Tumble In The Rough: Why Being A Stone Temple Pilots Fan Was A Roller Coaster Ride

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Edited by Brett Buchanan

Stone Temple Pilots had just released Tiny Music…Songs From the Vatican Gift Shop, but after taking a tumble in the rough in 1996, the band soldiered on with plenty of radio play and tour dates in 1997.

“Tumble in the Rough” was released as a single 20 years ago on January 31st, reaching #9 on the Mainstream Rock charts, and marking what would be STP’s final music before going on an extended hiatus after their short 1997 tour. The hiatus lasted two years, but felt like much longer due to how talented this group of musicians collectively were.   While the music industry has many bands that take 3 or 4 years off between albums now, but back in 1996/1997, two years would mean a release was on the record store shelves. But way more importantly, with all of STP’s problems and rumored problems, fans were left to speculate if this band would be in existence much longer.

Stone Temple Pilots Become An Enigma For Fans Basking In the Purple Afterglow

We all know STP had issues throughout their initial run that halted their forward progress, but again and again they would come roaring back due to their determination and skill, but for fans it always felt like a rampant roller coaster that we might not survive.

Questions were raised about the band’s status in 1995 when Scott Weiland entered into his side project the Magnificent Bastards, and the DeLeo brothers with Eric Kretz had secret plans for their own band separate from their singer. Still, fans were basking in the Purple glow, with those tracks still dominating rock radio. Magnificent Bastards had their own song on radio and MTV, single “Mockingbird Girl” from the movie Tank Girl. Fans rejoiced when news came out that STP were in the studio recording their newest album Tiny Music, and all seemed good in STP world. Tiny Music was released in March 1996 to critical acclaim and with lead hit single “Big Bang Baby.” Unfortunately, Scott Weiland’s trip to rehab for heroin addiction resulted in the cancellation of STP’s spring/summer 1996 tour. By the end of ’96, STP felt like a band fans should cherish, because one day they may not be around.

Fans Visit STP At The Vatican Gift Shop For Tiny Music

Personally, as a fan that bought Tiny Music soon after its release, I loved it, and loved watching the fantastic glam video for “Big Bang Baby.” After news of Scott Weiland entering rehab, this feeling of excitement turned to fear. I remember thinking: ‘I should brace myself for the worst.’ Weiland eventually exited rehab and STP scheduled a fall 1996 tour. “Lady Picture Show” was then release a single, reaching #1 with a fan favorite music video, and fans felt relieved to see the band together again with a new hit song on the radio. The artsy music video profiled the girl from the ‘picture show’ in the song by using old-fashioned film reminiscent of the days where a movie was called a ‘picture show,’ mixed with video of the band.

While the melodic, incredibly well performed rocker about a dancer and her complicated life hit #1 on the Mainstream Rock chart, fans continued to be cautiously optimistic when the final single, the tough “Tumble in the Rough,” was released in January 1997.   The single continued STP’s creative high while reaching back to the sound of previous fan favorites like “Unglued”.   It featured machine-like riffs, and Weiland’s robotic zombie vocals on the verses before opening up to melodic and memorable refrains of: “I made excuses for a million lies, now all I got is humble kidney pie…so what.”

From “Tumble In The Rough” to Rumble In the Tough

Just a week after the single release of “Tumble in the Rough,” STP were on the cover of Rolling Stone with a pretty straightforward and dour headline about the band’s troubles. In that issue, there was an extensive interview where STP were honest and forthcoming:

“Scott called and said, ‘I’m fucking up — I need help,'” DeLeo, the group’s guitarist, recalls grimly a few days later. “When I talked to him, I could hear his condition. He said, ‘I’m going into treatment.’ I said, ‘I’d love to believe that.’ And on Monday, he checked himself in.”

 “The last six weeks we had were so beautiful,” says Dean, 35. “It was so great. But the whole camaraderie, the laughter, the music — it all hangs by a thread.”

