Stone Temple Pilots highly-anticipated, self-titled album will be released this Friday, March 16. It marks the band’s first collection of new material with their new lead singer, Jeff Gutt.
The album features songs like “Meadow” and “Never Enough”, both of which channel the guitar grit and swaggering rhythms the band first perfected on their monster 1992 debut—Core—while tracks like “Roll Me Under” glide along with nimble bass lines and massive choruses.
Guitar World recently spoke to Dean DeLeo about the new Stone Temple Pilots album, touring, gear and more in this new interview.
How does the new album relate to some of Stone Temple Pilots’ previous work?
I like to think that everyone’s playing has evolved with this record. Everyone has evolved into a new place and has gotten better. Robert [DeLeo, the band’s bassist] actually said something about the album recently that was beautiful. He said, ‘This record breathes resilience.’
How did Jeff Gutt get on the band’s radar?
Robert was doing a gig in Detroit [where Gutt is from] with the Hollywood Vampires. After the show, someone came up to him and mentioned that he needed to check out this singer. So, after Robert got home, Jeff came out and played with us. He was one of the last five people we auditioned over a very lengthy period of time.
I think for Jeff, he wants to honor our catalog with the utmost dignity and respect, and he does just that. For us, we’re just as thrilled about delving into this new material with him. He’s an extraordinary singer and we’ve very fortunate to have met one another.
What’s the writing process like for Stone Temple Pilots?
For us, it’s always music first, and the thing that’s beautiful about it is that there are no rules. The other thing that’s remained constant throughout our career—whether it was Scott [Weiland], Robert, myself and Eric; or Chester [Bennington], Robert, myself and Eric; or even now with Jeff—when someone brings a song in, it has to be designed to get everyone off in the room. So, for me to bring a song in to record, it has to be at the bar my brother set (Robert brought in “Plush” and “Interstate Love Song”). That’s where it needs to be.
Let’s discuss a few tracks from the new album, starting with “Meadow.”
That was one of the songs that was Frankenstein-ed together. Robert and I both each had parts. He had the chorus and I had the pre-chorus and intros and we put them together. That’s how it came about musically.
What about “Roll Me Under”?
That was a track Robert had. He had the chorus lick and the verse lick came out of a jam in a room just playing. He and Eric just started off and I worked chords around it. Robert had the chorus and we glued everything around that lick.
That song has several parts to it. It has an “A” verse; a “B” verse; and another half-time section with a chimey guitar. Robert had that part for some time and we started jamming to it. He came up with the verse lick and everyone just jumped in.
What can you tell me about band’s new tour?
It’s been a while since we’ve been out on the road. Every day, I’m looking at my calendar and there’s more shows and we’re thrilled. That’s an aspect of being in a band that we all love. I even remember the first day we were driving to Robert’s house. I picked up Jeff on the way and he said, “Man, I’ll do 300 shows a year” and I believed him [laughs]! He’s got a lot of power and determination. I’m thrilled to get out there with him and bring this to life.
Has your live setup changed much over the years?
My live stuff is the same rig I’ve had since the very beginning. It’s a VHT with a Demeter. I run the Demeter in stereo through two 4×12 twenty-five-watt Celestions with a [Vox] AC30 in the middle. I keep the AC30 very clean and chimey to get the differentiation with each string. I want to hear every string when I’m playing a chord. Because of its versatility, it allows me to cover a lot of different terrain and musical ground.
How about guitars?
My biggest concern on the road is tunings. That’s why we’ll bring out a few Les Pauls and bounce back and forth with Telecasters. I also have a few PRS’ that I use for “Creep” and “Sour Girl”. They have a piezo acoustic pickup in the bridge that lets me blend my amp with an acoustic sound. One of my dearest friends has also built me some beautiful guitars over the years. One of them is a Telecaster with Firebird pickups. If we play “Pruno” off the fourth album, that’s the guitar I’ll be using.
The band recently celebrated the 25th anniversary of their first album, Core. What are some of your best memories from that album?
Those are the best memories I have of us as a band. All of us were in a really beautiful, loving and communal place in our lives. We were all young, healthy and just ecstatic about embarking upon this career. It was a dream come true. There was an excessive amount of love and respect between the four of us. But it’s a two-edged sword because it also reminds me of how much I miss Scott and how innocent and beautiful he was. He was an extraordinary talent. I’d rather talk about what he brought into it personally rather than professionally. He was a beacon of creativity and light and electricity. That’s what I remember from those early days. How focused he was and how confidant I felt being next to him.
What are you most looking forward to about this next phase of the band’s career?
I’m excited about the future and about the next album and the one after that. Mostly? I’m excited to get out and play these songs for our friends and the people who dig what we do.
James Wood is a writer, musician and self-proclaimed metalhead who maintains his own website, GoJimmyGo.net. His articles and interviews are written on a variety of topics with passion and humor. You can follow him on Twitter @JimEWood.