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September 1, 1993 - Co-Pilots
Thanks to: Daniel B. Levine
Published by: Guitar School
Last update: July 23, 2008 (1964 days ago)
"This has been an absolute dream," said Dean DeLeo in Guitar School's March '93 issue. "If it all ends tommorow, I wouldn't mind at all."
Well, 24 weeks on Billboard's Top 200 laters, the Stone Temple Pilots phenomena shows no sign of "ending." With a video in heavy rotation on MTV, their album slowly creeping up the radio charts, and a tour scheduled with underground giants Butthole Surfers and Firehose, Stone Temple Pilots should enjoy a long and deserved career.
Unknown to most, behind Stone Temple Pilots' success beats the hearts of two guitarists. Dean DeLeo wears the Les Paul in the band, but his brother and bassist Robert, is also a proficient six-stringer.
"Robert's an amazing guitar player," says Dean. "He comes up with amazing stuff." The intricate chord work of "Plush," STP's latest hit single, is some of that "stuff." Robert wrote it on acoustic guitar: "I sit around with an acoustic and wirte, but I really don't know what I'm playing," he says. "I just put my fingers in different places and come up with something that sounds good. Later, I find out what the actual chords are called."
Recently, we caught the brothers DeLeo as they took time off between tours. Here's what they had to say about music, success and life on the road:
GUITAR SCHOOL: Who was the first in the family to start playing guitar?
ROBERT DeLEO: Dean. Dean was the reason I started playing music, and he's my main influence. He was the originator.
DEAN DeLEO: I found this four-string tenor guitar in my garage and I was like, "Wow." I told my mom that I wanted to play guitar, so she got this guy to come by to give me lessons. He took one look at my four-string and said, "You can't do anything with that." So went out and bought a little $49.95 United acoustic off the wall of a local record shop. I learned some Dylan and Beatles, but when I heard kiss, it pushed me over the edge. I put the guitar away, and got a tennis racquet. I'd stand in front of the mirror with it and pretend I was Ace.
ROBERT: When Dean would go out with his friends, I'd go under his bed and grab his guitar. Later, when I'd hear him come up the driveway, I'd throw it back under the bed. [laughs]
DEAN: I'd be like, "Don't be playing my guitar, man." [laughs] Robert would figure out all this crazy stuff, even classical things, all bye ear.l
GS: How did you start playing together?
DEAN: I was playing in this East Coast copy-slash-original band. We'd do three sets a night-two sets of cover and one of originals. One day, the band just kind of broke up, but we still had a gig scheduled! So, I said, "Robert, play bass-we've got a gig next week!" [laughs] So Robert started playing bass.
ROBERT: They threw Geddy Lee at me.
DEAN: Geddy Lee, Tony Levin, Entwistle. We were doing a lot of cool covers-Rush, Who, Zeppelin, King Crimson.
GS: So, Robert, you gave up guitar?
ROBERT: I'm a tall, lanky fella, so the bass seemed a lot more comfortable to play. For me, guitar is to the bass like badminton is to tennis. [laughs]
GS: Did you start listening to many bass players?
ROBERT: It's only recently that I've gone back to appreciate players like James Jamerson, who, I think, was sent from another planet. To me, Motown is the perfect blend of great musicianship, great songs, and incredible vibe. I was also into slapping for a while. When I heard the Chili Peppers for the first time, I thought Flea's playing and attitude was over the top.
GS: What kind of bass do you play?
ROBERT: When I moved out here [to Los Angeles[ I didn't even have a bass, since the bass I used back East was borrowed. I started searching for my bass tone, and decided on a Stingray. I loved that bass, and the way it played.
DEAN: Yeah, that Stingray sounded great.
ROBERT: Too bad it was stolen. [laughs] I searched long and hard once again for a bass that sounds good and feels convertible. You see, instead of hair extensions, I have a strap extensions. [laughs] I like playing the bass low. I have a jazz bass now-it feels comfortable, and I like its midrange. I think the two-single coils sound really good.
GS: Do you write songs on the bass?
ROBERT: Sometimes, but when I do, they're usually Jaco Pastorius-type things. Like, "Wow! Listen to the bass!" Writing a song on the bass is kind of like, "Ready, set, go!"
GS: Do you take bass solos?
ROBERT: I think the band's the band. If I want to do a bass thing, I'll do it on my own. The only bass thing I'm really looking forward to doing is defining my tone a little more on the next album. When we recorded Core, I wasn't really sure what my tone was. Now that I've put my rig together, and found some basses that actually work, I can work a little more on my tone.
GS: Now that you're between tours, how's the band spending its downtime?
DEAN: We've been doing a ton of press, and we did some track, but we're also doing benefits. We did a pro-choice benefit, we're doing a benefit for Ronald McDonald house, and we did a benefit for AIDS. It's pretty rewarding.
