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Five questions with Stone Temple Pilots bassist Robert DeLeo

May 29, 2008

It was easy to figure the Stone Temple Pilots wouldn't be gone forever. Even as vocalist Scott Weiland embedded himself with Velvet Revolver, and the DeLeo brothers with the lesser-profile Army of Anyone, it never quite felt like STP's 2002 split was permanent. Sure enough, the '90s hit-makers are back on the road, having kicked off a summer tour last week in Columbus, Ohio. Bassist Robert DeLeo, 42, says spirits are high for a group that once endured plenty of internal strife even as it embraced an us-against-the-world attitude. The band's Fillmore Detroit visit is one of the spring's biggest rock stands: Tuesday's and Wednesday's concerts are sold out. (Some tickets may become available before each night's show.)

Question: Your brother (guitarist Dean DeLeo) once told me that being in STP was like being in a "bipolar world" -- constantly up and down, up and down. Is that any different at last?

A: It hasn't changed a bit. I think that's one of the things that will always be there. There's a certain aspect of this band that's kind of like an unmade bed, you know. It's a mess, but you find a way to crawl back in it at the end of the day. Maybe that's the thing that keeps it interesting.

For me, going back into this was something I really needed to look at and think about. It's a matter of how I personally handle it and deal with it. But let's face it, man, I can think of a lot worse things to be doing with my life. And I owe it to myself to go out and have a great time this summer, and not let anything affect me. I feel very, very, very fortunate to be in the position I'm in, to come back six or seven years later and have people still give a (damn). I don't take it for granted.

Q: Did a reunion feel inevitable as the years went on?

A: I think enough time needs to go by to kind of heal things. And realistically, when the clock is ticking -- I don't want to be up there at 55 doing "Dead and Bloated." (Laughs) But I think this band is still capable of doing what we did 15 years ago just as good if not better now. We owe that to a little wisdom, a little sobriety and a little more focus. There's not that pressure of pleasing the record company and hitting the charts, because there's no new record.

Q: What thoughts went into the tour's set list?

A: You can imagine that first week of rehearsal and there's five records' worth of material to go through. We're pretty set on doing stuff we haven't done in a long time, even never done at all. There's a lot of stuff to sift through to see what holds up.

One of the things I do find is that musically there are a few things there that make me say, "Eh, I don't know if I'd do it that way today," but so much of it still holds up. At the time we had enough inside of us to know we wanted to write songs that would stand the test of time. That was merely because we're huge fans of music. I think about the songs I listened to when I was 5 that I can still listen to now at 42. There's a reason we did what we were doing, because we grew up on great music. In a way, it's not creating anything new -- it's really just trying to pass that along.

Q: The critics were not always kind to STP in the beginning, perhaps unfairly so.

A: That's the thing that made us lose focus, the fact that there was so much negativity surrounding this band. When that's around you, how can you move on with a positive note sometimes? But there was also an aspect of that that made us say (screw) it -- we're going to make our second record the way we want. And that was as big as our first record. The songs on there really showed where we were at the time. Looking back on that, sticking by our guns and coming out with a record like "Purple" -- that's what I'm proud of. Even if that record had sold 10 copies, I'd be telling you the same thing.

There's a point where you're thinking, "How valid can that criticism really be?" They're going to say what they're going to say. They said that about Led Zeppelin, said it about Dylan. They've got to write something.

Q: Your songs are still a staple on rock radio. Which of the older hits stands up best for you?

A: It's pretty amazing. I certainly never take that for granted. If you'd have told me that when I was 10 or 15 years old, I'd probably have laughed. When I was younger, I'd have only wished to create music that would stand the test of time. When I hear Aerosmith come on, then us, then Led Zeppelin after it, I'm pretty humbled by that.

I always have a really huge place in my heart for "Interstate Love Song." I don't know if "best" is the word, but it's right up there with the best songs I've written. When we were getting knocked for being a grunge band, that certainly wasn't a grunge song. That's a soul song, an R&B song. It's based around a lot of what I grew up hearing out of Detroit. James Jamerson is my favorite bass player, and the big underlying root of that song is Motown and funk. If that song defines Stone Temple Pilots, then that's enough to make me proud.

