Scott Weiland met me in the lobby of a swanky Park City hotel at what must be, for a member of the working rock and roll royalty, an ungodly pre-noon hour. Accompanied by his third wife, photographer Jamie Wachtel, he’s dressed in jeans and a black peacoat, dark sunglasses pulled low.
After pausing to ruffle the head of a massive Burmese Mountain Dog lolling about on the marble floor, we’re escorted by his publicist to a private library room, where Weiland sits in a high-backed, campily ornate chair.
It’s no secret that the former Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver frontman has had a rough time of it, jailed imposter not withstanding.
His struggles with substance abuse are well documented, let alone the normal wear and tear of three decades dedicated to living the rock lifestyle. That said, little could have prepared me for the award-winning singer’s pale, shaky visage—if I had encountered him on the street in such a condition, I would’ve contemplated calling 911. A far cry from the wailing, energized figure stalking the stage just a night before.
Maybe he’s not a morning person, but this felt like more than a hangover.
Nonetheless, he was happy to dish on the forthcoming album, Blaster, recorded with his sort-of-new band, The Wildabouts, which drops March 31. I say sort-of-new because ultimately the band is made up of the same musicians who backed his solo efforts, sans one member.
“I’ve been jamming with these guys for going on nine years,” Weiland explained. “And we decided tighten it down to a four piece, you know, to have space between the notes.”
Along with those spaces, Weiland pursued a new vibe for this record.
“We started rehearsing and thinking of sounds that would be different than just typical rock and roll sounds, but still sound heavy and thick,” the singer intoned, pulling down his sunglasses so he could look at me over the top of them. “So we came up with some unique guitar tones, then we wrote based on the sounds we created. Which is a different way of going about it, but it worked really well.”
Something about the process must have struck a chord in the rock veteran, who says that these sessions rekindled his love of creating music.
“I always loved recording, but as far as the process of writing with the band and making a new record, it’s the most excited I’ve been about since [Stone Temple Pilot’s 1992 release] Core, actually.”
That’s setting a pretty high bar, but from the couple listens I’ve had, it’s not an impossible comparison, art-wise. Blaster is a solid spin, combining garage and classic rock with some heavier riffs in a way that just plain works, without getting muddy or sounding confused. Weiland’s cited inspirations echo this.
“Lot of ‘60s music, T Rex, even Love and Rockets. And of course Queens of the Stone Age, who are a great band, and Jack White. He’s able to do a lot of different kinds of music, and still find a common thread.”
Weiland also made headlines recently for his stint with band Art of Anarchy, who announced him as their singer, a position he denies occupying.
“It was a project I did where I was just supposed to have written the lyrics and melodies for this band that I’d never heard of, and I was paid to do it,” he explained, frustration clear in his voice. “And so I did it, and did some production work on it, and the next thing I knew there were press releases that I was in the band. I mean, I did one photo shoot with them, ‘cause it was part of the deal, but I’m not in the band.”
While shooting photos and writing music with a band does, in fact, seem like it could make your membership, or lack of thereof, confusing to the other members, Weiland was very firm on this point.
“I wish them all the best once they find a singer, I hope they do well, but this is my band.”
I also asked him about his brief foray into the fashion world, Weiland for English Laundry, developed alongside designer Christopher Wicks, which, alas, is no longer a thing.
“He owes me a considerable amount of money,” was all the growled detail I could get on the subject.
But perhaps it’s a good thing, now isn’t the time for distractions.
Blaster is poised to be an excellent addition to Weiland’s considerable catalog, and if the bordering on iconic singer can hold it together, it has the earmarks of becoming less a comeback and more a new creative chapter. There’s something for everyone, which he acknowledges.
“To the old STP and VR diehards, I think you’ll be very happy with this record. It’s an indie rock record, but its still rock and roll enough that all of our old fans will be into it. These guys are my closest friends, and it’s been a blast so far.”
After thirty some-odd up and down years, you can’t ask for more than that.