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Arquivo: Entrevista Robert e Dean DeLeo

Bittersweet Symphony

They had it all - great musicianship, uncanny songwriting, untold ambition - until the walls came tumbling down. In a stark and candid conversation, Robert and Dean DeLeo pay their last respects to Stone Temple Pilots.

By BOB GULLA, Photography by Chapman Baehler.

"Weiland Trial Continues Due to Drug Treatment" (7/16/03)
"Weiland Pleads Innocent to Drug Charges" (6/3/03)
"Scott Weiland Arrested for Drug Possession" (5/19/03)
"Scott Weiland Out of Jail Drug Rehab" (1/5/00)
"STP's Weiland Gets One Year in Jail" (9/3/99)
"Weiland Makes Court Date, Still in Rehab" (6/26/98)

These are headlines ripped from news services going back five years. We could have gone back a lot further, but the point doesn't need any more emphasis. The devastating impact that drugs have had on Scott Weiland's life has been, for all but the most oblivious rock fan, pretty obvious. So has the impact that Weiland's narcotic escapades have had on the health and future of his band, the much-respected Stone Temple Pilots.

In fact, if you read between the lines, you'll begin to understand the real devastation - not only the damage Weiland did to his own life and career but also to those around him. How many livelihoods were compromised? How many families affected? How many careers derailed? The reason why so few of us had a chance to witness STP, one of the great rock bands of the '90s, on the road during their 12-plus years together was because Weiland so often turned up missing. Where in the hell was Scott? The question became a joke, then an insult. Of course, everybody knew where he was, but still you had to ask.....

A planned seven-month tour ended up lasting only six weeks. Big investments in time and money were squandered, a large staff awaited work, a talented band was dying to play, then nothing... a holding pattern. Everything was off. Done. Over. When your frontman, the one who serves as a visual focal point for the band, goes AWOL, the show simply cannot go on. Period. One man's weakness becomes everyone's problem.

Of course, for those affected, it's a bitter pill to swallow, expecially now that the band has decided to call it quits, closing the book on a career rife with promise both fulfilled and denied. Now, for Robert and Dean DeLeo, along with drummer Eric Kretz, the other three members of STP, the key is to suppress the frustration and focus on the accomplishments. It doesn't take a spin doctor to know that for a few years in the mid-'90s, when they were hitting their stride musically, STP was one of the best bands in the world.

The STP story began with a chance meeting. Weiland and Robert DeLeo met at a Black Flag show in 1990. (Correction: 1986 - Rik) After discovering they both went out with the same girl, they formed a songwriting partnership. Reinforced by drummer Kretz and Robert's brother Dean on guitar, the band moved from L.A. to San Diego to hone their hard-rock chops on the much freer S.D. scene. Their first album, Core, hinging on the aggressive single "Sex Type Thing," sold 7 million copies worldwide. Purple, released in 1994, found the band eluding the Pearl Jam/Led Zep comparisons that dogged them with this heavily psychedelic, almost experimental pop album. It debuted at #1 and stayed there for three straight weeks. The elaborately arranged and ambitiously written Tiny Music... Songs from the Vatican Gift Shop, was equally successful. It alse proved that the band wasn't content to rest on its laurels. Unfortunately, the trouble started in 1995, before this album came out, and the band encountered its first obstacles - roadblocks that sucked the momentum out of the band like a parasite.

While Weiland engaged his demons (miraculously putting out his own deranged solo album, 12 Bar Blues), the DeLeo brothers and Kretz bided time by forming Talk Show with singer Dave Coutts. The experiments failed for both. Still, despite the rise of the seven-string school of manic rap-rock, the demand for rock-solid melodic music remained. Weiland emerged from rehab, and the band reformed to make the crushing No.4. Then, in what had become a frustrating pattern, Weiland was sentenced to a year in jail for violating his probation. In 2000, after going public with his intention of cleaning up, the band returned to form on Shangri-LA DEE DA, only to self-destruct once again before ever really mounting a comeback.

