Think of two of your favorite bands. Let’s say by chance, you have a mutual friend with one of the members of those bands. You casually end up getting a chance to meet that member at a local show. You really hit it off as you are a capable musician yourself. Your conversation ends by suggesting that someday you jam together. Then it happens. Then you write songs together. Then members from the second band you love just as much are invited into the jam sessions as they too have a connection. Seem like a dream? Welcome to the world of Gary Noon.
That all happened. Noon, an avid Sevendust and Alter Bridge fan, had a mutual connection with Sevendust guitar player Clint Lowery. He also loved the band Alter Bridge and was even thinking about starting a cover band. Until he met Lowery and discovered the Alter Bridge and Sevendust camps are pretty friendly. You now know the rest. Walking with Giants was formed with Noon running point.
Three weeks ago Walking with Giants released their first record – Worlds Unknown. After two years of collaborative sessions that included Alter Bridge bassist Brian Marshall, Alter Bridge drummer Scott Philips, Sevendust guitar player Clint Lowery and Noon taking on the vocals and rhythm guitar, their music was presented to the masses via their own label. The band previewed material through a series of behind the scenes, making the record series they put out via Youtube and their website. Sevendust drummer Morgan Rose, replaced Philips due to scheduling issues and Noon plans to hit the road later this year.
Alternative Nation had the chance to catch up with Noon from his hometown of Baltimore just days before the record release.
Friday’s the big day; it must feel a bit surreal after everything that has transpired?
Yes it is. My heart’s beating fast. It’s very cool. It’s surreal and at the same time you think – is it supposed to be like this? I’m really happy. I’m very proud of the record and I hope others dig it too.
Do you have anything special planned for the release?
We’ve got a few things. I’ll be sharing a video that features the studio team as well as Brian and Morgan. They are going to share some of their thoughts on the process and what their experience was working with me. I think people will like that because all of the videos that I’ve done, except for the end video, it’s been more of just my perspective so I think people will really enjoy hearing from those guys.
Talking a step back, it looks like it all began with meeting Clint Lowery. What was that initial meeting like for you?
A buddy of mine who I used to work with, took me to a Sevendust show years ago. I had just started listening to them a few months before and became obsessed their music. We went to the show and it was fantastic. We then get to go back stage because my friend knows Clint and I was scared to death. Clint is this tough looking guy and the band has such an aggressive stage presence. I go back and meet him for the first time and he was such a nice guy. He was a totally cool and polite individual who was very calming to talk to. We figured out we have a lot of the same guitar history. We talked a lot about it and just struck a friendship
What were you doing at the time? Playing in other bands?
I was doing a lot of covers on Youtube. That was really the extent of my musical connection to the world. I did a cover for “Better Place” and for “Cold Day Memory.” It turned out really cool so I got the courage to keep going. But that was really it.
Was it that initial conversation with Lowery where you discuss the idea of writing together someday?
Yeah, I let him hear some of the things I had recorded in Garage Band and showed him some of my covers. I said to him, “Maybe one of these days we can do some stuff together. That would be cool, I love your music, you are totally awesome on guitar.” You know, just being a total pain in the ass (laughs). But Clint said, “Yeah man that would be great, I like your stuff.” He wasn’t just being polite. He spoke specifically of the guitar technique I showed him. He knew exactly what I was doing. So he was being 100% authentic and real. That’s basically how it all started, just goofing round and one thing led to another and here we are.
Did you write all the songs on the debut record?
I was the core songwriter, but it’s a collaborative effort between Clint and myself. We co-wrote the whole record. He brought two songs of his in immediately. He gave me the pro tools project and then when we got into the studio it morphed into my flavor. Brian and Morgan added their own thing to each track. They would ask me, “is this good, is it cool?” I would just tell them to go with their instinct. So we would all collaborate, but it was mainly Clint and I.
How did the transition go from Scott Phillips (Alter Bridge) on drums to Morgan Rose (Sevendust)? Was that due to schedule conflicts?
Yeah, it was all scheduling. Flip had some other commitment. We tried to make it work and it just didn’t so Clint reached out to Morgan and he then joined us. It was cool. Flip is a fantastic drummer and so is Morgan, so to be able to work with these two different guys was fantastic.
The record is out on your own label. What was the process of making that happen?
It’s pretty much Gary Noon. Walking with Giants is basically me and I had these other great guys that partnered with me. We don’t have a record label attached to that just yet, so it’s pretty much just me putting it out on my own. Write the stuff, record the stuff, pack and ship the stuff, it’s all me. At some point down the road if I am lucky enough to have a label with me, that’s cool, but for now I want people to know it’s me.
The record sounds great; it has a unique feel blending the two groups with your own style. What really grabbed me was the “Worlds Unknown” beginning and ending, especially the piano melody in there. It was a nice segway in and then roll the credits out.
That’s awesome. I’m glad you liked it. That idea to bookend was something I got from Ben Burnley from Breaking Benjamin. When their new record came out this past year – Dark Before Dawn, I noticed that. I had about seven tunes ready and thought – man, we should do something like that. That’s really where it started. I’m glad it’s well received because I was scared to death about what people were going to think when really the first song is track two and then the record ends with the same melody it starts with.
Do you see any potential collaboration with Myles Kennedy or Lajon Witherspoon as well?
They know about Walking with Giants. I’m not sure if they’ve had a chance to hear it or what they think about it, but it would be awesome to mix with those guys someday in the future. Obviously, I love the combination of guys that I have right now, but who knows maybe I’ll get the chance to ask Mark (Tremonti) and Myles to come in too. They are both so distinctive, they have a particular way of doing things, which may make it end up sounding more like them. I love their stuff, but I want Walking with Giants to sound like me as much as possible.
Given you are such a fan of Alter Bridge and Sevendust and were even contemplating a cover band, what are your favorite songs of theirs?
For Alter Bridge my favorite song is “White Knuckles.” It’s like my theme song. It’s the lyrics that are just always there, it’s just very encouraging. For Sevendust, I have two of them. Their song “Shine,” is one my favorite songs of all time. Every time I hear that song I feel like I can just do anything. “The End is Coming” is the other. That song really moves me. I don’t know what it is. Something about the melody and when the vocals come in, it’s like contemplated a bit and then it just starts kicking ass. It’s really powerful song. I’ve listened to those songs a couple hundred times and I’m still not sick of them.
Is this what you do full-time now? Are you 100% dedicated to this project work wise?
Walking with Giants isn’t fulltime yet. It’s something I would love to do, but we are long way from that right now. I have another career that I’ve been doing for a long time. It’s really tough to be fulltime in the music business in this day and age.
What is your other career?
I’m a trainer and a project manager. It’s something that I love to do and I’m pretty good at. It comes natural, you feel like you can just do anything in that realm. That’s really what my career is like. It’s hard to want to give that up, especially after 15 years.
Do you have any shows lined up?
That’s something I’m working on. The rest of the guys have their own commitments obviously so unless we want to do an all-star show together down the road, it will just be me and a couple of other guys I can bring on the road. I’ve been working with some of the guys in Dear Enemy. We’ve been thinking about rehearsing and doing some shows together. Gogi Randhawa from Dear Enemy is the guy who did the album cover and all the artwork. So it’s going to be me and the dudes I get to work with. That’s important to me because with Walking with Giants, I’m working with these other guys of course and that’s really the purpose of the name, they’re my idols that became my friends, but Walking with Giants is me. I want people to know that.
