Scott Weiland Q&A: Stone Temple Pilots Frontman Talks Axl Rose, STP’s Reunion and Tight Jeans
Midway through March, Scott Weiland told a Glasgow crowd Velvet Revolver was coming to an end. After a brief scuffle with his then-bandmates in the press, Velvet Revolver announced they would be carrying on — without Weiland. One week later, however, Stone Temple Pilots made an announcement of their own: a 65-date reunion tour with Weiland at the mike. Rolling Stone spoke with STP and Slash for Issue 1052; here’s an expanded version of the Weiland interview, where he talks about the end of his time in VR, how STP will approach their big tour and knowing when it’s time to hang up the tight jeans.
You’ve said the story of STP never really seemed finished and you thought there would be another chapter. Now that it seems to be here, how does it feel to be back with these guys?
It feels great, actually. And I think the reason is because it wasn’t planned. I wasn’t approached by my manager. I wasn’t approached by an agent or a group of promoters. I got a phone call from Dean [DeLeo] when I was on tour with Revolver, and he said, “Hey listen, are you sitting down? There are a handful of festivals trying to reach out to us, and the money is pretty ridiculous.” I never thought our first reunion would be a tour playing our hits. Although there’s definitely nothing wrong with that, that’s one of the great things that we’ve achieved. Ultimately our goal was to create a legacy. When we were in the car driving around together, promoting local gigs, it was, “One day we will be one of those bands that have a creative legacy.” We’ve been able to achieve that, but we feel that there is more to say. So we kind of felt it would be through the challenge of making new music. That would be the voice of the STP reunion.
I always felt we were a very interesting live band, that we could deliver the rock when we want to and then delve into these really spacey, trippy places where you weren’t quite sure where we were at until we landed back into that big riff again. Then we had these songs that if you took away the volume, sounded quite a lot like Burt Bacharach songs with melodies that were a bit different, and quite a bit more morbid. But that’s kind of what made the band sort of unique.
It sounds like everybody’s down to make new music after this. Are you thinking about that yet?
Yeah, we’re making a new record after this. I think that there’s a lot to say, and I think that some great music could come out that’s inspirational. Great classic music that I’ve been turned on to has not only inspired and influenced me, but it has had an effect on my songwriting. It’s interesting because when our first record came out we were a live band, we played live at least twice a week, and we were writing songs that were based around playing live. So the first record was definitely heavier than the rest of the records. We understand that we have a lot of fans that were into heavy metal, but it was absolutely not what we were. We played some music that was heavy music because it came from certain parts of where our influences were from. But as the records went on, we wore more various influences on our sleeves.
Dean said that he has a ton of material that he has written over the last five years with you and the band in mind. Do you have any idea what direction a new album would take?
I don’t have any idea because Dean and Robert [DeLeo] played together consistently, and I haven’t played with them in a long time. I played in Velvet Revolver, which is a raw, bombastic blues band with a punk rock edge to it. It’s like everything is based around the blues, no matter what the groove is. And the melodies that I write, the lyrics that I write are inspired from a different place. I’ve also been writing my second solo album, and that’s coming out in November, and that comes from a completely different place. That’s sort of a no-holds barred experiment where I’m not afraid to use any sort of production, whether it’s acoustic sounding, interesting sounding or bad sound.
However I really don’t have a great passion or a great desire in moving backwards or in staying stagnant. I’m 40 years old, and I feel like there are only a limited amount of years where you can wear those tight jeans. There comes a point where whether you can wear them or not, you shouldn’t wear them. And at a certain point, bands that have the ability to mature musically should mature musically in a graceful manner, and I see the Stone Temple Pilots as being a band that has that capacity. Did that call from Dean come at a time when things were already falling apart with Velvet Revolver?
No, things at that time were working quite well with Velvet Revolver and I didn’t want to mention it to them until there was a plan and a couple gigs that were actually booked. Slash and I were usually the ones who talked to each other first about things, then we’d go to the rest of the guys. And, unfortunately because of certain people’s egos, it … I walked into a situation where there was a lot of baggage. I had a lot of baggage walking into my situation. I was in a band where at the end, it was pretty much three against one. And so I’m pretty sure that it felt that way to Axl as well. I have to say this, and I’m not just saying this now because of my situation I went through, but I heard a lot of great Guns n’ Roses stories you guys in the press will never hear. Everyone has made Axl out to be this horrendously crazy person, this bad guy, and I don’t know him very well at all. He and I for whatever reason got almost tricked into this little media spat for a moment because one of our band members happened to run into him and said that he said something. So, my point being that having been in a band with Velvet Revolver now for five and a half years, I’m not quite so sure that it was all Axl’s fault.
