Everything happens for a reason. The majority of global belief systems have this concept at their core. Notables from actress Marilyn Monroe to the Greek philosopher Leucippus believed in this. Fundamental to the matter at hand, it is a belief held by Scott Weiland, Dean DeLeo, Robert DeLeo and Eric Kretz, the members of Stone Temple Pilots. How else to explain the present beatific state the band currently inhabit than the concept of "divine obstacles" being deliberately placed in front of the band members in order that they fully realized their potential, strength, willpower and creativity. "Stone Temple Pilots," the groups sixth, eponymously titled album, due out May 25, 2010 via Atlantic Records, is a testament to this concept.
Stone Temple Pilot's opening salvos revealed them to be Rock animals draped in traditional songsmith clothing. Equally at ease with the riff driven swagger inherent in "Sex Type Thing" and "Vasoline" as they were with the shimmering elegance that inhabited "Creep" or "Sour Girl," the bands all-encompassing approach proved that any genre-specific tags gave short shrift to the sheer scope of their collective oeuvre.
Like a stone worn smooth by a millennia of weathering Stone Temple Pilots skipped across the mirror-plane of the 1990's, skimming its glassine surface at habitual intervals to scoop up their latest bounty in an ongoing plethora of accolades; an 8 times Platinum debut album, 16 singles on the Billboard rock charts (six of which peaked at #1), a "Best Hard Rock Performance" Grammy in 1994 and the sale of nearly 40 million records worldwide before entering a period of suspended animation in 2001.
Emerging from their cocoon in 2008 the band reconvened for a tour that touched thousands upon thousands of fans thirsty to hear authentic organic music played by craftsmen at the zenith of their talents. For their first album in almost a decade Stone Temple Pilots decided to look inwards and mine the abundant resources they themselves had acquired since their inception. Their first decision was the resolution to helm the new album themselves. "Producing the album meant a lot to the band," emphasizes Dean. "We've worked with some amazing people in the past but this was a big statement for us. We have high expectations we put upon ourselves and we have high expectations we put on one another."
Subsequent was the luxury to record at their own pace realized by using the band member's individual studios; Eric's Bomb Shelter Studios, Robert's Homefry Studio and Scott's Lavish Studios. States Robert, "I'm most proud of the fact that in addition to the writing and arranging we took the initiative to record and produce in our own studios. It felt like a graduation to me, to an area where we encompassed all aspects of making our records from start to finish." Explains Dean, "we didn't have a time constraint and we didn't have to appease anyone. In our own souls it was something we wanted to accomplish."
Past Stone Temple Pilots albums featured meticulously crafted songs in a cornucopia of styles but "Stone Temple Pilots" contains arguably the most diverse collection of music in the bands career. What influences lead to the additional components the band has woven into its sonic blueprint? "Life itself" declares both Dean and Robert independent of one another. Elaborates Robert, "we've all become parents, we've matured and we've learned how to simplify things so they're running somewhat smoothly. There are not many bands from our era with all the original members and there is a chemistry to this band after being together for so long. We know how to write songs with one another and that's the major factor that allowed us to make this record on our own terms."
"We bring in musical elements including Brazilian, Jazz and Country and introduce it via a Rock format and that's what sets us apart from other bands" Dean enthuses. "The multiple elements we have harnessed are also one of the reasons none of our albums sound like the one previous." Another notable difference on "Stone Temple Pilots" is that "I'm soloing on almost every song whereas on "Core" there were solos in maybe 4 or 5 songs." Scott is adamant in his praise; "Dean really stepped it up on this album."
Even a cursory listen to the album will reveal an entire band who have stepped it up. "Between The Lines" kicks proceedings off as if to remind everyone that even after several years away, Stone Temple Pilots is, above all, a Rock Band. Weiland's no-apologies lyric rides a deliberately Dylan-influenced melody with a massive Pop hook in the chorus guaranteeing that the song will buzz around your brain long after the album has ended.
"Huckleberry Crumble," "Hickory Dichotomy" and "Fast As I Can" roll along like freight trains about to come off the rails but incorporate seasoned Country licks that would seem out of place in the hands of less talented musicians. "Dare If You Dare" and "Cinnamon" suck you in to a Zen-like swirl that recall the headiest ingredients of late 60's British Pop enigmatically merged with the most contemporary of influences. "Like Ian Curtis meets The Beatles," laughs Scott.
"Maver" is perhaps the song that benefits the most from the band's arsenal of varied musical elements. "We always try to take influences from everywhere, whether it's bossa nova like we did on "Shangri-La Dee Da" or a song like "Maver" which is very R&B" explains Scott.
The lyrics also share the music's ebb and flow. "I told stories on this record," Scott reveals. "You travel around the world, you meet people, you experience things and you discover that there are so many stories to be told. I had a lot of fodder for genuine, heartfelt lyrics."
"Bagman" throws down the lines, "There was a dream/When we said we would be free/But now is the time to be real." Never have Stone Temple Pilots been as real or as free as on this album.
Like piercing the membrane into an alternate musical reality where craft always takes precedence over glitz and talent always triumphs over headlines and reality shows, "Stone Temple Pilots" is the highest peak on the band's enduring landscape. The music is both challenging and familiar at the same time giving the listener a skewed sense of déjà vu. But then again, déjà vu is perhaps fates way of telling you that you're exactly where you're supposed to be. And if the members of Stone Temple Pilots feel that same sense of déjà vu it's because they're right in line with their own destiny.