When you look at Walking with Giants now; thinking back to your first meeting with Lowery and seeing this all unfold, is there a song on the record that speaks to this dream coming true for you?
Yes, the song “Solid Ground.” Through all this process “Solid Ground” has been my anthem of what I would like to be able to say. I feel really grateful and really proud with what we’ve come up with. It’s something I’m really happy with. It’s just what I’m meant to do so I have to keep pushing and pushing until I can do it for a living.
311 is about a month away from their biggest event of the year – a two day 311 Day extravaganza in New Orleans. The band recently celebrated 25 years as a band releasing their unique boxset Archive. Given 311 Day is an every other year occurrence, this year is bound to be filled with surprises.
Before turning his complete attention to rocking the stage, 311 frontman Nick Hexum is making headlines for his athletic and activism efforts, winning the fastest male and biggest fundraiser in this past Wednesday evenings 2016 Empire State Building Run-Up. In addition to raising over $20,000, Hexum’s winning time was an astonishing 16 minutes, 12 seconds (he set a personal goal of finishing under 20 minutes). The one-fifth of a mile vertically race, benefits the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation and consists of 86 flights of stairs – which is 1,576 steps for those counting. It’s an organization that hits close to home for Hexum, whose mother is currently battling the disease. On Hexum’s support page he notes that his mother is still enjoying a great quality of life and the treatments have been remarkably successful. The work being done by the MMRF is fast-tracking drugs that are extending lives and improving quality of life for patients.
For those who donated, Hexum is sending out an unreleased song of his as a thank you. A day and half after the race, I checked in with Hexum via email to hear about his experience.
How are you feeling post-race?
I’m enjoying the afterglow. My hands and forearms are the only thing that sore. It must be from pulling up the handrails every step. The stairs are narrow enough that I could use both sides and take a lot of work off of my legs.
What was your training program like for this?
The most important thing for this was cardio. So, my four full-court basketball games were probably the biggest help. I also worked with a trainer and did interval classes so I guess it all helped.
How long did you train for?
I always stay really active, but really ramped it up in the month leading up to the race.
Have you ever done anything like this before? Marathons, etc?
I have run the LA Marathon twice.
What was the overall experience like for you?
Well, I’m over $20k now and my goal was $10k, so I feel great about that. Winning the trophies for Fastest Male and Biggest Fundraiser in the charity heat was really cool. I had no idea how I was going to do. The best part is knowing that I helped my mom by funding research towards a cure for Multiple Myeloma. She’s my hero. She’s kept a great positive attitude through all of this.
The race was so intense, I’ve never dug so deep. I poured it on from the beginning and when my chest and legs started screaming at me around the 20th floor I wondered if I’d paced myself poorly. I figured just keep cranking and if I collapse, I collapse. As I pushed through the pain I thought of my mom and how the discomfort I was feeling was nothing compared to facing such a serious disease. Her positive attitude and grace through this has been nothing short of inspiring.
I maintained taking two steps at a time the whole way. Pulling myself up on the handrails took a lot of the strain off my legs. I learned some helpful tips from people who had done this before. As the climb progressed I had no idea if I was going fast or slow. My body wanted to rest but my mind said, “Go!” Thanks.
It’s not too late to donate ( plus get the exclusive track) and check out the amazing work the MMRF is doing. See Hexum’s personal page here:
Multiple Myeloma is a blood cancer that affects the plasma cells. Malignant plasma cells accumulate in the bone marrow, crowding out the normal plasma cells that help fight infections and ultimately can result in bone damage, decrease in kidney function and lead to anemia.
The MMRF has raised over $275 million since its inception in 1998. Other accomplishments include; establishing a multi-center tissue bank with more than 4,000 samples, creating the collaborative Multiple Myeloma Research Consortium (MMRC) of 21 world-renowned institutions and launching the groundbreaking CoMMpass℠ Study to collect and analyze multiple tissue samples from 1,000 patients over a multi-year course, so that patients will eventually be matched with the right clinical studies and treatments. http://www.themmrf.org/
By now, everyone knows the deal with the Super Bowl halftime show and what to expect. There hasn’t been a ton of Rock performances showcased over the years and those that were obviously have to comprise their routine to fit the format. As the golden anniversary of the big game approaches, with Coldplay getting the gig this year, Alternative Nation takes a crack at highlighting some of the top ‘Rock Moments’ of Super Bowl halftime performances:
U2 (XXXVI, New Orleans, 2002) – perhaps the most meaningful and moving performance of them all due to the “Where the Streets Have No Name” finale. During a fragile time in U.S. history, U2 beautifully captures the healing power of music as they run a backdrop highlighting the names of all the 9/11 victims.
Prince (XLI, Miami, 2007) – before closing his set with a riveting version of “Purple Rain,” Prince unexpectedly blasts into the Foo Fighters “Best of You.” Grohl, who was on vacation with his family at the time, had no idea Price would be playing his song. “Having been a massive Prince fan my whole life, I was flattered beyond words. What an honor to be covered by one of your heroes,” Grohl said afterwards via Songfacts.
Bruce Springsteen (XLIII, Tampa, 2009) – Working onDream was released earlier in the week. A fitting “Glory Days” preps us for a thrilling second half with a last minute finish. The Boss’ slide across stage(3.52) at 59 years old is the highlight of this performance. The guitar flips at the end are pretty cool too.
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (XLII, Glendale, 2008) – Sounding right off the record as usual. Some simple and great visual effects/crowd participation holding up the hearts. “Runnin’ Down a Dream,” is a very appropriate Super Bowl song – and that’s exactly what the Giants did.
Bruno Mars/featuring the Red Hot Chili Peppers (XLVIII, East Rutherford, 2014) – bear with me here. The Peppers had nothing to really promote here, but jumped on stage for a unique rendition of “Give it Away” (7.21). The highlight of this performance however is Mars’ drum solo (0.51) to kick it off. Say what you will, the guy is a talented musician (good taste in music/Super Bowl collaborators too.
Paul McCartney (XXXIX, Jacksonville, 2005) – Classic McCartney. Some flash but mostly instruments. The epic “Hey Jude” outro was made for that Super Bowl moment. Worth noting – Fox/Ameriquest delivered a perfect McCartney intro “…building bridges across time and around the world.”
• The Rolling Stones (XL, Detroit, 2006)
• The Who (XLIV, Miami, 2010)
Some songs are just larger than life. More than just your typical verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, outro etc. There are a select few that are an out-of-body, emotional movement. It’s hard to even classify or describe them. One of the beautiful things about music is that fans have the ability to identify their own personal soul-touching gems. Then there are others that are just universal. Credit Pearl Jam for having at least two – “Release,” and the one and only … “Black.”
Recently, I’ve been spinning various versions of “Black” – thinking deeply about the song, what it means to me and all the different ways it could mean something so heavy to anyone that hears it. There’s one that I find to be the superhuman of the superhuman.
April of 1994. I was on vacation visiting my grandparents with my cousins in Naples, Florida. Pearl Jam had announced they will broadcast their Atlanta concert live on numerous radio stations. My cousins and I were completely submersed in the Pearl Jam world (and still are). My older cousin doctored up the fossil of a radio deck in the living room / Grandfather’s office where the three of us were staying. He found it. There was a station in Naples that would be getting the live stream. There was one problem; we had to go out for a wild night on the town with the family. Most likely a four hour dinner where us kids would blend sugar rush, sun-burnt antics with completely falling asleep, face-planting at the table. Don’t get me wrong, we loved every second of it. But this night was a Pearl Jam special. In 1994! If we didn’t catch it, the world may end.
