We’re on the home stretch now – Under The Southern Stars kicks off THIS FRIDAY!
Featuring the likes of headliners Cheap Trick, Bush and Stone Temple Pilots, the ill-fated tour has been postponed and pushed back more times than one can remember – but here we are on the verge of the first international tour bringing us back to a post-COVID normal and we can’t wait to get amongst it.
We had the chance to sit down (virtually) and have a chat with Stone Temple Pilots frontman Jeff Gutt to guage his thoughts about FINALLY making it back down under after all this time and to look back at his past, present and future with the band. This is how it went…
Hey Jeff, welcome to Wall Of Sound my friend, great to finally chat with you.
How are you doing Andrew, it’s great to be speaking with you too.
Finally, we have Stone Temple Pilots on their way down under for the Under The Southern Stars tour after how many false starts?
Yes finally, gee I don’t know three maybe four false starts, I don’t know exactly, but it has been a few (laughs)
I can tell you right now Jeff, this has been one of my most anticipated tours since its announcement. Stone Temple Pilots have always been one of the biggest draw cards for these shows and can I say I am absolutely blown away with the job you do fronting the band. I honestly don’t think there is a better fit for the band.
Thank you, I appreciate that man.
Although your first outing in Nu-Metal band Dry Cell launched your career, you first got your name in American households by performing on not one, but two seasons of the X-Factor. How much of a game changer was that whole experience and exposure for you?
That lead my life in such a different, one that I am so grateful for in so many ways. Before I did that, I had already had record deals on major labels in the early 2000’s with my band that I was in called Dry Cell. Through Dry Cell is how I knew Chester Bennington and our connection was because the guy who signed us also signed Linkin Park.
Dry Cell had fallen apart, and I had become very jaded by the industry and everything that musicians go through in their career. At the time I had a kid, and I was showing him music at around the age he started walking. I started showing him the things that I started off listening to, stuff like Simon and Garfunkel, James Taylor, The Carpenters, so many things that had made me fall in love with music. I put my anger aside and came to the realisation that its about music and a love of music. No matter what had happened to me they couldn’t take that music from me. I came to the realisation I had been out of it for a while, and it was time to throw my hat back into the ring.
So, I gave it a shot and wanted to see if I could make an impact as a singer and do it vocally. It was funny, I took the mindset that I’m gonna stand in this line, stand by my own talents and see if I could do it and see what happens. I walk into the first booth and one of the guys says “You’re Jeff from Dry Cell”, you are through to the next round. I’m like “This isn’t why I’m here man, I’m here to do it on my own” (laughs). It was pretty funny that the guy knew who I was, especially when it’s the first thing I walked into.
With you joining Stone Temple Pilots in 2017, I had heard a rumour and forgive me if it’s not true that you played your first live show with the band the day you signed on?
No that’s not true, that day they called me into the office and asked me if I wanted the job, so I know for sure we didn’t play on that day. We did have so many private things that we did for the industry and family just to see how it all fit together and came across. But none of those were on that day.
Having only heard you on the Stone Temple Pilots and Perdida albums; I scoured the internet to check out live footage of the band since you have joined them has been an absolute treat. I just love the very essence of what you bring to the band. How tough was it for you to walk into the shoes of those before you in of the now departed Scott Weiland and Chester Bennington?
Well; I try not to think about it like that too much. I have so much respect for Scott and the year I put down the guitar was the year that Core and a lot of other records came out. That was the year I started concentrating on how to be a singer and what it meant to be a singer, so there were a lot of great influences during that time and Scott was one of them. I have a lot of love for Scott and Chester too; Chester I knew personally.
I try to think of it as going in and making songs with these guys who are just so incredibly talented. That takes a lot of pressure off my plate and at the end of the day if we can make something that we are proud of that is all that really matters.
The most recent Stone Temple Pilots album ‘Perdida’ was just an immaculate outing. One that saw the band grow and added another fresh element to the band and its catalogue. How involved were you in the writing process of that album?