By Brian McCollum, Free Press pop music writer

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Thursday, May 29, 2008

Stone Temple Pilots put past behind to tour again

Adam Graham / Detroit News Pop Music Writer

Stone Temple Pilots guitarist Dean DeLeo doesn't romanticize the reunion of STP, the '90s rock outfit that's hitting the road for the first time in six years.

"A lot of musicians won't fess up to this, but I'll be very honest with you," says DeLeo, on the phone earlier this month from Los Angeles, where it's early and he's fighting off yawns.

"This is basically a business we're running, man. It truly is. And I'm going to say this with the utmost humility, but you get to the kind of level STP has achieved, there's a lot of business that comes along with that. There's a responsibility to one another to fulfill commitments, there's a responsibility to one another to be the best we can possibly be when we're out there. Because we're working for a lot of folks, man."

So much for the image of the four band members skipping through a field of daisies, holding each other's hands and singing songs together.

But if it took a lot of money to get the band back together, that's good enough for STP's fans. Stone Temple Pilots performs at the Fillmore Detroit on Tuesday and Wednesday, and the shows are two of the summer season's most anticipated.

Stone Temple Pilots emerged in the early '90s, and with its debut album "Core" -- which sprung up in the wake of Pearl Jam, Nirvana and Alice in Chains -- they were falsely labeled grunge knock-offs. On their subsequent four albums, however, the band solidified its sound, a slick, pop-rock L.A.-bred style that was more glam than grunge. They racked up numerous hits and became one of the most reliable and consistent bands to ride the '90s rock wave.

But by 2002, frontman Scott Weiland's problems -- with drugs, with rehab, with the law -- became too numerous for the other band members to handle. The band split, though DeLeo says they never officially broke up, per se.

"It was not working. It was breaking down," says DeLeo, whose brother, Robert, is STP's bassist (drummer Eric Kretz rounds out the foursome). "It's nothing more than a relationship, and when your relationship with another person is breaking down, why are you going to stay around?"

Weiland went off and formed Velvet Revolver with the non-Axl Rose members of Guns N' Roses -- DeLeo swears he's never heard a Velvet Revolver song, outside of a few demos Weiland played for him early on -- while DeLeo moonlighted in various bands, including Army of Anyone with Filter singer Richard Patrick. But he says he always knew STP would get back together with Weiland, "unless one of us passed away." (Given Weiland's battles with addiction, it's not hard to figure out whom he's talking about.)

The band members were back together in the same room for the first time two years ago at Kretz's wedding, and DeLeo and Weiland had their first lengthy phone conversation in years nine months ago, when they floated the idea about a reunion tour.

From there, things fell into place -- the sudden implosion of Velvet Revolver was expected, given the band members' histories -- and STP performed together for the first time since 2002 early last month.

The first song they played was "Vaseline," a snaky number from the band's 1994 CD "Purple." "Cellular memory kicked in," DeLeo says.

Now the band is heading out on tour, and DeLeo is open to making future records with STP. "But that's just me," he cautions, "there's three other guys that would have to commit to that, too."

Beyond that? "I don't know what will unfold in the future. But would I like to really do this for awhile? Absolutely."

And as he talks about forging ahead, you get the picture he's talking about something slightly more close to his heart than a simple business decision.

Adam Graham is at (313) 222-2284 or agraham@detnews.com.

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I don't have anything from these guys, but always threw in a few of their songs off the jukebox at dart matches. Don't they do the one that goes "takes time, with a broken hand, but it needs to heal..."? Decent group, I'd say - for these days.

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I don't have anything from these guys, but always threw in a few of their songs off the jukebox at dart matches. Don't they do the one that goes "takes time, with a broken hand, but it needs to heal..."? Decent group, I'd say - for these days.

That song would be Creep from their debut album Core (1992)

I love STP, they are playing Edgefest in Toronto in July, but I'm too poor to go right now. Maybe I'll get lucky :)

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Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Adam Graham: Review

Stone Temple Pilots blast Fillmore on first night

Amid chants of "STP! STP!" from the capacity crowd assembled at the Fillmore Detroit, Stone Temple Pilots hit the stage Tuesday night for their first Detroit show in a half-decade, part one of a two-night stand at the venue and one of the first shows on a risky reunion tour that extends throughout the summer.