My cousin happened to have an old cassette tape. He didn’t care what was on it. It was getting rewound and we would attempt to record the show in the “A” slot of the old radio. A four hour dinner felt like four days. As we got home we sprinted to the radio. Did it work? A couple of cranks and prayers and … Yes!
The three of us stayed up all night, listening to this epic show at a ridiculously low volume, not wanting to wake anyone up or let them hear what we were doing. How they must have wondered why we were so eager to go to “sleep” on vacation.
Three things stuck out to me after listening to that show: 1. Another reminder – this band is unlike anything else I’ve ever experienced. 2. “Better Man” was debuted. “it’s dedicated to the bastard that married my mama.” 3. “Black.” The most amazing version of the song (or any other song) I had ever heard.
The intensity, raw emotion, delivery and sentiment had me half frozen, half tear-filled. I have never seen a video of this performance. I’m not sure if there even is one. A quick Google and Youtube search produced zero results. But that’s ok. I don’t think I want one. The audio is moving enough and gives me a canvas to paint my own picture.
It’s so easy to get caught up in how moving “Black” is overall and how great the melodies are that the lyrics sometimes take a back seat. Take for example the word “tattooed,” used several times. “Tattooed everything,” “tattooed all I see, all that I am, all I’ll be.” There are so many other word choices that can have been used there instead. Easier, more common words and phrases. Tattooed? It changes everything. A tattoo is meant to be permanent. It’s usually meaningful (you either never forget what your tattoo symbolizes or don’t even remember getting it). Then there’s “all been washed in Black,” “turned my world to Black.” An incredible lightning bolt of impact, in just five words. And don’t even get me started on the “I know someday you’ll have a beautiful life” outro. Can’t. There are no words.
What was also different about ’94 Atlanta – Fox Theater “Black” is that it included a vigorous “we belong together” tag at the end. It was the first time I had heard it like that. Not on the album version, it’s become somewhat of a common end rap over the years. Find yourself in the right live setting, among a crowd that gets it, and you may experience the loudest silence, or perhaps you’ll be part of a unified wave – arms wrapped around each other, heads held high or low, swaying back and forth, just getting lost in it all.
There’s a small part in Cameron Crowe’s PJ20 film where Eddie Vedder discusses “Black” and what it means to him: “It’s a true story, something that I really felt – and I still feel every time I sing it.”
There are few things more fragile or emotionally ripping than the feeling of missing. Especially if you know they (or you) are not coming back. Everyone has someone or some experience this song can relate to – whether it’s old or lost love, a friend, family member, an experience, a place or a thing. “Black” makes that tattoo itch. “Black” is a tattoo unto itself. Ironically, it can be comforting.
“…And all I taught her was .. everything. That’s All.”
2016 is big year for Pearl Jam. A tour was just announced, it marks 25 years since their debut record – Ten was released, there’s an anniversary special on all five horizons and I’m sure much more we don’t even know about.
I offer this as a thank you. As a letter of appreciation. I would rarely include “Black” on a top song list because I don’t want to do it a disservice – including it with others that have catchy hooks and big choruses. It’s more of a piece of art blanketing the sky, surfing the seas, tattooed in the emotional lock-box. There for multiple purposes, always at the right time. Somehow we survive.
April 3, 1994:
“I don’t think
These people understand.
Oh you don’t understand.
No one understands.
We belong together……..”
As we previewed with early Stone Temple Pilots collaborator Corey Hickok’s recent in-depth piece on Scott Weiland with Brett Buchanan, this is the first article for our ‘Deep Cuts’ section, which focused on longform musical journalism and commentary.
Last week you heard Joe Buck calling the NFC championship game on Fox. Come Wednesday, you will find Buck hosting Undeniable on DIRECTV’s Audience network. Then, once spring rolls around, Buck will be back at the ballpark as baseball kicks into high gear, eventually leading to working a double when the NFL starts back up again in the fall. What’s the trick to keeping focused while having to often switch gears? Music.
Alternative Nation recently had the opportunity to catch up with Buck to discuss many things Pearl Jam, how the power of music impacts his life, aids his preparation and enhances sports.
How important is music to you?
It’s what makes me concentrate. I equate different years and different events that I’ve done with what music was out or what’s on my radar at that moment. Specifically with regards to Pearl Jam, when Backspacer came out, it was around the time where I met Eddie. I was doing the World Series in 2009 between Philadelphia and New York. Just going back to listening to that album over and over and over, whether it was after a game late at night, in preparation before the game or even during the game.
We have this great audio guy named Joe Carpenter. If something is hot on both of our lists, he’ll play it out over the PA that goes into everyone’s headset; whether it’s camera operator, audio personnel or my headset in the both. It really calms me. It lets me know, as I’m about to get ready to do the game – which at the time feels like everybody is paying every seconds worth of attention to and it’s the biggest thing in the world, it reminds you that you are just part of a bigger picture going on in the United States and nobody really cares how you do or what you do. You just do your best and have fun.
So music holds a valuable spot in your preparation and how you go about your work?
Yes, definitely. I’m not a huge numbers guy. I’ll sit at my desk and put down every relevant statistic to the game I am about to do with music going on in the background. It’s not always the same music. It’s usually something that is soothing to me, like Chris Cornell’s latest album. It can be older stuff as well, that takes me back a little bit. I think when you do TV you kind of have the ability to separate different tracks in your head. I can concentrate on the numbers better and what I’m putting in, if I have something else going on. That’s why I text people during games and during breaks. It keeps my mind active. Music provides me with that opportunity during my preparation.
I love Cornell’s latest album as well and often have it accompany me in the same exact way.
His voice is just ridiculous. Even just the instrumental portion of the new album – what they’ve done with arrangements and how it just highlights what he can do vocally, it’s mind-blowing.
His voice is an instrument in itself.
It is, and it’s pretty damn unique. It’s the same for Eddie. I think in today’s pop world, a lot of people ending up sounding a lot alike. You can listen to some performers and say, “well is that X, Y or Z?” Then you hear Eddie’s voice or Chris’ voice, it’s so unique and the sound is so distinct that there’s no mistaking it for anybody else. It’s a great fingerprint.
Has music always been a big part of your life even going back to early memories growing up?
Yes, my mom was on Broadway and was a singer and a dancer. The way I was brought up, most other kids were probably listening to Boston, and I was too, but I was also subjected to the soundtracks of Oklahoma or Guys and Dolls around my house at the same time. So I have a wide range of music that has influenced me over the course of my life.
A lot of people tell me that about my dad, who did the Cardinals baseball games for so many years. They tell me how his voice was kind of a soundtrack to their lives growing up, being around St. Louis in the summer and hearing him while they’re mowing the grass or hearing him bouncing off the walls in their kitchen. That was usually the case for me too, but I was usually down at the ballpark. When I wasn’t at the park with him, I was really into music. I saw that as a kid; my parents having friends and family over, standing around singing, that’s really how I grew up.
Are you able to influence what songs are played on-air, into break or that are run over highlights? Or are those all outside deals?
