Stone Temple Pilots är ute på vägarna. Trummisen Eric berättar bl a om första skivan som betydde något, att lyssna på gamla demos och om hur svår den där första turnén med Megadeth var:
“We would get like 500 kids flipping us off and man, they don´t stop. They´re into it. Especially for Scott (Weiland, 1967-2015) at that time, he really had to learn how to work a crowd, because you have to win them over. You can´t just sit there and take it, so we worked extra hard to win them over and just kept shoving it and pushing it and turning it up. It was a really great learning experience.”
If you go back, what would you say were some of the first albums that really had an impact on you?
The first time I heard ”Houses of the holy” (Led Zeppelin, 1973). I was at a friend´s house in junior high school and he had these gigantic speakers and he put it on the turntable and it just blew my mind. Not only how great it was, but that volume and I kind of realized in that moment that ”Man, I want to play drums and I want to play Led Zeppelin songs!” It was everything about it. Everyone has their favorite Led Zeppelin album. Sometimes ”Physical graffitti” (1975) was my favorite and sometimes it´s that album, especially when it goes into ”The Ocean”, which is Bonham´s style of drumming. It´s so melodic and how hard he hits too. It´s a drummer´s dream to listen to him and try to emulate him.
Where there any other drummers who influenced you?
Yeah, around that same time I started getting into Rush. He´s (Neil Peart) sick! He´s so good and to me he plays like a concert pianist. He´s got so many things going on left and right. He just throws in little sounds over here and time signatures over here. If we don´t tour for a while, that´s the kind of stuff I´ll throw on, like ”Hemispheres” and try to just get through side one and, man… how quickly you forget all the little parts. The later on it Bill Bruford and King Crimson and all that. Once again, he´s a very melodic drummer as well, even though it´s hard to say melody when you´re limited, but it´s kind of how you sing the toms and the snare and you try to get different tones out of it. Bruford is definitely one of the masters as well.
What other bands were you in before you ended up in Stone Temple Pilots?
In high school, John Wedemyer (Bonnie Raitt, John Lee Hooker), was my buddy and bandmate, so we would just play fraternities, college parties… I was 16, had braces and weighed about 110 pounds and I´m hanging out with all the college kids and having fun and we would just play Rush and Led Zeppelin. We would just go there and rip it up. He would practise hours a day and I was practising about hours a day and we´d call each other on the phone and go ”How many hours did you get in?” and he´d say ”Six!” and I´d go for another hour. Some of that music got so complex and then later on the both of us got really into Mahavishnu Orchestra. As you develop as a musician you´ve just got to keep pushing it and it´s so great at that age because you really don´t have any responsibilities. You´ve just got to do your homework and eat what your parents make you and other than that you just keep shredding and shredding.
Is that how you got started?
Yeah! For me I think it was around when I was 10-12 years old and the KISS ”ALIVE II” record, I put that on and you remember it´s a double album and you open that up and you´ve got the drums, the blood, the fire and the screaming crowd, so I would stare at that for hours and set up pillows, sit on the floor and stare at that record and my mum was like ”I think you need a drum set, because you´re doing this an awful lot.” and then you grew up and you had MTV. It was so great that music became visual at that point because before that it was just AM radio.
What are your memories of the first couple of years in Stone Temple Pilots? Do you get nostalgic?
Yeah, especially last year or year and a half when we were working on the 25th anniversary of ”Core” (1993). That one was really great because we had to delve into some of the demos just when we were writing that stuff and just remembering the rehearsal facility where we started off at. I mean, we were slugging it out for a couple of years there and I moved to LA when I was 19 and Robert (DeLeo) moved out there when he was 19 and I met them all when I was 21, so a couple of years later. At that time in Los Angeles, you could make a living playing cover songs, but we wanted to do originals and at that point you had to pay to play so you got a whole bunch of ticktes and you have to sell them, or else you´re paying money at the end of the gig. So frustrating. Half of our shows were in San Diego where we would get paid $100 with pizza and beer thrown in and maybe parking too, so it was like ”Wow, I can leave with $10-20 at the end of the night!” At that point we were just writing songs like ”Wicked garden” and just developing what we could to play all originals. We would throw in like a James Brown cover or something like that just for fun, but we were never really a cover band.
Then ”Core” really took off. When did you realize that it was turning into something big?
