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Stone Temple Pilots on Scott Weiland and Soundwave

Stone Temple Pilots founding member Robert DeLeo tells DAVID SWAN about the fallout of parting ways with Scott Weiland and the band’s future with Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington out front.

Breakups are never an easy thing but it’s hard to contemplate the idea of a band surviving the sucker punch of splitting with their frontman of over 20 years. Stone Temple Pilots faced that dilemma earlier this year after years of infighting and cancelled tour dates thanks largely to the drug issues of the flamboyant and chaotic Scott Weiland. The result? An unlikely pairing with Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington – a sober, fresh faced and arena-friendly replacement.

Since the shock announcement in February, the new lineup of Stone Temple Pilots have been busy recording the High Rise EP and embarking on a world tour which will include Australia’s Soundwave festival early next year. FL spoke to bassist Robert DeLeo about the split, working with Chester and what exactly pushed the rest of the band over the edge.

Can you run us through what went down on that day when you fired Scott [Weiland]? From your side of the story, what went down?

I can’t specifically get into that right now because of legal things that are pending right now. I sound like a lawyer right now [laughs]. But it was a very difficult decision David, and it wasn’t an overnight thing. It was a very difficult thing that’s been building for many many years. I just think that we tried to everything we could, man. We had a lot of great years with Scott and I feel thankful, we complimented each other’s lives immensely through the years.

But you know, it’s just very clear that… I don’t think that for a while now… Friends don’t treat other friends like that, you know what I mean? I think Dean [DeLeo] and Eric [Kretz] and myself just got really tired of being treated that way man. I really, really got tired of being treated that way. I just find that Scott wasn’t really into playing rock and roll music and being in a rock and roll band and being around us in particular, as friends or as business partners.

“I think it was very clear from Scott’s side of things that he doesn’t want to make music with us anymore”

Was there something that pushed it over the edge? You’d put up with his issues or so for the past 27 years. Was there something that pushed it over the edge finally?

It was a matter of how things were going and it was plain to see that nothing was going to get done anymore. With these four members of STP, nothing was going to get done. I think it was very clear from Scott’s side of things that he doesn’t want to make music with us anymore, he didn’t want to tour anymore. It was obvious to see. He went out on his own and did STP on his own, and like I said I don’t think we enjoyed being saddled in that way anymore. It’s just not healthy for us, our families or for anyone around us. I just feel that’s something we no longer wanted to be victims of, you know?

You toured with another singer [Dave Coutts] as Talk Show. Did you think about reviving that project?

I just spoke to Dave, actually. It’s funny you brought that up; I just talked to him a few weeks ago. I haven’t talked to him in, probably, 15 years. Yeah, I love Dave, and I always will. I don’t know, I think this is our main concern right now; it’s moving forward and having fun. Doing this, we’re having a lot of fun out here it’s been great and we’re really thoroughly enjoying this.

Do you expect that old fans might not be totally okay with another singer?

I understand that. And there’s really no way to convey everything that Dean, Eric and I have tolerated or put up with or gone along with for the past 18 years, man. An addict’s an addict, and there’s been a lot of stuff we’ve tolerated over the years and I can understand any fan that reacts a cetain way – you know I never want to take myself out of the position of being a fan and I can understand. There’s really no way to really – without getting the whole story – and it’s just messy. Without knowing the whole story, I don’t think there’s a way to tell fans about really why this had to happen.

Do you find that frustrating having to hold everything in for legal reasons, and not spill everything so people get the full story?

I just feel like there’s some things people shouldn’t know because then you’re damaging people’s names and that’s not right, man. That’s personal stuff. I wish Scott the best; I love the guy. He was a big part of my life and the last thing I want to do is air dirty laundry, that’s personal stuff. That’s personal stuff between us. I had the fortune and the gift of making music with one of the best. We made great music together.

How have you found working with Chester [Bennington, of Linkin Park]? What’s that been like?

It’s been great, man. It’s been a huge breath of fresh air and a lot more sanity and a lot more reasoning and patience, to be honest with you.

It good to have a singer that’s stable, I guess…

Yeah… it’s new [laughs]. It’s a very new feeling. I don’t quite think Dean and Eric and I are used to it yet. It’s kind of surprising. We haven’t been on the road or toured in a year, so coming out here a year later, there’s a lot of big changes and things are running very smoothly and what I notice is I actually have a lot more energy on stage because my day doesn’t involve wondering what’s going to happen that day. It actually allows me to have more energy to do what I’m here to do: to give people the best rock and roll show that I can.

How does Chester find singing Scott’s words? Some of them come from a pretty personal place…

As someone who listened to that music when he was younger, I think he fully understands those lyrics and can relate to them entirely, especially being not only being a listener of the music, but a singer himself. I wouldn’t say that what Chester sings in Linkin Park is all cheery and bright either. I’m not going to speak for him, but he can obviously relate to what the songs are. The songs are powerful man, they’re powerful like any songs, and I’m not just saying my songs, but songs, and music… they’re powerful things.

Has Chester told you about Soundwave? And if so, what has he told you about it?

Yeah! That’s one thing; we’ve only been to Australia once in our life, out of our whole career. I really enjoy it down there, I have a very close friend who I grew up surfing with and he moved to Sydney back in 1987 and I got a chance to see him after many, many years and I’m looking forward to seeing him again. But yeah I can’t wait to get down there! I can’t wait, you’ve got a beautiful country, man.

Do you have any ideas on the future with Chester? Will you do a full LP?

Yeah I think the idea is just to continue; make some more songs, and tour some more, and keep it going man. We’ll keep it going. And when he does Linkin Park, then we’ll have some time off, and he’ll do Linkin Park and then we’ll get together. We make very good use of our time, I’ll put it that way, and we’re going to continue making very good use of our time. I think since April we’ve made very, very good constructive use of our time and I’m very proud of that.

Do you feel like you have to fight for relevancy at all? I mean, you’re perceived as a ”’90s band”, but with Chester you’ve got this breath of fresh air. Do you feel more relevant in the music scene with Chester on board?

It’s really all a matter of the music you make, and whether you’re making music. I certainly don’t want to go out, and I don’t think Chester wants to go out, and just sing older STP. That’s not the intention. We have to start somewhere. I mean, this is very, very new and very fresh. It was one of those things I said when our first album came out, [1992’s] Core, I said “Don’t judge me on my first album, judge me on my fifth album”, you know? This is all new, and we’re going to continue making the best music we can make. You can’t please everyone man, and people wanna hear older stuff. Chester is singing it amazingly well and there’s a very good response from people; I didn’t come out here to suck. I came out here to fucking play the best I can play. And that’s the plan for when we come down to Australia, too.

Soundwave 2014 dates:

Saturday, February 22 – RNA Showgrounds, Brisbane

Sunday, February 23 – Olympic Park, Sydney

Friday, February 28 – Flemington Racecourse, Melbourne

Saturday, March 1 – Bonython Park, Adelaide

Monday, March 3 – Claremont Showgrounds, Perth