Stone Temple Pilots (often abbreviated STP), currently known as Stone Temple Pilots with Chester Bennington, is an American rock band from San Diego, California that currently consists of brothers Robert DeLeo (bass, backing vocals) and Dean DeLeo (guitar), Eric Kretz (drums, percussion), and Chester Bennington (lead vocals). Since its formation, STP's line-up had remained unchanged until the dismissal of lead vocalist Scott Weiland in 2013 and the subsequent addition of Bennington of Linkin Park fame as his replacement vocalist.
After forming in 1986 under the name Mighty Joe Young, the band signed with Atlantic Records and changed its name to Stone Temple Pilots. STP found immediate success in 1993 after releasing their debut album Core (1992), and went on to become one of the most commercially successful bands of the 1990s. The band released four more studio albums: Purple (1994), Tiny Music... Songs from the Vatican Gift Shop (1996), No. 4 (1999) and Shangri-La Dee Da (2001) before separating in 2003, after which the band members partook in various projects, most notably Velvet Revolver and Army of Anyone. STP eventually reconvened in 2008 for a reunion tour, released a new self-titled album in 2010, and have been actively touring since, although Weiland was fired from the band and was replaced by Bennington in 2013. The band's first material with Bennington, the EP High Rise, was released October 8.
While initially displaying a sound typically identified as grunge early on in its career, further releases from the band expressed a variety of influences, including psychedelic rock, bossa nova and classic rock. The band's evolution throughout the 1990s and early 2000s involved several tumultuous periods of commercial highs and lows, brought about in part by Weiland's well-publicized struggles with drug addiction.
Formation and early years as Mighty Joe Young (1986–1992)
Two conflicting stories of how frontman Scott Weiland and bassist Robert DeLeo met have been described by the band; one was that Weiland and DeLeo met at a Black Flag concert in Long Beach, California in 1986. They began discussing their girlfriends, only to realize they were dating the same woman. However, instead of letting this come between them, they developed a bond and formed a band after they each subsequently broke it off with the girl. Weiland presented a different version of meeting Robert in his autobiography, stating that Weiland and his high school friend, guitarist Corey Hicock, pursued Robert after witnessing him play live.
Nevertheless, Weiland, DeLeo, and Hicock would eventually form a band with drummer David Allin, called Swing. However, after witnessing drummer Eric Kretz play in a local Long Beach club, the band opted to replace Allin, convincing Kretz to join the band. Guitarist Hicock eventually left the band; in need of a replacement and auditioning many guitarists, Robert suggested his older brother, Dean. At the time, Dean was a successful businessman who had left behind his previous career as a musician, but still played guitar as a hobby. The band managed to convince Dean to play guitar for Swing, completing the original STP lineup. Dean reportedly refused to continue playing in a band called "Swing", and shortly afterwards the band became Mighty Joe Young. The band recorded a demo tape that was completed around 1990. The Mighty Joe Young demo features tracks that would go on to be re-recorded for the band's first studio album, as well as some musical styles that would not be featured on any of STP's studio albums, such as funk and yodeling.
Mighty Joe Young played several gigs in the San Diego area, building up a fanbase. Their first show was supporting Henry Rollins at the Whisky a Go Go. The group then began to work on their debut album with Brendan O'Brien. During the recording, they received a call from their lawyer who informed them that there was a bluesman who had already claimed the name Mighty Joe Young. Inspired by the STP Motor Oil stickers that the band members were fans of in their youth, various ideas on the initials "STP" were shared by the band, including "Shirley Temple's Pussy". They eventually settled on the name "Stone Temple Pilots."
Core and Purple (1992–1995)
Stone Temple Pilots developed a fan base in San Diego clubs. In 1992, Stone Temple Pilots signed with Atlantic Records. Their first album, Core, was released on September 29, 1992, and peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard Albums Chart. Core was a big success, producing hits "Sex Type Thing", "Plush", "Creep", and "Wicked Garden". While the album was a major commercial success, the music press criticized the band as "grunge imitators." Also in 1992, Scott Weiland and Dean DeLeo played an acoustic version of "Plush" on the MTV show "Headbanger's Ball." This is considered one of Weiland's greatest vocal performances.
Despite hostile reviews from critics, Stone Temple Pilots continued to gain fans. They toured for four weeks, opening for heavy metal bands such as Rage Against the Machine and Megadeth. 1993 brought continued success on the road, with the band headlining a two-and-a-half-month American tour, often performing at benefits for pro-choice organizations.
