Stone Temple Pilots Reveal Why Grunge Scene Had ‘Snobbish’ Attitude

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Stone Temple Pilots bassist Robert DeLeo discussed 90’s Grunge in a new interview on Talk is Jericho. Alternative Nation transcribed his comments.

“I think that was a way for record companies to market a new thing they could make money off of. I think a lot of bands got caught up in that. One thing I can say is there were some really valid, great music that came out of that. It definitely stood on its own without being called Grunge, I didn’t even know what Grunge was. The people that were already signed, I didn’t really know about them, I got to say I don’t listen to a lot of new music.

I mean I actually listen to jazz, jazz has always been kind of a thing to me, Motown and stuff. When you get signed to a record label, they want you to be in a certain movement. There’s not a lot you can really do about that, but one thing we did get straight with Atlantic was we did want full control over everything we did creatively. When we made those records, there was no one from Atlantic Records there. They got the record, and they were like, ‘Great.’

That’s what was great about Atlantic Records, they did give us full control creatively. That was the main thing we wanted. But overall, I wish there was more camaraderie in the bands of those days. It almost seemed like everyone was just a little snobbish about the music they were making, because I go back to 60’s and 70’s, there was Joe Cocker doing The Beatles.

You think about that concept, who would be doing that now? Or Hendrix goes to England and does Sgt. Peppers. That’s camaraderie, that’s respect, that doesn’t really exist anymore.”

  • makingconnections

    Jazz–Motown–respect. What the Hell is this guy talking about–just spit it out!

  • Eddie Yarler

    He’s completely right. Its a shame it became such a pissing contest between rock bands. In many ways I feel like thats what killed the genre in the mainstream. I’m not saying you need to like a band like Nickelback or Black Veil Brides but the fact of the matter is many people do, and bands with that kind of mainstream appeal are good for the genre, as they allow for new bands to exist.

    Instead we have a bunch of assholes like Mark Arm talking about who’s more real. Rock shouldn’t be in competition with itself. As for my critically reviled bands, I’ll take STP and Creed any day of the week before I settle on some mediocre “true” Grunge band that everyone pretends to like for music cred.

    • Joe Costigan

      Mark Arm seems to come off as somewhat of a bitter, elitist prick in any of the interviews I read with him in Grunge is Dead, Everybody Loves Our Town and other interviews I have seen or read. In all of those books Mudhoney was supposed to be the band that was going to break big but then Nirvana hit and Mudhoney was kind of forgotten about. I am sure he is still bitter about that and tries to deflect from it by being a sarcastic prick.

      I don’t totally disagree about an element of real in rock music though. I always go back to the hair bands of the 80s (I hate them all lol) – alot of them were just copying the success of the original big 80s bands trying to get their 15 minutes of fame. The same thing happened in the 90s with alternative rock but I would argue that was more do to the labels trying to milk all they could of a musical movement – I think a lot of the bands just wanted to try to get their big break.

      Overall though the over-genrefication of rock music is what is really hurting it. So many little “scenes” with no one who is a fan of certain bands wanting for them to get any bigger and also not welcoming new fans to the bands. Just click on the wiki article for Rock Music and than you can see how fractured and labeled people have made the genre.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rock_music

      • Eddie Yarler

        You’re completely right. Rock is totally something that was just as exploited as rap and pop are today. The 80s are the best example, but the 90s had Grunge bands practically growing on trees, and then we got post grunge and nu-metal bands left and right in the 2000s, and the deathcore/scene bands in the 2010s. I guess its my personal bias because I can always admire anything made with real instruments. Hence why I’ll always admire some nothing band like Our Lady Peace, over any of the xerox mumble rappers we have today.

        I don’t doubt there is truth to the “underrated” claim by some bands. I’m sure you know plenty of bands that make the most wonderful music and are just baffled over the fact that they never broke out. But Mudhoney isn’t one of those bands. At best they’re an esoteric band that deserves some credit for inspiring later artists (specifically Nirvana). But yeah this guy is just so obviously pissed off that he never made anything as memorable as Stone Temple Pilots, Silverchair, or any of the other bands he shits on who will have a longer legacy than him. The Melvins guy is the same way but with Kurt Cobain.

        • Joe Costigan

          And I agree with you as to admiring artists who actually make real music with instruments. You used the word exploited and that is totally a spot on word to use to describe what the industry does and why it is now a suffering industry. They pretty much tapped out all genres and are doing their best to make popular music homogeneous and formulaic because it is the easiest way to make a buck. They are now dealing with the least common denominator.

          I also hear what you are saying about King Buzzo – I think he is just a more abrasive type who is blunt with what he says. I am pretty sure he and Cobain had been friends growing up and stuff so he is coming from a different place. I am sure he was envious on some level of Nirvana’s success but I don’t think that is what drives him like it does Mark Arm. I mean I do get why they both could be bitter since both of them were instrumental in laying the framework of the “grunge” movement in its early days.