In the end, what had begun as a fortuitous meeting at a rock show between two mega-musicfans had grown into a wall magical rock 'n' roll. Unfortunately, it was a jerry-rigged wall that came tumbling right back down again.

As we spoke, bassist/guitarist Robert Deleo and lead guitarist Dean DeLeo were busy seguing into a career of production projects. They had just finished the Alien Ant Farm album and were now concentrating on a band called Monterey, signed to the Maverick label.

G1: So how do you feel about closing the book on this band?

DEAN: It was time to move on to other things. Life and personalities and brotherhood took its course. Everybody's got cool stuff going on. Scott is about to embark on a new experience. Eric built a nice home studio. It just ran its course, I suppose.

ROBERT: I was honored to be in a band that had a chemistry with three other guys; we were unstoppable. To be that fortunate, allows you to express yourself and come out with songs that you're happy with at the end of the day. That's a real accomplishment. Musically, it doesn't go that easily with most other bands. A lot of people have trouble just getting a band together. Classifieds up the ass here in L.A., people trying to find the right chemistry.

DEAN: This band was something that I dreamed of and aspired to do for a long time. STP was a great place to go and visit, actually; I relish all of it.

G1: Can you tell me about some of the milestones the band experienced?

DEAN: Purple was a really interesting time. We felt as a band we always had so much to offer, not like one of those bands that felt stifled artistically or had someone come in to help us write material. Purple was an amazing time. We got off the read from touring after 14 months and went in to make that record. Robert brought a lot to that record. Plus, we made it, mixed it, and mastered it in under four weeks.

ROBERT: The thing I really think about is the people I got to meet - playing with Neil Young and Robert Plant, working with Glen Campbell on "Wichita Lineman," writing with Aerosmith - all these people we grew up on. That's the biggest thing to me. I remember meeting Keith Richards, and I didn't know what to say at all, so I said "Thanks for raising me." Nancy Wilson of Heart, too. I was jamming their 45 of "Crazy on You" when I was 10 years old.

G1: What do you feel were some of the keys to STP's success?

DEAN: Whenever I took the stage, I wanted to be the best we could be. I took pride in that. We knew how to craft a song and knew how to deliver it. But when that started becoming clouded, it got to be more and more difficult, a real drag.

ROBERT: For me, the bottom line is songs. I hate being known as the band known for heroin. It really bums me out. The strength of the songs is what has kept us out there. It's all a learning process. We're huge fand of music and the music we grew up on. The rock scene is hard to watch these days. The downturn that "talent" has taken - it's a lost word. It doesn't seem to matter anymore. It's sad to see. I must sound like I'm getting old!

DEAN: I don't believe in luck either, man. In life, no matter what you embark on, whether it's to be a nuclear physicist or a drummer, you know what you're meant to do. The people that don't are the ones we see on the street. You follow what you feel inside of you. If you do it right, if you feel it's more important than your next breath, then you're going to succeed.

G1: With all this potential progress in front of you, there must have been equal amounts of frustration as well.

ROBERT: A lot of frustration. Absolutely. Now, when I step back and look at all we accomplished, I can't believe it. There are so many people out there trying to achieve what we've achieved, and it's amazing to think that we did as well as we did.

DEAN: Every time we were going to enter into something really beautiful and extravagant, like going on tour, somebody doesn't show up. That's a drag! We employed 20-25 people who had families, and I have to see the look on their faces when I tell them it's all off. It got to be really frustrating.

G1: Tell me about your feelings for Scott right now.

DEAN: I ran into Scott just recently for the first time in a year. Velvet Revolver was working at the same studio as we were with the band Monterey. When we left the last tour, we wanted to kill one another. But now it was like looking at someone with totally different eyes. Without being involved with one another professionally, we were able to look at each other with an entirely different view. If he and I had been affiliated now, the state of mind he was in the other night when I saw him would have really affected me in a bad way. But it didn't. It's over.

