Many critics of the era considered STP to be a grunge clone; specifically, many claimed that Scott Weiland was a poor man’s Eddie Vedder, “ripping off” Vedder’s style in order to make a quick buck. Though that opinion has been greatly subsided in the 22 years since the release of STP’s Core, there are still a number of music fans and media outlets who latch onto this shallow concept. It only takes a brief look at the facts an a good listen to the music to really understand how their similarities were mostly coincidental.
STP PREDATED PEARL JAM
STP, in its earliest incarnation, formed somewhere around 1985, with Robert DeLeo on bass, Corey Hickock on Guitar, and David Allin on drums. That lineup recorded under the name Swing, while a demo recorded in 1990 with Dean DeLeo on guitar under the name Mighty Joe Young included grungy songs from Core like “Where The River Goes” and “Wicked Garden”, a full year before the release of Temple of the Dog (Eddie Vedder’s first appearance in the public eye) and Ten. Sure, Pearl Jam’s instrumentalists had long been active in bands like Mother Love Bone and Green River, but those groups sounded nothing like Pearl Jam.
CORE WAS MUCH HEAVIER THAN TEN
Objectively speaking, early STP was much heavier than early Pearl Jam. Pearl Jam took the classic arena rock sound in the vein of The Who and made it their own, bolstered by Mike McCready’s Hendrix-esque guitar solos, while STP kind of blasted through with aggressive, three minute songs. Pearl Jam didn’t have a song on Ten really sounding pissed off enough to rival “Sex Type Thing”, while STP didn’t have a song sprawling enough to rival “Alive”. I’m not advocating one style over the other, just simply stating that both bands did what they in their own departments very well.
Weiland (Details Magazine 1994): I have a lot of respect for Eddie Vedder and the ideals and things he stands for. As an artist he’s very valid. But I never really thought if you put us next to each other we looked like Siamese Twins!
Weiland, (Stone Temple Pilots: Fully Illustrated, 1994): What is ‘grunge’? I think the music industry just comes up with these neat little categories to package everything in. I just care about artists making music with artistic integrity, which matters and which gets noticed, and I hop ewe’re doing that. There are bands like Helmet and Sonic Youth in New York, who’ve been around a while but not received much recognition, bands in Seattle like Nirvana or Mudhoney, L7 in LA, Smashing Pumpkins, Fugazi… it goes on and on… the bands in Seattle don’t sound anything alike! Nirvana don’t sound like Mudhoney, who don’t sound anything like Alice in Chains or Soundgarden. I have a hard time figuring out the whole thing.
Dean DeLeo (Stone Temple Pilots: Fully Illustrated, 1994): I’m fucking sick of hearing Seattle comparisons! My brother Robert wrote a lot of the material on Core and he hasn’t even heard the Pearl Jam album to this day!
BOTH EDDIE VEDDER AND SCOTT WEILAND WERE INFLUENCED BY JIM MORRISON
I can’t say just how much the arrival of Pearl Jam really affected the music scene considering I was a resounding -2 years old when Ten came out, but from an objective point of view, its safe to say that the general audience was not used to the idea of baritone singers when they first heard Eddie sing. When STP burst into the scene, many were quick to blast them as a “Pearl Jam ripoff” based solely on Scott’s baritone vocals. How hard is it to believe that the two singers simply had similar tastes growing up? However, by the time Scott Stapp rolled into the scene, this excuse kind of became tired.
Dean DeLeo (Stone Temple Pilots: Fully Illustrated, 1994): If we model ourselves on anybody I’d like to make a reference to Led Zeppelin or Queen. All the bands who are around right now were in their garages not so long ago, jamming and playing along to Aerosmith and Zeppelin and Kiss!
NOTHING AFTER PURPLE SOUNDS EVEN REMOTELY LIKE PEARL JAM
Many casual fans dismiss any of STP’s catalog after 1994’s Purple, when in fact their most eclectic and inspired material came from 1996’s Tiny Music… Songs From The Vatican Gift Shop, tinged with acid rock sensibilities and a new raspy vocal style from Weiland. 1999’s No. 4 returned to a heavier style for the band, though Weiland’s vocals alternate back and forth between snappy baritone and smooth. 2001’s Shangri La-Dee Da veered off into plenty of weird directions for the band (Scott having referred to it as a “concept album” as opposed to being a straightforward rock album) while 2010’s self-titled reunion record has been described by Spin, The Globe & Mail, GrungeReport.net, and the band members themselves as being inspired by 60’s bands.