Scott Weiland remembered: Revisiting AP’s 1998 cover story
In light of Scott Weiland's passing on Dec. 3, we're republishing our April 1998 cover story (AP 117) with the Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver frontman. Writer Wm. Ferguson traveled to California to catch up with the singer, who was positively lucid regarding his influences, vices and haters. Revisiting Weiland's unfiltered honesty and attitude 17 years later feels positively refreshing compared to today's high-controlling media climate.
During her tenure at Atlantic Records, Bobbie Gale worked closely with both STP and Weiland on his first solo album, 12 Bar Blues. She was crucial in facilitating Weiland’s appearance on the cover of AP 117 (April 1998). We asked her to share some memories of the experience.
I have so many memories of Scott; my brain is literally flooded with them. I met Scott before he became “Scott Weiland.”
I can’t remember the first time I met Scott, Robert and Dean DeLeo and Eric Kretz, but I remember the first time the name STP was ever uttered to me. I had just started at Atlantic Records as a publicist when then-label-head Danny Goldberg handed me a cassette tape as he was walking down the hall and said, “You are going to work this…. Never mind the name on the outside. The band is changing their name to Stone Temple Pilots.” I took the tape into my office and played it. I remember thinking, “This is going to be a struggle on the press front, but they could be huge.” I had no idea how right I would be.
It was that struggle with the press that drove Scott after the release of their debut, Core. It even inspired what would be their hit song, “Vasoline," off their sophomore record, 1994’s Purple. While the rest of the band let it roll more, Scott took the criticism personally. He and the band were/are great musicians and he knew it, so he didn’t understand the criticism. Obviously, Scott would have tried drugs with or without this extra luggage—it is part of the “rock” mystique after all—but I do believe that it was a contributing factor; the pen being mightier than the sword and all. As all human beings, Scott simply longed to be understood and loved. He struggled with the person he was, the rock star persona he thought he should be and the person and musician he wanted to be.
It was his first solo record, 12 Bar Blues, where Scott really showed what his artistic vision was for himself. If you want to know who Scott Weiland was as an artist, this is the record to listen to. He was so excited about getting to work with Daniel Lanois and this new road he was forging in his career. I remember a phone call we had when he was starting the recording process and was like a little kid talking about working with Daniel. The recording process for this record, I believe, was actually drug-free and allowed Scott to reference artists he was truly influenced by: Brian Eno, David Bowie, T Rex. He was full of inspiration talking about the making of the record. How the album art would reflect an old Frank Sinatra record cover, and how he wanted to reference The Man Who Fell To Earth in the video. He was planning to beg Daniel to tour with him. He was full of excitement and hope. Sadly, Scott’s fears, anxieties and demons needed quelling and he started using again. He definitely felt like he was putting it all out there with no safety net (ie, Robert, Dean and Eric), and longed for the numbing effect of the drugs.
We were at the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills late one night after doing a week’s worth of early promotion for 12 Bar. In a moment of clarity, Scott offered me a martini and said, “You know why I love that you’re my publicist? You’ve never done drugs… it amazes me. I don’t understand it, but I love it.” He then walked over to the fireplace in the room, sat on the floor in his bathrobe, pulled a marshmallow from a bag and started roasting it over the fire to make a S’more. In reflection, this moment is the ultimate display of the duel Scott Weilands: the kid who just wanted to have that sweet and carefree youth and Scott Weiland, “the rock star.”
You know heroin addicts love sugar, right?
Reprinted from AP 117, April 1998
HUNKY DORY. REALLY.
Less than a year ago, SCOTT WEILAND was too busy staying “unsick” to concern himself with making great music. Now the Stone Temple Pilots singer has a clean start on a new career with a critically acclaimed solo album that explores some surprising terrain. STORY: Wm. Ferguson Photos by Marina Chavez.
Fifteen minutes before the kitchen is scheduled to stop serving, Scott Weiland makes his entrance. He cuts an elegant swath through the dining room, trailing a thin line of Marlboro smoke; his is the only lit cigarette in the Beverly Hills Peninsula Hotel, where smoking is not allowed. He flounces into an empty chair at the head of the table. It’s safe to assume that wherever Weiland sits is the head of the table. He has a manic energy, and if you weren’t aware that the wraith in Gucci is the new and sober and in-recovery Weiland, you might reasonably mistake this manic energy for inebriation. I know that it is Gucci he’s wearing because he models his outfit before dinner. He rises from his seat, cocks a hip and runs off the designers. The pants—“slim in the hip, front pockets, slightly flared”—are Gucci; also Gucci, the loafers and white tie; the shirt is Anna Sui.
