This must be the place
Catch him if you can. For the better part of the last 25 years, Scott Weiland has been a moving target within the music industry. Lightning struck twice for the singer, as a front man for both Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver, two of the most successful rock acts in the modern era. And yet, with success, comes a price.
Amid arena tours, platinum-selling albums and millions of fans, the spotlight grew hotter on Weiland, where his every action and motive — from drug addiction to controversial stage antics, marital traumas to band conflicts — was scrutinized, vilified, and, ultimately dismissed as just another casualty of the scene. Yet through it all, he has landed on his feet, stronger and more determined than ever, like a cat with nine lives, one whose fierce loyalty and curiosity is balanced with a need for freedom and independence.
And though he’s always had a solo outlet, Weiland’s latest project, The Wildabouts, seems to be his most seamless and comfortable to date, onstage and in the studio. A rock juggernaut, the sound of their debut record “Blaster” is heavy and supremely confident. Wave after wave of guitar riffs and thundering kick drums push through the speakers with a monumental force. With such vengeance pouring out of the album, one wonders if, after all the ups and downs, that it is Weiland who has gotten the last laugh — a signature voice echoing a sentiment of purpose, a sense of self attained when the only way you can go is up.
Smoky Mountain News: With The Wildabouts, do you feel like the third time is the charm?
Scott Weiland: Yeah, I do. We’re heavy and we’re tight. It’s a different music business environment than it used to be. When Velvet Revolver released its debut album [in 2004], it went to number one on the Billboard charts and sold six million records, I mean, that’s impossible now. Rock bands, unless you’re like U2, don’t sell anymore. I mean, The Rolling Stones don’t even sell records anymore.
SMN: And now you have to rely more on touring, which gives no down time to the creative process.
SW: And that’s my favorite part of being an artist, is the art part, which is making records.
SMN: Now that you’re approaching 50, do you see any change in your thought process?
SW: Well, I wouldn’t say I’m nearing 50. I’m still in my 40s. [Laughs]. I don’t tour like I used to. I don’t chase around looking for drugs, looking for groupies, or anything like that. I’m happily married and in love with my wife. Given a healthy measure of my wants and pleasures that there are, it’s different now. It’s about the music and rocking out with the band.
SMN: During interviews, you’re one of the most truthful and open musicians out there, and yet why are you also the most misunderstood?
SW: It started with “Core” and how that album skyrocketed to fame so quickly. And I’ve always had to answer to that, always had to answer for everything from that point forward. The times in my life when I was doing drugs and getting busted, it kind of made me a regimental outlaw. So, there was a lot of controversy that surrounded my celebrity existence, and that shadow still follows me.
SMN: Even though you’ve never hid behind any excuses, too.
SW: Yeah, I mean it has been 13 years since I lived that way and I still have that tag on me. But, they still do the same thing with Keith Richards [of The Rolling Stones].
SMN: And Rolling Stone magazine recently did a cover story on Keith. He’s 72 and still kicking ass. Do you see yourself doing the same at 72?
SW: I don’t know about 72, maybe 65.
SMN: Can you still create good art if you’re happy?
SW: Yeah, you can, but I’m not happy all the time. I’m happily married, but it doesn’t mean I’m happy all the time. I’m bi-polar and I have to take medication for that. Sometimes I fall into stark places, and I think I write better music when I’m in those places. And sometimes I write better music when I’m on a high, not a narcotic high, but an actual high, a bi-polar high.
SMN: Where you’re in a dreamlike state?
SW: Yeah, exactly, like where I can just write three songs in one night.
SMN: What’s the biggest misconception about you?
SW: That I’m a lazy sod.
SMN: Through all the ups and downs in your career, was it all worth it?
SW: It was. It was all worth it. I learned life lessons — what to do, what not to do, what to tell my kids to stay away from, what to tell them to go for.
SMN: And nowadays, you’re looked upon as one of the torchbearers of rock, one of the statesmen.
SW: It’s wild. At every meet and greet, there are people that come to tears, saying how my music changed their lives, how it got them through truly difficult times. It affects me in a major way — it brings tears to my eyes.
Editor’s Note: Scott Weiland & The Wildabouts will be performing on Sunday, Nov. 22, at The Orange Peel in Asheville. The show begins at 8 p.m. with Biters and Jeff Santiago & Los Gatos opening. Tickets are $28 in advance, $30 day-of-show. Ages 18 and over.
1 “David Holt’s State of Music — Live” will take to the stage at 3 p.m. Nov. 22 in the Bardo Fine and Performing Arts Center at Western Carolina University.
2 New York Times bestselling writer Kate Alcott will present her book A Touch of Stardust at 3 p.m. Nov. 28 at Blue Ridge Books in Waynesville.
3 The Polar Express themed train will celebrate the holiday season Nov. 20-22, 24-25 and 27-29 at the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad depot in Bryson City.
4 No Name Sports Pub (Sylva) will have The Dirty Soul Revival (rock/blues) at 9 p.m. Nov. 20.
5 Western Carolina University and Warren Wilson College will join forces for a concert of Indonesian music at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 22 in the recital hall of the Coulter Building at WCU.