When started writing it Robert and Dean would come in with a lot of ideas some of them were songs that were pretty much finished, some songs would just be bare bones and ideas, it just depended on the song. We were on tour up in Canada during the winter and due to the weather, we spent a lot of down time in basements, these cement walled, no windowed hockey arena dressing rooms and we would just bring out acoustic guitars and write about what everyone was going through in life at the time. It felt like a yearning to really write about what we and everyone could relate to. A lot of it was us hashing it out, or maybe Robert coming in with an idea that was a little more finished. Dean has his ideas, sometimes he would have a melody or just a title for a song and I would have to wing it from there, the songs all came to be from different ways (laughs).
2018 saw your first album with the band simply called Stone Temple Pilots and then you followed that up with Perdida in 2020. Covid hit the world smack bang in the middle of it all which obviously made the momentum that you had worked so hard to build just disappear. Touring became harder with only a handful of shows in late 2020 and then you managed a fall tour in 2021. How did touring look during Covid?
Yeah (laughs) it certainly changed things. It was good to get a couple of weeks run, going out with all the different protocols. There are new ways of doing things that have got to be safe and try and keep everyone else safe going from city to city. Things had to be done differently, so we learned some hard lessons and did some things that were good. I was incredible just being able to get out there and gain the knowledge that we needed to be able to get out there and do it. It was important to be able to do that especially with going out to different countries, implementing our plan, how we handle things, we wanted to be sure that we had a good grasp on it and be responsible in what we were doing.
The Under The Southern Stars run of show is a ground breaker as it’s the first time in two years that we have seen international artists visit Australia for a nation-wide tour. The shows are certainly a great way to celebrate what we have been missing so much in live music. How strict and tight will the bubble have to be that you do the tour under because you are out here for quite a while?
I feel its more the restrictions we put on ourselves, we know there are things that we shouldn’t be out doing too many things around too many people. It goes for everyone the tour managers, the guys that tune our guitars because we are all one travelling group. As long as we implement everything that we know and have learned from what we did here during that couple of weeks last year everything will be alright.
On the bill with you are Cheap Trick, Bush, Black Rebel Motocycle Club and Australia’s own Rose Tattoo and Electric Mary. How familiar are you with the Australian bands on the bill?
I am a little familiar with Rose Tattoo, I don’t know them personally, but I do know they have had a lot of influence on a lot of American bands as well. I am excited to get out and see some people that have done it for a while. I am eager to check out the ones that I don’t know, as a musician its hard not to be a fan of music, I am just one of the lucky ones that got to swap over to the other side (laughs).
We can’t ignore the other international bands on the tour Cheap Trick and Bush. Both heavy hitters in their own rights. Were either of these band influential on you as a singer, songwriter, and performer?
I grew up listening to Cheap Trick, when I was younger, and we would get together with the guys we would always end up playing something by Cheap Trick. They are one of those bands that everyone knew how to play or jam on. They are hugely influential in my upbringing and musical journey. I have never met the or spoke to them, so on this tour I am finally going to be able to meet some heroes of mine.
The Bush guys are great, we toured with them a few times and there is certainly a lot of comraderies between us, I am just looking forward to getting out there and seeing how it goes.
What can we expect from the Stone Temple Pilots set list?
We only have an hour, so we will fit as many in there as we can. We usually try to have more than one set list so we aren’t doing the same thing every night. Rehearsals start here pretty soon so we will be hashing and figuring those out. Maybe we will have a couple of little hidden surprises in there for you all. I really don’t know myself at this stage so if you hear anything before me, please let me know (laughs).
Looking at setlists from the shows over the last couple of years, the set is heavily filled with the hits and that is to be expected. Might we be treated to something from Perdida?
The Perdida record has a different kind of vibe and requires more of an acoustic setting. It requires extra musicians and is something we were getting ready to take on the road as something completely different; but as you know Covid has different plans for us. It’s something we do hope to visit. But rest assured the catalogue is so long and good. We could pick all B-sides and it would still be a great show.
‘Crackerman’ which has featured heavily in and usually closes out most of the shows is possibly my all-time favourite Stone Temple Pilots song. Do you have a favourite song to sing/perform?