There was a time, yeah. I could be wrong about this, but I’m 99.9% sure that it was Fox that got all of the television networks that cover sports into some trouble when we did a Super Bowl a few years ago and we played a track over highlights, like a pre-packaged piece during the Super Bowl. It was to Arcade Fire. Someone from their camp heard it and said, “Hey, we didn’t give authorization for Fox to use that.” A lawsuit followed and it made things really difficult to get cleared. To me, and I’ve talked to Vedder about this, that’s such a feather in their cap. Vedder is such a crazy sports fan and Pearl Jam actually did a deal with Fox a few years ago during the baseball postseason. They like it. Arcade Fire obviously did not or at least didn’t like that they didn’t know about it. The deal settled, but it made everybody gun-shy. For a while there at Fox, we were using basically a studio greatest hits album where notes are just off enough or it’s not done by the original artist, where it kind of sounds like the song that everybody is listening to right now, but it’s not it. That’s how they got away with it. It’s basically studio generic stuff. That was crushing to me. As a sports fan, and as somebody who takes pride in everything we put out over the air, to not have the ability to then pair it up with music that fits or can inspire or put an emotional accent to something, it just kills me.
We’ve kind of come out of those woods a little bit, more so doing specific deals. We did one with The Who years ago and I think Jack Black did the same with us. For sure Pearl Jam did which was great. Then you can play different cuts off a specific catalog that they’ll give you. It adds a lot to what we do, it’s as important as the voice that’s on there calling the play-by-play.
I remember we were doing a World Series game and Tim Wakefield, a knuckleball pitcher, was pitching. I’ve always been a huge XTC fan and the song “Knuckle Down” was one I told someone working in our truck to check out. Then one of our rolls out of the break was “Knuckle Down” by XTC with a little knuckleball dancing all over the place. It doesn’t always have to be literal but it can be. To me, it adds a lot of depth to what we do.
You mentioned the 2009 World Series. I’m a Yankee fan and after they won, Fox ran the highlights of the series with Pearl Jam’s “Amongst the Waves” playing as the backing music. It was amazing, couldn’t have been more perfect.
That’s the stuff, when we go off the air, I just think – wow, that was awesome. It’s like sports movies. Sports movies are some of the most powerful out there. They don’t always get the teams right and it doesn’t always look all that realistic, but you put certain scenes in The Natural up against anything that’s been directed and produced in film – as far as powerful moments and beautiful pictures, paired with music. In my mind, it’s right up there with the best when Roy Hobbs hits the ball up into the lights and it’s almost like fireworks coming down. Then the music hits and he’s rounding the bases in the dark. That’s as strong as it gets. It shows you the power of not just sports in those emotional moments that we all click into, but how they can be enhanced by the right piece of music.
Having a personal connection with Pearl Jam now, what’s it like for you being such a fan of the band? Is it hard to separate the band and music you’ve loved for so long from the relationship of being friends?
It’s really just Eddie. I have mutual friends with Stone, but I don’t know him at all. It’s surreal to me. I know Eddie and then you hear Eddie Vedder as the frontman of Pearl Jam, and they are like two different people to me. I’ll find myself texting with him and I almost have to remind myself who I’m texting with. It’s funny; my wife will roll her eyes at me and say, “oh let me guess, Eddie?” But we’ll go back and forth because he’s a legitimate sports fan. That’s how we got to know each other. Pearl Jam came into St. Louis in 2010 and in one of their encores he dedicated “Alive” to me. He said something along the lines of, “I don’t know if you’re still in here, but this one’s for you Joe Buck.” I didn’t know him really. He just knew through this company that I had gotten seats through people in his group and he was a sports fan so he threw that out there. I had met him a year or so before, we had just a brief encounter and we ended talking mostly about our daughters. He’s basically my age. I find myself texting more about kids and family. He’ll text me during the month of October and I’ll be texting with him during games and will send him a little video of what’s going on in our booth and he’ll send me a video of what’s going on backstage or even onstage. It’s just crazy. But he’s just genuinely the nicest guy. I had him in the booth for last year’s NFC championship game in Seattle. He flew in from Hawaii to go to it. I took him down onto the field, which was crazy scene. People were just going nuts. He met Pete Carroll before kickoff and then came up in the booth and stayed in the back the whole time. He was sending me notes of different things he observed to get into the broadcast. What made me feel great though was how he treated the spotter in the booth, the makeup person or anyone that came in. He could not have been sweeter. He never comes off as bothered and that’s a unique trait – to be as recognizable and be as polite as he is. I really think Hawaii has really been that refuge for him where he can go and hideout. I’ll text him and he’ll tell me he’s going out for evening surf. I think he really gets to shut down when he’s there. Consequently, when he comes back into the real world, he’s kind of languid and tranquil. Everything you’d hope he would be and probably more. I’m awe, believe me. I’m awe of his talent and of his brain. Some of his texts should be set to music, they’re so deep and well thought out. He’s just a brilliant writer and creative person. You realize why the guy is who he is and why that band is as great as it is, because their front-guy is just kind of on a different level. I’m much more in awe of anything he does that when I do. What he likes about my world is that he is a sincere sports fan, not just something that would look good. He’s got trunks with the Cubs stickers on them. He sent me pictures from inside the Cubs clubhouse and talking with Joe Maddon. He’s like a little kid when it comes to that so it’s neat to be around that too.
The pairing of the two worlds; sports and music, always intrigues me. The mutual admiration and respect is fascinating.
It’s true. I’ve talked with friends of mine about trying to produce a show like that – trying to have these two worlds marry up for a day. It was done on IFC with the show Iconoclasts. Michael Stipe and Mario Batalli in particular. They spend a day in one guys world and then the next day in the others and you can just see them in awe of what the other person does. So, it’s cool to give Eddie that kind of peak behind the curtain of what we do in a NFC championship game and then to go down into his dressing room after that 2010 show, and talk about everything but music was great.
With your new show Undeniable, to me, it comes across as an E:60 meets, CenterStage, meets a Howard Stern interview. Is that a fair assessment?
I think so. Anytime you mention Stern, that’s the ultimate. I would even throw James Lipton in there from Inside the Actors Studio. It’s one thing to ask somebody to sit down and talk about the team, talk about the next game or talk about a cover two defense. It’s another to say – let’s sit down and talk about the beginnings of your life, how you were shaped, where you didn’t meet expectations, where you failed and how you picked yourself back up and succeeded after that. I think that’s where it struck a chord with people, meaning the interview guests. I never expected to have the kind of cooperation that we ended up having. To sit there for two and half hours with Jeter, Gretzky or Michael Phelps and talk about suicide, how low he got and what it was like going to rehab, you realize these people really do want to talk. They want to talk more than just a Sunday conversation on ESPN and more than just five minutes. These are people more than they are sports stars. That’s really what the objective was. Vince Vaughn, Peter Billingsly and I are the producers on it with DIRECTV. That’s what we determined we would go after on this when we met two and half years ago and it’s what we’ve achieved to some degree with the show. For the athlete, it’s almost like therapy and they get up really happy that they were there. The crowd and the actual venue where we do it, certainly the host, is really glad that they were there.
Do you film in New York?
We filmed the first thirteen episodes in Manhattan Beach at Manhattan Beach Studios. I had to work that in and around my calendar. My wife and I rented a place out there. Then we are doing seven more around the Super Bowl in San Francisco. That will be an even 20 for year one and then we’ll see where we go for year two. It’s to a point now where hopefully the show sells itself. It’s one thing to get Derek Jeter and think – here’s what we hope to do. It’s another to talk to Jeter, show it, put it on the air and have other sports stars in that same echelon see it and think it would be something fun to do.
You’ve had Kelly Slater too. I know he’s a big Pearl Jam fan.
