The past two years have been a whirlwind for Stone Temple Pilots following original singer, Scott Weiland’s, departure from the band in 2013. Since then the remaining members—guitarist Dean DeLeo, bassist Robert DeLeo, and drummer Eric Kretz—have just recently won the right to continue using the name without Weiland. Fans can rejoice as they are back to making music with the help of Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington as their new lead vocalist. The release of their last EP, High Rise, has proven that time and a lineup change can’t take away their talent and draw. As they head out on tour, Dean takes the time to discuss working with Chester, upcoming shows and family life on the road.
Stone Temple Pilots have already released an EP with Chester and have performed with him, but what are you guys anticipating most about your upcoming tour together?
We’re gonna do a couple things that we’ve done in the past that we haven’t done in a long time and I think it’s out of necessity. Chester sustained a really bad injury back in February; broke his ankle pretty badly. Not only broke some bones but tore a fair amount of ligaments in his ankle. I know how hard it is on him. I know how he operates. It’s all or nothing with him. It’s frustrating. So I think just out of necessity we’ll probably break things down and do an acoustic set, which people have always seemed to dig.
We haven’t really done that with this lineup. It’s always been full throttle from the get-go. So I think we’re probably gonna do an acoustic set and we’re gonna work up some songs that we have never performed, and some things that we haven’t played in a long time.
With your latest releases, you can still hear old aspects of the band mixed with some newer touches. How has the reception been since Chester came on board?
You can’t please everyone all the time. It’s very mixed. I would like to think that our job is just purely entertainment. When you get to put on some music, regardless of what type of music or what band you like, it’s pleasurable, right? That is all people really do with us. They don’t really realize internal mechanisms and movement of those people and their business and their lives. And that’s all it really should be; music should be a place to dip your mind and just really be pleasurable. But we’re trying to get on with something that we really love and sometimes it’s not always smooth. I wish it was.
There are people that are still perplexed about why Scott is no longer in the band. If you’re anywhere close to our circle, the answer would be evident. It’s funny because there are people saying, “How could you? Why did you?” And then there’s a lot of people who are like, “Oh great man. I love Chester. I’ve always loved Chester.” So it’s a very mixed bag, as it would be in any situation. But I hope people can look at it in a positive way, like you’re actually going to get more music now.
Aside from the lineup, how has age and time changed the band?
I can say for myself, like I said earlier, there’s an element of entertainment that has to go on at a rock and roll show. I definitely do things a little differently. I’m out there to be somewhat of a spectacle. But also as I get a little older I’m concentrating more on making my playing really count, trying to astound people. I’m trying to concentrate on playing really, really well. When I was younger I was just kind of a little unbridled.
You and your brother Robert grew up in New Jersey. What is it like coming back now to play shows?
We still spend a lot of time there. New Jersey courses through my veins. My wife is from Jersey as well and I have family and friends there. And like I said, I’ll say it again, New Jersey holds a very, very big spot in my heart. I absolutely love it there; it’s in my bones. I’m very proud to have been raised there with the ethics I was taught growing up on the East Coast. I think it’s one of the most amazing, beautiful places.
I have a 12-year-old son now. When I first brought him to New Jersey we woke up, and he was about four or five years old, he was a little California kid but he obviously holds some of my DNA. But I’ll always remember when we woke up in Spring Lake one morning, and he just walked outside and it was this beautiful summer day, not a cloud in the sky. And his first words were, “I want to live here.”
So New Jersey still feels like home.
It has that appeal. And I feel like if you let that slip by you lose a little bit of yourself, don’t you? And I’ll tell you what, when I was a kid and we were trying to land a spot for someone at The Stone Pony, if I had the luxury of being interviewed by somebody at The Aquarian, I would have thought I’d hit the big time.
As you’ve grown, and now have your family, how is it being away from them on tour?
Fortunately, we have the luxury to bring the family out. Of course in this instance there’s school. But this tour in particular, I’m really around the L.A. area a lot. We have a show in Seattle and downtown San Francisco, and of course my son knows that we’re playing in L.A. and he’s like, “Dad, what day is that?” And I’m like, “Well I think it’s a Monday night,” and he goes, “Can I go?” And I said, “Of course you can.”
He was raised where we have a wackadoodle day, that’s what we called it, and I had to obey his every command. Of course the first is, “Can I stay home today?” Which I say of course, anything you want. He’s kind of grown out of that title as you can imagine, but he’s a really good boy, as all of our children are.
But anyway, we have the luxury of having our families out with us a great deal. None of us really want to be away from our families for more than 10 days or two weeks. You gotta get that fix.
Do you feel like your son’s taste in music derives a bit from having a father in a band?
He has a very eclectic taste in music; a very adult taste in music from a very young age. I got him an iPad when he was about seven, and he hooked it up to the car and we were listening. And as some of the stuff comes on, he in a way schools me with some of the new stuff that’s been around asking, “Have you heart this band yet? Have you heard that?”
Actually, I played him some of the new things off our record and he was talking about new bands and he goes, “Dad, are you familiar with Royal Blood?” And I’m like, “Yeah, I know who they are.” It’s just so funny for an 11-year-old, about to be 12 next month, it’s amazing how current he stays.
Do you have anything to say to your fans coming to the New Jersey dates?
I love you all. I have great respect for you all. I don’t take my gig lightly, and when you come see us play it’s all or nothing.
You can catch Stone Temple Pilots performing at Wellmont Theater in Montclair on April 25, at Irving Plaza in New York on April 27, and at Theatre Of Living Arts in Philadelphia on April 30. Their latest release, High Rise, is available now. For more information, go to stonetemplepilots.com.