In 1993, the band filmed an episode of MTV Unplugged, where they debuted the song "Big Empty." In a January 1994 Rolling Stone poll, the band was simultaneously voted Best New Band by Rolling Stone's readers and Worst New Band by the magazine's music critics. The following month the group won Favorite Pop/Rock New Artist and Heavy Metal/Hard Rock New Artist at the American Music Awards. In March 1994, the group won a Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance for the song "Plush."
In the spring of 1994, Stone Temple Pilots returned to the studio to work on their second album, Purple. Completed in less than a month, Purple debuted at number one in the United States upon its release on June 7, 1994. The radio-friendly "Interstate Love Song" quickly became a big hit, spending a record-setting fifteen weeks atop the album rock tracks chart. Other hits from the album included "Vasoline" and "Big Empty" (the latter also being featured on the soundtrack to the film The Crow). By October, just four months after its release, Purple had sold three million copies.
Tiny Music, hiatus, and return (1995–2002)
In October 1995, the band regrouped to begin recording its third album, renting out a mansion in Santa Barbara, California for the band to live together during the recording process. Stone Temple Pilots released the album Tiny Music... Songs from the Vatican Gift Shop, on March 5, 1996. The album's sound marked a drastic change from their previous outings, oriented more in the direction of glam rock and psychedelic music than that of the hard rock/grunge sound that propelled them to popularity; critical reception, at the time, was mixed. Rolling Stone, a magazine known for its initial dismissal of the band's music, held a favorable opinion of the album, regarding the release as the group's best effort to date. They expressed surprise, however, at "the clattering, upbeat character of the music" given Weiland's much-publicized run-ins with drugs and the law. Stone Temple Pilots were also featured on the cover of issue No. 753 in February 1997.
The band was unsuccessful in being able to fully tour in support of Tiny Music.... A short tour in the fall of 1996 ensued in the U.S. but final dates at the end of December in Hawaii had to be cancelled, including a further tour in 1997; as a result of Weiland's personal issues, Stone Temple Pilots went on hiatus. The band, sans Weiland, recruited Dave Coutts, the frontman of Ten Inch Men, and performed under the moniker Talk Show. Talk Show released one eponymous album in 1997 before dissolving. Meanwhile, pursuing his own musical interests, Weiland released his first solo album, 12 Bar Blues, in 1998. Although both albums received moderate critical praise, neither was commercially successful.
In 1998 the band regrouped and began work on a fourth Stone Temple Pilots album. Released in 1999, No. 4 was conceived as a "back-to-basics" rock album in the vein of Core or Purple. Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic compared the albums sound to contemporary alternative metal bands and wrote in his review "it's as if STP decided to compete directly with the new generation of alt-metal bands who prize aggression over hooks or riffs." STP scored one of its biggest hits since the success of Core and Purple with the single "Sour Girl", fueled by a popular music video starring Sarah Michelle Gellar of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame. The band also recorded an episode of VH1 Storytellers, and went on a summer tour with the Red Hot Chili Peppers. No. 4 would eventually be certified platinum by the RIAA.
During the summer of 2001, the band released its fifth album, Shangri-La Dee Da, which produced one modest rock radio hit in "Days of the Week". Despite promotion of the album by going on tour with Linkin Park and Godsmack on the Family Values Tour, Shangri-La Dee Da was a commercial disappointment. At that point, marketing support from their label was reportedly minimal, and the band decided to put a hold on any future albums. However, the band recorded "All in the Suit That You Wear," a song intended to be the lead single on the soundtrack for the 2002 film Spider-Man. However, Chad Kroeger's song "Hero" was ultimately chosen as the lead single.
Separation and members' other projects (2002–2008)
Despite reports that the band had begun work on a sixth studio album in 2002, the band had dissolved by the end of that year, after reports of an altercation between Dean DeLeo and Weiland after the last show of Stone Temple Pilots' fall 2002 tour. As a capstone to the band's career, Atlantic Records released a greatest hits album, Thank You, with a bonus DVD of archive material and music videos, in 2003.
Following band's dissolution, Weiland formed the successful supergroup Velvet Revolver with Guns N' Roses members Slash (guitar), Matt Sorum (drums), and Duff McKagan (bass) and former Wasted Youth guitarist Dave Kushner. The band released two albums, Contraband in 2004 and Libertad in 2007 before Weiland left the band in 2008. Likewise, the DeLeo brothers formed the supergroup Army of Anyone with vocalist Richard Patrick of the industrial rock band Filter and session drummer Ray Luzier. The band released its self-titled in 2006 before going on "indefinite hiatus" in 2007. Eric Kretz kept a lower profile during this time, operating his own studio, Bomb Shelter Studios, and drumming for the band Spiralarms.
