Dean DeLeo got the phone call at his Southern California home on Sunday, Dec. 29, shortly before Stone Temple Pilots were supposed to fly to Anchorage, Alaska, for a New Year’s Eve show. Scott Weiland was on the line. And the news was not good. After six weeks on tour with STP and more than six months of staying clean, of successfully fighting the dark urges that had once sucked him into the black hole of heroin addiction, Weiland, STP’s 29-year-old singer, had fallen off the wagon–hard.
“Scott called and said, ‘I’m fucking up–I need help,'” DeLeo, the group’s guitarist, recalls grimly a few days later. “When I talked to him, I could hear his condition. He said, ‘I’m going into treatment.’ I said, ‘I’d love to believe that.’ And on Monday, he checked himself in.” On Dec. 30, on his own volition, Weiland–a recent alumnus of the Impact Alcohol and Drug Treatment Center, in Pasadena, Califorinia–checked into an undisclosed rehabilitation facility. By his own count, Weiland had already been in and out of drug-rehab programs 13 times in the last three years.
The rest of STP–Dean DeLeo, drummer Eric Kretz and Dean’s younger brother, bassist Robert DeLeo–had no choice but to cancel the Anchorage show and two concerts scheduled for the following weekend, in Hawaii. Plans for more STP gigs, to begin in late February, were put on hold. (A Dec. 29 club show in Vancouver–a surprise “blind date” appearance promoted by Molson Breweries–had already been canceled because of a severe winter storm there.)
“We had 30,000 fans we let down,” laments Dean, referring to the Alaska and Hawaii dates. “We had 40-some people we employed. We were bringing wives and family of the crew over to Hawaii for those shows.” What made it worse, Dean points out, was how well everything had been going right up to the point when he picked up that phone.
On Dec. 14, in Cleveland, the band had wrapped up a successful 29-date stretch. On the road for the first time since 1994, STP were getting the best reviews of their career and seemed to be genuinely enjoying each other’s company, onstage and off. It was as if the long nightmare of Weiland’s addiction and the precarious state of the band’s career–Weiland’s arrest, in May 1995, on drug-possession charges; his repeated attempts to get straight; the tense recording sessions and scuttled tour plans–was finally passing away.
“The last six weeks we had were so beautiful,” says Dean, 35. “It was so great. But the whole camaraderie, the laughter, the music–it all hangs by a thread. “But the way it went down, it was much better than it could have been,” he suggests hopefully. “I’m not rationalizing it. But the worst thing is that he could have been dead. And he wasn’t.”
After he spoke to Dean, Weiland also called Stone Temple Pilots’ manager, Steve Stewart. “He indicated that things weren’t 100 percent,” Stewart says. “He was pretty open about things. Looking back on it, I think he was really reaching out. He was looking for support. “It is a lot different than it was eight months ago,” Stewart insists. “At that point, there wasn’t that type of communication that we have now. It wasn’t that Scott would call. We would find things out indirectly.”
“This relapse wasn’t like past relapses,” Dean agrees. “Instead of Scott doing a run and selling his shoes for another hit, he called me.” Still, Dean says, “when you’ve got a person like this in your life, it’s hard. You’ve been granted all the things in life you want to do, and when one person pulls the rug out from under you, it’s the worst.
“If we really want to keep going with Scott,” he adds with a wounded but determined tone, “we have to be prepared for this.”
A month earlier, sitting in the backstage catering room of Bryce Jordan Center, in State College, Pa., an hour before he’s due onstage with STP, Scott Weiland devours two steaks, a small mountain of vegetables and a Gargantuan helping of apple pie à la mode with the vigor and speed–10 minutes, tops–of someone whose only serious addiction is eating.
His smile is wide and welcoming, his complexion ruddy with the excitement and exertion of hard, honest rock & roll labor. Under the lights and looking snappy in a James Brown-meets-Bugsy Siegel ensemble (black suit, shirt and shoes, with a light gray tie), Weiland burns off his dinner calories with an exuberant flair and exhausting physical abandon.
