Californian Rock legends the STONE TEMPLE PILOTS have been releasing albums for over 20 years now, charted in New Zealand multiple times and still receive regular airplay on our Radio stations. With that in mind, it’s almost unbelievable to think that they’ve never played a show in New Zealand before. That’s all about to change though as the band prepares to play at Auckland’s Vector Arena on Saturday 26 March 2011. NZRock caught up with bassist and songwriter Robert DeLeo to find out why it’s been such a long time coming and to get the lowdown on over two decades of STP.
It’s great news that STP is finally coming to New Zealand!
There are a few places on the top of my list that I want to visit in the world and New Zealand is one of them man, I mean that. I’m really anxious to be there. Unfortunately I only have about a day and a half to be in Auckland but I just hear so many great things about it.
STONE TEMPLE PILOTS albums have charted well over here in the past, and your music is always being played on our radio stations. So what stopped you guys coming over before now?
You know um… drugs haha! Yeah, not keeping things together and being able to fulfil commitments in the past. That’s something that’s always been bothersome for us as well as other rock n roll bands. That’s about it man.
So you guys are all on the straight and narrow now? Scott included?
I think you’d have to ask him about that but you know, I am yeah. I’ve been feeling great. I’m really honoured to be able to go to different places and you know, it’s pretty amazing to pull into Jakarta and Indonesia and hear people singing your songs. Would I have ever imagined that? No. We’ve never been to Manila but played there and we played Jakarta and Singapore. It was great man. Also with New Zealand, this is all new territory for us so we’re very excited about it.
You released the self titled STONE TEMPLE PILOTS album last year so you’ve got that to promote on this tour. But since we didn’t get to see you guys in the 90s are you going to be playing music from the earlier albums as well?
Oh absolutely! We’ve got a mixture of everything going back to ‘Core’ the first record and the set moves really well. I can’t believe it’s been 20 years haha! It’s pretty crazy to think that.
Albums like ‘Core’, ‘Purple’ and ‘Tiny Music…’ were the soundtrack to my high school years and I’m sure it’s a similar thing for many people coming to your show here in Auckland…
I know what that’s like man. You know when I talk to Paul Stanley and KISS or talk to Steven Tyler (AEROSMITH), its the same thing with those guys. I was listening to their music when I was a teenager. You just carry it on and hopefully inspire the next generation and the next generation. That’s the beauty of music isn’t it?
It was great to hear that you guys had got back together in 2008. Did you think that would ever happen? Was it something that had always been on the cards?
Well yeah, I think it always has been. I don’t think things were entirely done. I think there will always be STP and I think there’s too much of a legacy there to not do it. It’s really up to the fans and the people man. If people didn’t care to come out to see shows I don’t think we would be doing it but it goes back to what I originally said a long time ago… I write songs. I try to write the… I don’t know if best is the word… but I try to write the most touching songs that I can in my life and I think songs, they carry on. Great songs carry on and I can see that in the audience, people are touched by the songs. And you know, I don’t think I have ever stopped being a fan of music because I think it’s what keeps you humble is putting yourself in the position of being a fan of music and then you have a better understanding of how it effects and touches people. That’s where I try to be in my life.
What’s the secret to nailing writing epic intros like ‘Plush’ for example. I mean how do you come up with melodies like that?
I don’t know man, it’s listening to a lot of different music when I was little. I could probably play that song for you on an acoustic guitar which is how I wrote it and you know, it really came from country and ragtime guitar haha! That’s really what it was, I just incorporated it into a Rock kind of thing. And you know, the same thing with like ‘Interstate Love Song’, that started out as like a Bossa nova kind of song. The only thing that really differs music is the beat, so you put a different beat behind it and it becomes something else. So that’s kind of what I enjoy doing, is taking aspects of other music and incorporating it into Rock and I think that’s what really keeps Rock music interesting.
So what about the songs off ‘Core’ like ‘Sin’ and ‘Piece Of Pie’? They’ve got this amazing brooding tone behind them. It’s almost hard to imagine that it could come from something like Bossa nova.
