2015 Year In Review: Scott Weiland, Eagles of Death Metal & Dave Grohl

Scott Weiland and Alternative Nation owner Brett Buchanan

2015 has been the most eventful year in the 6 and a half year history of Alternative Nation, and unfortunately not all for positive reasons. Scott Weiland has been one of the flagship artists on the site since I launched it under the name GrungeReport.net in May 2009. His face was the first thing seen next to the logo on this website until we changed our name and layout in June 2013, as seen on the site’s original banner below.

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It was depressing to have to write about Scott’s struggles with alcohol and drug use this year. I know many labeled me a ‘hater’ (after calling me a kiss ass for my review of Stone Temple Pilots’ 2010 album and much of STP and Weiland’s works in the first few years of this site) but the truth is I didn’t want to see the guy die, and it saddened and angered me to see one of my musical heroes slowly killing himself in front of all of our eyes.

I’ve spoken to many people who knew Scott, and people with behind the scenes knowledge, and it breaks my heart even more knowing about the passionate man he was when he was just breaking into the music business, and then the terrible things that were happening in the last couple of years of his life. I’m not sure when I will really write about the last couple of years, but we do have an exciting feature coming up soon with one of Scott’s earliest musical partners, who was also one of his best friends.

When it comes to Alternative Nation, this year we had our best year ever. I interviewed two of my favorite musicians, Scott Weiland and Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready. Interviewing Weiland and a member of Pearl Jam (McCready specifically) had been long time goals of mine, and it was great to finally accomplish them. Especially with what happened to Scott, it was an honor to get to interview him and help out with his social media accounts. The interview really felt like the culmination of 6 and a half years of hard work.

Jeff Gorra wrote some of the greatest pieces in the history of the site this year, in particular on Silverchair’s 20th anniversary. He also did great interviews with Incubus’ Brandon Boyd, a really personal interview with Sevendust’s Lajon Witherspoon, 311, and Alter Bridge’s Mark Tremonti.

Mike Mazzarone booked us two huge interviews with Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker and former Smiths frontman Morrissey. Doug McCausland, Elias Fulmer, and Charles Peralo did a great job with the interview, getting the site some crossover political coverage for the first time with a controversial statement Morrissey made.

Seattle Grunge era musician Tim Branom also contributed a few huge articles to the site, debuting unreleased 1989 Alice In Chains footage and conducting a rare interview with Layne Staley’s mother Nancy McCallum. I also can’t thank Greg Prato, Jeremy Neugebauer, Anthony Carioscia, Cindy Slade, and Hanna Graf enough for their great contributions to the site.

When it came to the news, one story that really touched me this year was when a friend of Pierre-Antoine Henry, a man who was killed by ISIS in the terrorist attack on Eagles of Death Metal’s concert in Paris last month, contacted me. He had seen my article on Eddie Vedder’s tribute to Pierre-Antoine at a Pearl Jam concert, and wanted audio of it for his funeral. I contacted Pearl Jam’s people, and they quickly sent the audio to Pierre-Antoine’s friend. I get cynical about a lot of the dumb stuff I have to write about, and a lot of the dumb criticism I get, but a story like that made it all worth it. It’s terrible to have to write about tragedies like what happened there, but it was touching to see the way Eagles of Death Metal fans united after what happened.

When it came to music released this year, I’ll be quite honest with you, I didn’t like much of it. There were some songs here and there, but there’s a reason the top 10 rock albums of 2015 list was fan voted. Any list I would have put together would have been contrived. There are still songs that came out this year that I really liked, but like I said, they’re few and far between. There’s a lack of exciting new bands coming out that really write incredible hits with lyrical substance, and our heroes of the 90’s are obviously hitting a point where their best days creatively are behind them, and the excitement is more based around great live shows.

But when it comes to original music, I’ll take Adele’s 25 over anything that came out in rock. I still do discover music I haven’t heard, but I find more in artists I dig deeper into from the 80’s that I hadn’t before like Phil Collins and The Cure than I do from much in modern rock or legacy acts putting out new material. I do think there are more great songs to be written though.