          I am still waiting for rock to make a come back but I don’t think it’s going to happen on any sort of large scale. Bands like Greta Van Fleet, Highly Suspect and Red Sun Rising are pretty damned good though (good music and strong vocals) and it gives me some hope. The only issue is that their is no centralized medium that is playing their music – terrestrial modern rock radio is slowly dying out, MTV stopped supporting rock music in the early 00s. Youtube, Spotify, Pandora are pretty much what seems to be main ways music is discovered these days but the consumer is now in total control so radio can’t expose people to new music like it used to since consumers all pretty much have their musical selection predetermined.

          • Eddie Yarler

            You know that’s a very honest breakdown of it, and ultimately a clear way of expressing how the state of rock music now can all be blamed on greedy record labels. Perhaps if the genres following Grunge such as Post-Grunge and Nu-Metal weren’t so plastered everywhere, then they wouldn’t have reached musical carrying capacity and people would have not become sick of it. When the 80s died, its because that style of music (dad rock/hair metal) had already served its purpose and no longer had anything innovative or new to say. Many bands from the late 90s and 2000s still put out quality material but nobody cares because of how overplayed they were (and obviously the drug addiction that plagued the 90s too). From the 50s to now, I always considered the 90s to be the most unfulfilled decade of rock music. One can only imagine how far industry titans such as Alice in Chains, Stone Temple Pilots, Soundgarden and Creed could have gone had they never broken up or fallen apart from addiction.

            I agree, but unfortunately there’s two problems plaguing all the bands you mentioned. The first is they still have to compete with all of the old bands. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad STP and AiC exist to some degree in this decade, but its hard for these new bands to climb festival spots when the same old artists are always at the top. Second is I’m worried rock as a whole has gone the way of 80s metal. I enjoy every band you mentioned but Greta Van Fleet is essentially a Zeppelin clone, Red Sun Rising (my personal favorite) is like AiC with Incubus vocals and Highly Suspect is like Queens of the Stone Age meets Kings of Leon. They’re all great bands but they don’t really bring anything new to the table (or maybe they just don’t want to, which is also fine) but innovation and evolution are directly correlated, and I’m really worried rock has nothing new to say. I mean when was the last time a band sparked a genre? Korn?

            Damn this got deep dude hahaha

          • Joe Costigan

            Haha yea it has. Glad we have been able to exchange opinions and thoughts! As far as the Festivals – I think alot of that has to do with who is running them now. Back in the late 90s in high school I lived in the DC area and WHFS and DC101 both threw their own concerts/festivals based on the bands they played. These days I think the organizers are more corporate since rock radio isn’t what is used to be and they just want to bring in the big names as the top billings to pull in fans (name recognition).

            I think if modern rock radio was still as relevant as it was in the late 90s we would be seeing alot more newer bands being the big draws and making it big. As far as innovative – Rock music has developed over the past 50 or so years by borrowing on what came before it and adding to it. I do agree that some innovation and evolution are needed.

            I do feel that Greta Van Fleet, Red Sun Rising, Highly Suspect, Royal Blood are what alot of fans are wanting though – just a return to guitar driven rock music with a little attitude behind it. I personally think that is innovation enough – Greta Van Fleet does have a zeppelin influence but they are talented enough to write their own songs – just straight ahead rock and roll – guitars, drums, bass and powerful vocals – no dumb shit like synthesizers, autotuning – just real hard rock made with the tools that have made hard rock over the past 5 decades. I feel that alot bands especially in alternative rock don’t have the balls or attitude that rock used to have – lots of effeminate front men with weak vocals and just playing soft music.

  • faith

    I love Robert…he’s such a talented musician. About what he said I think this: in other interviews he also said that you may judge a band after 5th album and not just after the first. I agree. In an ideal world. But at the beginning of 1992, when they signed with Atlantic, Nirvana and Pearl Jam were making the Boom…so I believe him when he says that Atlantic didn’t control them on creation but at the same time I believe that Stp members were influenced by “grunge” when they recorded “Core”. I mean, we know the same song can have a sound or another. And that’s ok: they were young and they were looking for success as any other band in the world. And then they remained in rock history thanks to albums like “Purple” and “Tiny Music”. So even if they would have caught the grunge-train I love them for all the good music they created in their career.

  • Raj

    I think every band hated that label, signing a big record deal was to get their music out to the masses first before the other band. I think there was a mutual respect but also a fierce desire to separate themselves from the pack and not be labelled and mashed in with other bands. Each artist was out to hold their own so to speak. Mark Arm is probably just bitter, he should be happy he is alive when all his friends who made it big are dead.

  • dakotablue

    Layne was sad about the loss of Seattle scene camaraderie in the Mad Season song Long Gone Day: “See you all from time to time, Isn’t it strange how far away we all are now, Am I the only one who remembers that summer… The Music that we made, the wind has carried all of that away, Long gone day…”