Yeah. He was great. He’s another guy who came from nothing. He really worked hard and found his own way. A part of that takes a turn like Phelps episode, and you realize how low he got. He’s a lot like Eddie Vedder. He’s just on a different level. He’s always developing, he’s always thinking and he’s a very creative person; whether it’s creating on a wave or a clothing line or just contemplating life. He’s a unique dude.
In the Michael Phelps episode, there’s a small part where he says – “I don’t know if I’m somebody different because of what I’ve done? This is the real Michael Phelps.” I feel like that really encapsulates what the show is all about.
Exactly. It’s perception too. People even have a perception of me where they think they know me. Everybody wants to put somebody in a box. They hear me call touchdown or homeruns and know that I’m somebodies kid too and think I got into the business because of my dad. Now they got me pegged. We see Derek Jeter’s success or Michael Phelps getting gold medals around his neck and we think – this guy believes he’s better than everybody else. But then you realize, he is a flawed human being that has been scared to death. It’s kind of self-help series. That’s what Vince Vaughn wants to sell it as. It doesn’t matter what you do in life, you can take a lesson out of this and apply it to what you do or where you’ve been or what you hope to become. That’s been the most satisfying part of it. It’s not just talking about when you hit the double into right center field its more about what the athlete was feeling before the World Series. Did you want the ball hit to you? It doesn’t matter if you are in an office building or fixing a pipe, do you want the pressure on you?
Click here to read Alternative Nation’s in-depth Scott Weiland: A High School To Core retrospective from yesterday, where Scott’s best friend and Mighty Joe Young/Swing bandmate Corey Hickok shares his memories and unreleased photos of Scott from his formative years in music. Thanks to Dustin Halter for touching up the photos and watermarking them.
As I parted ways with Mighty Joe Young, it wasn’t long before I was starving artistically. Automatically I just grabbed a camera, and started shooting. I was still their biggest fan, so I decided to photograph Mighty Joe Young as they morphed into Stone Temple Pilots and started recording their debut album Core. I got some great shots out of the gate, and I tried to be there with them and help out as much as I could.
I was in the studio when they were recording “Creep.” I knew that it would be a major success for them, it definitely felt like witnessing history in the making. Every time I would watch them rehearse and record the Core songs, everyone knew something special was going on. There was a feeling of electricity in the air, and a sense of excitement that was just contagious.
Atlantic Records gave them complete creative control when they signed them. When you got signed back in the day, generally there would be stipulations in the contract where the label would have a lot of control, but STP had a great rapport with Atlantic. They told them, ‘We want to give you guys free reign on what you want to do. We’re not going to be in the studio harassing you, just do what you do.’ Everything was in place for them to create a masterpiece, and they did.
I took a rare photo of Scott with producer Brendan O’Brien during STP’s early days, which is actually the first photo you can see below. The band was very happy with Brendan, because not only was he a producer, but he was also a musician. A lot of musicians struggle with producers because they don’t know how to play an instrument, but Brendan knew how to play, and they could definitely relate to him.
The picture backstage of Scott with the bullhorn actually connects to how he started using it. Scott took his first bullhorn from the garage of our friend Gary Menke’s Dad Dale, and Gary is actually to the left of Scott in that photo.
One of the early Core shows was a side stage performance at Irvine Meadows, which I believe was at Lollapalooza 1992. After that performance, they did a secret show at a little tiny dive bar in Costa Mesa called the Tiki Bar. It was at 11:30 or 12 at night, and it was packed. They killed it, it was such a special show.
Enjoy my collection of photos from Stone Temple Pilots’ Core days below, in memory of Scott.
Brendan O’Brien and Scott Weiland.
Dean and Robert DeLeo on the side stage at Irvine Meadows for Lollapalooza 1992.
This is the first installment in Alternative Nation’s ‘Deep Cuts’ series, from Scott Weiland’s best friend and Mighty Joe Young/Swing/Soi-Disant bandmate Corey Hickok. Alternative Nation will be launching a new section soon featuring more articles like this. Check back tomorrow for an exclusive behind the scenes look at the recording of ‘Core’ and Stone Temple Pilots’ early shows touring the album. Thanks to David Allin for many of the high school photos.
The year was 1984. We sat outside of Scott’s parents brand new house in downtown Huntington Beach. Scott’s mom had a very special gift in the kitchen, and could cook as good as any gourmet chef. Our stomachs were content from a healthy portion of her famous beef brisket. We sipped on hot tea and sat across from each other, discussing our future. We weren’t just talking, but mapping out our future as rock stars. I know it sounds trite, but we had decided our dedication and passion would lead us to a life of waking up every morning with music as our livelihood. We exchanged thoughts on what luxuries life would allow us as we rocked the world with our music. But at this moment, the love we had for our musical endeavors seemed to minor in a love for food.
I vividly remember Paris coming up as a place we’d go to dine at the finest France had to offer. The luxury of being able to order anything off the menu regardless of price excited us. We chuckled, and Scott had a way of shaking his leg in a back and forth motion whenever he was overly stimulated. It was a surefire sign that he was in the best of moods. Back in those days, that occurred on a regular basis.
Scott and his family moved to Huntington Beach, CA from Chagrin Falls, OH in 1983. He went to Edison High School as a freshman, playing football and singing in the choir. Scott would come to watch my brother Ross and I play in our band Awkward Positions, and he was intrigued by the whole idea of creating music. As that band came to an end, I asked Scott if he would like to sing for a new band I was forming. He jumped at the opportunity, and we went to play together for the first time at a drummer named David Allin’s house. There was immediate chemistry, and we started looking for a bass player, who initially ended up being Dave Stokes. When it came to picking out a name, Scott settled on Soi-Disant. It was a French name, meaning style of oneself.
Soi-Disant perform live.
In choir, Scott was in ensemble, which was the best of the best, so he had total knowledge of how to sing professionally. He had perfect pitch, but as far as finding himself and who he was as a singer in a band, it was a process to find his voice. He had been sheltered from a lot of music in Ohio, which had a vastly different scene to southern California. I brought a lot of post punk influences into the band, and I shared them with Scott. Early Cure, the Psychadelic Furs, The Jam, The Clash, The Buzzcocks, bands with a punk energy, but with great melodies and hooks.
The Cure’s “Killing An Arab” was one of the early songs we covered. I also remember turning him onto David Bowie, and he really liked Duran Duran. Scott started teaching me how to sing harmonies, and we synced perfectly. We could sing just acapaella, and it would sound almost like a chorus pedal. I was progressing as a singer, and he starting to find out who he wanted to be musically.
Soi-Disant: (back, left to right) David Allin, Corey Hickok, Scott Weiland, (front) Britt Willits, and Scott Tubbs.
I was just getting to know Scott, but at the time I had a tight knit group of close friends, and on weekends I’d always go hang out with them. Scott was eager to spend more time with me, ‘Hey, why can’t I hang out with you?’ He wanted to hang out with me more because of what we were doing musically, but I only had so many friends, and it took a little time for me to consider someone a best friend.
During sophomore year, Scott’s parents found a very small amount of cocaine in his room, and they had paramedics come to our school and put him on a gurney, in front of everybody. He was put on lockdown in Orange at a place called Care Unit. They told him, ‘You have to partake in this program. You’ve got problems, so you better admit it!’ He told them he didn’t have any problems, and at the time, he didn’t. He was a kid dabbling recreationally, and he made a mistake, but it led to rumors at school. Everyone at school thought Scott had a drug problem, so I had to go around and tell everyone that he didn’t.
