Right Band, Wrong Time

It’s funny how things always come back on the Internet. I guess it’s a function of there being thousands of websites seeking page views that makes every trend, fad, or other pop culture moment/icon get a second or third look.

For example, I’ve read three long article in recent weeks about Don Johnson, who is apparently a thing again. If you were a fan of him in his Miami Vice days, I suggest hunting down some of the articles. He’s had an interesting life.1

Anyway, now articles are popping up taking another look at Stone Temple Pilots. To hipsters, who were children in STP’s heyday, it’s become popular to shout “Not only were they unappreciated, they were better than Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, or Soundgarden!”

Hmmmm…

That might be pushing it.

Thanks to this buzz, Steven Hyden brought up the piece he wrote over six years ago singing the band’s praises. I like the view he takes. Basically, STP came along at the wrong time. It wasn’t cool to be a “cool” band in the early 90s. A few years earlier, or a few years later, Hyden argues, they would have been huge. But they came along when dour introspection was in.

There ought to be some things all rock ‘n’ roll fans–no matter what subgenre or trend you’re currently aligned with–can agree on: Mixing Black Sabbath with The Beatles and glam-era Bowie is good. Big, dumb drums are good. Bombast, if it’s catchy and melodic, is good. If we can agree on these things, can we all finally agree that Stone Temple Pilots are awesome?

Stone Temple Pilots: They’re actually good! (Really!)

I like his view. But I’ll argue with it just a touch. I think what really held STP back was that there was never an immediately recognizable STP sound. On Core, they bounced between sounding like Pearl Jam and Nirvana and Alice in Chains. On Purple, the influences were even wider. There was brilliance, and balls, in how ambitious they were combining hair metal and melodic pop and everything in between. At the same time, though, when you finished listening to an STP album, you were never left with the sense that you had listened to a band that had worked hard to carve out their own niche in the rock world.

That said, their first two albums have aged pretty well. I just listened to Purple the other night and it sounded awfully good. When they rocked, they fucking rocked. Scott Weiland was as charismatic a front man as you could find in the early 90s. The DeLeo brothers were a fierce creative duo that wrote some amazing music.

Stone Temple Pilots didn’t mean as much to me as Pearl Jam. But I still spent a lot of time listening to them while waiting for the next PJ album. That was never time wasted.


  1. He also makes up a third of the fine group of actors who attended but did not graduate from the University of Kansas. Mandy Patinkin and Paul Rudd being the other two. Sorry, Scott Bakula. You graduated so you miss the list. I’ll pretend Rob Riggle went to Baker.