Yeah you know, I think the whole aspect of having that kind of song is really just being 24 or 25 years old and just being angry. My life was different back then haha! I’d just got through living out of my car and that time was a little more angrier for me and that’s how you express things when you’re angry. I listen back, I don’t listen too much, but when I listen to a record like ‘Core’ there’s a desperation there that I can hear and I go oh, why is that there? Well oh lets see… I couldn’t pay my rent, I had just got done living out of my car… you know, it’s a time in your life and I think that’s why STP has always changed musically. I would never want to try to write a record at 45 years old that would make people want to believe that I live in my car you know what I mean. We were in a different place than we were in ‘Purple’ than we were on ‘Core’ and we were in a different place that we were on ‘Tiny Music..’ than we were on ‘Purple’ and the same goes for ‘No.4′ and ‘Shangri-La Dee Da’. All these things were different times in our life man. Making an album for me is almost like taking a snapshot. You know, you take a snapshot of that certain time in your life.
That said, how about your latest album where you’d come from almost 10 years between recordings. Did any of the music that you’d written during your time apart creep in there, or was it all written close to the time that you recorded?
Well I think there are always songs in your memory catalogue. Whether they’re songs or ideas you’re always bringing them up. And if they fit for what you all are doing then great, so be it. What meant a lot to me on this record was taking the production on ourselves and the recording and being able to utilise all of our recording studios, Eric, and Scott and myself and do these at more of a homegrown level. My studio is in my home so we recorded some of the music literally in the basement of my house. So that meant a lot to me to be able to take that on and do that to prove to myself and whoever else that this record was made this way and there’s really no difference between getting a huge producer like the record company wanted, or doing the record ourselves in our home. I felt the need to do that, to do the record in a more homegrown situation.
Has the opportunity to do that from home become better in recent years in terms of the technology available now?
Well you know we did it with Brendan O’Brien our producer at the time. We actually did record two of our records in a home that we lived in. One being ‘Tiny Music…’ and the other being ‘Shangri-La Dee Da’. They were both done in homes and seeing that I think was kind of the spark. You know there are always records that I enjoy listening to. You listen to the ‘White Album’ or something like that and its one of those examples of different rooms and different things and different sounds. No one really explores that space anymore of records being done in homes or records being done outside. That’s a part of recording that I guess I have a passion for. Not only the guitar but the mic that records the guitar that goes in to the certain mixing board. That’s something that I think we all have an appreciation for and it kind of goes back to the records that we grew up on. I have a BEATLES style board in my home you know, it’s a Neve, British type board used on a lot of recordings that I loved. So that means a lot to me.
As far as new songs go, Eric said in a recent interview that you were already thinking about the next album. Is that true or is it too early at this stage?
You know, I’ve got to talk to him about that. I don’t know where that came from. But you know, I think its a little early to say about doing another record right now. I think probably after the summer and up to the end of this year I think we’ll take some time off after that and we’ll casually get together and put some music together and see what happens. Its always that kind of thing where planning something like that is not always the right thing to do. It’s better to get together and see what happens.
I wanted to ask you about ARMY OF ANYONE because that band was really exciting especially since it had you and Dean working with Richard Patrick of FILTER fame…
I think that’s one of the greatest pieces of music that Dean and I have done. I was just listening to that record the other day. I’m kind of blown away that it didn’t catch on you know. I just saw Richard a couple of weeks ago and talked to him which was good because I hadn’t see him in a long time. And Ray, the drummer, is playing with KORN now. But yeah, that was an enjoyable record, that was really fun to make.
There are a lot of great bands back together again at the moment such STONE TEMPLE PILOTS, ALICE IN CHAINS and SOUNDGARDEN. Do you think we’re in a good era of music right now with all these bands reunited?
Well I think there was great music being made at the time that these bands were all together and seeing people back together, I think it only helps. SOUNDGARGEN and ALICE IN CHAINS have amazing songs too and I think it’s nice to see that happen, especially now days. I mean to think that the movement was popular music. You compare that to what’s popular now I think it only helps haha! I’m all for it man.