Reunion and self-titled album (2008–2011)
According to Dean DeLeo, steps toward a Stone Temple Pilots reformation started with a phone call from Weiland's wife, Mary Forsberg. She invited the DeLeo brothers to play at a private beach party, which led to the reconciliation of Weiland and the DeLeo brothers. In 2007, Dean DeLeo and Weiland discussed a concert promoter's offer to headline several summer festivals. Weiland subsequently left Velvet Revolver in April 2008 and the following month, Stone Temple Pilots announced they were reuniting for a 65-date North American tour. The group officially reunited for a private gig at the Houdini Mansion and held their first public show on Jimmy Kimmel Live! on May 1. Stone Temple Pilots toured throughout the summer and fall, headlining the Virgin Mobile Festival in Baltimore on August of that year as well as the 10th annual Voodoo Experience in New Orleans. The band's six-month reunion tour wrapped up on Halloween 2008 in Pelham, Alabama.
After taking a short break to allow Scott to support his recently released second solo album, production for the band's sixth studio album began in mid-2009. The band showcased new material at South by Southwest in 2010, and also appeared at England's Download Festival 2010 in June, as well as at the Hurricane Festival and the Southside Festival in Germany. The band also performed during the Final Four Concert Series in Indianapolis on April 2, 2010. The band appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman for the first time in ten years on May 19, performing "Between the Lines." The band's self-titled sixth album Stone Temple Pilots was released on May 25, 2010, debuting at No. 2 on the Billboard 200.
Towards the end of 2010, STP announced they were rescheduling several U.S. tour dates so that the band could take a "short break." STP toured Southeast Asia for the first time in 2011, playing in Philippines (Manila), Singapore, and Indonesia (Jakarta). Following this, the band played successful shows in Australia, including sold out performances in Sydney and Melbourne.
Continued touring, split with Weiland and legal proceedings (2011–2013)
In December 2011, Dean DeLeo told Rolling Stone, "what I'd like to see happen is the band go out and do more intimate shows – really lovely theaters around the country." Dean also commented on a possible extended reissue of Core including live archived material, "We have tons of live recordings from that era, and we didn't multi-track record that stuff. There's no fixes, so they'd sound incredible if we just master them,". On January 2, 2012, Scott Weiland also commented on the 20th anniversary of Core, saying "Well, we're doing a lot of special things. [There's] a lot of archival footage that we're putting together, a coffee table book, hopefully a brand new album - so many ideas. A box set and then a tour, of course."
On June 26, STP released its first-ever concert film, Alive in the Windy City, on DVD and Blu-ray. The performance was filmed at a sold-out show in March 2010 at the Riviera Theatre in Chicago.
From then on, the band began to experience problems, and suspicions were raised that tensions between the band had arisen again. Despite the band's claims that their fall tour would be celebrating the 20th anniversary of Core, this did not happen. This is likely because Weiland reportedly no longer has the vocal range to perform many of the album's songs, and could not perform them well in rehearsals. According to the same source, the band initially agreed they would stick to performing the album's hits, but Weiland was unhappy with the deal and insisted that he would perform the album on a solo tour, which his bandmates were unhappy about, as "he was basically taking money away from the band and essentially touring under the promotion of the STP brand."
On September 17, at a show in Abbotsford, British Columbia, STP took the stage nearly two hours after their scheduled time, and cut their set 30 minutes short, angering many fans. The following day, the band released a brief statement announcing that that night's show in Lethbridge, Alberta was cancelled due to Scott Weiland being ordered to go on "48 hours complete vocal rest due to strained vocal cords."
In an interview with 93.7 KCLB Rocks on September 19, Dean DeLeo hinted that the band would continue to rely on a "greatest hits" setlist for their shows and would possibly embark on a tour celebrating Core in 2013. DeLeo also stated that he found it "unrewarding" when the band played lesser-known songs in concert and received an indifferent reaction from the audience. DeLeo also made no mention of any plans for STP to record new material at the time.
