As 1992 arrived, the explosion of "grunge" was hitting new heights and a new band from SoCal was ready for their turn in the spotlight. A four-piece featuring bassist Robert DeLeo, guitarist Dean DeLeo, drummer Eric Kretz and a charismatic vocalist named Scott Weiland had just taken the name Stone Temple Pilots after forgoing their previous moniker Mighty Joe Young due to a potential legal conflict. On Sept. 29, 1992, the band arrived on the scene by releasing their debut disc Core.
The Stone Temple Pilots story starts several years earlier, as the DeLeo brothers left their home base in New Jersey, with older brother Dean getting a job offer in California and briefly giving up music. "This was in probably '85. I moved out in '84. He was into this job. I think that around '87 he got the urge to get some equipment again," Robert DeLeo told KNAC. "I had gotten some inheritance money from our dad passing away. He passed away when I was a year old. So I got about $15,000 when I was 21. I sunk it all into a home studio. So I had a home studio in an apartment in Long Beach, and started really getting into recording and engineering and writing songs ... This was around '86 I guess, because that's when I met Scott. He came over with the band that he just broke up with and asked if I could record some songs for the new band he was forming. I started recording some songs for him, and then he asked me to play on the songs, and then he asked me to join his band."
"I told him that if he wanted to do something, I wanted to do something, but that we should go do something else," said DeLeo. "It was tough for him because [the other band members] were his friends. We had gotten Eric out of the paper. He was playing with us for a while. I really wanted to keep him, I liked his playing, and we played well together, and I loved Eric as a person."
The final piece of the puzzle was getting Dean back into the fold. "We coerced Dean into picking his guitar up out of the attic and strapping it back on again," Weiland told RIP Magazine. "He had become disenchanted with the music thing and let it go, but we talked him into it. We tied him down and tickled him under his arms."
The guitarist was located in San Diego, while the other three members were up in Los Angeles at least for a while in their infancy. "I was a master at holding the phone between my knees and playing a guitar into it," laughed Dean during Loudwire's interview with the guitarist. "That’s how we wrote a lot at this time. I was living in San Diego and those guys were up in L.A. and I was just like, 'Listen to this part I have!' I’d play it into his phone and 'I got a cool thing for that.' That’s how a lot of the stuff got thrown around until we all got into a room where we were really able to flesh it out."
The group eventually did flesh things out, before settling into the Rumbo Recording Studio, a place owned by the Captain and Tennille's Daryl Dragon, where they started to record the album. "It took three weeks to record," recalled Scott Weiland to Metal Hammer. "There's no point in wasting time on overproducing. At the end of the day it's only music, you see. And that's where your gut feeling kicks in."
The vocalist went on to add that they had worked on some "sick mental poems that do not have any significance for people outside myself or the band," but little did he know that those songs would definitely make a connection. "Some songs may deal with social and political subjects. Kind of a cause/effect relationship within the lyrics," said Weiland. "[It's] personal stuff. I'm not much of a preacher, teacher or politician, because I'm not in a red, white or blue suit."
The first song they recorded was the brief track "Wet My Bed," which came from an improv session between Weiland and Robert DeLeo. The song became notable to fans due to one of those impromptu studio moments that turns up at the end, with producer Brendan O'Brien walking into the room and then stating, "Alright, now what?" at the end. It didn't take long for the band to answer that question.
As stated, it was a quick turnaround only sweetened by the fact the group had the trusted hands of O'Brien guiding them. "We went into making that record really excited for a lot of reasons and one of the greatest things about my recording career was forging a lifelong friendship with Brendan O’Brien," Dean DeLeo told me. "That is something I would never ever change, man. I learned so much about guitar playing and a certain level of musicianship, recording techniques and really, just Brendan’s whole philosophy which is you can’t overthink this. We’re going to just play and hopefully we capture something. That’s how we approached that record. We set up to play live – we were all in one room. We had speakers in isolation booths and the drums, and Rob and I stood in front of Eric and we just played those songs live."
Stone Temple Pilots, "Sex Type Thing"
Once the album arrived, Stone Temple Pilots enjoyed a steady rise in popularity. With "Sex Type Thing" being the first single launched, one of the early narratives was that the band were pro-feminist, but the bravado of the lyrical content in the song was something that stirred up debate with listeners who may or may not have understood Weiland's lyrical approach. The singer found himself having to defend his lyrical content, telling Rolling Stone that he penned the track from the mindset of a "typical American macho jerk" because he didn't want to sound preachy. "I never thought that people would ever seriously think that I was an advocate of date rape," said the singer. He would also tell Request Magazine, "So many guys are brainwashed as children to fit into these macho stereotypes where they treat women disrespectfully and have this improper view of sexuality. Although that kind of man is one I utterly despise, in a sense I feel both characters are victims."
As for the musical portion of the song, it had a distinctive guitar sound to it, one that Dean DeLeo says came from a Led Zeppelin inspiration. "I wrote that riff because I heard 'In the Light' off of Physical Graffiti. I was playing in front of my house and I happened to be outside, probably picking up after the dogs or something and I had Physical Graffiti on and it was quite loud. It was a beautiful summer day and the windows were down and that lick in 'In the Light' — the “Sex Type” lick — fits right in between it. I was basically hearing the notes in between Jimmy Page’s lick. That’s how I came up with that lick."
While "Sex Type Thing" wasn't a huge radio single (peaking at No. 23 at Mainstream Rock radio), it was in heavy rotation at MTV, playing alongside the likes of some of grunge's biggest acts like Alice in Chains, Nirvana and Pearl Jam, the latter of which the band was often compared to in their early days. But Stone Temple Pilots weren't exactly jumping for joy over the comparisons. "I don’t think there’s any similarities in our bands at all," said Weiland to Rolling Stone. "Not discounting Pearl Jam, but to me they're a modern-day Buffalo Springfield or something, a classic-rock band. I don't mean that in a derogatory sense. We're on a totally different trip," he continued, adding that he was more worried people would lump him in with The Doors whom he'd been listening to fairly regularly during recording of the disc.
Stone Temple Pilots, "Plush"