GS: Do you think being in the spotlight puts a special responsibility on the band to be charitbable?
DEAN: No. It's a matter of doing what you believe in. I'm just happy we have the opportunity to do it.
GS: You've been doing tracks?
ROBERT: We just finished tracking a song last night called "Big Empty." It's more of a moody thing, but I think we can do a cool live version. Dean plays some really cool Dobro in it.
DEAN: There's a lot of different guitars on the song-different guitars for the verse, and different ones for the chorus. We also recorded a version of Zeppelin's "Dancing Days." You don't realize what a genius Jimmy Page is until you play his songs. We also did a song for "The Crow," the movie Bruce Lee's son was filming when he was shot.
GS: What was it like to work with [producer] Brendan O'Brien [Red Hot Chili Peppers, Slayer, Black Crowes]?
ROBERT: Brendan O'Brien is the kookiest kook in the world. We have the best time when we're in the studio with him. It's like the fountain of youth-I've gained three years on my life from laughing. Also, the guy's pitch and ear are incredible, and he's a great guitar player.
GS: Is he engineering?
ROBERT: No. We've got an engineer by the name of "Nicoli the Hungarian Fish Slapper." [laughs]
DEAN: His real name is Nick DiDia.
ROBERT: Everbody always talks about Brendan, but Nick is his right-hand man. He's also brother in "goofballs anonymous."
DEAN: We went to the studio, but I don't remember playing! All I can remember is laughing and holding my stomach.
GS: There were rumors that you were going to be on Lollapalooza.
DEAN: We didn't even get asked! We were really let down, because we would have loved to do that gig. So now we're on the "God-I'm-a-loosa" tour. [laughs] I'm only kidding. We're going out with the Butthole Surfers, and it's going to be a great tour. Basehead, Flaming Lips and Firehose are playing. We're going to try to give everyone a totally great show. We want to do a full-on summertime barbeque day. Most of the gigs are outside, so we're going to bring in tons of volleyball nets, burgers, weenies, vegie things for the vegetarians, beer trucks and fireworks. The whole thing will be called "Bar-B-Q-Mitzvah." The best part about the tour is that we're keeping ticket prices at 15 bucks. For 15 bucks you can come out, eat, catch four bands, and have a really good day.
GS: Are you guys thinking about the next album?
DEAN: If you said, "Hey, let's do another album tommorow," we'd call the tour off. Everyone in the band is very excited about recording, but the plan is to do this tour for the next couple months, do some festivals in Europe, tour Australia and Japan, then take some time off and record.
GS: Could you give us a hint what the next album will be like?
DEAN: We didn't do much production on Core, but I want the next one to sound even more raw.
ROBERT: I think the material will determine what we do, and I think the new material will be more versatile. The music industry always looks for the single, but that's a bunch of crap to me. I'd rather make a great album. That's what really counts.
GS: Dean, are you going to do more guitar solos on the next album? There's only three on Core.
DEAN: I'm going to try.
ROBERT: We just concentrated on writing the songs. Sometimes when it's presented wrong, a guitar solo goes over like a drum solo at Madison Square Garden-really passe. But Dean's soloing is incredible. He's got that Jeff Beck unsureness about his playing.
DEAN: I don't know the instrument so well, so I bend and twist a lot.
GS: What's the most trilling thing that's happened to you since your success?
DEAN: For me, the biggest thrill was this particular date on our club tour. One day we were going over our itinerary, and we saw that our next gig was in Omaha, at a place called the "Ranch Bowl." [laughs] We were going to blow it off, but when we pulled up, the place was like a mini-mall-it was huge. Under one roof they had 20 billiard tables, an arcade, a 30-40 lane bowling alley, a 1000-person capacity room with the most insane P.A., and a radio station. It was the best gig we ever had. We went on at 7:30 on a Saturday night, and then we got to bowl with the kids all night.
ROBERT: I'd have to say it was the last show of the Megadeth tour. During "Anarchy In The U.K.," the last song of Megadeth's encore, we ran on stage wearing only shaving cream, and jumped on the backs of Dave Mustaine and Marty Friedman-we sang along rolled, around on our backs, and acted retarted. You should have seen the looks on their faces. Marty almost fell over from laughing.
Actually, the most thrilling thing that's happened to me is that Gene Simmons now calls me at home. Every time he calls, I'm like, "Uh, uh. It's GENE SIMMONS!"
GUITAR: 1978 Les Paul Standard
PREAMP: Demeter Tri-model
AMP: 1991 VHT Classic
CABINETS: Marshall 4x12
SPEAKERS: 30-watt Celestions
EFFECTS: Rocktron Intelliverb processor
BASS: Sunset Custom/SChecter jazz bass
PREAMP: Sansamp, Alembic F1X
AMP: QSC MX1500 power amp
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