Robert DeLeo (Stone Temple Pilots): 'I never really had a fantasy or dream to be a rockstar, I just wanted to make music'
- Henry Northmore
- 10 June 2019
Bassist of the American alt-rock band discusses their history and present with new vocalist Jeff Gutt
Stone Temple Pilots have been through the grinder. They crashed the grunge scene with their debut album Core in 1992. An album filled with moments of light and dark, hugely emotional songs and big stomping rock. It was a huge commercial success (selling over 8 million copies in America alone) but divided critics: the band simultaneously voted Best New Band by Rolling Stone's readers and Worst New Band by the magazine's music critics.
'The fans kept us so busy, playing and recoding, so we didn't really have time to think about what the critics thought,' explains bassist Robert DeLeo. 'I don't think anyone can be prepared for it, it's like being shot to the moon and not everyone can handle it. There's a lot of people who have fallen by the way side, but I just believed in the music the whole time, that was my goal, I never really had a fantasy or dream to be a rockstar, I just wanted to make music.'
Part of STP's appeal lay in magnetic frontman Scott Weiland. An enigmatic, expressive and passionate vocalist; shedding his skin, exposing his heart, laying himself bare every night. Unfortunately, Weiland wrestled with his own inner demons and well-publicised struggles with drink and drugs. Despite his creativity, by his own admission Scott was often difficult to be around and left the band several times (at one stage fronting Velvet Revolver alongside Guns N' Roses' Slash and Duff McKagan). 'One thing I can say about me and Scott, and this is going back to the beginning, we had a lot of persistence and a lot of balls,' says DeLeo with a soft chuckle.
Sadly Weiland was found dead on his tour bus in 2015. 'You don't really experience things like that too often, when someone like that comes into your life and you create a dream. I'm here today because of what we created, especially when I'm on stage playing one of our songs, he's always running through my spirit.'
In 2013 Linkin Park's Chester Bennington briefly joined the band for an EP and tour (tragically Bennington committed suicide in 2017). 'I love Chester. He really was an amazing human being, he was like a brother, he had an amazing energy about him,' says DeLeo. 'He always looked for the solution, he never got tangled in conflict, he just had an energy; he was like an angel that stepped in and set us straight.'
Robert alongside his brother, guitarist Dean DeLeo, and drummer Eric Kretz have remained at the core of STP, recently recruiting former lead vocalist with nu metal band Dry Cell and X-Factor finalist Jeff Gutt for their seventh album. 'The first time he came over to the studio we knew he had everything we were looking for, an understanding of writing and melody. It has given the band a new life.'
The band will be hitting the UK for a short tour and a slot at Download, which DeLeo is looking forward to. 'I love festivals, I know they're very chaotic but I'm just trying to stay as healthy as possible for Download. I ain't 20 anymore,' he laughs.
O2 Academy, Glasgow, Wed 12 Jun.