David Weiland, a former aeronautics engineer, now works in public relations at Lockheed Martin, specializing in environmental issues. Scott characterizes him as politically conservative but with a more open mind now that he's involved with the environment. "He's becoming more libertarian," Scott says, grinning. He also talks of his natural father with a little smile: "His [second] wife was an artist. They were sort of a bohemian couple. The album that always reminds me of them is Fleetwood Mac's Rumours — the parents smoking weed, crystals hanging from the windows, spinning around."
Scott Weiland was a freshman in high school when his family moved again, this time to Huntington Beach, Calif. It was not an easy transition. He felt awkward, apart from others. Weiland was active in sports — he was on the varsity wrestling and football teams in high school — but also found other forms of solace: "When I tried alcohol for the first time and various other drugs, I felt like I could fit in. Or maybe I just didn't give a shit." But when he put his first band together at 16, he says, "all of a sudden I had a reason for feeling good about being an outsider."
Robert DeLeo had left his brother Dean, his mother and the sprawling De-Leo clan — including eight other brothers and sisters from his mom's four marriages — back in Point Pleasant Beach, N.J. He emigrated to California, in 1984, originally to attend art school. But Robert had wrapped up months of literally living in his car (a 1976 Volkswagen Rabbit) and was installed in a Long Beach apartment with an eight-track home studio when he met Weiland, in 1985, at a punk-rock show. Weiland came calling with his band to record some demos. Robert ended up playing bass on the songs and joining the group.
Weiland and Robert are a striking study in contrasts. Robert is tall, softspoken and a confessed introvert. "I get people coming up to me, asking if I'm the manager," he says, laughing. Weiland, on the other hand, has a straightforward, engaging manner; his energy switch doesn't appear to have an off position.
"He's always been wired," exclaims Kretz, who moved to Los Angeles when he was 19, and lived intermittently with both Robert and Weiland after joining their group, in 1988. "Scott has so much energy, which was really beneficial to us in the beginning. When I was living with Robert, we always sat around and listened to music, talked about music. And Scott would be the one going out every night, trying to get us gigs."
Dean DeLeo arrived in California a year after Robert. The brothers had done the Jersey Shore club grind in bands together, but it wasn't until 1989 that Robert asked Dean to come up from San Diego — where Dean had been managing a construction-supply warehouse — to play a few solos on a demo tape. The session came out so well that Weiland, Kretz and the two DeLeos decided to stay a four-piece; two friends of Weiland's from Orange County who were also in the band got their pink slips. "I just knew that once Robert and I had a chance to do something musically, that we would be able to make some kind of contribution," Dean says.
He also suggests that, in retrospect, having two brothers in Stone Temple Pilots may have contributed to the tensions that complicated the band's success: "The old saying, 'Blood is thicker than water'? There might have been feelings that felt weird to Scott. I'm sure there were things, from his point of view, that we weren't fulfilling him with. And off he went."
In terms of drug use, none of the members of STP has been a choirboy. Of his experiences, Kretz just says, "Everything was pretty normal as far as that goes, as to what kind of trouble we can all get into." Robert admits to "smoking weed until I was dumb" and flirting with PCP as a teenager. He also has grim memories of STP's 1994 tour with the Meat Puppets: "I was the guy who would go on the bus and go in the back, and the door would be locked, and everybody would be in there getting high. And that resentment not only went over to Scott but to my own brother.
"But it's how one handles it," he adds. "Even though we all had problems — and I think Scott will agree — he's the one who ran with it."
Dean describes the recent mending of his relationship with Weiland with quiet relief. After getting out of treatment at Impact, Weiland wrote a letter to Robert. "It was severely touching," Dean says. "Robert called me and read me the letter. But with what Scott had put us through and put himself through, I questioned the validity of it. You can imagine how tearing that was. I was completely broken, but also like, 'Can I believe this?'
"Scott had been trying to get ahold of me," Dean says. "I called him and said, 'Let's go out to dinner.' It was great to see him have a sparkle in his eye, to feel his warmth. Basically, I let him do the talking — letting me know what he'd been up to, what he'd been doing. Then it was, 'Let's go out and work.' 'I'm ready to do this.' 'OK, let's go.'"
Even before Weiland's relapse at the end of the year, there was considerable debate within Stone Temple Pilots as to how sensible and safe it was to start making long-term plans. Weiland talked about recording another album. Dean said he would like to make a new one, but "on full strength," as he put it.
Robert did not want to overestimate Weiland's — or STP's — returning strength: "I think that would only lead to disappointing people and disappointing ourselves. I don't think that would be a healthy thing to do." Unfortunately, the events of Dec. 29 proved him right.
Nevertheless, the fact that anyone in STP could even bring himself to speak of a future was no small victory, a recognition that recovery is something that only happens step by step.
"They're taking it a day at a time," Weiland says of his band mates one night in his hotel room, "just like I am. Because that's the only way to enjoy the journey."
Like the day off the group had in Miami, three weeks into this tour. "We were enjoying the journey, man," Weiland says ecstatically. "We took two boats out and went water skiing. We were just sitting there with our shirts off, going through these channels and looking at all the houses. The sun was out; it was 83 degrees. We all looked around and looked at each other. We just started smiling and laughing, going, 'Man, life is fucking good today.'
"And that's all you have: today."
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