Give Scott Weiland a break. Really. It's easy to dismiss the 47-year-old singer for the erratic behavior, drug drama, and endless quirks, but those are the same elements to the man's on-stage chaos and flamboyance — chaos and flamboyance that have solidified him as one of this generation's great front men.
Weiland and his band, The Wildabouts, have released a new album, "Blaster," and it is the solid wallop of big rock 'n' roll you'd expect. There's nothing earth-shatteringly new or progressive about it, but it is big guitars and big beats dancing around Weiland's trademark strident delivery. If you've dug what he's done before, you'll dig this, no sweat.
It's Weiland's history, and the expectations it has created, that haunt the man. Starting in San Diego in 1985, Weiland fronted Stone Temple Pilots to an eager post-grunge climate in the early 90's. STP's deft yet heavy riff-centric rock earned the band three Grammy nominations and one win in 1994 for Best Hard Rock Performance with its song "Plush." The relationship between Weiland and the rest of the band was tumultuous and frayed. Weiland tried his hand at solo projects like The Magnificent Bastards, but ultimately the band broke up in 2002, with a few following half-hearted stabs at reuniting.
Weiland went on to front the super group Velvet Revolver with members of Guns N' Roses. The band lasted five years, even with Weiland on the fence about officially joining the band.
This has all secured Weiland a seat at the table of rock history in spite of his detractors — in spite of himself.
City Newspaper shot the rocker some Q's and he shot back some A's. Here's what was said.
City: What led up to this new band and album?
Scott Weiland: I've been playing with these guys on and off now going on 9 years. We felt it was time for us to really create our own band together and make an album of our joint efforts.
The first track on "Blaster" is a bold opener with all its pedal steel atmosphere and serenity. Was your intention to surprise fans with this?
You must be speaking about the track "Circles," which is actually the last track on the album. Jeremy Brown had created this riff, and there are no surprises to anyone who knew Jeremy.
T-Rex is an obvious influence. What are some others in there that aren't so apparent?
Love & Rockets and MC5 were two great influences.
Coming from such recognizable projects as STP and Velvet Revolver, do you feel fans have expectations?
My fans have very high expectations; and at times unrealistic, unfortunately. I'm not working now to attempt to re-create the sound or music that I did in previous bands, and at times it feels as if that's what many openly express to wanting and desiring for themselves.
Do you find this limiting? Or do you find it challenging?
I find very little in life limiting, but challenging is most certainly something I would ascribe to this. Again, it's always a challenge in the beginning or infancy of a new art project, especially in the new digital social media world we live in ... everyone demands 24/7 access to everything that's going on in your life which is something I'm opposed to. I — we — must have our own space and privacy as well for our peace of mind.
The album is great and certainly has your prints on it, but what's something you've done to explore different avenues and sounds?
The band got together many, many times and did nothing but work out the sonics of this album long before we put pen to paper and began writing. We knew that once we had the sonic landscape painted in our minds, the rest would naturally flow from there.
What is it about The Wildabouts and this album that's different or better than your previous endeavors?
I will leave that up to others to answer for themselves. Because no matter what is said people will continually hold their own opinions of my work.
Generally, are you a band leader or a band member?
Both. They've always gone hand in hand during my career as an artist.
You recently lost a friend, Wildabouts guitarist Jeremy Brown. Has this colored your songwriting at all?
I haven't even begun to start trying to write new music since Jeremy's passing. The emotions of that are still far too heavy on my mind, I mean, we just lost him a month ago right before the album release. The band and myself are busy trying to tour this album which wouldn't have been created without Jeremy, and are 100 percent focused on the task at hand.
With all the music writer hacks you have to deal with, what's the question you've never been asked and wish you had?
Anything that doesn't have to do with STP or VR. Look, the fact is that I'm quite proud of what I've accomplished on past ventures ... but now, the future is The Wildabouts. This is where my heart lies and where I will continue striving to put out creative works for my fans. I wish all the guys well in their ventures, but the paths have changed for us all and we are all happy doing our own different projects.
Depending on who you ask — or when you ask the question — you'll get a variety of explanations of what the Sound ExChange Project really is: A local contemporary classical ensemble; a chamber group; an artist collective; composers; curators; educators; community-investors.