“But the way it went down, it was much better than it could have been,” he suggests hopefully. “I’m not rationalizing it. But the worst thing is that he could have been dead. And he wasn’t.”

He went on to say that he was happy that Scott communicated with them. Scott also approached the topic openly:

“On Purple,” Weiland argues, “I was still at that point with my heroin addiction that I was able to have that false courage to try certain things that I might not have tried otherwise. Because heroin has a numbing effect, it can take you away from something emotionally, where you might have been afraid to expose yourself if you were completely sober. But with the making of Tiny Music, it was a lot harder to focus. You’re so numb that it’s hard to know what you’re feeling at all.”

“By the time Tiny Music came out,” he says, “people already knew what was going on. It became impossible to hide the pain that I was going through and that I was causing other people. Like in ‘Adhesive,’ it’s pretty blatant about how I felt: ‘Sell more records if I’m dead/Purple flowers once again/Hope it’s sooner/Hope it’s near corporate records’ fiscal year.”

Feb. 6, 1997 Rolling Stone

Once again, Scott and the band pulled through, and Weiland recovered enough to hit the road again. They were tough enough for the rumble through their problems, and rocked as hard as they ever had. By March, they were playing MTV Spring Break Rocks, and on tour until May.

Remembering “Tumble in the Rough” 20 years after its single release, the title of the song really summed up STP’s career. As a fan, it continued to be difficult hearing STP music without wondering if there was a future for the band as a musical unit, and for Weiland himself. Though I remember hearing the dynamic “Art School Girl” and ‘coulda-shoulda-been-big’ “Seven Caged Tigers” on the radio in 1997, the band split for the remainder of the year with Scott going solo and Robert, Dean, and Eric touring as Talk Show. To fans at the time, it seemed like the band was done. We held out hope, and just two years later, we had our band back together and another classic record in No. 4. The tumble in the rough continue.

Stone Temple Pilots on March 14, 1997 at MTV Spring Break Rocks in Florida.

Songs performed: Crackerman, Vasoline, Plush, Lady Picture Show, Sex Type Thing.

  • Allison Auld

    That was a good Rolling Stone article quoted. RS also did a follow-up in 2000 after Scott left jail which was also pretty good. That quote from Dean is really bittersweet. It just sucks the way it all turned out.

  • dakotablue

    The worst thing is that he could have been dead. Now he is.
    As Scott himself said, “the rollercoaster ride’s a lonely one, I pay a ransom note to stop it from steaming…” Nice story and music, William–and I totally agree on the awesomeness of Big Bang Baby, not just the glam but the Nothing’s For Free psychedelic chorus!

  • Allison Auld

    Wow – really good!! Nice growl (and nice twang on Interstate!) You definitely should have submitted. Maybe it’s not too late?

    • Vinny Liberty

      Thanks allison i had met Robert Deleo outside a Kings of Chaos concert in Montclair NJ. Would’ve loved to sing for him on the spot should’ve but didn’t want to do that to him as he was getting ready to leave at 2 a.m. I https://youtu.be/snnrPLWXdko?list=PLJFzZuzetDrsRV_8M3iF4lv65WKmkfSLP feel like I should be their guy. Hope it’s not to late any ideas on who how to get it to them? Appreciate if you have the chance google me Vinny Liberty on youtube and share me with your friends Thanks.

  • cmlukey

    I had largely ignored STP (paid too much attention to the music “journalists” who dismissed them as a grunge knock-off) until I heard “Trippin'” from Tiny Music. It was like having a narcotic instantly injected into my brain. I couldn’t get enough. I had only had such a reaction to a piece of music once or twice before: the most memorable being “Black Dog” by Zeppelin as a young child (it is what led me to “discover” rock, being the child of classical musicians. Suffice to say, after “Trippin'” I then set out to discover what I had missed. Long story short, STP became one of my all time favorites, saw as many concerts as I could, and have enjoyed covering some of their songs as an amateur guitarist…including “Tumble”.