record that really changed the way I view the way I want to live, too.
There were a few producers that I got to work with that were 3 or 4 totally different entities of people. I learned a ton of stuff from every single one of these guys and gals that I got to work with. It was really awesome. Like I said, I learned so much and I'm happier for it. It took a little time, but it was well worth it.
Are you playing the Les Paul on pretty much every song?
Yeah. Somehow, I don't know how, but through the grace of God I got an endorsement by Gibson. Everybody used to say that nobody gets endorsed by Gibson. I was like, Man, I know. But I don't want to play anything else. I need more guitars to get through all these things on stage.
So I just called them up and was like, Hey listen, man. I don't really want to have to switch to this company or this company. I'd rather just keep playing your stuff. So can you guys just hook me up?
They were really cool and they actually did! I'm psyched. I got a bunch of Les Pauls. It's funny because Les Paul was born on the same day as me.
How many Les Pauls do you own?
Lord, I think I've got 14 or 15. I'm nearing the 20 range, but that's not nearly as many as Clapton or some other guitar player. It's more than I used to have, so I'm stoked.
Have you approached them about making a signature model?
One of my main guitars has coins and it's all crazy looking. It's got a picture of my kid. I've got film from a camera, and inside one of the pickups is the camera lens. I did some drawings on there that are kind of cool and Egyptian-esque looking. I kind of want to send it to them, but I need it for the show. So I'll maybe take a few different random pictures of it and send it to them to see if they'll go for it! It's a long shot, but getting endorsed by Gibson was also a long shot. I guess perseverance will pay off hopefully.
You're absolutely right because there are plenty of bands that would prefer to play Gibsons, but then have to settle for a different company because they get the equipment for free.
My dad is really smart. He's like, People say that this can't be done. But you know what? Go ahead and try anyway. It ain't going to hurt you if they say 'no.' It's just going to be another 'no' in your life.
So I was like, All right. I don't want to play anything else. Thank you so much for hooking me up!
I love them. I love Les Paul. I love Gibson. I love the whole freaking company and God bless them.