Early tour reports hinted that the '90s rockers might be lucky to make it to Labor Day, but any conflicts between the band members -- brothers Dean (guitar) and Robert (bass) DeLeo, drummer Eric Kretz and combustible frontman Scott Weiland -- seemed to have been ironed out by show time. Opening with a rendition of "Big Empty" that unfolded in slow motion, at least a half-beat slower than the recorded version, the band rolled through a 100-minute, hits-packed set that continuously reminded that Stone Temple Pilots was one of the most reliable rock bands -- musically, at least -- to emerge from the Clinton era.

The dude-heavy crowd cheered on Weiland as he appeared on stage with a red fedora on his head, aviator shades covering his eyes and a cigarette hanging from his mouth. The slithery frontman, Nicole Richie-skinny and his facial features skeleton-like, oozed rock star presence but had a tougher time radiating charisma, since his appearance was more frightening than inviting.

But the hits kept rolling, and the hits are what the crowd came for. "Wicked Garden," "Big Bang Baby," "Vaseline," "Lady Picture Show," "Plush," "Interstate Love Song," "Dead & Bloated" -- the band was a veritable assembly line of singles during its heyday, and all were dusted off Tuesday during the band's 19-song set. There was a workmanlike competence to the performances; all were sturdy, but never did they rise above the originals. In a sense, the show was very no-nonsense and businesslike: There was no magic and no surprises, just sound readings of the band's admittedly impressive catalog.

Weiland -- who four years ago was playing the then-State Theatre with his mistresses in Velvet Revolver -- kept eyes fixed on him throughout the evening. Halfway through the show, he climbed onto a stack of speakers situated near the stage on the main floor while singing "Creep," and stayed perched there while barking through a megaphone -- an effect he used often -- during "Long Way Home." Removing his hat to reveal a blond dye-job with pink streaks, at times he resembled a middle-aged version of Chris "Leave Britney Alone" Crocker.

The band hit its stride late in the set during back-to-back renditions of "Down" and "Sex Type Thing," songs which show off Weiland's lower register and find the band in full-on grunge grind mode. But there are still kinks in the set to be worked out; several songs, including "Sour Girl" and show-closer "Trippin' on a Whole in a Paper Heart," fell flat and felt under-rehearsed, perhaps a symptom of the tour's infancy. More problematic down the road could be Weiland's vocals, which were scratchy and sometimes inaudible, and were lost in the mix during the heavy crunch of "Lounge Fly."

The Stone Temple Pilots were never perfect: With Weiland at the helm, they were always a bit dangerous, a bit mysterious and their future was always uncertain. When they were good, however, they were very good, and several of the band's works remain classics in the '90s rock cannon.

The same went for Tuesday. They were dangerous, uncertain and at times very good. In those ways little has changed for STP, and fans can take comfort knowing the Pilots are still flying their own course, unsure though it may be.

You can reach Adam Graham at (313) 222-2284 or agraham@detnews.com.

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The name of the song is "Crackerman". But on the way to figuring that out, I listened to a good dose of other STP material and there's not any weak songs off their first 2 albums. I mean, these guys rock!I read an "autobiography" by Scott W. in Esquire last year and he was one screwed up cat! I hope he can hang in there and maintain his creativity without the dope. He may be just that natural an abstract thinker as to pull it off. :blink:

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I like them. I saw them in...2001 or 2002. Something like that. They were pretty dang awesome at that show...they must not have been on form at the reviewed concert, because they rocked my socks off when I saw them. I have to admit, I'm getting a little tired of their songs, though...them and Pearl Jam. Now I kinda know what it's like for the oldsters to hear songs like Stairway to Heaven. I've been hearing these songs all my darn life - I just can't handle it anymore, heh! They do have good songs, though. Before I wore it out, I LOVED Creep, and Sex Type Thing was always nice to hear.

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Core is a strong CD throughout. Love cranking Dead and Bloated!

Purple is a good soph effort but I didn't think it was as strong... Still Remains might be my favorite all time STP song.

Tiny Music, I have to get this one... I have Big Bang baby on my Ipod, love it.

No. 4 Loved Sour Girl from the first listen, sick of it now...but 4 is a keeper!

Don't have Shangra-la Dee da, anybody familiar with it?

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