You know what, and this is the honest truth, it changes all the time. We do songs and we do them over and over again, so certain songs just stick and you completely get the whole vibe of the song. I tend to be a big fan of Core, but when we do some of the B-sides, I really love ‘Glide’, ‘Still Remains’ is great. The heavier stuff off Core is what originally made me a fan of STP. It’s those songs that really brings it home for me, holy shit I’m in Stone Temple Pilots (laughs). There are a lot of songs from the back catalogue like Interstate Love Song when it dawns on me just how incredible the STP songs are as a whole and how deep the catalogue is.
The song from Core like ‘Wicked Garden’, I love that song, ‘Crackerman’ as you mentioned, ‘Dead and Bloated’ I love because they just get such an incredible reaction from the audience. Once those song start there is an energy that comes back from people that just takes me to another place, I get that adrenaline hit of let’s do this. But I can’t just lock one down as it changes all the time. Ask me again at the end of the tour (laughs).
Your delivery and performance of the classic Stone Temple Pilots tracks through what I have seen and read in comments is nothing short of exceptional. There have been many comments that praise you for the way you almost channel Scott Weiland. Is that something that is intentional or is it something that you feel?
I think that comes from just remembering. There is a certain vibe that just comes from STP, a certain freedom, it’s a no fear kind of thing that I got most from Scott. It’s the pure no fear attitude. Most of how I move and perform on stage is accidental, the songs just make you feel a certain way. It is more of that than anything because I’m not really thinking about anything else but the song when I am up there. The brain is completely empty when it comes to performing, it is all driven by the feeling and the moment (laughs).
Originally being a guitar player, how did you make the switch for becoming a singer/front man and what made you change?
You know I never wanted to be the centre of attention, I always wanted to be the guy on the side that wrote the songs, sang backups, and collected all the money I guess (laughs). But it doesn’t really work out that way because it was really hard to find a singer when I was looking for one for my own bands. Mind you I was still in high school at the time and quite green myself. I changed my direction, and it was one of those things where I really had to study my craft, I really had to dig deep and get into a lot of things. There is just so much there to figure out and learn. You learn what is and what isn’t for you is a big part of figuring things out for yourself.
What is your take on how Stone Temple Pilots got thrown into the whole grunge movement? For me band like Stone Temple Pilots and Alice In Chains were an extension of where rock music was headed.
I think it was more of the timing, where everything in 1992 started to shift. Before that there was a lot of hair metal and a lot of that I wouldn’t call pop music, but it was music about partying. The songs that came out at this time became more about the pain and truth in things. There was a realistic attitude towards music that wasn’t there before and Stone Temple Pilots wrote songs about that so by default I think that is why they got lumped in with the whole grunge movement.
I was a huge fan of Alice In Chains at that time too and Layne Staley was just incredible. I remember at that time I would ride my bike to the guy who played drums with me at the time, and we would sit round and watch the Live Facelift video in awe. I have such fond memories of the music at that time.
Jeff we are out of time, we could talk for ages. Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us. Have you got any final words or anything you want to say to the Australian Stone Temple Pilots fans?
God yes, come one come all, we are doing this thing. It’s going down, so get on your dancing shoes and your party hats, especially those ones that hold the beer cans with the lines down to your mouth. Rest assured we are going to do it right; we will see you out there. Thank you, Andrew and be sure to come and say Hi! See you soon Australia.
Interview by Andrew Slaidins.
Under The Southern Stars Tour kicks off March 11
Details and Ticketing here
Under The Southern Stars 2022
Fri, March 11: Maitland Showground, Maitland, NSW
Sat, March 12: Foreshore Reserve, Hastings, VIC
Sun, March 13: JC Lowe Oval, Yarrawonga, VIC
Wed, March 16: Margaret Court Arena, Melbourne, VIC
Fri, March 18: Bonython Park, Adelaide, SA
Sat, March 19: Bonython Park, Adelaide, SA
Sun, March 20: Bonython Park, Adelaide, SA
Tues, March 22: WIN Entertainment Centre, Wollongong, NSW
Wed, March 23: Quodos Bank Arena, Sydney, NSW
Fri, March 25: Kings Beach Ampitheatre, Caloundra, QLD
Sat, March 26: Southport Sharks, Gold Coast, QLD
Sun, March 27: Riverstage, Brisbane, QLD
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