As Kretz and the DeLeo brothers rev up the pneumatic pulse of “Crackerman,” from STP’s multiplatinum 1992 debut, Core, Weiland goes into rock-god calisthenic spinout: furious mosh-pit stomping, Steven Tyler-esque spider dancing, the barnyard-rooster posturing of Mick Jagger. When he gets to the glam-crackle pop of “Tumble in the Rough,” from the 1996 album Tiny Music… Songs From the Vatican Gift Shop, Weiland swings his coattails with a cocky panache that mocks the confessional undertow in the song’s chorus: “I made excuses for a million lies/But all I got was humble kidney pie.”
Yet Weiland isn’t kidding himself. These are early, delicate days of sobriety. Just last spring he was shooting speedballs–lethal cocktails of heroin and cocaine–with death-defying relish. At this point, he’s been clean for just six months. The monkey is off his back for now, but Weiland can hear it knocking on his door. “I got tempted to drink just a few days ago,” Weiland admits between deep sips of coffee in his New York hotel room a few hours after the State College show.
“It was Thanksgiving, and I was out with my wife. And I was just thinking to myself how great it sounded to be able to have a glass of Scotch. “But I have to play the tape all the way through,” he continues, “and say, ‘Scott, when was the last time you just sat there and enjoyed one glass of Scotch?’ If I had one glass of Scotch, it would be, ‘Two would be better. Three would be great. Four would be really good.’ And then it would be, ‘Shit, I’d really like to shoot dope right now.’ “That’s kind of how it is for me,” Weiland adds with a shrug of resignation. There are distractions.
He maintains a 12-step regimen of counseling and meetings on the road. He practices a kind of nondenominational meditation: “I just ask for courage to be able to do certain things that are difficult. I’m beyond the point of thinking I’m powerful enough to solve my own problems.”
And when he got out of treatment, Weiland took up surfing with a vengeance. “When you’re out there on the water by yourself,” he crows, “it’s the most incredible high you could imagine.” Weiland should know. He’s sampled a lot of others, including the surges of pride and achievement with Stone Temple Pilots.
Friends and bandmates in various combinations since the mid-‘8os, Weiland, Kretz and the DeLeos finally landed a major record deal with Atlantic, in the spring of 1992. A year later, Core was in the Billboard Top 5. In June 1994, STP’s second album, Purple, debuted at No. 1 and went on to sell more than 6 million copies, defying the rain of brickbats from critics who dismissed the band’s radio-savvy mix of hook craft, punk complaint and ’70s riffola as fourth-rate Pearl Jam.
Then there were the darker thrills, the crazy games Weiland played with hard drugs, beginning with his introduction to heroin on STP’s late-’93 tour with the Butthole Surfers. “It got to the point,” he concedes, “where I didn’t feel like I got a good enough rush unless I had one hand on the needle and one hand dialing 911.”
Weiland has come a long way from that. “It’s amazing to see Scott in the morning now,” declares Robert DeLeo, 31, at one point on the tour. “He’s on time. He’s got a smile on his face. He looks good. That’s something I haven’t seen in years.”
But Weiland’s late-December relapse shows how far he still has to go–and how much faith and patience his band mates will need to help him along the way. “I’ve never known life to be so easy and yet so hard,” Dean confesses. “With Scott’s problem, it’s a hard route.”
Does Dean think Weiland can beat his problem? “He may get it,” Dean says after a long pause. “He may never.”
No single point in Scott Weiland’s battle with addiction captures the mess of competing impulses–dope need, rock-star privilege, selfishness, crippling remorse–that drove him perilously close to self-destruction more than the 48-hour sequence of events that began on May 15, 1995.
Shortly after midnight, he was arrested in Pasadena following an alleged drug transaction. Weiland was charged with possession of heroin and cocaine after the police found two pieces of crack in his car and some heroin in his wallet. If convicted, he faced a maximum of three years and eight months in prison.
Weiland was freed later that day after his wife, Jannina, posted a $10,000 bond. Then, while she was driving him home, things turned really grim. “I was dope sick,” he says. “I said, ‘I need you to drive me to my dealer’s house.’ She said, ‘No, I won’t.’ So I jumped out of the car. It was only moving 20 miles an hour. I went to my dealer’s house and scored.”
When Jannina would not let Weiland come home, he checked into the Chateau Marmont, in Los Angeles–where Courtney Love was staying in the next room. The following evening, May 16, Weiland and Love called L. A.’s Kroq and, on the air, Love read an open letter that Weiland had written to his wife, band mates and fans.
