Stone Temple Pilots arrived on the Southern California music scene in the early ’90s. Their debut record, Core, was filled with distorted guitars playing heavy riffs amid thundering drums and singer Scott Weiland’s howling dark lyrics. For these reasons, the band was instantly labeled as part of the grunge movement associated with the US Northwest. Critics derided what they saw as the band’s attempt to adopt the sound and style of their musical contemporaries while audiences loved them for their instantly classic hard rock hits. The band worked to shake off these comparisons and began crafting records that distinguished themselves as unique songwriters and musicians. Their follow-up album, 1994’s Purple, honed their rock and pop foundation while their third record, 1997’s Tiny Music: Songs from the Vatican Gift Shop, delved into jazz and psychedelia, resulting in their most adventurous album yet.
Despite the band’s success, Stone Temple Pilots battled not only with critics but also Scott Weiland’s drug use. Suffering from a debilitating addiction that frequently resulted in canceled shows and even jail time for the singer, Weiland’s demons often seemed to stifle the band’s momentum. In 1999, the band regrouped after a brief hiatus and had a period of relative stability where they were able to write, record, and tour steadily, overcoming the turmoil of the last several years and hitting a creative stride. This industrious era peaked with 2001’s Shangri-La Dee Da, a record as diverse as Tiny Music and at times as heavy as Core, exemplified by songs like “Long Way Home.”
According to Weiland, “Long Way Home” pays homage to one of their greatest influences, Led Zeppelin, with this huge, arena-ready track. The lyrics and Weiland’s delivery, desperate with a desire to run away while also to hide — possibly indicative of his own drug use and personal problems — makes for an uneasy end to the record. The song continues on into the unknown, fading out slowly during one of guitarist Dean DeLeo’s best solos, as did the band, who would face more setbacks and tragedy, but still continue on today.
Scott and Jason are both huge fans of Stone Temple Pilots. They discuss how Shangri-La Dee Da is one of their defining accomplishments despite not having the commercial success of its predecessors, meaning many fans probably missed out on “Long Way Home.” Scott discusses how the band deserves a place among the most esteemed icons of rock and Jason reflects on the deep connection he feels to the band’s music.