Since the moment Stone Temple Pilots
appeared on the scene in the early 90's, the group dominated the decade from start to finish, racking up 15 singles on the Billboard Top Ten, winning a "Best Hard Rock Performance" Grammy in 1994 for "Plush
" and having their five albums sell more than 35 million copies worldwide. Of all their peers, STP
alone had sustained commercial success, earning greater critical acclaim with each release, building a body of work that remains popular and its enduring acclaim has only highlighted the absence of the band, who quietly went their separate ways after the turn-of the millennium release of Shangri-La Dee Da
Despite the presence of the greatest hits album Thank You
in 2003, there was a generation that has never witnessed the live power of the vocalist Scott Weiland
, guitarist Dean DeLeo
, bassist Robert DeLeo
and drummer Eric Kretz
live in concert. That all changed when the band reunited for a massive concert tour in 2008. Hot on the heels of that concert tour, the group's hugely anticipated new album simply titled Stone Temple Pilots
has finally hits stores.
Produced by Stone Temple Pilots
and mixed by Chris Lord-Alge
(Green Day, Dave Matthews Band, My Chemical Romance) it sees the group continuing to explore their enduring approach to music melding big rock riffs, classic pop hooks, and the restless experimentalism of glam, punk, and psychedelia. Joe Matera
recently put in a call to Dean DeLeo
to discuss the group's new album, the evolution of his guitar playing as well as his thoughts on the industry.
UG: When it came to making this new album, how did the songwriting differ to previous albums?
Robert and I write the songs and Scott writes the lyric and the melody. Then we get together and work out the material as a band and work it up on acoustic guitars so we can really hear everything going on. And then we play it as a band and it is here where we really have everyone flush out their part as to what they're going to be adding to the song. Once that is done, we go to the studio and track it. I think, musically speaking, we all kind of have soundscapes in mind as to what the song is asking for. And it is just a matter of acquiring those tonalities and tracking them and off we go.
Listening to the album, it has got a very English Sixties sound to it, especially the track Bagman' which echoes The Beatles. On a whole it reminds me a lot of Tiny Music Songs from the Vatican Gift Shop. Was that a conscious effort to delve into that sound again?
No it wasn't a conscious effort at all. It was something that just happened. Some of those songs have been around for quite awhile actually and some of them were written during the sessions. I think we were more focused on keeping it sounding modern but we are what we are and why it came out like it did. With the songs that were sitting around for awhile, I was anxious for Scott to take a bite out of them and he did a superb job.
How far back do those early songs go?
"I think we were more focused on keeping it sounding modern but we are what we are and why it came out like it did."
Well Dare If You Dare' I wrote when I was on the road with Talk Show. I have to tell you man, Scott worked really quickly on this record, he was sending back like two songs a day. What was different about this record was that we were on the road while making it while previously we have always made our records when off the road. First of all the biggest difference about this record is that Robert and I produced it. Previously with the rest of our records, we had the luxury of making them with Brendan O'Brien, every single one of them. And Brendan works very quickly. So we really learned a lot from his expertise. We made all of our records in around four to eight weeks, all of them were done like that. Mixed and mastered too. But this record, it went over the course of about eight months because we were on the road. We would work on the record then go back out on the road and come back to the studio and repeat the process again. The last time we came off the record, Scott called me and said, we've got to finish this fucking record man'. And I was like I agree' because I felt we were sitting on it for too long. So we came back and cancelled some shows. And that's when we began utilizing everybody's studios. We had three studios going simultaneously, Robert had a studio in his house, and I was at Eric's studio working and Scott had a studio too so all three were going at once and we rapped up the record in a week after that.
I was told that when Scott was laying down his vocals in his studio, he also had producer Don Was with him?
Um (small pause over phone line) I don't knowDon was not really producing it, but Don was very instrumental in being middle ground between the band.
With Scott's well documented problems with addiction and the like in the past with not only Stone Temple Pilots but with Velvet Revolver too, does it worry you those problems may surface again and could derail the band's plans?
You know man I kind of live my life being all I can be as a human being. For me, I have no control over anyone else's actions really. But I do have control over how my son is going to view me as a Dad, how my brother is going to view me as a brother, how my mom is going to view me as her son, and how I am going to be as a business associate. So how I am going to be as a human being is enough for me and so that is where I put my best foot forward.