It’s like, why does it always have to be the lead singer. Matt Sorum in front of my face, he was the sweetest guy in the world. But there were some times, out of the blue, the guy just randomly hated me. We all carried our own baggage in that band. In a sense, that’s why people were intrigued, you know, especially for the first couple of years. Because they were kind of waiting on the trainwreck to happen. They just thought it would happen a lot sooner.
To a certain degree, because there was all that baggage, for Velvet Revolver to pull together two really great albums was impressive.
Yeah, yeah. Especially on the second one. I really feel proud of the second album we made. We put all of our problems aside, egos aside, and we became a band, and it wasn’t about being Guns n’ Roses and STP. It was about being a completely different band. Not many people are able to say that they had in their professional career the chance to perform in two bands that won Grammys and were multiplatinum bands. But with STP, you know, these were, you know, the best friends of my life. I grew up with these guys while we were teenagers. It’s a whole other thing.
Coming back into STP, was it all hard to get over the old issues?
Well, it was. It really was. A lot of it had to do with the fact that like on one tour, Dean and I would be drug buddies. Dean and I would be like Keith and Mick on some tours, and then he’d come home for a week break and we’d go back on tour and I’d still be runnin’, rippin’ and roarin’ ’cause that’s the way it rolls, as far as I’m concerned. And he had allegedly stopped, and he’d be like, “Whatcha doin’ man?” It sounds like this tour as going to be drastically different from any STP tour in terms of how you will be traveling.
Yeah, well, my kids are gonna be with me, once a month, they’re gonna be out with me for a week to ten days.
Are you thinking you might miss the old lifestyle when you’re on the road again with these guys?
No, not really at all. There were some moments with the Velvets that brought back those days. I mean, you gotta figure that everyone in Velvet Revolver besides [guitarist] Dave [Kushner] relapsed and went to rehab at least two times. So no, I’m actually looking forward to the fact that this band is much more about the music and it’s always been that way.
How was it to play together at the Houdini Mansion when you announced the reunion?
It was amazing. I was really nervous initially because I had just got off a four-week tour with the Velvets and my voice was starting to get a little bit worn out. My concept was let’s not go out there and try to just like rip, let’s go out there and play some of the songs that are the most musical songs. This band has not had its footing in a long time. To be a great band it’s like you have that telepathy. You know when the bass player’s in back of you without even looking. You know when your guitar player’s coming up to you to lean up to you and sing into your microphone. You just know these things. You feel it. You feel the energy of it. And if we were to try to pull off a rock show, like a real rocking rock show the first off gig, I’m not sure it would have been all that convincing so we kind of started off with some of the more midtempo songs and a couple of tunes that had a little bit of a vibe to them. And then we worked our way into a couple of the midtempo hits like “Interstate Love Song” and then started to bring up the tempo, bring up the volume.
Does that seem like the sort of template you’ll use on the tour?
Not at all. Obviously, people want to hear the hits. But I’ve been playing with another band where it’s balls to the wall the whole entire time. What I would like to do is present a show that has a real broad spectrum of music, and also turn some people on, because I think that over the years, what has made the band so special is people know the songs that aren’t just the hits. People know songs from the records. We’ll have a rotating set list. So there will be those songs that are the classic songs, and there will be the songs that are more acoustic, and then there will be the songs that are more ephemeral and ambient and a little more avant-garde as well.
How’s the solo record coming along?
Basically done. Steve [Albini is] definitely my favorite rock producer. So we booked a session about a year and a half ago, and went in there and recorded four songs, and [we just went back] to record our basic tracks for four or five songs more. It’s going to be a double album. It’s garagey stuff and more hardcore stuff. Kind of like if Grandaddy bumped heads with Marvin Gaye.
And you’re also working on a book, a TV show and a clothing line?
Yes, I’m writing it with David Ritz, and actually we’re writing it together. I’m pretty busy, but once we decided to actually write together, instead of trying to do it the traditional interview style, then we got into a flow. It’ll definitely be honest. Eventually I want to subsidize my income with other creative outlets that are going to not keep me tied to the road so much. You know, I have two kids, they want me to be able to play Clubpenguin.com with them once.
I’ve also heard talk that you and the STP guys want to do things differently, business-wise.
Well, we’re trying to figure out what to do, in the most creative way we can, to get out of our deal with Atlantic Records. ‘Cause we think we have a pretty good way of doing it. We’re negotiating with them right now, and once we do, we have some really good ideas that we think will get our music out to the people and also get our merchandise out to the people, and help people come out and see us play for reasonable ticket prices. And hopefully, of course, make some money too.