Interview: Robert DeLeo, Stone Temple Pilots


1992 saw the release of the Stone Temple Pilots debut album, Core, which on initial listening reminded me of a more down-at-heel Pearl Jam. But, not wanting to sound too glib and dismissive, the songs do take on a stronger identity of their own after repeated plays.

But with the Seattle scene currently in and out of vogue, people can't help making comparisons?

"Yeah, I think human nature is to listen to something for the first time and subconsciously try to say, 'Ah, this sounds like that," agrees bassist and principal songwriter Rob De Leo, who goes on to bemoan the fact that the media and record companies have turned the Seattle scene into a trend. "Bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, and Soundgarden are only trying to get recognition of who they are."
If Core is anything to go by it would seem that STP are orbiting near the 'dark side of the moon,' I mean, a song like Where the River Goes seems to be about a frustrated teenage dreamer in a cruel world. Are they simply reflecting what's going on around them?
"Yeah, I think everyone goes through that," reasons De Leo, "especially being a male and just growing up through your teens and twenties in society. We're not all from LA, and just living in that environment is real hard. Everything's so make-believe. You either get sucked into that or you observe it. And we choose to observe it."
Right. And they do so with a sharp, sardonic style, especially on other subjects, like the insidious influence of TV religion on a gullible American public, as on Dead and Bloated and Naked Sunday. But some of the songs are very involved on a personal level.
"A lot of the music that I wrote on this album was just stuff I was feeling inwardly," he reveals. "I was going through a lot of problems with a relationship. It's real easy to write a song like 'Baby, I love you.' But you have to dig deep down inside and really feel it."
No such problems for De Leo. Wicked Garden and Sin are like Act I and Act II of a tragic love story. Rob gets crossed in love. On the latter song he develops a love addiction.
"I think in that sense the last song was pretty much the first emotion I was feeling," he confirms. "And after the problem was over, you're left alone. I tend to get really depressed at times and it just shows. It all comes out. I can't hide."
Stone Temple Pilots, heading for success on a tidal wave of anger and misery.

Mark Liddell
Riff Raff
July 1993
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