Interview: Stone Temple Pilots

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Friday September 6th, 2013 is a day of rebirth in New Jersey.

On this date, the famed Sayreville, New Jersey concert venue, Starland Ballroom, which absolutely devastated by Hurricane Sandy last fall, will re-open its doors after months of repair and renovation. It’s a symbolic sign that New Jersey is back on the mend from the worst natural disaster hit the Garden State in decades.

Also on this date, Point Pleasant Beach, N.J. natives Robert and Dean DeLeo will be debuting the new version of Stone Temple Pilots, now with Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington on lead vocals. To the band, this is the beginning of their new future, their new musical direction — forward into the great unknown armed with new songs and a new passion for music.

Pop-Break’s editor-in-chief Bill Bodkin spoke with the band’s bassist and co-founder Rob DeLeo as he enjoyed a few relaxed moments at the Jersey Shore before the band’s tour. Rob talked about Chester Bennington’s addition to the band, the departure of Scott Weiland, re-opening Starland, their new music and the band’s ultimate goals for the future.

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Pop-Break: Stone Temple Pilots will be performing this Friday for the grand re-opening of The Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, NJ which was devastated by Hurricane Sandy. Being you and Dean are both Jersey guys, how does it feel to be a part of such an important event in the musical scene of New Jersey?

Rob DeLeo: I’ll tell you man, when I was sitting in my home in LA and the whole Hurricane Sandy thing [happened] I turned on the Weather Channel and a guy by the name of Mike Sydal, out of Point Pleasant Beach, which is our hometown, was filming [the damage] and he panned onto the house that was actually my best friend’s house. I saw the deck had come off of it, a big hole through the house…it can’t hit you any harder than that. So I felt pretty helpless. Dean and I wanted to do something, we wanted to be part of the 12.12.12 concert but we ran it by Scott [Weiland] and he didn’t want to do it. I think he was already booked to actually go back and do Starland at the time [his shows were rescheduled to other venues in December of 2012]. He was doing the solo stuff and [because of that] we didn’t have the chance to go back. That’s pretty fucking frustrating man. So to come back here now and re-open this, it means a lot. It’s a really big deal for Dean and I.

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PB: Well, keeping on the same thought of starting a new, Stone Temple Pilots has a brand new lead singer in Chester Bennington (of Linkin Park) and brand new music coming out. Let’s discuss your new singer first,

RD: When you’re a band that’s had a career like we’ve had and you’re considering terminating your singer, people kinda react to that like “riiiiight” [because] I think with any band that’s the person [the lead singer] people relate to the band. I felt that over time it wasn’t really about the music anymore. It was, for live purposes, the novelty of what condition Scott was going to be in. It gets very frustrating to have to be in that position with someone over that amount of years.

Chester was really the only person we thought of having come in. He was a fan of STP and when we talked to him his full idea was “If we’re going to do this, I want to do this honoring the past but moving forward in a direction with contributing something valid to music.” That’s where we really agreed in the utmost, — having that sentiment of moving forward. There’s a lot of songs that I’m really anxious to play, especially with someone who can sing those songs and perform those songs the way they were written. We’re right in the midst of getting a five song EP together. We have “Out of Time,” which is currently out there as a single and we have another song called “Tomorrow” which was recorded when we did “Out of Time.” We’re looking to release that EP in October and that’s really exciting because we’re moving forward and we’re creating new music that we’re all really proud of.

PB: Was there a backlash from the STP fan base because of Chester’s involvement?

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RD: I think there was going to be. How many have people have terminated their singer and wanted to terminate their singer? (laughs). Look man, anyone can go online and be what they call a “hater” or have an opinion and that goes in many different directions. We’re just really trying to do something that feels good and not only honors the catalog of what we have but moving forward musically. Looking at the last 10 years of STP not much has gotten done and that’s very, very frustrating to live with. I don’t want the next 10 years of life to be like that. I want the next 10 years to be great and we contribute or at least try to contribute really valid music. It’s really what I got into this for — to write the best songs I can write.

PB: I can hear an excitement in your voice so is it safe to say that Chester has renewed the band’s collective passion about Stone Temple Pilots?

RD: Chester is an amazing human being. Coming in we knew we wanted to do this right and sing our songs the way they were supposed to be sung and move forward as a band. Linkin Park will always be his first priority and we respect that. The guys in Linkin Park have been amazing with all this.

Everyone likes to be surrounded by amazing people. We have a great management team, everyone’s excited and working hard. We’ve got a lot of work to do. There’s people out there that really don’t like the fact Scott isn’t in the band. We have to go out there and prove ourselves. Our goal is to play the best set of songs we can play and really make that count.

PB: You’re releasing this on your label — it’s your own deal, your own enterprise, you guys are the masters of your own fate. How does this feel, especially since you’ve been on a major record label for most of your career?

RD: It’s a really beautiful feeling. Don’t get me wrong, I felt honored to be a part of the Atlantic [Records] family. There were a lot of great people who worked there and great artists that came before us that I looked up to. [Right now] we’re recording these new songs in my basement and they’re getting put out with our own label and thank God music is in this situation that where you’re able to do this. It feels really liberating to do it.

PB: I loved Army of Anyone, your project with Filter’s Richard Patrick. The song “Goodbye” is always on my playlists. Now, you’re talking Filter on tour with you. Talk about why these were the guys tapped to be with you on the road.

The DeLeo Brothers and STP drummer Eric Kretz formed Army of Anyone with Filter's Richard Patrick back in '06.
The DeLeo Brothers and STP drummer Eric Kretz formed Army of Anyone with Filter’s Richard Patrick back in ’06.

RD: Richard is a great friend and we’ve been talking about this for a long time. Actually, Dean e-mailed Richard about doing some Army of Anyone [laughs]. When you’re on the road you want to be surrounded by good people. My bass tech is my friend from high school. I enjoy that and Richard is a good friend to me and Dean. I think it’s going to be a great bill.

PB: You’ve got an EP coming, a full-fledged tour you’re embarking on, so you’ve got a very full 2013 ahead of you. We all know the “news” about STP, but now, if you have to give your fans a definitive statement about the future direction of Stone Temple Pilots, what would it be?

RD: It’s time to honor the past and it’s also time to move on with some new music that is valid to the face of music. Live, we have a lot to prove right now and we want to go kick ass right now.

Stone Temple Pilots will re-open the Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, New Jersey on Friday September 6th. Click here for tickets.

Bill Bodkin is the owner, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Pop Break. Most importantly, however, he is the proud father of a beautiful daughter, Sophie. He can be seen regularly on the site reviewing The Walking Dead, Doctor Who, and is the host of the site's podcast, The BreakCast. He is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English. Follow him on Twitter: @BodkinWrites

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