You have to feel for the three dudes in Stone Temple Pilots who weren’t Scott Weiland. Dean and Robert DeLeo and Eric Kretz … these guys have been through it. Back in the ’90s, the DeLeo brothers cranked out bulletproof songs — trust me, this band had some jams — that could perfectly meld body-crushing riffs and soaring psychedelia. And even then, in their prime, they were considered the SoCal doofus-rock and carpet-bagger alternative to the more dour artistes from up north who had spearheaded the whole Alt Nation thing (even though STP had been active as long or longer than some of them). Then, over the years, the band struggled to stay afloat, splitting from one another and regrouping a few times over as Weiland battled his demons. Then, Weiland tragically died in 2015. And after that, STP’s other singer, Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington, tragically died by suicide last year.
So, the DeLeos and Kretz have lived a particularly tumultuous and traumatizing version of the rock ‘n’ roll myth, with all its attendant realities and darkness. And they’ve soldiered on, probably because they have to, for themselves. But for everyone else? For STP fans who go way back? I don’t know who wants the new version of STP unveiled late last year, the one with a new singer named Jeff Gutt, which sounds like the name of a washed-up rockstar character in Grand Theft Auto (or maybe that’d be “Jett Gutt” or something, I don’t know) — a singer that, if we’re being blunt, they seem to have hired because he sounds like a state-fair Weiland imitator.
I don’t mean to be too hard on Gutt; I’m sure it’s plausible he’s a nice guy. But here are some basic biographical facts: He’s a former contestant from The X-Factor who the band encountered when he was playing with the fucking Hollywood Vampires, that band in which for some inexplicable reason Alice Cooper and Joe Perry allow Johnny Depp to biker-rock cosplay with them. This is, let’s say, an ignominious beginning for someone who’s set to fill in the shoes of a frontman who was underrated in his time, one of the truly charismatic and gifted performers of his generation of American rock musicians, a guy who died too soon.
Even outside of all that, a new STP album might be a hard sell, but, well, you’re getting one. It’s self-titled, a new start with Gutt in the fold. And along with the announcement, the band shared another new song — their first since “Meadow” last year — called “Roll Me Under.” I don’t know, what there is to say about this? It’s a serviceable STP track that you could easily imagine Weiland on, because Gutt is doing Weiland karaoke all over it. It reminds me of when some of the second-tier grunge survivors found themselves forging new, generic radio-rock bands in the early/mid-’00s. As in, in 2018, it reminds me of a moment 15 years ago when these bands were already floundering past their prime. Which is to say, “Roll Me Under” is fine and also made me sad about a band that was once great and never quite got its due.
You can check it out below, if you are so inclined.
01. “Middle Of Nowhere”
04. “Just A Little Lie”
05. “Six Eight”
06. “Thought She’d Be Mine”
07. “Roll Me Under”
08. “Never Enough”
09. “The Art Of Letting Go”
10. “Finest Hour”
11. “Good Shoes”
12. “Reds & Blues”
Stone Temple Pilots is out 3/16 via Rhino. Pre-order it here.