Live wise, like I mentioned, many of the 90’s rock acts can still bring it live. The Smashing Pumpkins were totally re-energized this year by the return of drummer Jimmy Chamberlin to the band, turning the band back into a true powerhouse. Dave Grohl kicked off the year playing a birthday show with an all star lineup featuring everybody from David Lee Roth, to Slash, to the late great Lemmy. He later broke his leg at a Foo Fighters show, and somehow managed to push through and have a huge North American tour, and make the dreams of 1,000 fans in Cesena come true. Dave Grohl’s year was truly tailor made for clickbait headlines. While I do not ever create outright lies with my headlines on here, I pick the most interesting thing in the story (if I didn’t the site wouldn’t exist, Facebook only give impressions to appealing headlines), the Grohl headlines were just easy to write.

2016 will seemingly get off to an exciting start with the Guns N’ Roses reunion. We have a lot planned here tentatively on Alternative Nation as well, including some new sections that should broaden the appeal of the site, but in a way that doesn’t interfere with the flow of the content we already have. I don’t want to reveal specific dates as I’ve learned before from doing that, you can have Chinese Democracy situations. I’ve learned from the successes and mistakes, and I think the way we’ll broaden the site now will help compliment what we already have without current coverage being affected at all. The last few months have been our most successful traffic wise ever, and we hope to keep that going in 2016 with some great content. Thank you for the support, and have a happy new year!

  • Jimmy Intense

    Congrats on all the accomplishments this year, AltNation. It’s been great to watch you grow over the years.

    • Felonious Punk

      Jimmy got an avatar finally!

      • Jimmy Intense

        All the best ones were already taken.

  • Felonious Punk

    First off, great year for AltNation. It’s amazing how far this place has come in the near-seven years since it started as the Grunge Report. You dudes landed some killer interviews with great musicians and covered shit from all angles, not just the typical what’s-out-in-front stuff.

    I disagree with you about 2015 being a bad year for rock because I discovered and/or was into a TON of music from both newer acts and older ones coming back. But that’s what makes this place neat and individual.

    One interesting feature I would love to see on AltNation in the year(s) ahead is a spotlight on monumental albums celebrating a milestone anniversary. Like, a look-back review kind of thing. 1996 was a HUGE year for alternative music and many great albums will turn 20 this year. Would be neat to see albums like Tiny Music, Evil Empire, Fantastic Planet, Nada Surf’s S/T album, Razorblade Suitcase, etc. get spotlighted for what they perpetuated over time. This would open up readers to a lot of good alternative music they may have missed out on the first time. Just a thought.

    I only see this place growing better with each passing year. Nice work, all of you who run or help run this place. Thanks for giving me (us) a place to mouth off about the music e grew up with that’s come to mean so much in our lives.

  • Corndog

    Many thanks for all your hard work Brett. Keep it up!

    Happy New year alternative nation:)

    • http://Boom.com Boom

      The Corndog.

      • Corndog

        Yes Boom? What’s up?

        • http://Boom.com Boom

          Boom make computer error.

  • Raj

    Keep up the great work, it was cool that you were able to meet and interview Scott Weiland. It was a shame that he passed away but his music will live on and I bet there will a lot more articles regarding him and STP’s music in the future to read about.

  • nomad

    Thanks for filling a niche that is rarely covered well in media these days – alternative rock. I agree with you that this was an emotional year when it comes to the artists we enjoy & I also agree that there wasn’t much music released that inspired. I think my favorite album this past year was Sufjan Stevens’ “Carrie & Lowell”. One artist I’m looking forward to hearing from in 2016 is PJ Harvey – she’s due to release a new album soon and I can’t wait!

  • http://Boom.com Boom

    It be about the music only. The music be pure shit for much many year now. Boom also say fuck all the ass kiss fake commenters. You be the pussies. Boom is best and most others be the pure shit. Only good human here be the Corndog the Shane the Rizz and the God.

    Short story from Boom. Do the fuck off punks

    Boom out!!

    Also Boom fall of wagon and no give fucks

    Now go rock the fuck out to the Thin. Lizzy.