Scott called me from Care Unit, ‘Hey Corey man, can you come here?’ I went up there, and it was very emotional. I asked him what I could do for him, and he said, ‘I just need a good friend.’ I committed to him, ‘I’ll be your best friend.’ After that, not only were we partners in music, but we were best friends. I alienated a lot of other friends I had, and I was with Scott always for the rest of high school. We looked after each other through thick and thin, and always had each other’s backs.
Our band became complete when we added a new bass player and keyboardist. There was a really talented band when I was in junior high called Tubbs and Company: Shawn, Lonnie, and Scott Tubbs. Scott would become our bass player after Dave, and Britt Willits became our keyboardist. Shawn and Lonnie would also play with us from time to time. Once Scott joined Soi-Disant, we got serious. As we started to play live, most people said it sounded like Duran Duran, but I was trying to infuse some more angst into our sound. Early songs titles included “Forever Four” and “In The Moonlight.”
Our school had banned bands from playing at lunch in 1980 after this one punk band played and the kids just screwed up the whole school. We were the first band they allowed to come back and play. At lunch when the kids would come out, we’d be playing the middle of the quad. We were definitely the high school band.
Eventually we started playing at all of the different parties, the ‘jock’ parties. We got pretty popular, as a lot of the women started liking what we were doing (and the way we looked). A lot of the jocks started getting really jealous. We’d play these parties, and we were taking away the attention of all the girls. We got in some fights with the jocks, and Scott was a really good fighter. These jocks were messing with the wrong guy. He was one of those guys who would take you down no matter what, it didn’t matter how big you were.
There was one occasion where a few guys ganged up on Scott, and Scott didn’t forget it. Years later, when Stone Temple Pilots played on the main stage at Irvine Meadows for the first time in 1993, Scott said on stage something along the lines of, ‘It’s funny, here I am back in my hometown, and some of you guys who used to want to start fights with me now are now watching me play here. How do you like that?’
We knew we had to take Soi-Disant to the next level, and we had to get out of the party scene in Orange County and play in Los Angeles. We played at ‘pay to play’ venues like The Roxy and the Whiskey, where you had to sell tickets in order to play. We got clever, figuring out that we could rent tour buses and then factor that into the ticket prices.
We’d have two tour buses show up in front of our high school, and mostly pack them with girls. Up to 200 kids would be driven up to LA, and the shows would be sold out. We were 17 years old and selling out The Roxy. Music industry people were shocked that a teenage band from Orange County could manage to sell out a club in LA.
We also would play at a 21 and over dance club in Orange County called Déjà Vu, so we all had to get fake ID’s. The guy who ran the club, Tom, let us play once a week and jam in between the DJ, and it took off. We got a whole different type of following, and it did a lot for us. Tom was such a big supporter that he paid for us to do a demo called “Divine Right.”
While we were playing at Déjà Vu, at the end of our sets we’d close with “Louie Louie.” One night, we asked if anybody in the audience knew how to play bass, and a guy rose his hand, so we invited him on stage, and he absolutely killed it. His name was Robert DeLeo. The next time we played, he was there again, and it became a regular occurrence.
We graduated in 1986, celebrating with a trip to Hawaii. As we looked towards the future, Scott and I were determined that we were going to make it in the music industry, and Britt was on board as well. We were maturing, and wanted a new sound to take us to the next level. We had heard that Robert had a studio at his apartment in Long Beach, so we went up there to record some stuff. We also asked him if he would lay the bass down on some songs after we’d recorded our parts. We came back the next day, and our jaws dropped. It sounded incredible.
Scott and I looked at each other, and we’re like: ‘Hey Robert, would you like to be in our band?’ He said, ‘Look guys, I’m so serious about music, if I get in a band, it has to be 100% dedication.’ We responded, ‘That’s what we’re looking for.’ And we did it. We started writing songs that were in the same vein as Parliament P Funk and Sly Stone, going in a 70’s funk direction, and Swing was born.
Robert DeLeo and Scott Weiland perform live.
We now needed a drummer, so we put out an ad in Bam magazine. We had a lot of interest, and a lot of them just weren’t any good, so we started requesting videos. We met this one guy who played great, but he had a girlfriend who was a nightmare. We played a few times, and it was always a hassle with the girlfriend, and we called him out on it. We told him that we didn’t want any outside distractions, and he was out. After that, we went back to the drawing board.
Robert DeLeo, Scott Weiland, and Corey Hickok perform live.
One day we were sitting in downtown Long Beach, and we had just heard a drummer play over the phone, and he was going to bring us a tape. We saw him pull up in his car downstairs, and up comes a man by the name of Eric Kretz. He put on a video tape of himself playing, and he was incredible. Bruford, Bonham, that’s what we wanted, so we set up an audition at a rehearsal studio in Long Beach. Eric set up his drums, we were so excited, we’d been looking for a drummer for months.
I go up to check my mic, I have my fingers on my strings, and I started getting shocked. I literally flew at least 10 feet, almost behind the stage on the riser. Saliva was coming out of my mouth, I thought I was going to die. Eric tried to free me from my guitar, but he got jolted when he touched me. Considering we had just met, I thought that was really brave of him and showed his character.
Everyone in the building could hear me shrieking. Scott came up behind me and shouted, ‘Turn the power off!’ I jumped up in the air, in shock, freaking out. An ambulance came and took me to the hospital, and the band followed me. The doctor told me if I hadn’t been wearing shoes, or I’d been older, I would have died. It really changed my outlook on life.
After that, Eric joined Swing. We played a lot of dance clubs, and we could get away with it, because people would dance to our music. We started to get a following, but we knew we had to go up to LA. I dropped out of school at Long Beach State, and Robert, Eric, Britt, and I moved into an apartment in Culver City, while Scott moved in with his girlfriend Mary Ann.
Britt Willits, Corey Hickok, Scott Weiland, and Erik Kretz on Scott’s 21st birthday in 1988. Scott’s birthday was on October 27th, close to Halloween, so typically we would always try to get a limo, it was kind of a tradition. We would dress up as clowns, sometimes like A Clockwork Orange characters.
We just started playing every club we could, with the Coconut Teaszer being a mainstay. We played with No Doubt early on, and Tom Morello’s band Lock Up. Bam Magazine also started to give us some media attention. When you were Bam’s pick of the week, you knew you were going to get signed. Jane’s Addiction, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, you name it. We ended up being the pick of the week.
When we played live, somewhere in the set we would do solos, and Eric would do a drum solo where he would get up from his drum set with his drumsticks and literally tap everything in the venue. He would go tap the side of the mic stand, he’d even go into the audience. People were like, ‘What the hell is this guy doing!?’ He’d then make his way back on stage, and slowly start to play, and then he would just go nuts. He was so animated, the crowd loved it.
Robert would do a bass solo, and this is back when he would slap. Everyone’s jaws would just drop, he could slap on that bass like nobody’s business. It was incredible, and it completely captivated the audience. Scott was really coming into his own as a frontman with Swing. He started doing his James Brown and Mick Jagger moves, incorporating that into his stage presence. So many times after we would finish playing we would have people go up to us, ‘You guys are going to make it. Not only do you sound incredible, but you have the greatest stage presence. You guys are going to be huge.’ That was a standard for us, and we felt it too, we had a chemistry on stage where we just fed off each other. There was never a moment where people just sat there and watched us, people would be dancing, jumping up and down, they were always participating in some way. It really helped fire us up on stage.