“I have a disease,” Weiland said in the letter. “I want to say I’m sorry to my friends, my band, my wife and family, and the social ideals to which I have become a hypocrite. I ache to get well, to feel and to make more music.”
“It was a major low point,” Weiland says of that night. “I wanted to just say, ‘I’m sorry, I’m not what you expect me to be.’ “Why didn’t he read the letter himself? “I was embarrassed,” he says softly. “It was hard enough to write it.”
This is the first time that Weiland has talked at length and on the record about his season in hell. He’s concerned about reliving his mistakes at the expense of the music he makes with STP–”Have we talked enough about music?” he asks periodically during our interviews. But he doesn’t gloss over details or play the victim card.
The other members of Stone Temple Pilots are more reluctant to walk through the minefield. Kretz and the DeLeo brothers are still smarting from the press gibes and vicious Pearl Jam and Nirvana comparisons that have dogged STP since 1993, when “Plush,” a slow-march angst hymn from Core, went ballistic on radio and MTV. “I enjoy being a musician,” says Robert DeLeo. “I always just wanted to be respected as a musician. People assume we’re a cover band.”
To Robert and the rest of STP, being grilled about their singer’s problems and their own feelings of hurt and frustration is like grinding gravel into an open wound. “We were so deep on the inside of it,” says Kretz, 30, “that I don’t remember how I used to think of dealing with it. We were so completely affected by it. We found out everything that was happening to him. The phone calls kept getting worse and worse.”
After Weiland’s bust, the calls should have gotten better. His lawyer, Steven Cron, explains that according to California law, defendants charged with certain types of nonsales, nonviolent drug offenses can go into “diversion”–an outpatient rehabilitation and education program. If the defendant completes the program, the case can be dismissed and the arrest stricken from the record. In August 1995, three months after his arrest, Weiland was ordered to start diversion. But, Cron says, “Scott really didn’t do much with that.
A few months later, I talked to him, asked him how the program was going, and he said, ‘I haven’t started.’ So I went back in and got the judge to give him another chance.” Weiland was repeatedly in and out of rehab throughout the rest of ’95 and into the spring of ’96. “There was a strong part of me that wanted to live,” he says, “so I kept trying and trying, no matter how fruitless it was.”
Meanwhile, Stone Temple Pilots struggled to keep their career on the rails. They started work on Tiny Music twice in 1995 and didn’t hand in the finished record to Atlantic until just a month before its March ’96 release. Purple “almost didn’t get done,” Robert DeLeo notes with lingering dismay. “That record ended up with Dean, Eric and myself and [producer Brendan O’Brien] sitting in a room, saying, ‘Do we pack this up?’ And it’s really a shame, because that very conversation in that very room happened again when we were mixing Tiny Music.”
“On Purple,” Weiland argues, “I was still at that point with my heroin addiction that I was able to have that false courage to try certain things that I might not have tried otherwise. Because heroin has a numbing effect, it can take you away from something emotionally, where you might have been afraid to expose yourself if you were completely sober. But with the making of Tiny Music, it was a lot harder to focus. You’re so numb that it’s hard to know what you’re feeling at all.”
Weiland can hear those feelings now in his lyrics: “In ‘Pretty Penny’ [on Purple], it seems like an allegorical story about another character. But I think it was more about trying to find my own self. At that time, I was still trying to disguise that I was an addict. “By the time Tiny Music came out,” he says, “people already knew what was going on. It became impossible to hide the pain that I was going through and that I was causing other people. Like in ‘Adhesive,’ it’s pretty blatant about how I felt: ‘Sell more records if I’m dead/Purple flowers once again/Hope it’s sooner/Hope it’s near corporate records’ fiscal year.”
Weiland’s legal status, his struggle to get clean and Stone Temple Pilots’ impatience to get back on the road all came to a head last April when the band canceled free thank-you concerts for fans in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles–along with a subsequent summer tour–after Weiland failed to show up for rehearsals. Dean DeLeo was so upset that he went with his checkbook to a recording studio that Weiland was building.