    • http://Boom.com Boom

      Also fuck the Christmas and new year in ass like wife

    • Alternative Nation

      Boom, please get back on the wagon. Do not want to see you end up like the Weiland.

      • http://Boom.com Boom

        Boom end up like the Weiland one day. Boom be the 60 now and ten years less the Lemmy. Boom no deal with the rockers dying good. When day happen that the Keef pass Boom mind will be losing.

  • Billy

    Great year for the site although not a huge year for album releases. It’s been awesome watching this site grow and now it is a known site to musicians that are covered on here, which is terrific!!! Congrats on all the hard work!!!!!

    Although Scott sadly met his too easily predictable fate, Cornell gave us his master solo album which is still in heavy rotation for me over 3 months since it’s been released. Also a huge kudos to Cornell who somehow kept the album from leaking until the day before the release.

    Hopefully 2016 brings us an onstage fistfight between Axl and Slash. That would be hilarious

  • mike ratherson

    I’ve been a big Genesis fan ever since the release of their 1980 album, ‘Duke.’ Before that, I really didn’t understand any of their work. Too artsy, too intellectual. It was on ‘Duke’ where Phil Collins’ presence became more apparent. I think ‘Invisible Touch’ was the group’s undisputed masterpiece. It’s an epic meditation on intangibility. At the same time, it deepens and enriches the meaning of the preceding three albums. Listen to the brilliant ensemble playing of Banks, Collins and Rutherford. You can practically hear every nuance of every instrument. In terms of lyrical craftsmanship, the sheer songwriting, this album hits a new peak of professionalism. Take the lyrics to “Land of Confusion.” In this song, Phil Collins addresses the problems of abusive political authority. “In Too Deep” is the most moving pop song of the 1980s, about monogamy and commitment. The song is extremely uplifting. Their lyrics are as positive and affirmative as anything I’ve heard in rock. Phil Collins’ solo career seems to be more commercial and therefore more satisfying, in a narrower way. Especially songs like “In the Air Tonight” and “Against All Odds.” But I also think Phil Collins works best within the confines of the group, than as a solo artist, and I stress the word artist. “Sussudio” is a great, great song, a personal favorite. Happy New Year!

    • dakotablue

      I like the more artsy and intellectual stuff with Peter Gabriel. Collins definitely a good craftsman but something’s missing from his music (for me, anyway).

      • mike ratherson

        Do you like Huey Lewis and The News? Their early work was a little too new wave for my tastes, but when ‘Sports’ came out in ’83, I think they really came into their own, commercially and artistically. The whole album has a clear, crisp sound, and a new sheen of consummate professionalism that really gives the songs a big boost. He’s been compared to Elvis Costello, but I think Huey has a far more bitter, cynical sense of humor. In ’87, Huey released ‘Fore,’ their most accomplished album. I think their undisputed masterpiece is “Hip to be Square,” a song so catchy, most people probably don’t listen to the lyrics. But they should, because it’s not just about the pleasures of conformity, and the importance of trends, it’s also a personal statement about the band itself.

        • dakotablue

          I have to admit I haven’t paid much attention to Huey & News. My 80s faves are the Cure, the Furs, Echo, Siouxsie and the like. The Flesh Eaters’ “Forever Came Today” also dominated my time.
          I did just check out the “Hip to be Square” lyrics since I really didn’t know what it was about, and you’re right–pretty good (self-deprecating) words.

          • mike ratherson

            dakotablue. You just had a conversation with Patrick Bateman’s (Christian Bale) best dialogue from the movie “American Psycho.” Most people haven’t seen it. But they should… 😉

          • dakotablue

            Oh, so I amuse you, like a clown??!
            Yeah, that’s pretty funny–I saw that “Psycho” movie, but didn’t recognize the Huey dialogue.
            I consider Bale a very fine actor, btw. Just watched “The Fighter” the other night–another amazing performance.

          • mike ratherson

            Goodfellas quote. Nice! Your a good sport! Bale is my favorite actor. I prefer Peter Gabriel too but he mentioned Phil Collins so… I once had a long argument with someone on here using only Ron Burgundy quotes from Anchorman. You are a smelly pirate hooker. Why don’t you go back to your home on Whore Island? 😉