Following the 2015 death of their frontman and singer Scott Weiland, it seemed that Stone Temple Pilots was a goner.
Weiland had a unique voice and, before drug addiction obliterated it, a riveting stage presence, of the sort that doesn't come along often.
Though the surviving band members - guitarist Robert DeLeo, bassist Dean DeLeo and drummer Eric Kertz - were responsible for STP's volcanic blend of Zeppelin-esque grandeur, glam-rock hooks and power-pop smarts, it seemed that Weiland was Robert Plant to their collective Jimmy Page. Meaning, unless these guys wanted to put out an album of instrumentals, they were quite likely out of luck.
Ah, but we love a happy ending in rock 'n' roll, precisely because we get so few of them. It seems that STP has found its man and with him, if first single "Meadow" offers any indication, a new lease on life.
New singer Jeff Gutt - pronounced "Goot" - is a veteran of Detroit's independent music scene, and though he has Weiland's vocal range and a familiar raspiness in his delivery, is far from a clone.
STP sifted through 15,000 submissions before whittling them down to a field of 30 who'd be auditioned in person. Gutt showed up on the final day.
"Talk about a happy accident," Robert DeLeo said in a press release. "It was clear right away that Jeff had the range to sing vocally challenging songs like 'Piece of Pie' and 'Interstate Love Song.' But we soon discovered that he also has a great ear for melody and knew how to write a song."
So the band put Gutt to work, and amassed some 14 new songs, the best of which are now being mixed for a new album, due early in 2018.
I've long believed the DeLeo brothers to be unsung heroes of their era. They are fine musicians and songwriters should've been riding high on the waves of a vibrant, hard-earned career. Instead, they had to watch their friend and partner destroy himself with opioids. I'm happy to see them getting a second chance.