Stone Temple Pilots: And Then There Were . . . Four?
by Martin Popoff
Yukking it up with three of four pilots at the swanky Sutton Place Hotel in Toronto (vocalist Scott Weiland is in jail right now for heroin-related offenses), it becomes readily apparent why this band went so far, and why they will likely return to commercial fortune with their fourth album, entitled simply No. 4.
Guitarist Dean DeLeo, brother/bassist Rob DeLeo, and drummer Eric Kretz, you see, are massive, almost exhaustive students of music, digging into a bulging bag of influences back to childhood, to create their big, dirty, hook-drenched rock sound. But don't call it grunge. Damn, we spent half the interview wrestling with that one. I had also given the band a copy of my book, where, even though I doled out grades of 8. 9 and 8 for their first three records, I unabashedly called them grunge seven ways to Sunday.
This concerned Dean DeLeo so much that a few hours after our interview, he called me at home to debate the issue. Like I say, this is a band that cares deeply about what they do, and part of that seems to be this dislike for a term that is a pretty solid descriptor for what they do, absolutely no ill will intended. Whatever you call it, the band is back with another panoramic, power-drenched opus, No. 4 displaying around seven tracks of hard, metallic alternative countered with four lush and languished mellower numbers. It is a heady return to the plowing rock so loved on Core and Purple, both multi-platinum barnstormers of choice, hooky, er, grunge, dammit!
Dean explains the well from which it all flows. I think it just comes from everything we grew up on, everything from The Carpenters, John Denver, Black Sabbath, prog rock, Led Zeppelin, everything in-between, all the pop rock from the '70s, metal, jazz, southern rock. Growing up in the '70s, there was so much great music going on. We were young and we were sponges."
Were there early incarnations of the band that might have sounded different?
Rob explains (with colour commentary from Eric).
Dean and I grew up in New Jersey . . .
Eric: So you guys knew each other before? (laughs).
Dean: Yeah, I knew his mom!
Rob: . . . and we were playing Pink Floyd, The Who, U2, things we grew up on both, King Crimson.
Eric: Scandal (laughs)
Rob: and we all met up around 1987. And it's funny, even though Eric grew up on the opposite coast, we grew up on the same music. We were big prog rock fans, Yes, Rush, Genesis, U.K. and all the offshoots. Man, a perfect example of someone who really contributed a lot of music in a band is Steve Howe. I mean if you listen to his second solo album, The Steve Howe Album, the areas the guy is covering on that. . .
Dean: Actually I have to fess up, for the solo on 'Lounge Fly' on Purple, I nicked some stuff off of Beginnings!
Rob: . . . and that is something we really can't share with a lot of people, because they aren't that musically inclined. People search for the obvious, and there is an aspect of this band I don't think people realize, because they don't know the music; they don't know what the hell we're talking about.
Dean: They think we're taking all of our influences from Chris Cornell.
The Stone Temple Pilots Story Page 2