Stone Temple Pilot's Robert DeLeo Shares His '70s Childhood Memories, Photos (EXCLUSIVE)
DeLeo, 46, who originally formed the band with singer Scott Weiland in the mid-'80s as Mighty Joe Young, is currently out on tour with Stone Temple Pilots. Incredibly, it's 20 years this month that they unleashed their seminal debut album, Core. Since then, STP has maintained their status as one of the most potent, durable and successful rock bands in the business; an unforgettable powerhouse that also became one of the most influential musical acts of their generation.
When Noisecreep spoke to DeLeo, something interesting happened. We got off on a tangent about childhood memories and it revealed a tender side of the musician - one that finds him cherishing his personal history in poignant, meaningful ways. He's not living in the past by any means, but DeLeo's not afraid to revisit certain chapters of his life, because it constantly fuels his creative passion and energy.
DeLeo also shared with us some pictures from his past; images of a little boy that started developing both a love of music - and baseball - at a very early age.
How's the current tour going, Robert?
Amazing. And check this out. Since we're in Chicago tonight [Sept. 4], I just got off the phone with Rick Nielsen [Cheap Trick guitarist]. And yeah, he'll be joining us onstage tonight for a kick-ass version of "Surrender."
That is insane. So you grew up a big Cheap Trick fan?
Huge. Absolutely. My step brother got me into the Heaven Tonight album. They had such great records, even before it blew open with their live album. It just sounded so true to me, Cheap Trick. I was 12-years-old and I lost my musical virginity up in a tree fort with a Cheap record [laughs]. I had hair like Robin Zander on the cover of the Dream Police album when I turned 13. I dreamed of Cheap Trick.
Calling Rick up like that - I hear it in your voice - you still sound like a huge fan.
You can never stop being a fan. You can never lose your love of the music that shaped you. I will always be a fan - a huge fan for the music I love. This is rock 'n' roll? Who could ever lose that?
Did you see Cheap Trick as a kid?
No. But I did see KISS at age 12. Madison Square Garden, 1978, KISS Alive II tour. My mom, Virginia DeLeo, actually let me take the train from New Jersey, where I grew up. At that point, it was the most memorable night of my life. Still kind of is. The '70s just had so much going on in terms of music, and in our house there was always the best music playing - Cat Stevens, Jimi Hendrix, John Denver - tons of jazz - everything.
It's good to hear someone go to bat for the 1970s.
Are you kidding? It was the best. The best music, movies, TV, toys - the best. My brother and I still exchange vintage toys at the holidays - we track down things we grew up loving.
Did you have favorite TV shows in the '70s?
Man, F-Troop, The Courtship of Eddie's Father, with that amazing theme song by Harry Nilsson, Nanny and the Professor.
How about The Partridge Family? That first season, we actually got to watch them on tour a lot of the time. Did that influence you?
Man, I can't believe you said that. One of my earliest memories, in 1971 at five-years-old, was I asked my mom to take a picture of me on the bed with my brother's acoustic guitar. I was pretending to be David Cassidy.
Do you have the picture?
You won't believe this. My mom died last year and we were going through some boxes - and we found pictures, and slides all of these amazing memories - the picture was in there. Along with so many other things. I bought a digital slide scanner to capture all of the images.
Here is DeLeo's photo:
Wow. What a memory. You were just five?
Just five, The year I saw my first concert. My folks took me to see the Carpenters at what's now called the PNC Arena in New Jersey. What an amazing show. Karen Carpenter, front and center. When STP plays there today, and I sit in that dressing room - I think about the Carpenters being there when I was a kid. I really feel it. Like I do when we play at other places, too. I remember playing The Spectrum in Philadelphia - all I could think about was seeing Rush on the Permanent Waves tour when they played there.
You really appreciate your history.
I try to. And then certain things happen that you just can't believe. We played with Glen Campbell once for this project we were doing. We ended up playing a version of his classic song, "By the Time I Get to Phoenix." I was crying at the end of it. This stuff just means so much to me.
Robert, as far as why this band endures- for the part you play anyway - is it partially due to your respect and reverie for the past?
I think it is. I had a wonderful childhood growing up in New Jersey. I have incredible memories and I love going back to the area with my wife and kids today to recapture all the things that influenced me. Look, we'r a band with four members, and each guy brings his own things to it. But I think I speak for my brother too when I say that he and I love and respect our past, and it definitely finds its way into the music today.
Stone Temple Pilots tour dates: