'Strange' Yet 'Exciting' Time For Stone Temple Pilots, Bandmembers Say

Rockers feel 'empty' with singer Scott Weiland in jail, drummer says.

LOS ANGELES — With singer Scott Weiland in jail, the other

members of Stone Temple Pilots are sorting out the band's immediate

future during what drummer Eric Kretz called a "strange" but "exciting"

time.

Strange because "without our quarterback being here, it seems real empty,"

Kretz said.

But the excitement Kretz and bassist Robert DeLeo spoke about Thursday

at Los Angeles' Chateau Marmont hotel was focused on No. 4 (Oct.

26), STP's first album in more than three years.

They may not know when they'll tour again or what lies ahead regarding

Weiland. But DeLeo said that he, his guitar-playing older brother, Dean,

and Kretz had overcome their anger about Weiland's situation when they

all got together to record the new album after an 18-month separation.

"We ... got that [anger] out, and things started really turning around,

with us realizing the chemistry that we have together ... and realizing

the time that's gone by," the younger DeLeo, 33, said.

Weiland has been in the Biscaluz Recovery Center of Los Angeles County

Jail since admitting Aug. 13 to violating probation on a felony

heroin-possession conviction stemming from a 1997 arrest. On Sept. 3 a

Los Angeles Superior Court judge sentenced Weiland to a year in the facility,

giving him 35 days of credit for time already served.

The singer last week released his first public statement since his jailing,

in which he reflected on the meaning of freedom.

"Choices and decisions of the mind and spirit, I am coming to find, is

where my power lies," Weiland said. "My power lies in having no power at

all. A bewildering paradox but one I'm learning to be true. True passion."

Weiland's drug problems have been in the public eye since May 1995, when

he was arrested in Pasadena, Calif., following an alleged drug transaction.

Since then, he and the other members of STP have addressed his addiction

openly.

"I think we were one of the first bands to come out and say, 'You know

what, our singer doesn't have a sore throat,' " DeLeo said. "[When you're]

dealing with someone who has a drug addiction, you're dealing with two

different people. While they're clean, you're dealing with a real person.

When that person is high, you're not dealing with the same person.

Sometimes you're not even dealing with a person at all."

In late 1996, after a period in rehab, Weiland suffered a relapse that

derailed STP's plans to tour behind Tiny Music ... Songs From the

Vatican Gift Shop. That led the band to splinter and pursue separate

projects. Weiland released his first solo album, 12 Bar Blues

(1998). Kretz and the DeLeo brothers formed Talk Show with former Ten

Inch Men singer Dave Coutts.

DeLeo said he, his brother and Kretz barely spoke to Weiland during their

year-and-a-half hiatus, and when they did, their talks were brief and

strained.

It wasn't until each toured, Kretz said, that they noticed the missing

chemistry. "Working without Scott, we just really missed the energy and

the performance level," Kretz said. "When he started touring, he would

call up and say, 'This is really f---ing weird. This is not the same.' "

The bandmembers eventually met up in September 1998 to discuss their

future together. They addressed their individual concerns, including

Weiland's health, and they discovered they shared a vision "to make a

rock album," Kretz said.

Their first rehearsal, the drummer said, affirmed that the STP chemistry

was working. They turned out two songs off the bat, including what would

become the hard-hitting first single from No. 4, "Down."

"We did 'Down' and 'Church on Tuesday' within like an hour and a half,"

Kretz said. "It was like, 'OK, this is a good day, and it isn't even

lunchtime yet.' It's like riding a bike ... you get right back on it,

everyone's got their own designated positions, and it's like, 'Boom!'

It's stupid it's so simple, and that's the way it should be."

The bandmembers found they were so prolific they toyed with the idea of

releasing a double album or finishing two separate CDs to be released a

few months apart. But their eagerness to have a finished project eventually

took over, and STP decided to finish 15 songs, marking the first time

they've had material left over after cutting an album. Whether the extra

songs will turn up on an EP or their next album is undecided, Kretz said.

Both DeLeo brothers wrote the music to five songs apiece on the album;

Weiland wrote all the lyrics. One tune, "No Way Out," was a collaboration

among all the bandmembers. Kretz said Weiland introduced the initial idea

for the tune, a deviation from their previous work.

"It's so great to watch [Scott] play something on guitar, because when

most people pick up the guitar, they're pretty relaxed, especially if it's

just one chord," Kretz reflected on the beginnings of "No Way Out." "But

Scott had veins popping out of his neck and his head, and he was so

intent on trying to play this one chord. Not to be mean, but we were all

laughing a little bit, and then he started playing the melody, and, it

was like, 'OK, there you go.'"

DeLeo is responsible for much of the harder material on No. 4,

while his brother's contributions lean more to the lighter side. "The

heavy songs are more of an attitude — we get angry, we get mad, we

get happy, we get sad," DeLeo said. "And hopefully our record covers all

of those areas. 'Down' just happens to be one of those songs that comes

from the area where I'm pretty pissed off."

While Tiny Music saw STP exploring their pop tendencies through

a wide range of styles, No. 4 is most similar to their 1992 debut,

Core, which featured the Grammy-winning single "Plush"

(RealAudio

excerpt). DeLeo and Kretz said the bandmembers initially questioned

the album's resemblance to their early work.

"With every other record, especially the first single, we always wanted

it to sound not like us," Kretz said. "It's weird, because at first you

question it, but then it's like, 'This is who we are.' "