Stone Temple Pilots' Dean DeLeo Talks Singer Search, Missing Scott Weiland

Guitarist explains why the hard rockers have embarked on such an ambitious undertaking and reflects on Weiland's passing

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Stone Temple Pilots' Dean DeLeo Talks Singer Search
Stone Temple Pilots' Dean DeLeo tells Rolling Stone what he expects from the band's singer search. Harry Reese

The members of Stone Temple Pilots are ready for the next chapter in their career. Months after frontman Chester Bennington parted ways with the group to focus on Linkin Park, the hard rockers have launched an open audition on their website where literally anyone can prove whether or not they've got what it takes to front a multi-platinum rock band. The group announced its intention earlier today with a statement that paid respect to founding frontman Scott Weiland and tipped a hat to Bennington, and now they've begun the search.

Beginning today, men and women can download instrumental versions of "Interstate Love Song," "Trippin' on a Hole in a Paper Heart" and "Vasoline" so they can wow the group with their vocal abilities and dynamism. Prospective frontpersons will upload up to two audio recordings — that anyone can hear on the website — and could also send their own songs and videos that would only be viewable by the band members. The group is also asking would-be singers to submit photos and bios to give the musicians a better sense of who they are.

Once Stone Temple Pilots have found that perfect frontperson, guitarist Dean DeLeo says they'll be ready to move. "Robert [DeLeo, bass], Eric [Kretz, drums] and I have a lot of material kicking around," he tells Rolling Stone from Los Angeles. "A lot, man. We really want to be able to make new music and forge on, move forward, evolve."

Here, he explains what Stone Temple Pilots expect from the open audition.

How and when did you come up with the idea to do an open audition?
It has been some time. We kind of came to the realization a while back that the situation with Chester was not really allowing us to do all that we would have liked to have been doing. His involvement with Linkin Park and, of course, his family limited the time that we had with him. I will tell you this: Mr. Bennington gave it absolutely all that he had. I love him dearly. I love what he brought to the band on every level. He approached the stage each night like it was his last day alive, man. But it was very evident that time was just not allowing us to do what we wanted to do.

We've played with a lot of singers over the last several months, and we felt that we'd be doing ourselves — meaning Robert, Eric and I — a disservice if we didn't allow all the talent that is out there to become a part of this. So, good or bad, we opened the floodgates.

What are you looking for in a frontperson?
We'll know when it's the right person before they'll even open their mouth, just when they walk into the room. We're looking to be moved by somebody. You know Glen Campbell said to me a long time ago, "Dean, you got to live it to write it" — and you kind of know when that person walks into a room. I want to be hit in that place in my soul where music buries itself. That feeling, man. That's what we want.

And you don't want someone trying to be Scott or Chester.
No. You know, if Steven Tyler calls me, I'd be moved by that [laughs].

Look, here's how I look at it: A great singer will carry an average band; a great band won't carry an average singer. So what we're looking for is a pretty tall order, man. We've had the fortune of playing with some of the greatest and most talented singers out there, Tyler being one of them. Robert, Eric and I know what we want, and, like I said earlier, when that person walks into a room, we'll know.

Other than that moment where that person walks into the door, how will you know when to stop auditioning?
I'm pretty sure we'll probably cut it off at 30 to 60 days. I think the brunt of it will come in probably the first week or two. Robert, Eric and I are going to be looking at every submission. I think it will be entertaining.

What was it about Chester Bennington that made him a good frontman for Stone Temple Pilots?
I've known Chester for a long time. We did some shows together around '99 or 2000. I didn't have to do an audition, per se. When I posed the question to Chester and he replied yes, we were off and running. I was pretty confident he would bring a lot to the table, and he did. The only thing he was unable to bring to the table was time.

Your brother Robert met Scott first. What did he say about Scott as a singer before he joined the band?
It was a few years before I was even in the band, and it was just that Scott had the ability to sing, and sing really well. Robert was moved by that.

How has the band been coping with Scott's passing?
You know, it's sad man. It sucks. I wasn't in much contact at all with Scott for a few years. But I'm reminded and think about him daily. And when I say it's sad, I'm not referring to Robert, Eric or I; we were divorced and most likely never going to work with Scott again. What really, really bums me out is we all have kids. He's not going to see his daughter go to her first dance or his son go to his prom or help him parallel park. That's what really, really brings me down.

"Although Scott and I really didn't have any type of relationship for the last three years or so, the loss is tragic."

It's upsetting.
It's really, really sad. Look, if you want me to climb up on some sort of high horse right now, I was affiliated with one of the greatest singers, man. I had the luxury and the fortune of making records with one of the greatest singers. My wife is notorious for leaving the radio on in the car; whenever I get in the car lately, there's an STP song on the radio. And I'm just, "Aww, man." I'm reminded of him daily and I'm reminded of him at a time when he was vibrant and so full of life and hope, a time when he was electric with creativity and inspiring. That's when I'm reminded about with him because like I said, man, he and I were pretty much out of touch for at least the past three years. We didn't see one another or speak.

It's been quite a few months. It was Scott, and Mr. Bowie decided to leave and then Glenn Frey. People lose loved ones every day around the world. It's just sad. Any loss is really sad. A guy like Bowie was in my living room since I was 12. When you have that intimacy with those records, I've never even met Bowie, but I feel like I had a relationship with him. And although Scott and I really didn't have any type of relationship for the last three years or so, the loss is tragic. It's tragic on behalf of children, man.

You said you had a lot of music written. How is that sounding?
There are very heavy elements and there's elements of it being very ethereal, and there's a lot of it. So we just want the right person to come in and be able to carry this new material down the road with us.

How many albums' worth are you talking by "a lot"?
We pretty much have a whole album tracked right now. As far as other material between the three of us, I would say there's at least a couple more albums there.

So what's the plan once you find the singer?
I want to record. Then we can go out and play. I love being on the road, man. I love playing music. I absolutely adore it. I love the travel. I love the bus. I love taking in every city. I love playing guitar. I'm just looking forward to giving you guys some new music and rolling into town and climbing the ladder and jumping off.

It sounds like you'll be back there soon enough.
After I weed through the thousands of applicants [laughs].

It sounds like you guys will have your work cut out for you.
Yeah, yeah. I'm looking forward to it. We're up for it.

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