Stone Temple Pilots have raided their vaults for a new 25th-anniversary box-set reissue of their debut album, Core. One of the highlights is “Only Dying,” a moody song the band demoed early in their career but never officially released. The band had considered making the track its contribution to the soundtrack for The Crow but decided it would be in poor taste to include it after the film’s star, Brandon Lee, was accidentally shot dead on set while filming a scene. The band subsequently shelved the tune until it began assembling the box set, which will come out September 29th.
“That song was a little bit of a different direction for us,” bassist Robert DeLeo tells Rolling Stone. “It was based more off jazz-type chordings. As a songwriter, I wanted to spark people into different directions.”
“I remember Scott really wanted to redo the song and quite honestly, the guitar tone we chose on that … I don’t know what I was thinking,” guitarist Dean DeLeo says. “Maybe I was listening to too much Robert Smith or something. It’s a song where I don’t think we reached our full potential as songwriters quite yet. But honestly, it really is a beautiful song.”
“We wrote it maybe nine months after Dean joined the band, and we recorded it in a studio in north Hollywood before we got signed,” drummer Eric Kretz says. “It’s cool to hear it now. You can hear all the STP elements in there. You could tell it needed to be reworked a little bit, but you can really hear Scott’s voice taking on its character and the band delving into the sound of the guitar, the special effects and everything. It’s a great early indicator of where the band was heading. It was trying to dig into our emotions.”
After Lee’s death on set, the result of the film’s prop department improperly prepping a gun, Robert says the band felt it would be an inappropriate contribution to the film. Ultimately, they recorded “Big Empty” – which would become the first single off their second album, Purple – for the film. “It was a bit more fitting,” Kretz says. “It’s just a different vibe than what we were feeling at the time.”
Because they had moved on, the band never recorded “Only Dying” as anything more than a demo. But despite abandoning it at the time, they never forgot it. “One of the last few conversations Scott [Weiland] and I had was that he really wanted to re-cut that song,” Dean says. “I said to Robert, ‘Maybe we should honor his wishes and maybe cut the band around that vocal.’ Maybe we’ll do that one day; I don’t know.”
In addition to “Only Dying,” the super deluxe edition of Core features five discs, the first of which contains the original album remastered. The second disc features demos and B sides, including a version of “Creep” with a different bridge and an early cut of “Plush” with different lyrics, while the third and fourth discs contain live recordings from 1993, and the DVD features the original LP in a 5.1 surround sound mix and high-res stereo, as well as music videos.