Though some of the media are saying this is a reunion album, you don't think the band really broke up?
Yeah, it was more about that we much needed a break from each other really.
In the studio, do you like to get experimental?
At times I do. I think I know what I want the songs to sound like as well as Robert knows what he wants his songs to sound like to, and what kind of tonal landscape we are after. For us it's about getting out the sound you're hearing in your head and trying to get that to come through the speakers.
When it came to your well known use of guitar tunings, did you utilize many on this record?
Pretty much everything is standard on this record though there are a couple of open G things on there.
What sort of set up do you have when it comes to playing live?
Live my set up is exactly as it has been since day one. I run a VHT Classic power amp which is a 50 watt stereo unit and run at 16 ohm into this wonderful Demeter TGP-3 three-channel preamp which gives me three modes on the amp. I have a nice somewhat clean tone, and depending on where the volume is set, I can have a good crunch rhythm tone and then there is a real loud blast off solo tone. And I run that in stereo to two Marshall 4 X 12 cabs and have a Vox AC-30 running as well and a Crybaby wah wah running through the whole system.
Do you take many guitars with you on the road?
On the road I have loads of guitars with me because I am now covering six albums worth of material and they also come with plenty different tunings. Since we have released this sixth album now, and we are doing four songs off the new album on this tour, I am bringing out three Telecasters, four Les Pauls, and two Paul Reed Smiths and that's it.
How do you think your playing has evolved over the course of your career?
The thing that really changed my guitar playing, actually happened about five years ago, when Joe Walsh called Robert and I and asked if we could join his band and go out on the road for awhile with him. And being onstage with Joe night after night I can't even express to you the kind of doors that he opened for me as far as my playing being widened. That's when I felt I finally established a much more comfortable and deeper relationship with the guitar. It was from being out on the road with his band. And what I learned also from Joe was not so much about the notes being played, but about the space between those notes.
Are there any specific guitarists that have influenced your directly?
There is one guy that really goes unsung, a guitar player who is responsible for some of the greatest solos through the 1970s and I don't hear many people mention his name, and that player is Brad Whitford.
He does get overshadowed a lot by Joe Perry
"I like to think that not just another year passes but a little wisdom comes under your belt."
Yeah all those great solos on those records are Brad. And you can plainly tell each others playing as Brad is, much more of a fluid player, while Joe is a little more cerebral, those are the main differences between the two. Another great player in my opinion was in the best era of the Rolling Stones, he was Mick Taylor. This guy forced everyone in that band to be on their toes. Overall, it goes very deep with me when it comes to guitar players, everybody from Wes Montgomery to Hank Garland to the pedal steel players like Lloyd Green and Pete Drake.
I read an interview with Richard Patrick recently where he alluded to the fact that he would rejoin Army Of Anyone if the conditions were right for it to regroup. What do you think of that?
I don't know man, I would love to. Its funny you should ask that question as recently I was sitting up late one night with my headphones on, I have this latest model of the Bose noise cancellation headphones, and man, the music sounds so good through them! Anyway I was sitting in the lounge with my laptop and headphones and going through songs and I put on the track Generation' off the Army of Anyone record, which led me to another song off that album and I really hadn't heard anything from that record for well over a year or more. Well man, Ray Luzier and his drumming on that record? And Richard? They're incredible. And I am Richard's biggest fan. Those songs on the Title Of Record, I wish I had written them. They really get me off and really permeate my soul. And to make a record with one of my favorite singers and then have Ray drumming up behind me and of course my brother Robert as well was an incredible moment. We were all let down that that album didn't do what we thought it would do. It was a big let down for all of us. But in my opinion, that record is really amazing.
Having now clocked up twenty years in the music business, what are some of the important lessons you've learned?
It is all about what comes with age. I like to think that not just another year passes but a little wisdom comes under your belt. I have become a little more aware of the business aspect of things because musically, it is really easy as it's a great place to go dip your mind in and have a fun time doing. But I am much more aware these days of where things are at for me on the business end of things. And that is fucking important. It is really important because I feel we've been fortunate that we have this ability to make records and have for twenty years. So to me, the most important thing or lesson I've learned in this business is about being aware.
Finally ever had a desire to record and release an all instrumental guitar album?
Who knows, maybe someday I will
Interview by Joe Matera