Yeah, for me, when I´m asked what are my best memories of touring it´s always the first tour, because we were a group from California and we´d done a little bit of travelling, so the fact that we were in a RV and just travelling America and Canada and just seeing town after town. There were shows like Buffalo, New York and I think there were like seven people there, including the bartender and security. Nobody there and then the next night we played in Toronto and it was 350 kids and I remember we played ”Piece of pie” and we just kept blowing out the PA system three times in a row like ”This is good! This is really good!” As that tour went on, MTV was playing ”Sex type thing” and it was really catching on on the radio, but since we were travelling so much and we didn´t have cell phones, you would call home collect from a pay phone and your buddies would tell you ”Oh my god, you´re on the radio non stop!” and we would go ”We are? That´s great to know.” That tour was six to eight weeks, I think and towards the end of it, it went from, like I said, seven people and some nights it would be 100, some nights 300 and it was like ”Man, we´ve got to put you in bigger venues!” and it was pretty exciting. It was right around that time that Dave Mustaine heard the album and loved it.
Right, because you toured with Megadeth.
Yes, which is great, because every band has to go through that learning phase and when you´re a new band and playing in front of a Megadeth crowd (since you can´t see, I´m flipping him off right now). We would get like 500 kids flipping us off and man, they don´t stop. They´re into it. Especially for Scott (Weiland, 1967-2015) at that time, he really had to learn how to work a crowd, because you have to win them over. You can´t just sit there and take it, so we worked extra hard to win them over and just kept shoving it and pushing it and turning it up. It was a really great learning experience plus it was more arenas and hockey stadiums and stuff like that, so you had to learn how to project it a bit more as to playing in small clubs where everybody´s stuck together. Then it kind of took off from there. We just kept touring and writing more music and recording more.
You´re also releasing a deluxe version of ”Purple” It´s got to be pretty cool to go back and go through those old demos and stuff? Was there stuff you´d forgotten about which brought back memories?
Yeah, like going back to the ”Core” reissue, especially when we were in rehearsal writing ”Creep” The lyrics were kind of halfway there, three quarters there and it was so funny, after all those years you just forget things until we pulled out those demos and when the three of us, myself, Rob and Dean, listened to the demos, we could almost smell the carpet in the rehearsal place and all those memories are flooding back in. It was pretty emotional. We all miss Scott so much and hearing all this it was like ”Man, I wish he could be here to enjoy it with us right now and celebrate how far we´ve come.” Like I said, from pay to play in these Hollywood clubs. We miss him a lot.
You as a band has actually lost two singers, Chester (Bennington, 1976-2017) as well. Stuff like that, does that in any way make you think about your own life and mortality?
Oh yes and especially with Chester´s situation. He was such and angel as a human being. He came to us after about a year and a half of working with us and just said ”I thought I could do Linkin Park, my family and a second band…” and he was like tearing up ”I can´t do it.” He was with us during the whole auditioning period as we were auditioning for a new singer and actually, we just did a private performance when we knew and when we started working with Jeff (Gutt) and Chester came to that show and came up and sang a song with us and he was so happy for us. It was just a really good transition and it´s just a shame that he had to leave us.
How´s the new guy doing?
The new guy´s doing great! It´s his first time in Europe and it reminds us of our first time in Europe, but he´s much more well behaved than I was back in 1993. He´s doing great and he´s singing great every night and it´s so nice watching him visit countries and cities for the first time. Like here in Copenhagen, it´s such a wonderful city, the food, the people, the culture… we miss it a lot and we only seem to be coming out to Europe about every nine to ten years, so hopefully we can rectify this and get out here every year.
I read somewhere that you guys went through 15-20000 people when you were looking for a new singer?
Yeah, we had three songs where we had just the instrumental tracks, so people would lay their vocals on it. Listening to the first ten words you knew right away. Part of my confusuion was that I thought… I was really expecting to hear like a couple of Janis Joplin type singers that could just belt it out to where it would just melt your mind and pretty much all the female singers that submitted their selves, they didn´t have that growl or scream. One guy just sent a keyboard… he did this keyboard solo and we put it up on our website and said ”This is great, man!” And there were some country singers in there, amazing singers and I hope they all get a record deal. You hear that voice, and it doesn´t fit us, but some of the voices… you just know that they have it.
What are the plans? Are you think about a new album?
We´re always up to something now that we run on all four cylinders. We have the ”Purple” 25th anniversary coming up and that whole package will be coming out in the fall and we have something new and spectacular coming up, but that´s all I can say about that. (laughs) Right now we´re just busy touring in Europe and Israel and then we go back for a tour with Rival Sons and do a late summer, early fall package with them.
Is touring as much fun now as back then or even more fun now?
I think it´s more funt hese days because you appreciate it more. In the early 90´s, we were just like any 20 something year old guys in bands would do, we just went out full throttle every night after the show. As you get older you mature a little bit and now everybody´s got families and especially after the losses of Scott and Chester, you just appreciate everything more. What you´ve accomplished and what you still want to accomplish.
Text: Niclas Müller-Hansen