Stone Temple Pilots & Rival Sons
The band’s sound is considered a blending of the alternative rock of the 1980s and 1990s with the hard rock of the 1970s, though the band is known for making each of their records possess a unique musical style, despite having the “sonic blueprint” of the band, as Robert DeLeo describes. Stone Temple Pilots have also been described as alternative metal and neo-psychedelia. The band Aerosmith was a large influence on the band collectively, with guitarist Dean DeLeo acknowledging the band’s influence on songs such as “Huckleberry Crumble” off their 2010 self-titled record. Steven Tyler and Joe Perry joined the band onstage at a 1996 show in Madison Square Garden for renditions of the Aerosmith songs “Sweet Emotion” and “Lick and a Promise”. All of the band members were Kiss fans during their childhood, and played shows at the Roseland Ballroom in 1993 dressed in Kiss-style makeup. During the taping of their VH1 Storytellers performance, Weiland acknowledged artists such as The Rolling Stones, Neil Young and Robert Plant as their musical heroes. The band has covered songs by artists such as the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, The Doors, Pink Floyd, James Brown, David Bowie, and Bob Marley both live and in the studio.
Early in their career, the band was considered to be a part of the grunge movement. Despite assertions by critics that their style in the early–mid 1990s was derived from contemporary artists such as Alice in Chains and Soundgarden, the band maintained that the similarities were coincidental, due in part to having the same musical idols growing up. Much of the comparison was directed at Weiland’s vocal style drawing similarities to that of Eddie Vedder’s. Weiland stated that his vocal style is influenced by Jim Morrison and David Bowie, who also served as his main fashion influence. Weiland has been called a chameleon due to his ability to change his vocal and fashion style. Regarding the band’s musical evolution, Weiland commented in 2014 that “with STP, we never stuck to it. We saw that even great movements only last a certain period of time and you don’t want to be pigeonholed, so we got into other things, like the Beatles were a big influence, glam was a big influence, and it morphed along the way. I’m proud of the legacy we created and where we stand among those other peers at the time.”
Guitarist Dean DeLeo uses heavily layered and distorted guitar playing, while bassist Robert DeLeo draws influence from genres such as rhythm and blues, lounge music, and ragtime. Although the band’s early demo recordings displayed a funk rock sound, the band’s first album Core was a straightforward display of grunge. After reconvening in the studio for their second album, Purple, the band’s style developed, taking influence from psychedelic rock, country music, and jangle pop. The band continued to diverge into various genres and influences; for example, songs like “And So I Know” on Tiny Music… have a distinct bossa nova sound. Regarding the evolution of the band’s sound, Weiland commented that “the transformation from Core to where we ended up before we took that time off, when I started with Velvet Revolver, was enormous.”
Weiland was the band’s primary lyricist. His style changed with the band’s evolution; much of the lyrics on Core were written about societal issues such as religion, abuse of power, and isolation. The band’s breakthrough single “Sex Type Thing” polarized critics with its lyrics, some interpreting it as advocacy of date rape. Weiland intended it as a feminist anthem, with its lyrics written in mockery of the narrator. As Weiland began to deal with substance abuse, his lyrics became more personal and intricate; songs like “Interstate Love Song” deal with his addiction’s tolls on his relationship with his then-wife, Janina. The lyrics of the band’s fourth album were written to provide closure to his marriage and addiction to heroin. Following the band’s reunion in 2008, Weiland once again evolved as a songwriter, explaining: “[In] the ’90s, I was so overwhelmed with my heroin addiction, and so a lot of the stuff was just from my point of view. Now, I tend to look at some of the greats like Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan. I look at their storytelling [and] I try to tell stories. Every song doesn’t have to be narcissistically written about how I feel on that day.”