Scott Weiland is known as the front man for the Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver, but in the past, he has also been notorious for his dalliances with certain illicit substances. Weiland opens up about his experiences with the eternal trifecta of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll in his new memoir, Not Dead & Not for Sale, out this week.
You can definitely hear your voice within the pages of the book, but I’m just curious how you came to team up with David Ritz as a co-writer.
What everyone always does, it seems, is that a rock ‘n’ roll artist, or one who is thought to be a rock ‘n’ roll artist, goes to a rock ‘n’ roll journalist, and they work together. But because his world is so steeped in blues and jazz and R&B, I thought it would be a very interesting thing. He wouldn’t have any preconceptions, whether positive or negative, and he could sort of, like, investigate my music and learn about me all from scratch.
So what did Ritz bring to the table collaboratively speaking? Was it just a case of him helping to structure your writing for maximum readability?
There was a lot of that. There were sessions where we actually went up to my cabin in Washington and just did a lot of interviewing, and then he would write little segments, and I would write segments and get them to him, and we kind of went back and forth for a long time. Velvet Revolver ended, STP got back together for good, and that ended up taking up a lot of my time, the recording and the making of the new album, and I said, “You know, let’s just get away, the two of us, and go to my cabin and get the meat of this out, and then we’ll kind of fine tune it from there.” And that’s what we did. When he sent the initial first draft to the editor, they really dug it. I felt, because my style of writing is a lot different from his style, I wanted to write more, so we extended the deadline again. So it took longer, but in the end, what finally will come out, I’m very happy with.
I totally got what you meant when you discussed in the book how, when you were growing up, the music you were listening to was kind of half cool and half not quite as cool.
Yeah, I mean, my father…my natural father…was and still is a huge music fan. He still has a record player and an album collection, as does my stepmother, Martha. And, you know, he’s the one who… (Hesitates for a moment, then clears throat) OK, quite honestly, when I was young and heard the Doors’ version of “Light My Fire,” I thought Jose Feliciano had written that song. And my dad said, “No, no, no! Wait ’til we get home. I’ll turn you on to the real thing.” (Laughs)
At one point in the book, you make the comment that you’re attracted to opiates the way John Keats was attracted to death. Do you think the attraction would still have been as profound if you hadn’t pursued a career in rock ‘n’ roll? Or would it have been there at all?
You know, probably not, because most of my artistic heroes, musical as well as writers, also had been opiate addicts. The thing is, I only knew one person in my high school who had ever done that stuff. It wasn’t until I moved to Hollywood and my career started progressing that the opportunity came. But there were certain artists that I looked up to, and…I guess I romanticized it. And there was just a lot of curiosity whether there was a connection between that creative process and success and that…particular substance. However, one finds out on their own, no matter what, that there’s a hell of a price to pay. And that’s why I kicked that stuff almost nine years ago.
When people think of celebrity autobiographies, they tend to think of sensational, salacious revelations, and you’ve obviously got a few in yours as well, but when you were pulling the book together, was there hesitation on your part about revealing certain things that had happened in your life?
You know, in the ’90s, I used to do a lot of interviews, and they were, for the most part, for music rags. Or pop culture magazines. And then within a few years, everything became digitized, and it’s, like, your average concertgoer could write a review about an album or a show. So when it got to that point of media oversaturation, I sort of stopped doing as many interviews. I kind of felt, like, “What does it matter?” It’s become…it doesn’t have that sacred feeling anymore, that meaningful feeling. And, so, to write a book and tell it in full, it is the ultimate way to give the biggest interview of one’s life, in a sense.
Lastly, I’m sure there are people who would scoff at the idea of a Scott Weiland autobiography and be, like, “Hey, did you know he did a lot of drugs? I’m shocked. Shocked!” What do you hope people will get from reading Not Dead & Not for Sale?
You know what? I don’t know what they’ll get out of it. (Laughs) I think everybody takes out of an album or a song something completely different, and I think this is a very lyrical book or memoir. But I think people will identify with certain things in their own way. I put some things in there that were pretty personal.