Interview by: David Locklear
Photos: David Burke Photography
It can be a long road out of hell.
Stone Temple Pilots rose to prominence in the early 90’s, staking their claim in the grunge era with slower, thick riffs such as their debut album opener, “Dead and Bloated”. But later in their career, they crafted airy, upbeat tunes like “Days of the Week” and arguably their biggest hit, “Interstate Love Song”.
But as years moved on, singer Scott Weiland wrestled with substance abuse problems and fought very publicly with the other members of STP, resulting in his dismissal from the band in 2013. STP replaced him with Chester Bennington of Linkin Park, as Weiland would go on to form Scott Weiland and the Wildabouts which he fronted until his passing in 2015.
A few months after Weiland’s death, Bennington announced his departure from Stone Temple Pilots, thus restarting their search for a singer to bring the same spark to the table. in late 2017, after a long and deliberate process of vetting singers to fill the void, they finally chose vocalist Jeff Gutt as the man to help carry the torch with the band.
Gutt had fronted rock bands such as Dry Cell and Band With No Name, and appeared on two seasons of the television show, The X Factor. There were curious and high expectations when Stone Temple Pilots released their first album with Gutt on the vocals in Spring of 2018, but they managed to recapture the magic of their grungey swagger, fulfilling fan expectations and starting a new chapter in their story.
“I keep waiting for my hazing, but it hasn’t come!,” Gutt says. “There’s a mutual respect and I think it really comes through when we work together…you find things that you believe in and it’s very democratic. I’m definitely happy with the situation, it couldn’t be better!”
Stone Temple Pilots are now heading out on a lengthy tour this year that will have them playing a mixture of shows in both the States and Europe, starting with the Gears and Guitars Festival in Winston-Salem, NC.
“It’s been awhile since we’ve played a show,” Gutt says. “[Touring] is like glorified camping! I mean we have nice buses-and it’s something that I love and I’m so blessed to be able to do it-but it really does seem like glorified camping after a while. Like trying to figure out the laundry situation or where to even put your stuff!
But that’s the great thing about being a musician: you aren’t doing the same thing all the time…being able to go out there and play STP songs and feel the energy of the crowd that loves STP like I do, that’s definitely a thrill. And I can find positivity in every crowd. Whether it is a coffeehouse or a huge arena, there’s always some way to feel that energy. Unless it’s just the wait staff, but that hasn’t happened in a while!”
Gutt recognizes that he is also stepping in to a role that has the large shadow of both Weiland and Bennnington looming over his shoulder. But he also knows that he can’t fill that void.
“I just have to do what I do,” he says. “This is what I’ve always done! (laughs) It’s kind of a natural fit for me, you know? I love writing songs, I love recording songs and I love singing live, so every time I get a chance to do that I don’t really think about trying to be different or the same (as Weiland and Bennington), I just try to go out there and enjoy it and feel the music as much as possible.”
With a new dawn on the horizon, Stone Temple Pilots are going to pay tribute to their turbulent and successful past while looking towards carving out new songs and a new future.
“There are definitely some songs about saying goodbye on the album and some songs about never letting go,” Gutt says. “I just try to do with the music tells me to do. It sets the tone about what kind of mood I’m going to go with and then it starts to present itself to me. I don’t really go searching for it. But I am the kind of guy who likes a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel…”