Friday, December 04, 2015

a history with Weiland

We learned last night that Weiland has died.  I remembered this piece I wrote about his troubles recently.  I thought I wrote this a few months ago, but I wrote it a few years ago.  Sadly, the piece is evergreen.  Talking about his endless band and drug dramas.  I could have written this ten years ago, and I could have written it two days ago.

*** update below 5.25.2013

This feels like a repeat.  Stone Temple Pilots announced on Monday that they had
fired Weiland (again).  This was news to Weiland, who took to the press to announce he was not fired.  Then, he kinda acknowledged that he wasn't exactly in touch with the band.  Then, a day later Weiland announced this was a publicity ploy by the band to sell tickets.  Again, he then had to acknowledge he hadn't exactly talked to anyone in the band.

As of this writing, this is all we know.  Odds are, early next week, he will pull the 'you can't fire me, I quit!' 
(editors note: he did just that!) Scott Weiland made a very salient point, though, when the associated press told him he was fired.  He explained "How can they fire me?  It's my band! I started it, I named it, I wrote those songs."   Fair point.  That only illuminates how incredibly difficult he is to deal with.

Look at the past.  He was in STP until they got tired of his drugging and drinking and getting arrested.  Odds are that he was also uninsurable to tour.  So, they fired him.

Then, he joined Slash' Velvet Revolver until they got tired of his drugging and drinking and getting arrested.  Odds are that he was also uninsurable to tour.  So, they fired him.  Here is the thing, man.  When Slash says "you have a problem with drinking and drugs" you listen to that shit.  He knows.  When Slash says 'dude, that isn't safe' it means you are possibly already dead.  This reminds me of when the Allmans' fired Dickey for being a drunk.  Slash knows when you have a drug problem, he kinda pioneered it (with all regards to Keith Richards, and every other doped out rock star).

So, he went back to STP until they got tired of his drugging and drinking and getting arrested.  Odds are that he was also uninsurable to tour.  So, they fired him.  Again.  Again.

So, is he the worst?  How does anyone hire him?  How is he not just sleeping behind a dumpster in Hollywood?  I will tell you why.  He is a great rock star, on every level.  Being a dick is nearly a prereq for being a rock star.  Weiland has that in spades.  He is also a great front man and a very good singer.  Years and years ago, literally about 6 arrests ago, I saw STP live.  I was not really a fan.  I just knew a couple of songs.  My buddy Tim had a free ticket for me, so why the hell not.  I left a major bonafied STP fan after that show.  They killed that night.

Also, their music is great.  Not good, but great.  Purple and Tiny Music are just terrific records.  During this period, it's important to note STP was outselling Nirvana.  I can only imagine they are just waiting for him to kill himself, knowing it is inevitable.  Think of what that must be like for the guys in the band.  Think of the Doors, or Blind Melon... who just knew it was a matter of time for their singer.  When Jerry Garcia finally passed, the only mystery was how he lasted that long.  Mickey Hart's heartbreaking response to hearing about Jerry's passing was "now I don't have to wait for that call anymore."  He was saying that every night for the last 30 years he was expecting that news.  It's the only way I can imagine STP firing their meal ticket.  I mean, there are ways around hating your lead singer.  Van Halen toured in completely separate jets.  Same with Motley Crue.  They each have their own tour bus, and the only time they interact with each other is that 90 minutes on stage.

Of course, it is also worth noting both those bands have fired their lead singers... and then took them back... just like STP.  It's a shame.  He can't be replaced in the band***.  This just means the end of STP, and that is a bummer.  They are a great band, and that isn't just a nostalgia trip.  Well, maybe it is.  I have a scary feeling he is about to turn up dead.  He has a long history with heroin, and has never been good at hiding it.  His arrest record is extraordinary.  Click
 here, and then here and then here.  You get the idea.  Good luck, Scotty.  Stay with us, man.  clean up, and go apologize to the DeLeos.  In the meantime, he is going on my dead pool list.

*** update 5.25.2013

Ok, we know what happened now, and we know it's official.  The band is touring without him.  So, what happened?  Well, here is a teaser.  It is 100% Weiland's fault.  The band wanted to tour.  The band needed to tour.  Odds are, they needed money to pay mortgages.  There is no money in rock.  There are jets, drugs, tons of pussy (sorry ladies, just using the vernacular), thousands of screaming fans... but no money.

The band wanted to tour and Weiland said no.  Why?  Well, he actually made a really salient point.  He didn't want to water down the brand and overexpose the band.

