As for broadcasting their influences on record, the DeLeos are keen to point out that Dean's angular chord patterns on Tiny Music's "Adhesive" are a nod to Robert Fripp's riffing on the 1974 King Crimson track "Red." "I'm a helpless product of the '70s," Dean says, beaming.
That goes for all of STP. You can hear it on the plane and in the shuttle vans, going to the hotels and venues, as the band members pass the time waxing nostalgic about favorite records and adolescent gig memories. "Turn it up!" Weiland yells when Blondie's "The Hardest Part" comes over the van radio. Dean talks about going to see hammetal legend Uriah Heep at the old Capitol Theater in Passaic, N.J., not far from where he and Robert grew up on the Jersey Shore. Robert enthuses about bass players such as Bootsy Collins and Rush's Geddy Lee.
"Just talking in the van, it blows me away," says Kretz, a native of the San Jose/Santa Cruz area, in Northern California. "Robert and Dean went through the exact same things I did. I started off with rock, then got into the jazz-fusion, progressive-rock things, trying to play Jeff Beck and the Dixie Dregs. [Robert and Dean] were doing the same thing."
That improbable mix of pop cunning, bar-gig-honed chops and blustery arena rock classicism is splattered all over STP's three albums. "Sex Type Thing," on Core, lunges with an AC/DC-style drive that is just spitting distance away from '77 Brit punk. The muscular guitar motif and minor-chord ache in the chorus of "Interstate Love Song," on Purple, epitomize STP's knack for the heaving romanticism of late-period Led Zeppelin. Tiny Music may have been recorded under extreme duress, but it boasts a tight, glitter-era sass ("Pop's Love Suicide," "Tumble in the Rough") traceable to Weiland's long-standing love of David Bowie. Even the black suit he wears onstage, Weiland says, "is a Thin White Duke thing."
When STP borrow, they do it with full disclosure. Weiland admits that the "crash, crash, crash" tag in "Big Bang Baby," on Tiny Music, is a loving steal from the Rolling Stones' "Jumpin' Jack Flash." "But the whole idea behind the chorus," he claims, "was making fun, in a tongue-in-cheek way, of the whole rock-star, hero-worship thing: 'Sell your soul and sign an autograph/Big bang, baby, it's a crash, crash, crash.' And the Rolling Stones are the epitome of rock-star heroes, in a great way.
"I always felt that I was caught up in my own contradiction," Weiland says of his slippery grip on stardom. "One day I would talk openly about people that I despised in the industry, who took themselves seriously as a celebrity or hero. Yet at the same time, I idolized people like David Bowie and John Lennon, even Iggy Pop, who were cartoonesque in their own way. I was never quite sure where I fit in" He says heroin was one way to cope with the pressures and tensions unleashed by his good fortunes, at least in the beginning. "I numbed myself to the situation," he confesses.
"Now," Weiland contends, "I'm at the point where I feel like, 'What the fuck?' I'm on an airplane that we're leasing. I'm OK with that. I wouldn't be caught dead being interviewed by a journalist on a private plane two years ago." He shivers in mock horror as the plane descends to Indianapolis for the evening's Big Rock Show. "I would have been wearing my fucking David Lee Roth mask."
Addiction runs in Scott Weiland's family. "My mother's side of the family has had their run-ins with addiction or alcoholism," he says one afternoon over lunch at a Mexican restaurant in Chicago. Weiland talks about this not for shock value or as some kind of excuse for his behavior but with a weird sense of gratefulness for the cushion of encouragement and understanding that was there when he most desperately needed it.
"Actually, it's an amazing asset to have," he explains. "When I was going through my own personal hell, they all understood where I was coming from. And they were supportive, probably codependent in a lot of ways. They didn't put any blame on me at all. I caused them a lot of hurt, and they didn't treat me like I was an outlaw or a bad guy."
When Stone Temple Pilots played in the West earlier on this tour, they shuttled to shows out of Denver. Weiland stayed with his parents, Sharon and David Weiland, who live in nearby Evergreen. "They're great people," he says proudly. "It's hard to have a really great family sometimes, because you have these expectations of how they're supposed to be and what they expect from you and what you are. And when you have problems, you're almost in denial that they exist.
"I thought about this stuff when I was in treatment. When I really thought about it, I was never a totally happy kid. I've always had a lot of sadness. That didn't have anything to do with my family. It had to do with what was going on inside me."
Weiland was born in San Jose. His mother and natural father divorced when he was 2. When Sharon married David Weiland a year later, Scott's new father formally adopted him. Scott was 5 years old when the family, including his younger brother, Michael, moved to Chagrin Falls, Ohio, a bedroom-community town near Cleveland.
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