After he spoke to Dean, Weiland also called Stone Temple Pilots' manager, Steve Stewart. "He indicated that things weren't 100 percent," Stewart says. "He was pretty open about things. Looking back on it, I think he was really reaching out. He was looking for support.
"It is a lot different than it was eight months ago," Stewart insists. "At that point, there wasn't that type of communication that we have now. It wasn't that Scott would call. We would find things out indirectly."
"This relapse wasn't like past relapses," Dean agrees. "Instead of Scott doing a run and selling his shoes for another hit, he called me." Still, Dean says, "when you've got a person like this in your life, it's hard. You've been granted all the things in life you want to do, and when one person pulls the rug out from under you, it's the worst.
"If we really want to keep going with Scott," he adds with a wounded but determined tone, "we have to be prepared for this."
A month earlier, sitting in the backstage catering room of Bryce Jordan Center, in State College, Pa., an hour before he's due onstage with STP, Scott Weiland devours two steaks, a small mountain of vegetables and a Gargantuan helping of apple pie a la mode with the vigor and speed — 10 minutes, tops — of someone whose only serious addiction is eating. His smile is wide and welcoming, his complexion ruddy with the excitement and exertion of hard, honest rock & roll labor.
Under the lights and looking snappy in a James Brown-meets-Bugsy Siegel ensemble (black suit, shirt and shoes, with a light gray tie), Weiland burns off his dinner calories with an exuberant flair and exhausting physical abandon. As Kretz and the DeLeo brothers rev up the pneumatic pulse of "Crackerman," from STP's multiplatinum 1992 debut, Core, Weiland goes into rock-god calisthenic spinout: furious mosh-pit stomping, Steven Tyler-esque spider dancing, the barnyard-rooster posturing of Mick Jagger. When he gets to the glam-crackle pop of "Tumble in the Rough," from the 1996 album Tiny Music . . . Songs From the Vatican Gift Shop, Weiland swings his coattails with a cocky panache that mocks the confessional undertow in the song's chorus: "I made excuses for a million lies/But all I got was humble kidney pie."
Yet Weiland isn't kidding himself. These are early, delicate days of sobriety. Just last spring he was shooting speedballs — lethal cocktails of heroin and cocaine — with death-defying relish. At this point, he's been clean for just six months. The monkey is off his back for now, but Weiland can hear it knocking on his door.
"I got tempted to drink just a few days ago," Weiland admits between deep sips of coffee in his New York hotel room a few hours after the State College show. "It was Thanksgiving, and I was out with my wife. And I was just thinking to myself how great it sounded to be able to have a glass of Scotch.
"But I have to play the tape all the way through," he continues, "and say, 'Scott, when was the last time you just sat there and enjoyed one glass of Scotch?' If I had one glass of Scotch, it would be, 'Two would be better. Three would be great. Four would be really good.' And then it would be, 'Shit, I'd really like to shoot dope right now.'
"That's kind of how it is for me," Weiland adds with a shrug of resignation.
There are distractions. He maintains a 12-step regimen of counseling and meetings on the road. He practices a kind of nondenominational meditation: "I just ask for courage to be able to do certain things that are difficult. I'm beyond the point of thinking I'm powerful enough to solve my own problems." And when he got out of treatment, Weiland took up surfing with a vengeance. "When you're out there on the water by yourself," he crows, "it's the most incredible high you could imagine."
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