Like I said, solid point.  So, what does he do to ensure STP does not get overexposed?  He took his own band out on tour and plays nothing but STP hits.  Let's look at this again, because it is so fucked up it is comical.  Band says "Scotty, let's tour!"  Weiland says "bad idea, gents.  People are sick of us, or will be soon.  Can't help you."  Then, they find out he just took off on his own tour playing their songs... without them.

While they were sitting at home waiting for him to tour with them so they could play their songs. Songs and gigs they won't get paid for, but Weiland did.  I can only imagine when STP tour they split the cash four ways equally.  If Weiland hires the band as his employees, he keeps 80% of the cash.  It is safe to assume he is super broke, as he literally has more arrests than all the sex pistols had combined.

Also note that the band now can't tour because they don't have their singer, and touring 2 different STP bands really would dilute the brand and confuse the fans.
See the problem here?  This is why the band had no choice but to fire him, and I find Weiland 100% of the problem.

As you likely know, after they fired him, Weiland denied it was possible to be fired.  He literally said "you can't fire me, this is my band."  It is important to note he made this statement from the road while on tour with his personal band singing all of his old band's songs.  

So, the rest of the band just starting doing shows with a new singer.  I love STP, and I don't find them any good with any other singer.  However, I applaud their move.  Weiland is a fuck face, and STP are on tour without him... just like he did without them.  Guess what, he got all pissed.  He said "how can you tour on our songs without me?"  Well, Scotty, the exact same way you did this to them. I have not heard any comments about him regarding his replacement, but odds are he is pretty pissed and embarrassed.  I can only predict the next public words out of his mouth will be "you can't fire me, I quit!"

**** update update >

in the interest of full disclosure, I saw them live years ago.  I got a free ticket from my roommate who worked in the radio business.  I was only a casual fan at best, but hey free is free.  I was bowled over by how amazing their concert was.  Absolutely one of my favorite rock shows of all time.  So, that is why you have 2,000 words on Weiland here.  This is my coping mechanism.

*** oh, and then there is

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Scott Weiland is gone

It's late, and I was just heading to bed.  Got word Scott Weiland is dead.  So sad, but sadly not a surprise at all.  I think we are all just wondering how he made it past 27.  I am a BIG fan of STP.  Have seen them live, and my band covers two of their songs.
before I run off to bed, here are some writings I have done about him in the last couple of years.

This first one was my big piece, just trying to figure out what to do with him.  See, he told STP he didn't want to tour, and didn't want to saturate the market with STP songs.  While doing this, he was touring with his personal band doing only STP covers.  Of course, they fired his ass.

What to do with Weiland

He is, or was, a great talent.  He was also a terrific singer, and an even better rock star.  He was nuts... a dangerous wildcard. Sadly, he was also a colossal fuck up.  I mean, when Slash kicks you out of a band for doing too much drugs... you best take stock, man!

I got to see them (STP) live many, many years ago (20-ish).  I was a passing fan, at best.  My roomate had free tix to see them in Phx, though.  They rocked my world, and made me a big fan ever since.

You can, and will, youtube all you want... but here is my favorite STP song, in a big way. ***

Well, Scotty, good luck wherever you are, my friend.  enjoy the galoshes

side note, and something I haven't noticed until tonight... my god this guy photographs well!  I don't know if he always just got the camera, or if he was stupid handsome... but come on!

*** that video was a BIG bag of WTF... but the song is so good it doesn't make a difference.  I mean... go ahead and analyze that video.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Bob Dylan, the Cutting Edge - Bootleg Series vol 12

I foretold this release, in a weird but perfect way.  A year ago, they released a ‘Bootleg’ series for Dylan’s ‘Basement Tape’ years.  I thought it would be many things, it was none of them.  Here is what I wrote about a year ago regarding the ‘Basement Tapes’ release.

It turns out there was a great collection that showed a fun and loose and peaking Bob Dylan.  It wasn't this, though.  It was this newest one, the 'Cutting Edge'.  Here is what is also crazy, the era is only a year or two apart between these two box sets.  Even weirder, a year after that, he would be singing like this.  That was weird, and I still can't piece it together. 

YET… they just released another set of the ‘Bootleg’ series.. and it is all those things I thought that last set would be.  This is the behind the scenes of an insanely productive era for Dylan around 1965 where he knocked out ‘Freewheeling Bob Dylan’, ‘Another Side of Bob Dylan’, and ‘Blonde on Blonde’ (that latter is a double album in itself).  I can’t think of a more productive time for any musician in any era.  Also, it’s all fucking really great music.
This is not a set for a casual fan, none of these are.  If you think Bob Dylan is just pretty great, you don’t need hours of outtakes.  Ask my wife, who is ready to start hiding my 16 cd’s worth of ‘bootleg’ series collections.