On December 7, in response to a public declaration from Weiland that he was "completely open" to returning to Velvet Revolver and a radio DJ's questions about the state of that band, Slash (Weiland's former bandmate with Velvet Revolver) told Minneapolis/St. Paul radio station 93X that he had heard Weiland had been fired from Stone Temple Pilots, citing this as a possible reason for Weiland's eagerness to return to Velvet Revolver, an option that Slash quickly discounted.
On February 27, 2013, Stone Temple Pilots officially fired Weiland. It was later speculated that a firing had not taken place as early as Slash's claim in December 2012, but that a threat had been made by that time if Weiland was to go ahead with the aforementioned solo tour in which he would perform the entire Core album. The firing was officially announced as Weiland left on tour with his solo band.
Weiland responded to the firing with his own statement, "I learned of my supposed 'termination' from Stone Temple Pilots this morning by reading about it in the press. Not sure how I can be 'terminated' from a band that I founded, fronted and co-wrote many of its biggest hits, but that's something for the lawyers to figure out." On February 28, 2013, Weiland told TMZ that he was still STP's frontman, the band was "not broken up", and that his firing was "a whole thing to try to boost ticket sales."
In May 2013 he reiterated his claim he was still in the band, and said the band had no right to call themselves Stone Temple Pilots with replacement Chester Bennington on vocals.
Three of the members have attempted to expel Scott Weiland from the band and have sued Weiland to prevent him from calling himself a former member of STP or from performing any of the STP songs, even though he co-wrote them. Weiland countersued the other three members for wrongfully attempting to expel him, for misleading the public by referring to their performances with Chester Bennington as STP, and to dissolve the band STP. Both lawsuits are ongoing.
Chester Bennington era (2013–present)
On May 18, 2013, the three remaining members of Stone Temple Pilots performed with Chester Bennington, appearing as special guests at the 21st Annual KROQ Weenie Roast, benefiting Heal the Bay, and the band was also announced as a surprise guest for the May 19, 2013 Live 105 BFD festival near San Francisco. Chester Bennington was on lead vocals for the surprise performances, where they performed a new song, "Out of Time."
On May 19, 2013, STP released a free download of their new single "Out of Time" featuring Bennington via their official website. The updated website also featured new promotional pictures of the band including Bennington. Coincidentally, Bennington had exclaimed years before in interviews that singing lead vocals in Stone Temple Pilots was his lifelong dream. The new incarnation of STP performed again on May 30, 2013 at the MusiCares MAP Fund Benefit Concert in Los Angeles, California, and were joined by Weiland's former bandmates Slash and Duff McKagan on stage to perform "All the Young Dudes." Slash praised the band's decision to replace Weiland with Bennington.
On July 15, STP announced that it would embark on a small tour in September with Filter as the opening act. The tour featured the band performing new material along with live rarities such as "Church On Tuesday" (never played live) "Pop's Love Suicide" (last time played in 1997) and Sex & Violence (last time played in 2000). Stone Temple Pilots released a five-track EP titled High Rise on October 8, 2013 through 13Star Records, as Stone Temple Pilots with Chester Bennington. The album's second single, "Black Heart," was released through iHeart Radio on September 18, 2013.
The band's sound is considered a blending of the alternative rock of the 1980s and 90s with the hard rock of the 1970s, though the band is known for making each of their records possess a unique musical style, despite having the "sonic blueprint" of the band, as Robert DeLeo describes. Particularly, the band Aerosmith was a large influence on the band collectively, with guitarist Dean DeLeo acknowledging the band's influence on songs such as "Huckleberry Crumble" off their self-titled record. Steven Tyler and Joe Perry joined the band onstage at a 1996 show in Madison Square Garden for renditions of the Aerosmith songs "Sweet Emotion" and "Lick & A Promise." All of the band members were Kiss fans during their childhood, and played shows at the Roseland Ballroom in 1993 dressed in Kiss-style makeup. During the taping of their VH1 Storytellers performance, Weiland acknowledged artists such as The Rolling Stones, Neil Young and Robert Plant as their musical heroes, being honored with the chance to perform with them throughout STP's career. The band has covered songs by artists such as The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, The Doors, Pink Floyd, James Brown, David Bowie and Bob Marley both live and in the studio.
Early in their career, the band was considered to be a part of the "grunge" movement; despite assertions by critics that their style in the early 90s was derived from contemporary artists such as Alice in Chains and Pearl Jam, the band maintained that the similarities were coincidental, due in part to having the same musical idols growing up. Much of the comparison was directed at Weiland's vocal style drawing similarities to that of Eddie Vedder's. Weiland has stated that his vocal style is influenced by Jim Morrison and David Bowie, who also serves as his main fashion influence. Weiland has been called a "chameleon" due to his ability to change his vocal and fashion style.