“I’m a rock star,” Weiland explains.
Even though he is nearly an hour late for dinner, the 30-year-old Weiland claims that he hasn’t eaten a real meal in a week. This is because he’s been so busy putting last-minute touches on 12 Bar Blues, his solo debut. All weekend he had been toiling over the mix of “Barbarella,” the single, at Daniel Lanois’ workshop up in Oxnard. It’s a complete departure from Stone Temple Pilots, allowing Weiland to reinvent himself wholesale. He has said (and no doubt will say again) that this record is him in his “White Album period” and that he wants to be seen as this generation’s David Bowie. His assessment, as grand as it is, isn’t far off. 12 Bar Blues is smart, catchy, glamorous, utterly fearless—everything STP were not.
Also, there were photo shoots today. This may be hard to understand, but apparently Weiland was concerned about looking heavy for the camera. Whether he starved himself or just staved off his appetite with coffee and cigarettes is unclear; last week a doctor was called in to treat him for dehydration. But that was days ago, and in rock-star time, that’s practically a different era.
As Weiland was saying, he is a rock star. And he is not alone.
“Courtney Love is a rock star. PJ Harvey is a rock star. Beck is a rock star. Beck”—he holds a finger in the air until the image he is searching for comes clear—“is James Brown in Melrose secondhand-store fashion. Beck’s a rock star. John Lennon and the Beatles—the greatest rock stars ever. John Lennon, unlike Bob Dylan, had no problem walking out of a Rolls Royce with a fox-fur coat on...”—Weiland does a leg lift and props his foot on a potted palm—“shoes similar to mine. A white tie. Yoko Ono on his arm. Now, Keith [Richards], just as credible, not near as talented, even more stylish, had Marianne Faithfull on his arm and then Anita Pallenberg, okay? So you’re talking about rock stars. Rock stars are real,” Weiland says, turning his attention to the Beluga caviar he ordered. “The real ones are real.”
In the platinum days of Stone Temple Pilots—when Weiland was the frontman for one of the biggest selling bands in the world—he developed a taste for fine food. His weakness for caviar is a result of flying first-class on American. He also developed a taste for heroin that repeatedly derailed STP tours, stalled recording sessions and eventually landed him in jail. As far back as August 1996, the other three members of STP decided they’d had enough of Weiland’s bouts of rehab and relapse, so they found another singer and started a second band, Talk Show. The official line is that Weiland could never be replaced, but STP’s hiatus is indefinite—maybe permanent. It’s up to Scott, his bandmates say. His habit left them no choice but to move on. So at dinner, when Weiland tries to order a bottle of Cristal for the occasion, there’s a moment of dread. Everyone at the table—his publicist, his manager, his hair stylist—casts a hesitant half-smile. “Champagne?” he offers. “For those who can?”
He’s been clean for six months. And while Talk Show have run a fairly anonymous course, Scott Weiland is just about to head into the spotlight again. No one wants to drink around Weiland; no one wants to say no to the artist, either. With sudden inspiration, Weiland turns to the waiter. “Do you have apple cider?” The waiter nods yes. “Do you have Martinelli’s Sparkling Cider?” The waiter nods yes. And for the rest of the meal in the four-star restaurant of a discreet and exclusive Beverly Hills hotel, the rock star and his entourage drink only apple juice.
These are tenuous times, and Weiland has wisely surrounded himself with a support system. (In fact, his mother, who had flown out from Denver, was on hand for the photo shoot for this article.) His main partner on 12 Bar Blues is Victor Indrizzo, who is also an addict in recovery. (Indrizzo, 30, does have musical qualifications. He was the drummer and piano player for Weiland’s one-song side project, the Magnificent Bastards. The more famous bands he has played with include Samiam and Redd Kross; he figures he has played drums on about 20 records.) “When Scott gets excited about something, he’s like a kid, like he’s 10 years old,” Indrizzo says. “One idea after the other after the other.”
What began with Weiland strumming an unplugged electric guitar, still groggy from detox medication last January, gradually developed into 14 songs. Indrizzo and Weiland play most of the instruments on 12 Bar Blues. They spent close to a year in Weiland’s home studio in Burbank, which at the moment is going by the moniker Foxy Dead Girl Music. Indrizzo thought it was still called Flaming Music, but it’s not a surprise that Weiland had moved beyond that idea without letting his partner know. In addition to his musical pedigree and narcotic history, Indrizzo offers one more qualification: “I have a lot of patience.”
