Interview: Scott Weiland on 'Blaster' Album, Art of Anarchy 'Scam' and STP

Scott-Weiland.jpg
Scott Weiland. Photo: Gilbert Carrasquillo/Getty Images

On March 31st, 2015, former Stone Temple Pilots / Velvet Revolver lead singer Scott Weiland released Blasterhis first album with his solo band of nine years Scott Weiland & The Wildabouts. One day before the album's release his longtime guitarist/songwriting partner Jeremy Brown tragically passed away. In Weiland's first interview since those events he spoke candidly about his praise for Brown, recording Blaster, carrying on with The Wildabouts' tour, his involvement in the supergroup Art of Anarchy with members of Guns N' Roses and Disturbed, and his "never say never" attitude towards Stone Temple Pilots.

Bob Schallau: Blaster is more of a rock record than your previous solo albums. What was your intent for the sound of your first Scott Weiland & The Wildabouts album?

Scott Weiland: The intent was just to make the best album we could make. To make an album that was a collection of great songs that was actually an album and had a band effort and that's what it was. So it has a unique sound but it's a rock album.

How would you describe the sound you were aiming for on Blaster?

Furry! I didn't want Marshall amp distortion. I didn't want typical amp distortion. We used pedals, Micro Bass synthesizers, combined fuzz with that and we got our big sound that we created. I wanted it to sound more lo-fi and garagey but still rock at the same time.

I hear a T-Rex influence in your single "Way She Moves" and the band does a great cover of T-Rex's "20th Century Boy". What were some of your other influences for Blaster?

That's hard to say, I mean everybody in the band brings their own influences to the table. Myself and Jeremy wrote the majority of the album and you know Jeremy has passed now and he was a great songwriter. What inspired him, I can't really tell you, to write the riffs and the chord changes. I don't really take an influence from anybody when it comes to melodies and lyrics.

I don't like to listen to other music when I'm making an album. I like to be just influenced by whatever comes my way.

Your single "White Lightning" is one of your heaviest songs ever. Was it important for Blaster to be more of a rock record than your previous, more experimental albums?

Well yeah. I made a couple of those already. I made 12 Bar Blues and I made a double album "Happy" In Golashes and I feel satisfied in that area right now and that wasn't what I was aiming for.

That's just how it came out?

Well there was a whole sound I was looking to create and songs that I was wanting us to write and we hit the mark with it.

You played with the original Wildabouts lineup that appeared on Blaster for 9 years. Did the band evolve sonically into its own entity during those years?

Yeah. When they were just my backing band it was a five-piece. Doug Grean was on guitar as well and Jeremy was more of a side guy. But Jeremy's talents were so out of this world that I decided I wanted it to be a four-piece and be leaner and meaner and have more space between notes. Jeremy just thrived in that environment and rose to the occasion as the lead guitar player.

You've played in four and five-piece bands in the past. The Wildabouts went from a five to a four-piece band. Do you prefer playing in a four-piece?

Yeah. I like the four-piece set up best. A power trio and a guy up front.

What were your lyrical inspirations for this new album?

A lot of them are just tales but a lot of them are about my wife as well.

I hear a lot of influences on Blaster: T-Rex, David Bowie, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin. But The Wildabouts distill all of your influences into a sound that's uniquely your own. Are you happy with how the album came out sounding?

Yeah. I'm overjoyed with how it came out sounding. I think Rick Parker did a great job as a producer, working with us as part of a team, and helping us shape our sound and find the vibe that we needed to sculpt each song and the album in general.

What kind of energy has your new drummer Joey Castillo, from Queens of the Stone Age, brought to your live shows?

He's just made it go from a 6-cylinder engine to a 12-cylinder engine.

Its changed the way songs sound and he's the loudest, most powerful player I've ever heard. But he's got a great groove and he just plays the most appropriate fills. He's the best drummer I've ever played with.

A lot of younger musicians musical influences start with 90's grunge and don't go back much further. I've read that you listen to very diverse music including 60's artists like Nick Drake and Donovan. You actually named The Wildabouts after a line in Donovan's song "Mellow Yellow." Do you think it's important as a musician to listen to a wide variety of music?

I think it's very important. You can't really find out what your identity is as an artist unless you listen to a lot of different styles of music. And there's so much influence to come from different stuff. Different styles of music are a different art form.

What are some other artists that you listen to that might surprise people?

Let's see, Herman's Hermits, their song "No Milk Today" is probably one of my favorite pop songs from the 60's. The Generationals, Grandaddy.

In the 90's Stone Temple Pilots and other rock bands were selling millions of albums. Now there's only a couple of rock bands that are going platinum during one year. Do you feel fortunate to have come up in an era when rock music had more of a cultural and sales impact than it does now?

Yeah, but it also was a movement. It connected with sociopolitical ideals and it shaped pop culture. It was really the last true movement in rock and roll. It also was possible for that to happen because labels had brick and mortar distribution and a way of breaking bands in a big way if you had success at radio. So it has all changed now. Basically it's back to the days of being a troubadour and you have to go out and sing for your supper.

It seems that rock radio stations have largely turned away from playing new material from 90's rock artists except to play the 90's hits. Do you think if STP's Core dropped today it would have the same impact that it did in 1992?

No. There's no album that would sell 8 million records today.

You have an interesting Scott Weiland & The Wildabouts PledgeMusic.com site where you offer everything from orange Blaster vinyl to playing paintball with you. Do you enjoy having a lot more options than just selling MP3s and CDs on PledgeMusic?

Yeah. I think it's an interesting and creative way of going about things and connecting with the fans.

Were you surprised when the band Art of Anarchy, a project you only did vocals for, put out a press release saying it was a new supergroup that you were a member of?

No. Actually I wish I could say I was surprised, but I wasn't surprised. It was a scam from the beginning.

Did you ever actually, other than the photo shoot, work with those guys or did you just lay down vocals in your studio and send it off?

No. I had them send me the files and I worked in my studio with my engineer and I wrote the lyrics and the melodies and I sent them back. I didn't even know what their names were.

You just got the music, agreed to do it, and you didn't even know who they were?

No. I had no idea who they were.

There was just an album that needed vocals and you had some free time and said 'why not?'

No. I was paid to do it. But they were an unsigned band and they're still an unsigned band. Hey, they're gonna put it out on the Internet, and as fate will have it they don't even have a lead singer. I'm not worried about it taking away any thunder from The Wildabouts.

I've read some comments on your Facebook page from a minority of people who think you shouldn't promote Blaster or continue your scheduled tour after Jeremy's passing. Blaster represents Jeremy's musical legacy and I think it should be celebrated.

Blaster was an album that was written by a band. If a person dies in a band you don't break up the band and not promote the album. That's not what Jeremy would have wanted us to do. Yeah. I'm gonna quit? No, you don't do that. If a soldier goes down, you keep on fighting. It's a tragedy what happened - but I'm gonna give up my career?

Have you decided who will fill in on guitar for the tour yet?

We're auditioning people.

Your previous 2015 live set consisted of mostly Blaster songs, some STP songs, and a David Bowie cover. Will you be focusing on the new Wildabouts material for the upcoming tour?

Yeah. What we did on our last tour. We played almost our entire album and we threw in four STP songs and we played "Jean Genie."

Have you thought about if you will show up and play if STP are inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2017 or beyond?

All I can say is, as far as rock and roll goes, never say never.

(Interview published April 11, 2015)

Update:

Scott Weiland passed away in his sleep on his tour bus December 3rd, 2015 in Bloomington, Minnesota. His band, The Wildabouts, were wrapping up their 2015 tour. Weiland was 48.