Our songwriting evolved as well. When we started playing together, it was all my stuff, with Robert adding his licks to what I was writing. Very quickly, it evolved to where Robert was bringing in ideas himself. Robert had a great way of bringing in really catchy riffs, and my talent was to take those riffs and structure them in a song format. As time went on, Robert wrote more and more, while I wrote less and less, but I was always helping a lot with the arrangements. Robert is such a brilliant musician, he had so much music in his head, and just a plethora of licks.
“Ole Dixie” was a fun little country song we did, completely different from anything we ever did. Scott’s biological father Kent and stepmom Martha listened to old school country music, so he was a fan growing up, as was I. We were really into Dwight Yoakam as well at the time. One time we were goofing around in the studio, and we decided to slap it on the end of a demo. We also did two really funky songs called “Dirty Dog” and “Love Machine.” For “Love Machine,” we hired a woman to do backing vocals to get that 70’s soul sound, and we actually all did backing vocals on that song.
We really loved funk, but there was only so much we could do in that genre. Our sound slowly moved in the 70’s rock direction, rather than our funk and 60’s soul influences. Scott really started getting into The Doors and Jim Morrison. When Scott would really get passionate about an artist he admired, it somehow became a part of him, and his own unique voice.
As we transitioned into a more rock sound, we didn’t have any more keyboard parts for Britt to play, so we let him go. We then changed our name to Mighty Joe Young as part of this transformation of our sound. This is when there started to be some tension in the band, as there became a desire to have an anthem type lead guitar sound with what was going on with MTV at the time, with big solos. That type of playing just wasn’t in my musical makeup, and I didn’t see why I should change my style.
Scott Weiland, Eric Kretz, and Corey Hickok perform live.
Two songs we worked on that were in our new rock direction were “Piece of Pie” and “Fast As I Can” (completely different songs from the tracks that later appeared on Core and Stone Temple Pilots). “Piece of Pie” called for a lead, so Robert said: ‘Corey, we’ve got to do a lead for this song. I’ll tell you what, let’s get my brother Dean up here to just play the lead on it.’ Dean was this monster guitar player, but he was a foreman at a construction company, making great money. I’d met Dean, we’d had fun with him riding jet skis down in San Diego, and he’d come to a few shows. He ended up coming in and playing the solo, and it was brilliant. After that, there was talk of Dean joining the band and making it a 5 piece, with me doing rhythm guitar and backing vocals. I said no.
I felt what we had been doing up to that point was great, and that we didn’t need anything else. Looking back now in hindsight, I see that what Dean brought to the band is everything they needed to get to the next level. But at the time, I felt a little differently.
Scott said, “Corey, we need this.” At the same time, Robert was progressing as a a bass player and musician at an incredible pace, Eric was so on the money, with the best chops, and then you had me, and I wasn’t progressing nearly as fast as them as a musician. There was some tension there, and I understand that. I also had a great job opportunity back home in Huntington Beach at the time too, so I was really at a crossroads. They could sense I wasn’t as dedicated as I once was.
Robert DeLeo, Scott Weiland, and Corey Hickok perform live.
It was a difficult decision, but I told Scott that I was leaving Mighty Joe Young. We both cried. Since the beginning of high school, he had never played in a band without me. He felt like a part of his whole experience as a musician was gone, but he was definitely in great hands. Dean’s a monster musician, with the synergy between he and his brother, and Eric, they were a force to be reckoned with.
I told Scott, ‘My Dad’s offering me a business, I understand the pressure, bring Dean in. I’m done, but I’ll always be your best friend.’ Scott looked me in the eyes and told me, ‘Corey, I want you to know this. If I don’t make it in music, I don’t know anything else I’ll be able to do. You might have to support me someday.’ He was 100% serious. This was all he ever wanted. Since we began this journey, I saw something change in him, his whole demeanor changed as soon as he sang in a band situation. He never looked back. It’s what he was meant to do.
Mighty Joe Young after Dean joined the band.
After I quit, Dean joined Mighty Joe Young on a temporary basis, but was hesitant to join full time because of the great job he had in San Diego, so they put out ads looking for a new guitar player. They started auditioning guitarists and were just laughing, the same thing that happened when we were looking for drummers a few years prior.
As Dean was beginning to play with the band though, the chemistry was undeniable. Just as I was leaving the band, “Wicked Garden” was being written. “Where The River Goes,” “Only Dying,” and “Naked Sunday” were also early songs they did with Dean. After a month or so, Dean finally agreed to join on a full time basis. He was the icing on the cake for the band, and I became their biggest fan. I was there for their early shows, the day they were signed by Atlantic Records, when they were writing and recording the songs from Core, and as the Grunge scene exploded.
Mighty Joe Young’s original 1989 logo.
When it came to contemporaries, Scott had never heard of a band called Pearl Jam when he was writing Core. We were fans though of Alice In Chains when they came out, and Scott had great admiration for Perry Farrell, he thought he was mesmerizing and an amazing frontman. He loved Jane’s Addiction.
One thing that Scott became iconic for was his use of the bullhorn on stage, and there is a great story behind that. We were over at our buddy Gary Menke’s house one day, and Scott goes into the garage and sees a bullhorn. He says, ‘I want to start playing with this!’ Some time after that, I’m hanging out at Gary’s house, and Scott is on MTV. Gary says, ‘Hey Dad, you were asking where you megaphone was, there it is!’ His Dad Dale goes, ‘What the hell? I want my megaphone back!’ Word got back to Scott, so he wrote: ‘I heart Dale Menke’ on it. Dale let him keep it.
Scott with his trademark bullhorn at a July 1993 concert in Berkley, CA
As Mighty Joe Young became Stone Temple Pilots, I remember feeling that everything I knew we were going to be, was going to be. With any type of career that takes drive and ambition to achieve, there will be naysayers. Whether you want to be a fireman or a doctor, then you get older and you find out it’s ‘1 in 10,000.’ When we were young, we had these people saying: ‘Do you know that 1 in 10,000 people make it in the music industry? Grow up! How are you going to make it?’
We said, ‘We’re the 1 in 10,000.’ Nothing ever penetrated Scott’s mind, he was laser focused. The chills I get remembering being at our 20 year high school reunion when they put the class of 1986 video on, and all of a sudden it shows me and Scott. We’re saying: ‘In 10 years, we’re going to be dominating the world, the biggest band in the music industry.’ Scott did it.
Scott’s 1986 high school graduation photo, with his note to Corey.
When STP released Core in 1992, our local metal station KNAC picked up “Sex Type Thing,” but KROQ said it was ‘too heavy’ for the station. It became the number 1 song on KNAC. “Plush” was the next single, at the time STP were touring in an RV, and that song became a smash hit on rock radio. KROQ think they’re always the ‘hottest’ on alternative, but they had to swallow their pride and play STP after every station across the country had picked up “Plush.”
Once Scott became famous, and I was just a normal guy, every time I would see him, my goal was to try to take him out of that realm, because he called me so many times on the road and we had some very heartfelt conversations. Scott started to go into restaurants, and guys would come up with their shoes, and they’d put them on the table: ‘Hey, will you sign my shoes?’ For awhile he’d be like, ‘Okay, but that’s kind of odd.’ Then it got to a point where he couldn’t be seen in public.
