Interview: Stone Temple Pilots

Photo by Michelle Shiers

Photo by Michelle Shiers

“It's about honouring Scott Weiland, Chester Bennington, and the guys who are still here. It's celebrating that music that everyone still comes to see, because that's what it's all about.”

-Jeff Gutt

Jeff Gutt [pictured above, left center] is certainly an experienced pilot when it comes to navigating the airspace of the music industry. From his former band Dry Cell to being a finalist on The X-Factor in 2013, there was no hesitation to board the plane and fly Stone Temple Pilots at a steady cruising altitude.

You've had a long career in music already. What would you say is the biggest difference in creating music as well as performing in Stone Temple Pilots?

You know, it's the thing I love about the industry is that there are different phases of it. There's the writing phase, recording phase and as you go out and play before and so it's always there's always to be something different from the normal 9 to 5. So you get up and do the same thing every day. I mean, I love being creative but I also love performing songs and both are things that I've always done my whole life, so I'm comfortable with it. 

What was the creative process like behind recording the latest album?

It was great actually. First I walked in the melodies, so I took songs that I had already recorded. I did that the first day, and then came back and wrote lyrics and finished those and then there was some that we wrote like “The Art of Letting Go” that we wrote all together with guitars. That was a great moment for us because it was like it was one of those times where they came with something and I got really excited and kind of took it down a different path. That was where it started and they trusted me enough to follow me on that little journey and it worked out. “The Art of Letting Go” was one of those songs that really brought us together as a band. 

What was the biggest difference emotionally between auditioning for a big show like The X Factor versus auditioning for like a huge band like Stone Temple Pilots?

You know, they are two different animals. The TV thing - there’s a lot of pressure right in your face. When that red light goes on, there are tens of millions of people watching. And it's live and there’s a lot of pressure there. And then you come into something like Stone Temple Pilots, where it was a year-long audition, I had time to see the idea before anyone else. 

You've said in the past that you don't really feel ownership of the song to an extent from the older material, which is totally fair, and I feel like that's the important perspective to have. So was it a challenge to interpret the songs in order to make them your own In a way that didn't sacrifice your vision, as well as honour the originality of the material?

Not really. I mean as a fan, surely everyone can relate: the songs are ingrained in me. So I guess I just go out and do them the way I remember them, and in the way they make me feel, but also try to hold true to the sentiment of the song that Scott brought. He was really good at catering to the song and what the song needed, and that's always been the most important thing. So as long as I follow that, we'll follow his lead, and that should be good. 

“It was important to help them continue their journey. Stone Temple Pilots is a huge part of who they are. So I just feel honoured to be able to be the one that's helping them continue that.”

-Jeff Gutt

If it's even possible to put into words, what is it like to play in a band that you are a fan of - one that you listened to growing up and all that?

 It's a trip. Every now and then before I walk out, it'll dawn on me and they’ll look at me and be like “what's up?” And I’ll be like “… I’m in Stone Temple Pilots, holy shit.” And then we walk out and we do the show. It definitely hits me right before we walk out on stage a lot. 

How did you initially deal with all the pressures of joining a well-known and established band?

It started off so slowly with the audition process and along the getting to know each other phase that it really didn't feel like any pressure. And you know, no one really knew what was going on: I moved to L.A. quit my band and lots of other stuff. It was more the pressure of performing once it was out and once everyone knew, which was a year and a half after it all started. So I didn't feel like pressure. I've always played in bands, I've always written and recorded records, as well as perform live. So this is it is just a different level but it started on such a personal level with the guys and it was like that for a while. 

I think it's really cool that you’re helping continue the story of the band. At this point, I think any sort of comparisons to the past don’t really matter. I think it's really cool when artists have had a decade-spanning or multi decade-spanning career and they decide “you know what? Let's keep making music and keep playing the songs that we love.” With that being said, what do you kind of hope to add to the legacy of Stone Temple Pilots?

I started off as a fan first obviously, like everyone else. So it was important for us to help them continue their journey. Stone Temple Pilots is a huge part of who they are. So I just feel honoured to be able to be the one that's helping them continue that. I take that very seriously. It's about honouring Scott and Chester [Bennington] and the guys who are still here. It's celebrating that music with them that everyone comes to see because that's what it's all about.