ROBERT: When I think back about Scott, I remember that we almost didn't get through Purple. We should never had started that third record either, with the state Scott was in. We only toured it for two months. All I can say is, man, drugs ain't a good thing. I'm not trying to be square. They just ain't a good thing. It got in the way... It got in the way. Denial's a strong thing. We all got very frustrated.

DEAN: Will Scott ever get his life together? You know, I don't know. I love making music with the guy. There's no one better. But it just got really hard to do. Something so easy and beautiful as making music - what we all dreamed and aspired to do - became really hard. Now, I don't take a single day for granted, what I've been able to do in my life. What's the odds, like one in 20,000 people who actually do what they want to do for a living? I just felt like there were people taking STP for granted.

G1: So is this really the end of STP?

ROBERT: Well, we're putting out a record called Thank You! So, yeah. I'd have to say it is closing the book. Dean and Eric and myself, I think, all feel a sense of sadness, relief, anger, melancholy about it... but to try and go on and accomplish something with this band after we've already peaked is a bit cheesy. There's a cheese factor with guys hitting 40 trying to recapture glory. There's no way to go but out. If you're driving a car and it goes off the road, it's hard to steer that car back on the road. I'm proud to look back at our career. I feel we've made a valid contribution to music. I guess putting out a greatest hits set is cheesy, but the strength of the songs is there.

DEAN: Twelve years in a career is valid. The hits record is cool, plus with the DVD, there's a lot of this live stuff that people have never seen or heard before, songs up to 1994. It adds insight into the band. It's stuff we'd like to see if we were younger.

G1: Any final words about the STP band experience?

DEAN: [After a long silence, and a sigh]It's all bittersweet, man. Along with the beauty of STP there was a dark trail that went right along with it. For Purple, we had a beautiful stage set designed and great music to play, and the tour imploded after six weeks. It could have been a really nice time in our career. We've been doing this band for 12 or 13 years, and there's not much I can look back on and say I really enjoyed - without wondering if the floor was gonna drop from under us.

ROBERT: I hope for Scott and Eric that STP is something to move on from, so that everyone can find something better. Dean and I are thrilled about what's going on, and I want to see those guys go on and better what we've already accomplished.

Thank You Notes: the DeLeo brothers tell the tales behind some of their greatest hits.

Core (Atlantic, 1992)

ROBERT: This song reminds me of being in the studio; it was the first song I wrote that made me feel like the songs I really enjoyed listening to.

DEAN: That song brings me back to 1990: being in a rehearsal room in North Hollywood. It was a fresh and new experience for us. We lived together because we didn't have homes. We had a kitchenette, and the four of us cooked on a single burner. But it was a beautiful time. The band was young and excited about what we were going to encounter.

"Sex Type Thing"
Core (Atlantic, 1992)

ROBERT: When I hear this, I think of being in the studio and listening to basic tracks. I remember going, "Shit, man, we have something going on here."

DEAN: This song reminds me of "In The Light" by Zeppelin. I was in my driveway and heard that riff, so I went inside and came up with this, all the time totally prompted by "In The Light."

Purple (Atlantic, 1994)

ROBERT: This is one of the only songs that I really like thinking about the video. A lot of videos ruin songs, but this was one of my favorites. Our video director, Kevin Kerslake, had a great time with this, as did we. That little wah thing you hear in the intro is me putting my bass through a wah. I also remember recording the drums with a couple of mics in a vocal booth.

DEAN: "Vasoline" was actually an instrumental we used to open with when we were a band called Mighty Joe Young. So that song reminds me of different clubs we played in around L.A.

"Interstate Love Song"
Purple (Atlantic, 1994)

ROBERT: I suppose I could say that I think this is one of the best things I've ever written. It started out as a bossa-nova song, believe it or not. I like pulling from different areas when I'm writing. It keeps everything fresh. The chord structure here is an Antonio Carlos Jobim thing.

