SCOTT WEILAND                        

The former STP frontman returns to rock ’n’ roll on his latest solo set

Blaster is Scott Weiland’s third solo album and his first under the moniker Scott Weiland and the Wildabouts. But whatever the name, any music Weiland releases lines up with the unforgettable output of his former bands: ’90s alt-rock greats Stone Temple Pilots, and supergroup Velvet Revolver, with Slash and Duff McKagan. At separate times over the past 20 years, both bands enjoyed monster careers, earning Weiland a couple of Grammys and album sales in the tens of millions.

But along with the ecstasy of brilliant success, Weiland has also suffered the agony of substance abuse, brushes with the law, and tumultuous relationships with bandmates. Vivid details of his rock-star excess were revealed in national headlines over the years, and in his 2011 memoir, Not Dead and Not for Sale. With his chaotic past in the rearview mirror, Weiland, 47, is firmly focused on his new music. Blaster was recorded at his Lavish Studios in Burbank, Calif., with Rick Parker (Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Beck, the Von Bondies) at the helm, along with the Wildabouts—guitarist Jeremy Brown, bassist Tommy Black and drummer Danny Thompson.

Compared to his more eclectic solo albums—1998’s 12 Bar Blues and 2008’s “Happy” in GaloshesBlaster is more straight-up rock, colored with shades of chunky feral blues (“White Lightning”), breezy pop rock (“Beach Pop” and T. Rex’s declaration of self-determination, “20th Century Boy”), and British glam rock (David Bowie’s ode to bohemian debauchery, “The Jean Genie”). Weiland’s fondness for Bowie was previously on display in “Happy” in Galoshes’ cover of “Fame.”

Compared to your previous solo albums, Blaster is a return to rock ’n’ roll.

Definitely. That was the whole idea of my forming the band with these guys. My two previous solo albums were more artistic adventures. There’s a lot of different music that’s influenced me throughout my life. After being in STP, when I took a break to do my first solo album I wanted to do something that was a departure. Personally, it was very fulfilling. I have to keep evolving, otherwise it would all get quite boring. But I think it was hard for some STP fans to wrap their heads around—and probably it was the same with “Happy” in Galoshes. But this record is definitely more of a rock album. We set out to have our own sound, though, and I think we achieved that.

Describe your writing process.

I started writing the album with the guys in the band—we collaborated on the songs. Some were just riffs I had for a while that never worked out. But this time, we put those ideas down and it worked. I had the riff on “White Lightning” sitting around for quite some time. Same goes for the riff in “Amethyst.” My guitar player, Jeremy Brown, came up with a lot of the riffs, too. He would bring them to rehearsals and we’d suss out those ideas, I’d write melodies and lyrics, and they’d become songs we’d finish together.

How did you meet your bandmates?

We’ve known each other for around nine years. They jammed with me on the “Happy” in Galoshes tour and some of them played on that album. But this is the first time we decided to form a band to make a band album, to work creatively as a band.

What was your process in the studio?

We got into a creative mode early. We’d make our own demos of the songs as we wrote them. Once we’d sussed those out, we’d get together with our producer, Rick Parker, and record them. Then we’d go back out on the road for a few weeks and come back for more studio work.

Why did you choose Rick to produce the new record?

I hadn’t worked with him before, but Tommy had been in bands with Rick and worked with him. It was great working with Rick. We just recorded a new song, “Back to the City,” with him the other night. The song fits right in with the others on the album. It has a lot of the same guitar tones, but it has a swing beat, and it’s really quite slinky. It’s a departure only because of the beat. We’ll probably make it available on iTunes when the album comes out.

Any favorite songs?

I’m proud of how the whole album turned out, but I have some favorites: “Way She Moves,” “Hotel Rio,” “Modzilla” and “Circles.” That was one of the first songs we recorded, actually. From the point of writing them and rehearsing them and then going in to record them, my favorite part was when we processed songs and added effects for coloring and mood. Some extra guitar parts were added that are quite ethereal and changed the songs for the better.

The album includes two British glam-rock covers—did that era influence you?

Definitely. Bowie is my wife’s favorite musical artist. But as an artistic and fashion and musical influence, he’s a good gauge on whether you’re changing artistically. I think it’s very good to change artistically. I listened to a lot of that music growing up, especially in high school. Even with STP, when we started making our third album, Tiny Music, we ventured into glam-rock territory with “Big Bang Baby.”

“White Lightning” was influenced by Lawless, a film about moonshiners.

We were just starting to work on the song, and I saw the film and was inspired by the story. I thought it paired nicely with the song’s powerful stomp, which you hear in the riff and the beat.

How do you view STP’s legacy?

We were very fortunate. That’s the beautiful thing about those kinds of songs: If you’re successful with an album, then the songs on that album are just everlasting. I’m quite fortunate in that I have written some songs that have lasted—and that’s quite an honor.

You’ve had a career with extreme highs and lows. Did you ever want to quit? 

Not really. But I’ve always been interested in being a producer. That’s something I still want to do. I’ve done a little bit of it. I have my own commercial recording studio. But music’s what I do. With this record, I haven’t been as excited since making my first album, Core. I got to make it with close friends, and we put a lot of high expectations on ourselves to make the best album possible.

You always seem especially comfortable onstage. Why?

It’s always been that way. I’ve always enjoyed being onstage. I’ve figured out my own style of performance. I’ve taken all the influences I had and come up with my own signature style.

Tell us about the new tour.

We’ll play most of the songs from Blaster, but we’ll throw in songs from STP and Velvet Revolver as well. We have taken a lot of effort to make them ours, rather than just do them as those two bands did them. It was important that we found a way to make those songs our own.

–Kenneth Partridge

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