Robert DeLeo cheerfully answers the phone from his home studio by saying, “The Aquarian, that goes back a long time! I used to read it when I was a little kid back in New Jersey.” He is of course the bassist for the newly reunited Stone Temple Pilots. Since the early ‘90s, the foursome have bewitched audiences with songs that soar above the ordinary with an astute yet supple musicianship that conveys a personal, scratch that, an intensely intimate knowledge of the human heart. While lyrically, “And I feel so much depends on the weather, so is it raining in your bedroom?” shoots a compact, potent bullet that feels newly fired every time it’s heard, and that was just on the first record, Core [1992.] Still another enlightened, very relatable soundbite of truth is found on 1994 Purple’s “Still Remains,” “If you should die before me, ask if you could bring a friend.” You get the point! Vocalist Scott Weiland has one of the most fiercely voluptuous instruments of this generation. Dean DeLeo delivers riffage that takes off like a Boeing 747 that consistently executes an adventurous flight and an even smoother landing. Drummer Eric Kretz seemingly skates upon his kit, and live, STP perform with a life-affirming vigor and a thrilling determination, yet a touch of flamboyancy when Scott does a Bowie homage by cross- dressing, and the whole package is why their May 31st date at the PNC Bank Arts Center has sold out weeks before hand.
The Stone Temple Pilots might have battle wounds from substance addictions and initially being labeled a Pearl Jam knock off. In 2003, they totally splintered off into separate outfits as Velvet Revolver and Army Of Anyone, but with five acclaimed and substantive CDs, STP unequivocally broke out of the musicians’ perimeter to become mavericks of sound who have consistently defined modern rock on their own terms.
STP’s 65 date second maiden voyage, so to speak will undoubtedly be a crowning jewel on the barrage of great 2008 summer tours.
AW: What were the logistics of how the reunion came to be? Who called who and so forth?
Robert DeLeo: It was a couple of different ways. It was mainly through wives [laughing.] Wives were the whole inner thing of it coming together. I think Dean talked to Scott about getting back together, and I had talked to Scott. It was just a matter of timing, too. A lot of things happened with having children and starting other bands, and I think timing plays a big role in life in general. We never really completely lost touch with each other, so it was kind of the right time to get this together, and thought, ‘Hey, let’s give this a go.’
Do you think the time off, and being in different bands kind of helped solidify the band currently?
I don’t think the band is ever going to be completely solidified. I think that’s kind of how it is. I don’t think STP ever was solidified. It’s a very volatile place to be sometimes. It’s kind of like an unmade bed to me. It’s a mess, but at the end of the day, you kind of find a way to crawl back into it. That’s kind of how I look at it. You know it’s a rock n’ roll band. That’s the reality of it. It’s a rock and roll band.
Have you rediscovered things that you have missed about each other?
I missed the music. There’s always that feeling of creating something, and it’s almost like these songs are your children and it’s almost like you come back and revisit them with the people that created them. That’s something that always will stand the test of time. That’s a really trippy thing to be in that situation if you are with people that you created these with, too. Like you go into rehearsal and you say, ‘Can you print me out all of the songs on all five records and then some?’ Then there’s 74 songs looking at you and you’re like, ‘Well, let’s start at the top.’ It’s a sort of a trip down memory lane so to speak, you are revisiting all these songs as well the emotions that went into them at the time.
Your songs really are timeless. If you released Core last week, it would still have the impact and get the band the attention that it did in the early ‘90s. You guys never fell into a fad or trendily pitfall.
Yeah, we weren’t into music from the beginning to just be about…you know there was the whole grunge scene or whatever, we out lived that. I think we proved to ourselves that we wanted to write songs that were timeless. I still get a pretty big thrill out of hearing ‘Interstate Love Song’ on classic rock radio now, it kind of trips me out. 15 years later, it’s actually being played on classic rock radio. It’s a great feeling.
Also, one of your first shows being Rock On The Range in OH, is that a little bit nerve-wracking for you? Playing to such a huge venue with bands like Metallica?
Yeah, there is always a bit of insanity that goes along…there’s so many steps to getting to the point of being onstage for an hour or two. I mean, it’s incredible how much goes into just coming to that point of being onstage. I mean, yeah, it’s a little overwhelming at times.