The powerhouse sound of Stone Temple Pilots hits the Buffalo Run Casino Showplace Tuesday, Sept. 18. New frontman Jeff Gut speaks to MNR about music, STP and his influences.
MIAMI – If you haven't heard Stone Temple Pilots’ new lead singer Jeff Gutt's stripped down version of the band's super hit “Plush,” Google it now and listen up.
Gutt's version does great justice to the Stone Temple Pilots’ mega-hit with late lead singer Scott Weiland's unforgettable vocals.
Since the band’s formation in 1989, the line up has changed three times. Weiland was fired from the band in 2013. The band’s second lead singer Chester Bennington left the band in 2015 leaving the Stone Temple Pilots once again without a lead singer. Bennington died in 2017.
Now the newest resurrection of Stone Temple Pilots, also known as STP by fans, with original members bassist Robert DeLeo, guitarist Dean DeLeo, drummer Eric Kretz and Gutt is receiving critical and fan acclaim for the new music on their self-titled Stone Temple Pilots March 2017 album and recent tours.
Gutt, 42, a 2012 and 2013 X-Factor competitor, joined the band in November of 2017 after an extensive search and audition process. By all accounts, Gutt has brought a new fearless energy to STP's music and stage presence.
The Stone Temple Pilots are set to give the concert crowd and STP fans a performance to remember at 7 p.m. this Tuesday, Sept. 18 at Buffalo Run Casino’s Peoria Showplace.
Gutt took a break last Friday night for an interview before the band set out on their next leg of their fall tour bringing them to Miami next week.
Melinda Stotts: Your vocals are pretty amazing – super depth, power and control. I know you’re also a talented guitarist, so how’d you discover you had this voice, tell me your story.
Jeff: “You know it was just through writing songs. I started really young writing music and writing songs. I never really wanted to be the lead singer when I was younger, I always wanted to be the guy who wrote the songs on the side. That center of attention thing wasn’t really what I wanted to do. But it was through doing that I was showing singers what to sing and then I was just like, well I should just do it, it’s easier. (laughs) That’s pretty much how it happened.”
MS: For the past couple of weeks I’ve been writing about Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Steve and Cassie Gaines who were from Miami.
MS: The loss of the Gaines and Ronnie Van Zant caused the band to have to rebuild without them. Similarly, Stone Temple Pilots has had a huge history to follow, what’s it like to be chosen to become part of the band’s next chapter?
Jeff: “The year I put the guitar down to concentrate on singing is the same year their first record came out. Along with other bands at that time, they were a huge influence on me then. So, to get the opportunity to even audition for Stone Temple Pilots was huge for me, and then helping them continue on their journey, I just felt that was the best way for me to honor what God gave me.”
MS: How’d you prepare yourself for the first night on stage with the Stone Temple Pilots as the lead singer?
Jeff: “You know, I’ve been doing it my whole life so, I mean whether I was doing it with Stone Temple Pilots or for the bar staff at some little gig that I was getting a hundred bucks to do - I was doing it just to survive back then and now all those years of doing that has really prepared me for the situation I’m in now. I used to sing a lot of Stone Temple Pilots songs back in the day, songs like ‘Trippin' On A Hole in a Paper Heart’ which are very wordy and hard to get out, they’re like second nature to me because I’ve been doing them for so many years, so it really worked out well.”
MS: You have to be pretty fearless when you perform your stripped down version of STP’s iconic song “Plush.” I was listening to it to prepare for this interview and it stopped me in my tracks when I heard it. There’s something special about it and unexpected and even magical and new about your version.
Jeff: “Cool, thanks.”
MS: How have the fans and concert crowds received you?
Jeff: “Very well from what I can tell. All I see is the reaction I get in the moment, but you can tell these are people that love the music and love the songs and the band and they’re there for the music and they really want to hear their songs played live again, so that’s where I come in.”
MS: You spent the past summer on your first STP tour, the Revolution 3 Tour with Bush and The Cult - what was that like?
Jeff: “Well we did a smaller tour before that to get our feet wet. We did like clubs and small theaters and it was us - the band and crew all on the same bus. It was kind of like starting over you know. It felt like everyone was humble enough to do that so it was really a cool vibe. We just went out there and did it, and made the most of it, and it’s grown since then. So, one step at a time, and we’ll see where it takes us.”
MS: Critics and reviews such as Rolling Stone’s have been great and credit you with bringing new energy and life to the Stone Temple Pilots. What do you feel you’ve brought to the band?
Jeff: “Umm, I’m not really sure because I don’t know what it was like before, because I wasn’t in it before. But I just bring myself, and it just comes to the writing and it all happens very organically. I’m not trying to fit any square pegs in the round holes. It’s like I said, I spent my whole life preparing for it, so I feel like I’m ready to do it, and I just bring that confidence with everything that I do whether it’s on a huge stage, or recording and writing, or whatever it is.”
MS: It shows, and your on stage with the super talented DeLeos on guitar and bass, Kretz on drums and your vocals - it’s exciting to hear the band’s new music and sound and your added influence. How much artistic input are you getting to add?
Jeff: “Absolutely, they’ve pretty much given me free reign to do my thing, but at the end of the day the music dictates what the vocals should do and what the vibe should be and as long as you listen to that you know, it’s more about listening than trying to incorporate some kind of idea into something. I just pretty much go with the flow with the writing and it’s working out so far, so I’m going to stick with that.”
MS: The new album has some great songs, “Meadow, “ Never Enough”, and “Roll Me Under” – it’s a more eclectic mix, it doesn’t check just one box. Stone Temple Pilot’s music has evolved with each lead singer, how do you feel about the new album? What was the creative aim?
Jeff: “I just wanted to write the best songs I could. I wasn’t trying to reach for the moon or anything. I just figured if I wrote the best songs I could, it’s a little easier in the beginning than towards the end of a writing process you get a little burnt out, but it was such a great process, and they’re such good guys and they helped me do my thing. It was really enjoyable and I’ve made records that weren’t enjoyable to make before. (Laughs) To actually enjoy making records was a big deal to me.”
MS: You can hear that in the music and I’m impressed with your talent.
Jeff: “Thank you, thanks.”
MS: What are your musical influences, favorite songs and singers?
Jeff: “Oh man, I grew up listening to everything from Beatles, to Gordon Lightfoot, John Denver, and Neal Diamond – basically my Dad’s record collection is what I grew up listening to.”
MS: I’ve talked to a lot of artists and that is probably one of the broadest lists I’ve ever heard. I can feel that about you in the music you’ve put out there.
Jeff: “Thank you. There was magic in songs like that. That’s why Simon and Garfunkel’s songs are so moving today because it has so much meaning behind it.”
MS: What can we expect at the show this weekend at the Buffalo Run Casino show form Stone Temple Pilots?
Jeff: “Ah you know what – we haven’t rehearsed for it yet. (laughing) We’re doing that next week.”
MS: So you don’t know?
Jeff: “I’m not sure 100 percent yet, but with that catalog, all of the new songs, there’s going to be a good mix of everything and we’re really looking forward to it.”
MS: Me too, it will be a big surprise.
Jeff: “Absolutely (laughs). Thanks Melinda, make sure you come say hello.”
Tickets are still available for the Sept. 18 show. For more information, call 918-542-7140 or visit Buffalo Run Casino at their website buffalorun.com
Melinda Stotts is the associate editor of the Miami News-Record. She can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org or followed on Twitter @MelindaStotts1.