Hoping for STP Speed


Even as critics panned the Stone Temple Pilots for its overly derivative sound, the band capitalized on the popularity of the Seattle-spawned, grunge-rock scene, selling more than 10 million copies--just in the United States--of its three albums combined in the early 1990s.

Then, in 1995, drugs got lead singer Scott Weiland into trouble. As he went in and out of court and rehab centers, the three remaining members recruited singer Dave Coutts (ex-10 Inch Men) to form a spinoff, Talk Show. The band released its “Talk Show” debut album in September and is on tour, including a stop Tuesday in Anaheim, as the opener for Aerosmith.

One might think that guitarist Dean DeLeo, his bass-playing younger brother, Robert, and drummer Eric Kretz would be feeling a sense of renewal after the dark limbo imposed by Weiland’s addiction.


Hardly. Accustomed to the arena-level success of STP, 36-year-old Dean DeLeo says that Talk Show’s touring conditions have given him the blues.

“I’ve been on the road now for a few months, and I need a dose of my home life. . . . I need to be refueled,” DeLeo said pleadingly by phone from an Albuquerque hotel room. “[During] the last few STP tours, we traveled around by jet and had our families with us--at least some of the time. Now it’s just the band and our crew going stop to stop on a bus. The road is a wacky place, man. Sometimes it’s not very replenishing to your soul.”

He’s not thrilled about playing second chair to Aerosmith, either.

“After STP, I have a real hard time being an opening act,” DeLeo said with a sigh. “I’m disillusioned by it. Let’s face it--everyone comes out to see Aerosmith, not Talk Show or three-fourths of the members of STP. It’s weird getting back to this situation after [releasing] three pretty successful records. I don’t honestly know if I was fully ready for this.”


DeLeo perks up, though, when discussing Talk Show’s music. Led by the Freddie Mercury-like vocals of the Long Beach-based Coutts, “Talk Show” offers a light, psychedelic-tinged sound. More reminiscent of the pop-rock of Cheap Trick than the thick sludge of STP or Soundgarden, the band’s album is refreshingly buoyant, particularly on “Morning Girl,” “Hide” and the Beatles-flavored “Hello Hello.”

“The change in direction just sort of evolved,” DeLeo said. “We didn’t consciously decide we were gonna do this or sound like that. I think the late-’60s, early-’70s feel is the result of Dave singing in this band. His tonality is perfect for that kind of poppy, psychedelic vibe. I’m very happy with what the four of us have carved out.”

Everyone is committed to making the group last, he added.

“We’re really just trying to recoup . . . taking it day to day. We’re happy making music once again, and hopefully people will dig it too. I’d like to see us get to a point where we can headline 2,000-seat theaters.”



Yet if Weiland, who’s completing a solo LP, stays drug-free, STP could fly again, particularly if “Talk Show” or the Weiland album fail to take off.

“I hope we can get some STP stuff rolling in maybe six to eight months,” DeLeo said. “Just before we split on this tour, Robert and I went to Hollywood, where Scott was mixing his record. It felt good to see each other. I know it was just one day, but he looked extremely happy and healthy.

“We’ve been through a lot together . . . [Weiland’s] disappearing acts, all the canceled shows . . . but I don’t think there’s anything that can really break the bond. I’d be a fool to think that anything [Talk Show] does will top STP. I’d only be setting myself up for a big letdown.”

The seeds of STP were planted in 1989 under the moniker Mighty Joe Young. It featured two members (guitarist Corey Hickock and Weiland) from Orange County and two (Robert DeLeo and Kretz) from Los Angeles. Dean DeLeo, a San Diego resident, replaced Hickock in 1991.

At the time, San Diego was an emerging hotbed for alterna-grunge acts and, before long, local music fans were accusing Mighty Joe Young of aligning with San Diego to capitalize on the buzz there.

Asked to set the record straight, an amused DeLeo said: “I’d been living in San Diego for years, and some clubs there--like Bodie’s, which no longer exists--were willing to let unknowns like us play. That was the exception in both L.A. and Orange County. Sure, we benefited because there was ‘a scene’ happening in S.D. . . . but so did a lot of bands.


“When we made our first record [‘Core’] in ‘92, the boxes [containing the product] were all marked ‘Mighty Joe Young.’ We were Mighty Joe Young even when the artwork for the CD was done. But then we got a call from our lawyer saying we couldn’t use the name anymore . . . some blues artist out of Chicago had been using it since before any of us were born. So, a couple months later, ‘Core’ officially became the first STP record.”

* Aerosmith and Talk Show perform Tuesday at the Pond of Anaheim, 2695 E. Katella Ave. 8 p.m. $25-$45. (714) 704-2500.