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Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2009

Scott Weiland’s Busy Year

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Scott Weiland toured a lot in the last year-too much, by his own account. The singer started 2008 on the road with Velvet Revolver, his band with three Guns N' Roses vets. When that tour turned sour, ending with Weiland's acrimonious (and inevitable) departure from the group, he immediately rejoined his former Stone Temple Pilots band mates for a six-month reunion tour.

"It was cool," Weiland says, "but we ended up touring longer than we should have. It was supposed to be four months, and the first four months were a lot of fun. But I think six months was a bit much when you're just doing a set of all covers-well, not covers, but old hits, back-catalog material. It's always more fun playing when you have new material."

Stone Temple Pilots have begun writing that new material, though it could be a while until they release anything, thanks to a nasty legal challenge from the group's former-and possibly present-label, Atlantic, which Weiland has no intentions of working with. "It's a different label from the one we signed to," he says. "The name is the same, but the people are different."

In the meantime, Weiland is touring yet again, this time behind his second solo album, "Happy" In Galoshes, which he issued on his own label. It's a testament to the perks of self-releasing that Weiland was able to put out "Happy" in the form he wanted, as a double-album. It's also a testament to the limitations of self-releasing that the public has no idea that Weiland put out a new album.

While recent solo albums by fellow grunge vets Chris Cornell and Gavin Rossdale were promoted with bountiful major-label budgets, "Happy" has withered below the radar-which must sting, since unlike Cornell and Rossdale's albums, Weiland's is actually pretty good.

The Steve Albini-produced first four tracks in particular kick with glam-rock glee, as Weiland channels his inner David Bowie. Though the quotation marks in the album's title loudly trumpet its facetiousness-the songs were recorded under decidedly non-happy circumstances: Weiland's divorce and the drug-overdose death of his brother-Weiland really does seem to be having a good time.
It took Weiland 10 years to follow up his first solo album, 12 Bar Blues, but if all goes according to plan it won't take nearly as long to follow this one up.

"In a band it's easy to start to feel boxed in creatively," Weiland explains. "It can be frustrating, because bands are very much democracy. Everyone has input and gets their ideas across, and that can be the beauty of it, but it can also be frustrating … So solo is more where I see myself going in the future. I've got my own studio, and that affords me the luxury of just going in and writing songs whenever I want, and just kind of experimenting sonically, letting me explore different musical styles."

His ultimate goal, though, is just to spend less time on the road.

"The reason why I'm doing the solo stuff and the reason why I have a record company and am signing other artists, and am in the works of launching a clothing line, is because I want to subsidize my income so I can stay at home more with my kids," Weiland says. "I'm in my early 40s now, and being on tour so much really does get tiring."

Scott Weiland plays the Pabst Theater on Friday, Jan. 30. Expect a mix of solo material and Stone Temple Pilots songs.

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