“He had a bunch of NA [Narcotics Anonymous] guys and a bunch of his so-called friends there who were on his personal payroll,” Dean says. “They obviously knew where Scott was. I offered to write ’em all a paycheck and get the fuck out and lock the doors. Let’s get the guy help.”
At the same time, Weiland was given an ultimatum in court: Go into inpatient treatment or face criminal proceedings. Instead of touring, Weiland spent the summer at Impact while Kretz and the DeLeos made the most of their enforced vacation by recording a side project with singer Dave Coutts, a friend of Weiland and Robert DeLeo’s who had been in an ’80s L.A. band called Ten Inch Men. (The record, which Robert says does not signal “any intentions of breaking up STP,” will come out later this year on Atlantic under a different band name.)
Finally, on October 29, after completing treatment at Impact, Weiland appeared before Los Angeles Superior Court judge Elvira Mitchell to report on his progress. Steven Cron asked that the possession charges be dismissed. The prosecution requested that Weiland be kept in diversion for another 60 days. To the surprise of Weiland and his lawyer, the judge asked Weiland for his opinion. “I had not prepped him for that,” says Cron. “I said, ‘It’s not anymore about the threat of going to jail; I don’t want to live the way I was living,’ ” Weiland says with relish. “She smiled and said, ‘Case dismissed.'” (Cron says that Weiland’s re-entry into rehabilitation will not affect his legal status: “The Pasadena case is over. It was dismissed because he successfully completed the diversion program. It was dismissed and can’t be resurrected.”)
Weiland has other damage to repair. He declines to speak about the current state of his marriage. “I’ll just say I put her through a lot of pain,” he says of Jannina, who was his longtime girlfriend before they were married, in September 1994. “We’re just trying to make things good again.” But Weiland refuses to become trapped by either sympathy or guilt.
“I don’t regret drugs at all,” he states firmly. “Going through the hell I went through made it possible for me to enjoy life the way I enjoy it now. “We’re only as big,” he insists, “as our experiences.”
Onstage at the Pepsi Coliseum, in Indianapolis, Scott Weiland introduces “Plush.” “This is a song,” he says with drop-dead timing, “called ‘Meal Ticket.’ “It’s a different crack every night. In State College, Weiland slathers on the irony: “OK, this is the song you paid 20 bucks for.” At the Nutter Center, in Dayton, Ohio, he goes for the abstract touch: “This song is called ‘Lead Paint Factory.'”
“Plush” has been both a blessing and a pain in the ass. Stone Temple Pilots’ 1993 breakthrough hit and the starting gun for the critical drubbing they’ve been getting ever since, the song is an enduring reminder that success doesn’t mean everybody loves you. “Now I can make jokes about it,” Weiland says with a playful gleam in his eyes. Once, at a show in Seattle, he told the audience, “This is the song Pearl Jam wrote for us.”
Actually, Robert DeLeo wrote the music for “Plush” in 1989, two years before Pearl Jam released their debut album. “And when I played it for Scott,” DeLeo recounts, “he didn’t like it. He said, ‘It sounds too much like Boston.'” “You know what the funny thing is?” Weiland asks. “I was on the pro-Nirvana, anti-Pearl Jam bandwagon.” He cackles, settling back into his chair and strapping on his seat belt in the private Gulfstream jet that STP rented for gig hopping on this tour. “I didn’t get to the point where I respected Pearl Jam as a band until I saw them on Lollapalooza [in 1992], when they played in the middle of the day. Before that I was, ‘Pearl Jam? Fakes.’
“I took the same attitude, the same thing people did to me. It’s a horrible thing to have someone pretend like they know what you’re about and call you a fraud,” he says, illustrating his point with a dismissive wave of his hand, “when they haven’t given you a fair shot.” “How do you prepare someone for that?” asks Robert DeLeo in a wounded tone that sounds only partly rhetorical. “It’s really impossible to tell someone, ‘This is what’s gonna happen. People are gonna say, “You suck.”‘ It’s a bit of a mind fuck.”
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 arenarock 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 two. When Sharon married David Weiland a year later, Scott’s new father formally adopted him. Scott was five years old when the family, including his younger brother, Michael, moved to Chagrin Falls, Ohio, a bedroom-community town near Cleveland. 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, California. 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.”