Well folks, it looks like it's really, really official: Scott Weiland is out as frontman for Stone Temple Pilots, and Linkin Park's Chester Bennington is in - at least that's the story for publication. You will recall that back in February, the band issued a directive announcing their decision to terminate Weiland, citing a myriad of concerns, including substance abuse issues and erratic performances during tours.
When STP guitarist Dean DeLeo caught a Linkin Park show on tv this Spring, he was taken aback by Bennington bounding about the stage, in a Stone Temple Pilots t-shirt. DeLeo was impressed not only with Bennington's pipes, but it ignited a spark in him to want to hit the studio with bandmates Eric Kretz (drums) and brother Rob DeLeo (bass). The band approached Bennington about taking over the reins - something Bennington apparently had prophetic dreams of becoming true. After the details became finalized, Bennington released a statement of his own, saying in part: "Every band has its own kind of vibe. Stone Temple Pilots has this sexier, more classic rock feel to it. Linkin Park is a very modern, very tech-heavy type of band. I grew up listening to these guys. When this opportunity came up, it was just like a no-brainer."
The newly-formed incarnation of STP made it's live debut at KROQ's annual Weenie Roast in early May, performing hits from the STP catalog, and debuted the single "Out of Time" - a collaboration by all four members. Announcements were also made to the press that the Bennington-helmed STP will be releasing an EP including "Out of Time" in the fall, embarking on a North American tour in support. Meanwhile, Weiland has been on tour with his group The Wildabouts - his Purple At The Core tour (featuring tracks from STP's first two releases) has not sat well with Kretz and the DeLeos, who have filed suit against Weiland to cease and desist playing any Stone Temple Pilots songs live.
In response, Weiland has filed a countersuit against his former bandmates citing collusion, and is seeking more that $5,000,000 in damages. But the question lingering in my mind is, will this work out logistically? After all, Bennington is still committed to his band Linkin Park, who are in the midst of their own tour, and working on the follow-up to 2012's mostly filler release Living Things. Not that it's an impossible balancing act, but let's get real - can you really be fully committed to the demands of leading two rock bands without someone getting the short shrift eventually? Time will tell.
Speaking of which, if you haven't checked it out already, "Out of Time" is available as a free download on the STP website. I've heard it, and I am of two minds about it: on one hand, it does have the signature guitar/bass attack the DeLeos have made their hallmark, and Bennington's wail has some things in common with Weiland. But Chester's voice, while recognizable in its own right, is not Scott's, and musically it seems to draw upon the STP of old.....way old. Core-era old. While Linkin Park has gone from aggressive metal to power ballads, I'm not so sure Bennington could pull off the psychedelia of songs like "Hello It's Late" and "Lady Picture Show", or the glam rock of "Hickory Dichotomy" and "Glide."
And what do fans and followers of STP think of this lineup? Well, if social networks are any indication, the reviews are certainly mixed. Linkin Park fans seem less critical, but like me, wonder how Bennington can pull off both bands. STP fans however, are generally showing their solidarity with Weiland - a typical Tweet concerning the move: "Chester Bennington new Stone Temple Pilots vocalist? thanks but no thanks!" So, what do you think? Good strategy or a well-intentioned disaster waiting to unfold?