Guitarist Dean DeLeo uses heavily layered and distorted guitar playing, while bassist Robert DeLeo draws influence from genres such as rhythm and blues, lounge music, and ragtime. Although the band's early demo recordings displayed a funk rock sound, the band's first album Core was a straightforward display of hard rock. After reconvening in the studio for their second album, Purple, the band's style developed, taking influence from psychedelic rock, country music, and jangle pop. The band continued to divulge in various genres and influences; for example, songs like "And So I Know" on Tiny Music... have a distinct bossa nova sound. Regarding the evolution of the band's sound, Weiland commented that "the transformation from Core to where we ended up before we took that time off, when I started with Velvet Revolver, was enormous."
Weiland was the band's primary lyricist. His style changed with the band's evolution; much of the lyrics on Core were written about societal issues such as religion, abuse of power, and isolation. The band's breakthrough single "Sex Type Thing" polarized critics with its lyrics, some interpreting it as advocacy of date rape. Weiland intended it as a feminist anthem, with its lyrics written in mockery of the narrator. As Weiland began to deal with substance abuse, his lyrics became more personal and intricate; songs like "Interstate Love Song" deal with his addiction's tolls on his relationship with his then-wife, Janina. The lyrics of the band's fourth album were written to provide closure to his marriage and addiction to heroin. Following the band's reunion in 2008, Weiland once again evolved as a songwriter, explaining: "[In] the '90s, I was so overwhelmed with my heroin addiction, and so a lot of the stuff was just from my point of view. Now, I tend to look at some of the greats like Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan. I look at their storytelling [and] I try to tell stories. Every song doesn't have to be narcissistically written about how I feel on that day."
Core, certified 8× platinum by the RIAA, drove the band to popularity. STP went on to become one of the most commercially successful rock bands of the 1990s, selling nearly 40 million records worldwide, including 17.5 million units in the United States, before their dissolution in 2003. The band has had 16 top ten singles on the Billboard rock charts, eight of which peaked at No. 1, and one No. 1 album for Purple in 1994. That same year, the band won a Grammy for "Best Hard Rock Performance" for the song "Plush" from the album Core. Stone Temple Pilots were also ranked No. 40 on VH1's The 100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock.
Despite being unpopular with critics in their heyday, Stone Temple Pilots have proved to be a popular and influential act. In retrospect, MTV writer James Montgomery published an article questioning the validity of music critics opinions of the band during the 90s, saying, "All I'm suggesting is that perhaps it's time to admit that we were wrong about them from the get-go — that we treated them unfairly." In a review of the band's 2003 greatest hits collection Thank You, Allmusic critic Stephen Erlewine wrote that "STP made music that sounded great at the time and even better now," and that "this music has stood the test of the time," calling Thank You "nearly perfect." Erlewine also wrote that "STP was the best straight-ahead rock singles outfit of their time."
Billy Corgan of The Smashing Pumpkins noted the band's importance in the early 2010s, saying "If you look at the popular bands of our generation, like Soundgarden, Stone Temple Pilots, Nine Inch Nails, Hole, Nirvana and others, you see now clearly that the bands were very influential, very important not only for music but for culture, fashion…"
The band's music has left an impact on many younger bands. Chris Daughtry is a self professed STP fan. The band's current frontman, Chester Bennington of Linkin Park fame, also admitted to being a fan of STP before his joining; Chester joined the band on stage for renditions of "Dead & Bloated" and "Wonderful" in 2001, and officially replaced Weiland in 2013. Bands such as Seether, Evanescence, and The Academy Is... have covered Stone Temple Pilots songs. Following STP's 2008 reunion, many younger bands of that time period performed with the band, including Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Cage the Elephant, and Hurt.
- Robert DeLeo – bass, backing vocals (1986–present)
- Eric Kretz – drums, percussion (1986–present)
- Dean DeLeo – guitar (1986–present)
- Chester Bennington – lead vocals (2013–present)
- Scott Weiland – lead vocals (1986–2013)
- Core (1992)
- Purple (1994)
- Tiny Music... Songs from the Vatican Gift Shop (1996)
- No. 4 (1999)
- Shangri-La Dee Da (2001)
- Stone Temple Pilots (2010)
- Official website
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Image from Discogs