DEAN: Well, the song speaks for itself. When you sit there with nothing but an acoustic guitar and a voice, you can really see the genius behind the song. We were in Atlanta touring Core, and Robert was playing around with the chordings and the melody, whistling the melody in a hotel room while he was playing. I was stunned by how beautiful it worked together. I had a great feeling about that song immediately.

"Lady Picture Show"
Tiny Music... Songs From The Vatican Gift Shop (Atlantic, 1996)

ROBERT: I remember our recording technique on that record. We made that record out in Santa Barbara at a big, beautiful house. There was a big cedar closet, like an attic, and we put Eric in the attic to record the drums.

DEAN: I'm reminded of the Rickenbacker 12-string I played on this song. I wish we had mixed it more like "Plush"; the guitar is vaguely hard right on the verse. I wish I had mixed it differently.

"Big Bang Baby"
Tiny Music... Songs From The Vatican Gift Shop (Atlantic, 1996)

ROBERT: On this song we recorded drums outside on the lawn. We practised so many different recording techniques at the house in Santa Barbara. Because we lived together, it was so much more creative, a real nice vibe.

DEAN: The house in Santa Barbara was amazing. I liked the communal living thing - eating together, laughing together. I dig that vibe, and that's what we had going on there. I remember Robert playing that riff in the middle section. Most of the time we had our mouths shut lyrically and let Scott run with the lyrics and melody. It's always nice to get it back with a larger return than you expect. This time Scott came back with something really touching. To have your music embellished upon like that, there's no questions asked. He did a beautiful job, just beautiful. This song is the heartbeat of the record for me.

No.4 (Atlantic, 1999)

ROBERT: We had some songs that we wanted to rock to kinda get the band going again after a lay-off. I've always been the motivator for that. I'll bring a song into pre-pro, show everyone the riff and beat, and turn it up to 10. That's what we were going for here.

DEAN: We went into pre-pro for No.4. It was the first song we worked on day one for the album. And we worked on "Sour Girl" the same day,

"Sour Girl"
No.4 (Atlantic, 1999)

ROBERT: Dean wrote this one, wrote the bass line, too. It turned into a cool McCartney thing along with those beautiful chords Dean was playing. Probably one of the coolest songs on the record. String section, really nice playing.

DEAN: I wrote that piece in my garage, I was really moved by the chordings on this. I had a good feeling that it would be something really special. I had a melody in mind but didn't bring it to the table to show Scott. Robert and Scott were talking about relationships and previous marriages, and it really lit off a spark in Scott's mind and he started writing and came up with the lyrical content right there. As a guitar player, you try to come up with a melody, but it's kind of guitar-centric. But a singer looks at a song differently. It's usually nit a hard win: Scott would always beat whatever I had. He's a really talented guy, man.

"Days Of The Week"
Shangri-LA DEE DA (Atlantic, 2001)

ROBERT: That was one of the first songs Dean presented as his for this album. I approached it bass-wise like an old Joe Jackson song. I dig those old songs, the tine and movement of the bass. It was that and a little Chris Squire kind of thing.

DEAN: I stole this directly from "Indian Summer," a song written by Joe Walsh. I ripped it off blind. After I wrote that song, I received a phone call from Sheryl Crow saying she wanted to get together, so I kind of wrote this one for her. But when Scott heard it, he wanted to keep it for ourselves.

"All In The Suit That You Wear"
(Previously Unreleased)

ROBERT: Recorded back in 2000 (should be May 2002, -Rik). We did it for the soundtrack for Spider-Man, but we didn't get it as a lead track, so we kept it for ourselves. There are quite a few songs we never released over the years. We never exploited the publishing of STP. We didn't want to sell out. Led Zeppelin always had a mystique. I highly respect that. So we turned everything down for publishing to maintain a mystique of our own.

DEAN: We had heard that the Spider-Man film wanted a track, so we wrote this in the studio. Robert had the verse riff; I had the chorus. We thought it would be kind of a cool title for Spider-man, being about a "suit" and everything. We put that song together - wrote it, cut it - in a day and a half.

--Guitar One / Big Empty