Stone Temple Pilots
1993 was a long time ago. So was 2015. Stone Temple Pilots debuted their hit single “Big Empty” on MTV’s Unplugged back in 1993. They performed an entire set acoustically for grunge fans across the globe. 2015 saw the tragic passing of lead singer Scott Weiland. Now, in 2020, a brand new acoustic album by STP, fronted by a new lead singer again captures the world’s attention. Releasing their very first acoustic album in over twenty-five years: Perdida, Stone Temple Pilots celebrate their musical diversity and dig deep with their musical talents to create something new, completely un-grungy and a little vulnerable at times.
Original guitarist Dean DeLeo, along with brother/bassist Robert DeLeo and drummer Eric Kretz founded Stone Temple Pilots with singer Scott Weiland in 1989. The San Diego grunge band released six studio albums before Weiland was released from the band. Tragically, Weiland lost his life-long battle with drugs and alcohol, passing away while out on his solo tour in 2015. Chester Bennington (Linkin Park) stepped in as lead singer, filling in for tours and releasing the 2013 EP High Rise. Leaving STP on good terms in 2015, Bennington later took his own life in 2017.
New lead singer Jeff Gutt, a former second place finisher for the 2013 X Factor USA TV show, was announced as the permanent frontman in the fall of 2017. Jeff fondly recalls how he got the gig as the band’s lead singer. “That was quite a process. It all started with an on-line search. So, they had tens of thousands of submissions. I was leaving the country for a while; when I heard about it. So, I assumed they were going to find someone, and everything was going to be prefect [for them]. I got back a few months later and they still hadn’t found anyone. So, I threw my hat in the ring and got in there. The first audition went amazingly well, and the guys were awesome. It was surreal meeting them for the first time because I grew up listening to their music. I remember the day they brought me to their manager’s office and sat me down. I thought that either I’m in trouble or I got the gig, and they offered me the gig [laughter].”
As if they were a young, and up & coming band, new to the music scene, STP created an entirely new sound. The opening track surprises long time Stone Temple Pilots fans by abandoning their rock roots and takes on a modern-classic rock feel. This being the band’s eight studio release, Perdida, started out as an EP. As Jeff explains, “I think we had 5 or 6 six songs that were written or partially written. Once we got in there, we were just writing more songs, as Dean and Robert were like, ‘Check this out…and…check this out’. We just kept writing and when we got to 10, we said, ‘OK, let’s just cut it off and stop before we have just a huge record’ [laughter].”
Recorded at drummer Eric Kretz’s, Bomb Shelter Studios in Los Angeles, Perdida is a collaborative effort of all three grunge godfathers. Eric sets an easy pace and quiet background on songs “She’s My Queen” and “Years”. The simple and mellow bass lines by Robert allowed Jeff the ease of sharing his inner-most emotions. “I chose personal inspirations for each one of the songs and tried to gather what Dean and Robert were trying to say, even if it was just a song title, or a melody. Sometimes Robert had the whole song written. ‘Fare Thee Well’ was one of those songs Robert pretty much had the whole song written; so that was pretty easy for us to record and put together.”
Unlike previous songs by STP, the new tracks for Perdida aren’t hard rock songs stripped down for a TV show or special releases. All 10 songs were written specifically for an acoustic arrangement, and to carry the free-flowing sentiments of the 70’s folk scene while telling simple yet emotional stories. Explains Jeff, “I really just opened myself up and was honest, and felt that by being honest, that people would be able to relate to that. More so than if I was trying to put up a façade or something I wasn’t. With this record, we had flute and piano and extra musicians, we got to play with. It was something we normally do get to do, and we had a tour lined-up. We were going to do it with extra musicians, an orchestra piece, and it was going to a fun and we may try to reschedule later in the year.” Noting how Jeff is recovering from back surgery and is recuperating for the opening slot on the Nickelback tour, Jeff reveals that the band looks forward to digging deep into their catalog to share some lesser known STP songs. “We are going to reanimate some older songs from the past and play them with the orchestra and extra musicians. We were picking some out, and I think ‘Wonderful’ (Shangri-La Dee Da) was one of the songs, as that has always been one of my favorites.”
Throughout Perdida, STP fans may struggle with the identity of the band. It isn’t the familiar three cord tuned-down grunge record of Core or the edgier, modern rock record of No. 4. At times, Perdida, is true to its Spanish translation: lost. At other times, the stripped-down song structures, with their country overtones, Spanish guitar and piano accompaniments, craft a sound entirely new to the STP catalog. This may have something to do with how the title track was actually written explains Jeff. ‘Perdida’ was very tough [to write], because it was the first song we did, and Robert had the music and the melody and the name of the song. We were on tour up in Canada; it was snowing, and there was a lot of cold hockey arenas and a lot of cemented windowless places. We had a lot of time on our hands, so I would go out when it was snowing and just go over the melody and it kind of just wrote itself.”
Perhaps the most revealing aspects of the album are the complexities that the group took as a whole. From the closing, lighthearted “Sunburst”, to the classic rock-esque “I Didn’t Know The Time”, which was written with a former STP signer in mind. “I didn’t know Scott, but I knew Chester really well. I was signed by the same guy who signed Linkin Park, so I knew him a long time. Seeing pictures of him [helped] put myself in his place. I imagined the world from his point of view, where he was saying goodbye, and people not knowing it.”
Fans of the early Stone Temple Pilots can still enjoy the 90’s grunge albums as fond memories of what Scott Wieland brought to the music scene. Since then however, Jeff’s first album with the band in 2018 has been welcomed by both new and old STP fans. Jeff still has to remind himself that he is a part of such an iconic band, “It’s surreal being in a band that you grew up listening to. There are definitely moments where I’ll walk into the dressing room and Dean will be there playing his guitar, and it will hit me that ‘Oh man that’s Dean DeLeo right there [laughter]. Sometimes I have to pinch myself and remind myself that it’s real.”(514) Page Views Stone Temple Pilots - Perdida Online:
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CD: Perdida Record Label: Rhino Records
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