Lending the project further legitimacy is the presence of Blair Lamb as co-producer. Lamb is best known for the multiplatinum production of Sheryl Crow. Also on board is Daniel Lanois, whose résumé lists U2, Peter Gabriel and Bob Dylan as employers. He’s been brought in to mix five songs; Lamb and Weiland will handle the rest.
“It’s not the corner of rock ’n’ roll that I usually operate in,” Lanois admits. “But when somebody has this kind of raw enthusiasm, it’s hard to say no to it.” Lanois has played guitar at a couple of shows with Scott, alongside guitarist Peter DiStefano and bassist Martyn LeNoble (who both played with Porno For Pyros) and Grammy-winning jazz pianist Brad Mehldau. Lanois is even considering signing on for a full-time tour. Even though Indrizzo reports that before the band play they have meetings (as in, “My name is Scott, and I’m an addict.” “Hi, Scott”), a lot of talented people are committing to a man who concedes that as recently as July he was “trying to get just the right combination of cocaine and heroin into my vein.”
“Scott’s had his ups and downs,” Lanois says calmly. He is utterly convinced of Weiland’s talent, and he compares Weiland’s drive to Bono’s. Lanois says he feels like a big brother to him. “He might not be able to stay in this town or in New York. We might have to send him to some small town in Middle America, somewhere where all he can drink is milk.”
Of course, Middle America is precisely where Weiland came from—Chagrin Falls, Ohio, a nice suburb of Cleveland. “Not much to do in Chagrin Falls except ride horses, build forts in barns and have little orgies,” Weiland says ruefully. He’s working at a piece of grilled tuna. He picks at it with his fingers, ignoring the utensils that room service has provided.
This is the day after the dinner, and Weiland is a little more subdued—not as quotable, but he is taking questions. He’s staying in one of the bungalows at the Peninsula, even though he’s renting a house in L.A. (Apparently this is standard with Weiland: Last night he was a hundred feet from the restaurant, and he still managed to be an hour late; just imagine, I was told, if he had to make it through traffic.) He is wearing a new hat, something he had to run down to Melrose first thing and pick out for a Guitar Player photo shoot. The hat is arguably absurd—purple, floppy, pimpish—but he makes it look good. He very much has the air of the star reminiscing about his formative years, and he fully expects to be asked about the little orgies. The stories involve his first sexual experience, but they also reveal that the 13-year-old Weiland couldn’t figure out the mechanics of intercourse. He settled for a dry hump. It might be his fondest memory of Ohio.
“You grow up in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, you do one of two things: You play sports, or you’re considered a freak,” Weiland says. In the Midwest, where conformity and high-school football are next to godliness, stoners are known as freaks. “Freaks,” Weiland affirms. “You had long hair, a Led Zeppelin t-shirt, you wore those hiking boots with the red laces. You played sports, or you were that.” Weiland chose sports, playing at one time or another football, volleyball, baseball and water polo. He was on the wrestling team; he thought freaks were “gross.”
“I was good at sports, but I never was good at fitting in with the kids on the teams who were the starters. For whatever reason it was, I was a different kind of kid; maybe I was more sensitive, so... I didn’t feel that they accepted me.”
Before you might be tempted to see a pattern emerging—he just wants to be accepted!—understand that Weiland has been in and out of halfway houses and treatment centers on a regular basis for the past three years. He has testified on his own behalf before a judge. He knows how to take his own inventory.
“I tried my best to fit in,” he continues, “as every good alcoholic/addict does. We’re chameleons; we try to fit in with every different group we possibly can, never quite fitting in. I never fit in until I formed my first band, and met other guys just like myself.” His eyes brighten in a kind of eureka moment as he remembers that they have a word for this kind of misfit. “Artists,” says Weiland.
By the time Weiland had discovered he was an artist, his parents had moved the family to Huntington Beach, California. And it was not long after that Scott found himself jamming with a guitar player from New Jersey, Dean DeLeo. Appropriately, the myth of the songwriting partners has the two meeting at a Black Flag show. They discovered they were dating the same girl, which somehow contributed to their becoming fast friends. DeLeo’s younger brother, Robert, convinced of imminent success, joined the band on bass, and drummer Eric Kretz was poached from a rival group on the same circuit. The band’s first gig was mythically potent: the legendary Whiskey-A-Go-Go, on Sunset Boulevard, home of the Doors. Mighty Joe Young (as STP were originally known) effortlessly built a following throughout Southern California, and they grew drunk with the possibility that they might actually make it. And on April Fools’ Day 1992, they signed with Atlantic Records. (Not until the band were already finished with their record did they receive a cease-and-desist letter from an attorney representing a Chicago bluesman named Joe Young; thus, Stone Temple Pilots.) The newly christened STP released their debut in September 1992. And then the short and happy life of fitting in as an artist came to an end.
