Stone Temple Pilots' Robert DeLeo Talks 'High Rise'
Could this story have a happy ending? Just a few months ago, that seemed impossible. How would the band replace the brilliant but troubled Scott Weiland, one of the most iconic vocalists and performers of his generation? Newly christened "Stone Temple Pilots with Chester Bennington," what would the band sound like with the Linkin Park frontman at the helm? With the Oct. 8 release of High Rise, the band's new five-song EP, we're about to find out. I spoke with songwriter, bassist, and founding member Robert DeLeo about the band's past, present, and future.
TheStreet: At your live show, there's an unmistakable sense of joy on the stage. That joy also permeates High Rise. How happy are you with the state of the band right now?
DeLeo: Very happy -- it's a new chapter for Stone Temple Pilots. We're excited and we're enjoying ourselves. I look at it this way -- there are a lot of people in this world who work hard and don't enjoy it. Playing music, its work but I feel really blessed to say I make music in my life. What's more enjoyable than to have the gift of doing that?
Chester Bennington's vocals on High Rise are going to surprise a lot of people. He sounds almost angelic at times. Were you surprised by his versatility, or were you aware of this all along?
We were aware of it. It's like any artist, actor or entertainer -- I always use Jim Carrey as an example. He made all these great, funny movies, and then when he did a serious role, people were like, "What is he DOING?" People get used to seeing you one way, and they have certain expectations.
Linkin Park has made a huge imprint, and people are obviously going to associate him with their sound. But when someone steps out, and gets into another environment, you see another side of that person. I think that's healthy for everyone.
Black Heart is a very catchy song, how did that come about?
It's always a challenge to come up with something new. I wanted to write something that would encompass everything -- great power chords, great stringy chords, and tie it all together. I think on Interstate Love Song, I accomplished that. With Black Heart, when Chester started singing, it brought out this Lennon-esque vibe and we ran with it, and really enjoyed where it took us.
Was Interstate Love Song written in the back of a truck?
On our first tour, we had an RV and a truck. Sometimes I'd ride in the back of the truck with my cheap nylon-string acoustic guitar. That's where the song originated. Interstate Love Song originally had a bossa nova beat. I wrote the chords, and then wrote the melody and I showed it to Scott. But yeah, it was born in the back of a truck driving around the country.
Who did you admire when you started playing bass?
At age three I have a vivid memory of hearing James Jamerson, who is my favorite bass player - period. He played on all those great Motown songs. Also, I grew up in New Jersey, and the Philly sound in the '70s really influenced me.
My bass playing is really influenced by R&B, but I started out on guitar, which was more of a rock thing. I can vividly remember being turned on by Brown Sugar from Sticky Fingers at a very young age.