He called me on the road, ‘Corey, I’m coming home, I want you to be at my house.’ Scott had just bought a home with his wife Janina, who is a great woman. She was there for Swing, Mighty Joe Young, and everything. So I meet Scott, we’re sitting at his beautiful house, and Scott tells me, ‘Corey, this is what I always wanted, but I feel like a puppet. I’m being torn. At 8 o’clock I do an interview, 8:30 pictures, then 9 another interview, then 10 I’m going to MTV.’ It was just a lot, and it was times like that that I would help ground him, and help him understand that this is what we were working for, and to just roll with the punches.
Scott during STP’s early days.
We would see each other off and on because of Scott’s touring schedule, but when he would be in town, we would get together. I was over at his house one day in 1998 in Pasadena, and he told me he had a solo record coming out, 12 Bar Blues. He played “Barbarella” over his great sound system, and gave me an acoustic guitar and asked me to play along. He said, ‘I’ve got an idea. Why don’t you come and play with me? I’m going out to play David Letterman in New York, do you want to play?’ I said sure, and he invited me to rehearse with his solo band. Daniel Lanois was there, Martyn LeNoble, and Victor Indrizzo. The guitar tech gave me Dave Navarro’s 12 string to play, it was a lot nicer than the guitar I brought. We started playing “Barbarella,” and Scott stops the song halfway through and tells Daniel than I am going to be singing backups, like I used to in the olden days.
The next thing I know I’m flying to New York with Scott. When we get to David Letterman’s studio we were told we had to cut the song down, which complicated the arrangement and the beginning of the song. A person who worked for Letterman told me, “We’ve decided we’re going to put a click track in your ear, not the drummer’s ear, and when David says ’12 Bar Blues,’ on ‘blues’ you’re going to have to hit the first note to a click track.” So I hit the first note and it starts the drum track for him, and if I make a mistake, I butcher the whole song on live TV. We do it, and I pull it off, but it was quite the experience.
Scott and his brother Michael before Scott’s interview on Howard Stern to promote 12 Bar Blues.
While we were in New York, we got wined and dined by Atlantic Records. At the restaurant, I go to the bathroom, and a guy walks up and asks me: ‘Hey, you’re here with Scott? Could you introduce me to him?’ It was Ben Stiller. So I introduced them, and Ben asked Scott to do a song for ‘There’s Something About Mary.’
Scott then asked me to join his band and come out on tour for 12 Bar Blues with him. This was my dream, but when I got to New York and I saw the schedule, getting up at 7AM, then going to Howard Stern at 7:30, and just being there for 3 days, it was so rigorous. For the first time I saw first hand what it does entail to be a rock star like Scott, and there really is a part to it that can definitely take a toll on you. You really need to have a foundation of some sort, because it can be very cold.
Corey and Scott backstage at a June 2010 Stone Temple Pilots show in Irvine, CA.
After that, I would still see Scott off and on depending on his schedule. In 2009, he called me and said, “Corey, I need you to come up to LA, I’ve got the guys from VH1 Behind The Music here to do an interview with you.” I spent 2 hours with VH1, and the director thanked me for filling in the gaps from when Scott moved to Huntington Beach. It never came out. Apparently there’s so much red tape legally because of the many different musicians Scott worked with, that these guys all have their own publishing deals. They definitely have enough though to release the Behind The Music special.
Later that same year, Scott and I had one of our most memorable experiences as friends when we went to a Notre Dame football game. Scott’s dad David played football at Notre Dame, so Scott was a lifelong fan of Notre Dame’s football team. Every Saturday, no matter what, he was going to watch the game. In 2009, the coach Charlie Weiss heard that Scott had defended him on the internet, when a lot of people were calling for him to be fired. Charlie called Scott and asked him to come to the alumni game, and Scott asked me to go with him.
Corey, Notre Dame’s athletic director, Scott, and Derek Mayes at a Notre Dame football game in 2009.
We stayed at the university hotel, and when we went into our room, and Scott was like a kid in a candy store, shaking his leg with excitement like he did when we were young. We’re talking about a rock star, where nothing surprised him any more. We met Charlie, who told us he wanted us to come on the field, and even let us park in his personal parking space. At the game, Jerome Bettis and Tim Brown came up asked for pictures with Scott.
At one point, Scott decided he wanted to go up to the college section and hang out with the kids. After the game, we ended up playing beer pong with some kids at a bar, and it wasn’t about drinking, Scott drank less than me, it was about Scott’s love for the school. We were invited to a house by seniors, and Scott was so appreciative of everyone we met. He loved the campus, and he wanted to be a part of it. We had the most amazing weekend. He was the old Scott. Scott left such an impression on everybody there, that the alumni director texted me the night Scott passed, 6 years after we’d met him.
Scott and Tim Brown at the Notre Dame game in 2009.
As the years went on and I would see Scott in between tours, and in a beautiful way, I almost felt like a rock for Scott. He got to the point where he was around so many different people. As you become famous, you become this magnet that everyone attracts to. Everyone wants to cling to you, and they all start to become your best friend, and you don’t know their true motifs.
All of a sudden I’d see these new people, and I would be the same old Corey. I would see some uncomfortable stuff, and things I didn’t approve of, and I would be the first one to say something. They would be shocked: ‘Do you know who you’re talking to?’ I’d respond, ‘Yeah, I’m looking out for my best friend.’ It was a back and forth thing, where Scott would want to be around certain people, and then times where he would spend more time with me.
Corey with one of his favorite photographs of Scott in January 2016.
I want to conclude by saying I’m truly blessed to have had a part in Scott’s musical journey, and will hold it close to my heart for the rest of my life. Scott was a slice of the rock and roll revolutionary pie. He is a prominent voice for more than a generation, and his music has become the soundtrack of many of his fans lives. His ability to constantly reinvent himself and his voice inflections catapulted him to a level few have reached in rock and roll. How many musicians can you think of off the top your head that have been making music and remained relevant after 25 years? Scott will always be remembered as the “miraculous melody maker,” with his ability to write songs that stand the test of time.
Figuratively speaking, it was as if Scott was able to tap into a sacred realm of music, and it was the fans who got to reap the rewards of his rare findings. In time, I believe more of Scott’s contributions to music will be recognized as a major footprint for this generation. As a great friend, I’m terribly saddened he’s gone, but rest assured, he’s up in Heaven and playing among the best of them in peace. As his loyal fans pay their respects, I know Scott is looking down and proud of all of you for your heartfelt sentiments. On behalf of his close friends, we thank you for the love and support of a one of a kind, beautiful soul who will forever be remembered.
Scott performing with Soi-Disant.
From left: Scott, his high school sweetheart Heather Chapman, Geneva (David Allin’s girlfriend), David Allin, Ron Kaufman, and Corey Hickok.
Scott with Ron Kaufman, our other great friend. At one time people called us the Three Musty Queers. All in fun of course. The three of us spent a lot of time together throughout high school and beyond.
Ann Wilkens, Heather Chapman, Ron Kaufman, Corey Hickok, Claudia Stange, Geneva, and Scott. Ann Wilkens is now the executive producer for KROQ’s Loveline.
Scott, Heather Chapman, Robin Campbell, David Allin, Geneva, Corey Hickok, Ron Kaufman, and Liana on our 1986 high school graduation trip to Hawaii.
Scott on the high school graduation trip to Hawaii.
Scott and his first love Heather Chapman.
We all went to a ‘Dynasty’ party in high school. This is Scott with Robin Campbell, David Allin’s cousin.