“It was like us, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden—we all came out within a year of each other,” Weiland says a little cautiously. “At first, we weren’t accepted into the fold.”
This is an epic understatement. Upon the release of Core, it was as if every journalist in America had been issued a tomato and told to aim for the singer. And not only critics cut them down. It seemed that just about anybody with a guitar could ratchet up his or her own credibility by dissing STP. This was when Sonic Youth were the arbiters of cool, and if Kim and Thurston didn’t like you, well, there was really nothing you could do to appeal. Sold 4.2 million copies of your debut? Had a single that stayed on the Billboard chart for a record 77 weeks? Won a Grammy your first time out? Sorry, boys, our hands are tied.
Apart from the general complaint that Stone Temple Pilots were faking it, most of the specific attacks involved Weiland. It is true that in the video for “Plush,” Weiland was apparently doing his very best Eddie Vedder impression. But if his voice resembled Vedder’s on “Plush,” Weiland claims it was coincidence.
“My favorite singers are John Lennon and David Bowie, who created different characters for each song,” he explains, “like they were playing a role in a film.
“That’s why I do what I do in my records. I don’t use the same voice. I use a voice in ‘Silvergun Superman’ like”—Weiland’s face completely changes; his posture slackens, and he becomes a kind of creepy vaudeville cowboy, crooning about reading someone like a cheap surprise. “And then there’s...”—now he’s earnest and singing in a clarion alto. He has become the song “Lady Picture Show.” It’s a freaky performance, a little bit scary.
“I’m portraying characters in the songs I sing, and sometimes it’s a parody of a character. And sometimes, it’s my life story and I’m getting a different actor to play the role of myself.” Still, after all the pummeling Weiland took, it’s the Eddie Vedder thing that sticks in his craw.
“I remember a quote he said, about me ‘coppin’ his trip.’ Coppin’ his trip, man! Lookit,” Weiland begins, reclining like a pasha. He spreads his arms as if to say, Eddie, Eddie, what am I gonna do with you? “I dress well. I’ll take you shopping if you need me to, but I dress well. Don’t compare the two of us.”
He eases up a bit.
“The thing between us and Pearl Jam now is over—there is no war. I think their new album is brilliant,” he concludes. “But I never would have said that three years ago ’cause I was still so bitter toward everyone in this comparison thing.”
(Over the course of two days, by the way, Weiland manages to give a shout out to practically every rock star who is having credibility troubles. Of Sheryl Crow, who played accordion on the remarkable “Lady, Your Roof Brings Me Down,” the cabaret high of 12 Bar Blues: “A very talented woman. I respect her a lot.” Billy Corgan: “He’s incredible.” He even manages somewhat of a compliment to Gwen Stefani, whose group, No Doubt, have taken STP’s place as the band people love to hate: “Gwen is such a sweet human being... but her band just disgusts me.”)
Around the time that Stone Temple Pilots were touring through major-market America with kick me written in the dust of their tour-bus window, Weiland discovered heroin. The band had been offered the opening slot on the Aerosmith tour, but fearing further reprisals from the integrity police, they turned it down. Instead they put together a road show with the Butthole Surfers, whose indie cred was unassailable. Weiland made his opiate debut in New York City, 1994, in the presence of Gibby Haynes, the Butthole Surfers’ singer. “I snorted the first time,” he says.
The first step in all recovery programs is the admission of powerlessness, which Weiland dutifully notes. He actually tries to slip into a conversation the stock phrase “I am powerless over heroin.” Weiland is aware that he is what is known in the program as a “chronic relapser.” But he is also an artist, and damn it if he’s not going to say what he feels. Powerless, yes, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t enjoy it.
“Heroin unlocked the keys to doors that... had been locked,” he says. “I’m glad about the experiences I’ve had. I don’t like the negative ones, but the positive ones have been important.”
For a while, Weiland was a functional junkie. But during the writing of the second STP record, Purple, Weiland’s addiction grew. “That record ended up with Dean, Eric and myself sitting in a room, saying, ‘Do we pack this up?’” Robert DeLeo told Rolling Stone in early 1997. Everyone involved in the making of Purple could see The Damaging Influence Of Narcotics In Rock ’n’ roll Today. The damaging influence was not reflected in units sold, however. Purple debuted at No. 1 when it was released and went on to sell nearly four million copies.
