Throughout the history of rock there have been numerous bands that have had troubled members and strained relationships. Red Hot Chili Peppers, Jane’s Addiction, Van Halen…. you could go on and on about bands that have had drama, but few have had the drama that Stone Temple Pilots have had. Ex-lead singer Scott Weiland has had his demons with addiction and other problems over the years. Because of those issues his relationship with the rest of the band strained, and that's putting it kindly. They didn't talk or want much to do with each other. On tour they traveled on separate buses, Weiland in one and the rest of the band in another. That tells you a little bit about how terrible that relationship was towards the end of STP’s run with the original members.
Finally, Stone Temple Pilots had enough. Robert DeLeo, Dean DeLeo, and Eric Kretz decided to give Weiland the boot. It was announced in a short one sentence press release, and it was done. After years of inner turmoil, the band stepped away from Weiland and moved forward with Chester Bennington of Linkin Park. In a subtle but cool way, STP didn’t make a huge announcement about the addition of Bennington. They just showed up at KROQ’s Weenie Roast as surprise guests and played with Chester to an amazing response. Since then, the band released a single, then a new EP, and then they went out on tour. It’s been a roller coaster for Stone Temple Pilots and recently AA got the band’s drummer Eric Kretz to reflect on the past twelve months for the band.
“It’s been an emotional year,” said Kretz. “I started out thinking that my stomach just couldn’t be any worse. It was horrible. After a couple of meetings and a couple of phone calls the sky parted and the sun was shining. To be able to complete an EP at such a quick rate and go out on tour and do a bunch of other stuff has been great. It’s all optimistic and it’s all looking good. We’re continuing to move forward in a progressive and complete way. All the parts in the machine are working how they’re supposed to for once.”
Things are easier for the band right now, but a year ago they weren’t that great. How hard was it for Kretz specifically to part ways with Weiland? They’d known each other for almost thirty years and they spent a lot of those years being friends.
“It’s horrible,” said the drummer on how hard of a decision it was to part ways with Weiland. “The only thing to compare it to is a divorce. Knowing someone for so long and having him be an integral part of your life and then it changes. Looking back at my relationship with Scott - 24 years ago, he was my best friend. Then the relationship deteriorated so bad that I didn’t even know who the hell that guy was anymore. At the same time, you’re in a band with him and the band wants to work but he doesn’t. It got to the point where we had to make a choice; do you continue in a completely miserable situation or do you move on? It was painful but we made the decision and committed to it.”
The few days after that short press release was issued were interesting to follow. There were tweets and statements back and forth until things finally slowed down behind closed doors. Kretz said those first few days were tough, but they helped them realize that they made the right decision.
“For a couple of days it was tough, but you start expecting what you’re going to hear from the other side. Soon it becomes so predictable that you think that’s kind of why that decision was Madeira the first place. It was difficult, but we’re moving on and moving forward. ”
So how did STP go from Weiland to Bennington? How did the band get Chester on board to sing with STP? Kretz walked us through what happened in the interview too.
“We did the Family Values Tour with Linkin Park years ago and Chester would come out and sing a few songs with us or he would do acoustic performances with us for radio shows and things like that. Then over the years we’d run into him at awards shows and other things. We had always heard that he would sing STP songs before Linkin Park shows to warm up too. It was cool to know that he was a fan. We made a phone call to him and he said yes right away.
There was very little hesitation and he knew what he was getting into. That was the first step and then we had to figure out how schedules can work. We got into the writing process and went in for rehearsals and we figured out how fantastic he was. The new music came quickly and he understood the old material too. He would even pull out old songs that we had forgotten about and hadn’t played in fifteen years,” added the drummer.
Kretz added that the singer’s personality and sense of humor fit in well with the rest of the band and that he’s been great to be around on tour and in the studio. He also hinted at more new music from STP coming in 2014.
“There’s a whole flood of music that’s waiting to come. We just need the time to get in there to put a full length record together. Definitely next year there will be a full length LP with a bunch of bonus songs. We put this together, but we had a bunch of song ideas that we moved past because these songs just jumped out. We put them together as fluidly as possible to develop that chemistry.”
Now, Stone Temple Pilots with Chester Bennington has been running full steam. Releasing new music, working on new music, touring North America and overseas and staying busy. But nobody in the band is more busy than Bennington. Kretz talked about that and the positives of the band’s new lineup to finish things up.
“The chaos of STP over the years has been frustrating. I’d never complain about the success, I can look at what we did and be happy with everything and think I’m blessed to be in this band. But some of the scheduling over the years has been frustrating because you never knew when you were going to work. Literally, you didn’t know if you were going to work the next day or if the whole tour was going to be cancelled. Now with Chester’s schedule in Linkin Park, we know ahead of time when they’re going to be working and when we’re going to be working. That schedule problem has been resolved. We know that for six months, we’ll be working on creative things because Chester will be out with Linkin Park and then we're back to work. You have to talk to Chester about that though, because he doesn’t get a break and he has to juggle two bands and all of that scheduling, but he signed up for it and he’s ready to do it.”
Stone Temple Pilots' High Rise EP is available now.