The last year and a half have been tumultuous for .
In early 2007, Weiland lost his younger brother, Michael, to a drug overdose. Then, about a year ago, Weiland and his wife of eight years, Mary Forsberg, decided to separate (they are still in the process of getting divorced). And this past spring, after months of informed rumors, he parted ways with Velvet Revolver, only to rejoin his first band, Stone Temple Pilots, for a summer reunion tour of the U.S.
It wasn't long after reformed that Weiland ended up serving a brief stint behind bars for driving under the influence. And while December 5 will mark six years since Weiland has done heroin, he said that the dissolution of his marriage has tested his sobriety some and admitted that about a year ago, he had "a very short binge with coke."
Needless to say, it wasn't exactly a banner year for the beleaguered singer. But it's also been a productive time for Weiland, creatively speaking. While dealing with the heartache of his divorce ("It's a tough thing to hear," he said, "when your kids ask you, 'Daddy, why can't you come home tomorrow?' ") and mourning the loss of his brother, Weiland wrote songs. Actually, he wrote a lot of songs — more than 40 — and on November 25, Weiland will release half of them as the two-disc set Happy in Galoshes, his second official collection of solo material and the follow-up to 1998's 12 Bar Blues.
"Most of the heavy writing that was done for this record has been done [during the] separation ... between my wife and I," said Weiland, who is working on his autobiography with author David Ritz (who has previously authored books on Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin and Marvin Gaye, among others). "In those moments of emotional desperation, [my recording] studio would become my home, really. It's a massive warehouse place that used to be a heavy-machinery factory, which originally reeked of thick machine oil. I've had the studio for about 10 years, and it's like my art studio. It's a place where I have gone for solace. It's like my church, in a sense. When people ask me if I have a hobby, a lot of times my answer is that I like to surf in warm water. I like to ski, if I have the opportunity. But really, I like to go to my studio and write music that I want to write, where there's no pressure to come up with a hit single."
For Happy in Galoshes, Weiland worked with producer Doug Grean, with select tracks helmed by Steve Albini. The record features guest appearances by and 's Adrian Young, Tony Kanal and Tom Dumont.
"There's such a wide array of sounds and styles and textures on this album," he explained. "It's kind of like every style of music that I've ever been influenced by and fell in love with, from my childhood up until currently. So, at times, it's sort of a hodgepodge. I'm putting out what my experience has been, essentially, with Mary and with my brother's death. The record's got a few different vibes, and there's a lot of really atmospheric, beautiful and surreal-sounding songs on it."
Happy in Galoshes features 20 tracks in all, including a cover of 's "Fame," a song Weiland said he's always related to.
"Bowie's obviously my biggest influence," he said. "I'd say Bowie, Morrison, the Beatles and the Stones were the big ones. But Bowie, overall, has probably influenced me the most, on a musical and vocal level, aesthetically, everything really. The song kind of says something about all the experiences that I've had throughout my career, and kind of where I'm at today."
Weiland said he would like for Bowie to hear his take on the track, which is extremely loyal to the original.
"We share publicists, so I want to send him a copy of the song and write a letter to him," he said. "I am hoping the next time I'm in New York, if he's there, I'd love to meet him. He's probably the last of my real idols that I haven't met. I had drinks with Salman Rushdie a couple of weeks ago, which was absolutely mind-blowing."