Despite further critical slams—Spin magazine stopped just short of calling for the death of Weiland—Stone Temple Pilots had become part of the culture. “Vasoline” was a nervy hit—Weiland claims the guitar-riff hook was his contribution to the song—and “Interstate Love Song” was the power ballad of the year. But through all this, the ghoulish shot of Weiland on the CD booklet should have been a kind of warning. Instead of imparting terror to the erotic dreams of the republic, the dope-drained face in the photo looked one step away from an illustration in a forensics textbook.
Weiland casually estimates that between that first time in New York and up to six months ago, he has spent $6 million on his habit. The bulk of the drugs no doubt was taken in 1995, when the band were writing and recording their third album, Tiny Music...Songs From The Vatican Gift Shop. As had happened with Purple, Weiland was a perpetual no-show, and the record was twice shelved and twice resurrected. When Weiland wasn’t in rehab, he was working on his side project, the Magnificent Bastards, whose total output was one gloriously catchy song, “Mockingbird Girl,” which appears on the Tank Girl soundtrack and also shows up on 12 Bar Blues. Since Weiland’s role in STP was to add lyrics and melodies to mostly finished songs, the DeLeos and Kretz had no choice but to wait on him. Tiny Music wasn’t mastered until less than a month before the record’s release date. Rumors of the band’s demise abounded, and Weiland was the popular cause.
“I was the obvious junkie,” Weiland explains, adding, “although Dean used a lot with me.” (DeLeo was unavailable for comment, a spokesman from his management company said.) “So I was the scapegoat. So they could point the finger at me and say, ‘Scott’s the one who fucked up.’ Where Dean might have been up shooting heroin and smoking crack for the last three days with me, he might make it to the rehearsal or the recording session on time. Where I’d still be on a roll.”
The nadir—at least the one we know about—came on May 15, 1995. Pasadena police say that Scott Weiland was purchasing narcotics at a motel; when approached, he attempted to drop and crush a glass pipe. Two rocks of crack were found in his car; a glassine of heroin was in his wallet.
The next day he was released when his wife, Janina, put up $10,000 bail. She picked him up in her wedding present, a 1965 Mustang convertible, and headed for home. Weiland instructed her to go by his dealer’s house; Janina refused. So he went without her.
“I jumped out of the car at 45 miles an hour, rolled across the street, found a pay phone, called a cab, went to my dealer’s house, got well.” Weiland gives his left forearm three sharp slaps. “Got unsick.”
It is just the kind of detail that gives you pause, that glamorous roll across the street, that makes you wonder whether Weiland is entertaining you, makes you wonder if he has gotten a different actor to play the role of himself. He has told this story many times. In the Rolling Stone article, the car was only going 20 miles per hour. No matter. It has passed into myth.
And what better place to create a rock ’n’ roll myth than the Chateau Marmont, the hotel where John Belushi died? After Weiland hooked up with his dealer (he ended up with low-grade dope, he presumes, probably Mexican black tar, Persian if he was lucky), he went to the Chateau Marmont.
“Courtney Love happened to have the suite right next to me,” Weiland says blithely. “We hung out and did a lot of drugs for about two weeks until I decided I needed to put myself into detox and rehab,” he says. “And that’s when she read my little apology to my fans over the air live on KROQ.”
The “little apology” was a letter that Weiland had written to his fans, his family, his wife, his band. In it he admitted he had “a disease” and that he “ached to get well.” On the most cynical level, the apology was nothing but a shallow PR scam, a calculated bid for public sympathy. Or it was Weiland’s naked admission of guilt, a promise to clean himself up with a million listening witnesses. Likely it was a mix of the two. “[Courtney] and I have been friends ever since. And now that she’s away from drugs, I have even more respect for her. She’s become a great actress; she’s the best rock star there is. Or at least second-best rock star there is.” All that Weiland cares to say now of the on-air apology: “It was a moment.”
A less self-conscious chronicle of the time appears on 12 Bar Blues. “Chateau Marmont” is a hiss-filled, molasses-paced mess of a song recorded on a 4-track during Weiland’s stay there. In a pathetic croak, Weiland jots down a junkie’s fever-dream. Significantly mislabeled on the reference CD as “Chateau Mars,” the song sticks out like a tattoo Weiland had done in Hell and now has to live with.