I don't have a thought-through piece here.  Just some observations I want to hit.
Here is what I learned with this new set ‘ the Cutting Edge’

Just as we suspected, his titles are complete nonsense, and have nothing to do with anything.  You can hear him riffing on titles throughout, and always with a laugh
He has much more singing control than I ever thought.  You know how people like to mock Dylan for that over annunciation, Tom Petty-esque nasally ‘jeezzz I can’t find mah knnneeeeez’***.  It isn’t really how he sings.  In these demos, he very rarely goes ‘full Dylan’ on the vocals.  As if he is just laying down the melody for the band, and doesn’t want to waste his voice

The songs were far from fully formed in his head.  When he came in and started working the songs, they were different keys, different speeds, and with different lyrics.  Most singers and bands hash all this out long before the studio.  Dylan was in a unique position of control that he could build these songs right in the studio.

His musical sense is as impeccable as I thought.  I can’t think of a single outtake or alternate version that was better than the studio version that finally got out.  I listen to a LOT of bootlegs, across all genres and across all platforms.  Often, it seems the final version that a band released was a coin toss against an alternate version.

Bob recorded in real time with a very large band.  This is unheard of.  No one does that, except the Beatles.  When Dylan was recording, everyone was in the same room playing together at the same time, and everyone was being recorded.  That simply is not how recording is done… ever.  In the studio, you always lay down each instrument and vocal separately.  The reason is so you can individually cut tracks, edit tracks, or adjust volume.  If the bass player gets fired a week after the album was done… no worries.  Just bring in the new guy and have him record the songs… you punch him in after the fact.  The rest of the band doesn’t even have to be there.

This is a bold trust Dylan had in his musicians.  When you record this way, the music from other instruments bleed into each other’s feeds.  The practical concern for this is if you decide after the session that you want to cut the organ out… you kinda can’t.  Because, you can now hear the organ on the vocal track, the mic’d drums, and maybe even in the microphone popped up against the guitar amplifier.  It’s smart, though.  Dylan was, not surprisingly, right.  When everyone plays together, you really get a ‘feel’, a ‘vibe’.

I was surprised how really not great initial recordings of iconic songs are.  Take ‘I want you’, or ‘Just like a Woman’.  I regard both as perfect, perfect songs.  In hearing the demos and alternates, they didn’t start out good at all.  Not even a little.  Normally, I can hear a kernel of genius in a demo.. that just needed to be coaxed out.  If you played me these two songs as they were demos, I would have told you to throw them both out.  

I learned that tempo is EVERYTHING, at least with Dylan songs.  Some of his slow and brooding perfect monstrosities become dismissive at a quicker pace.  An example of this would be ‘visions of Johanna’.  Originally, it was quicker.  I thought maybe that would be better.  The slow version is really slow, and goes on forever.  Literally… forever.  Most Dylan songs around this time were 6 to 10 verses each.  The average pop song was, and still is, 3 verses.  No more, no less.  Queen Jane, and Visions of Johanna need to simmer.  They get all their power from that simmer.  I can’t help but wonder how that treatment would have helped ‘Maggie’s Farm’.  Sure, it’s a good song with great lyrics… but maybe if they went all ‘Blonde on Blonde’ on that song, it could be an iconic memory as well.

Lastly, I see great trust Dylan had in his musicians.  You get to here Desolation Row without the amazing acoustic guitar work, and perfect guitar intro.  That should be a plus, right?  Get rid of the frills and give me just pure Dylan.  Nope, the songs falls a bit flat without it.  An even better example is ‘Positively 4th St’.  This is currently my favorite Dylan tune by a mile.  It has been for about 6 months now.  It was the single song I was most looking forward in this set.  It is here, but without the overbearing and deafening keyboards.  Those keyboards weren’t Dylan, Dylan is a piano guy.  It is rare, if ever, that I declare a song needs more organ.  Positively 4th st, without
Al Kooper just going apeshit on the organ… is just ok.

Most, if not all, of these musicians outshine Dylan in capability.  An insecure star wouldn’t surround himself with guys who are all way better.  Look at Little Richard.  Before Jimi Hendrix was famous, he was a side man for Little Richard.  Hendrix was great, and people started to notice.  So, Little Richard fired his ass.  There was room for one star on stage, and that is for the star.  Most stars feel that way.  Dylan knew enough to surround himself with more talented people, and it would up his game.  What’s the phrase?  ‘A rising tide lifts all boats’

**** that is an actual Dylan lyric