As part of his rehabilitation in Narcotics Anonymous, Weiland was called upon to make amends with those he had wronged. He compiled a list, and Stone Temple Pilots were near the top.
“You say, ‘I know that I hurt you, and I hope that you can accept that ’cause I really want to make things different,’” Weiland instructs. He reports that the band made their amends, as well; they stopped by Foxy Dead Girl and heard some rough mixes of 12 Bar Blues. Hugs were exchanged; support was assured. (Things with his wife, however, were not so easily patched up. The couple is in the middle of getting a divorce.)
Weiland rises to pour himself another cup of coffee. He casually announces that he’s been talking to Dean and that there’s definitely going to be another Stone Temple Pilots record. This is news.
“I’m so excited about [12 Bar Blues], and it’s everything that I love, but I know what my fans want when they say they want to hear STP.”
It’s a sudden shift, and Weiland—what? Changes? It sounds unbelievable, but his voice gets deeper; he starts gesturing broadly; he becomes aggressive, as if by simply mentioning the imminence of another STP record the other three were there to back him up.
“There’s that thing, that you don’t know if that could be the last STP show you ever see,” he says. “You don’t know if Robert and Dean are going to hit each other in the head with their guitars, or if both of them will hit me over the head. You don’t know if I’m going to be found dead in a hotel room, you know? You don’t know if one of us is going to be arrested for murder. You don’t know. STP is combustible. And that’s what’s attractive about it.”
It’s damn near impossible to tell if Weiland is just speculating. He also says that Talk Show asked him to join them onstage in Los Angeles for an STP mini-reunion. Weiland declined. (Ironically, the band were opening for Aerosmith, the band that STP turned down.) He also casually mentions that Epic Records has offered Stone Temple Pilots $500,000 to write one song for the Godzilla soundtrack. All of which sounds like the ramblings of a deluded rock star. All of which, according to a spokesperson at Atlantic Records, is pretty much accurate.
“Between my album and the next STP album, I’m going to save rock ’n’ roll,” Weiland announces. “And in a sense I believe that.”
He reaches into a bag lying on the floor and pulls out some kind of medicine. Without looking up from the sheet of individually sealed pills, he announces, “I have to take this homeopathic thing when I drink too much coffee.” He doesn’t have to explain anything; it’s obviously some over-the-counter cure. But he’s just spent 20 minutes talking about his drug life. He flips the package over and reads from the label in the ultra-square voice of a TV-commercial announcer: “A natch-rull, homeo-path-ic rem-ah-deee...” He gulps one down. If he’s going to save rock ’n’ roll, he’s going to have to keep his strength up.
“I lost myself a lot during the first two years,” Weiland says. “We went from playing clubs to all of a sudden playing Madison Square Garden.” He isn’t offering excuses, exactly, since that’s not the way rehabilitation works. Call it acknowledging his shortcomings on the road to recovery. “I had the press telling me I was a fraud and a piece of shit. And on the other side, I’m supposed to be a superhero to these 20,000 people in the audience who want something larger than life. Who want me, who feel that they know me. And so I become comfortable with being...”
Weiland abruptly looks up. After all of his entertaining proclamations, he wants it made clear that this is serious. “For one thing, I know I’m not a piece of shit anymore. I know what I do is valid. I don’t know yet how relevant it will be 10 years from now. In a perfect world, it would have some impact,” he says. “I would love to be a part of something that changed the face of pop music or rock ’n’ roll.”
Back at the restaurant, where time is suspended and caviar and sparkling cider flow freely, the rock star is still holding court. The debate is raging endlessly, and the list is growing.
“A rock star, an artist, has to sit down and take everything that is about them in their life—the real, the funny, the sad, the humorous, the totally arbitrary, the ambiguous, everything—and put it down. As long as it’s a real record, like, the White Album, say, or Rubber Soul, The Velvet Underground And Nico, Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers, those are rock ’n’ roll—Jonathan Richman is a rock star. Because Jonathan Richman doesn’t even try to be a rock star. As an individual—he attracts people. If Jonathan Richman weren’t so eccentric and weren’t so interesting, do you think anyone would give a shit about [songs like] ‘Abominable Snowman In The Market’?”
He glances around the table for agreement, and the table agrees.
“He is a star. He is a true, enigmatic, real superhuman,” Weiland declaims. “And you know what? So am I.” He takes a drink of cider and concludes, “And I’ve just gotten to the point in this last year that I have come to accept it.” alt