It's 5 a.m., and while most of his neighbors in Los Angeles sleep, Puddle of Mudd frontman Wes Scantlin is lounging on his couch with an acoustic guitar, a six-pack of beer and a small recording device to capture new song ideas for his rock band.
His early-bird method of songwriting has proved to be successful at radio. Since Puddle of Mudd's 2001 debut album, "Come Clean," the group has had five No. 1 songs on Billboard's Mainstream Rock chart, tied for second-most this decade with 3 Doors Down, Godsmack and Linkin Park.
But some of those hits have come at the expense of a concerned wife, who often comes down the stairs at about 4:30 a.m. to ask Scantlin, "When are you coming to bed? Are you ever coming to bed -- ever?" he recalls with a laugh.
But Scantlin knows how to make the best of the situation. On Puddle of Mudd's fourth studio set, "Volume 4: Songs in the Key of Love & Hate," due Dec. 8 on Flawless/Geffen, the musician used his wife's complaints as inspiration for the song "Pitchin' a Fit." "She's my little muse," he says, noting that new track "Keep It Together" is another love song written for her. "I get a song out of any mood that my wife is in."
In contrast, the first single from "Volume 4" -- the follow-up to 2007's "Famous," which has sold 363,000 copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan -- is the sexually charged rocker "Spaceship." The track is No. 11 on Mainstream Rock, No. 11 on Active Rock, No. 15 on Heritage Rock and No. 33 on Alternative. "Spaceship" premiered on AOL Music's Noisecreep blog in mid-October and has sold 10,000 downloads, according to SoundScan.
Interscope/Geffen marketing director Matt LaMotte says his primary goal with "Volume 4" is to bring out Puddle of Mudd's personality and charisma to a digital audience. "Just about everyone has a Puddle of Mudd song in their iTunes library," he says. "But I'm not sure that all of those people subscribe to the mailing list or go to their Web site regularly."
In addition to constant Twitter updates from Puddle of Mudd members, the first step in galvanizing the band's online fan base was releasing teaser clips of the video for "Spaceship" -- which features the band with cast members from MTV's "Nitro Circus" traveling the galaxy in search of alien girls -- in the days leading up to its Nov. 16 debut on Yahoo Music.
Puddle of Mudd's team also hopes to boost the band's TV exposure in 2010. The group is scheduled to perform Jan. 7 on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" and is currently negotiating other late-night bookings. LaMotte says the act will also be marketed heavily at sporting events for brands like the NFL, UFC and NASCAR.
"We have a heavy street initiative going out to the sports crowd, handing out Puddle of Mudd beer koozies and bottle openers," he says. "That crowd likes this band already and would like to have some material like that."
"Volume 4" will also be promoted through a North American package tour that will visit small arenas in January and February, according to Prospect Park senior VP of music Peter Katsis, who co-manages Puddle of Mudd with Bill McGathy.
Meanwhile, Scantlin says he's already busy working on the group's next album.
He collaborated with his bandmates -- including guitarist Paul Phillips, who rejoined the band in February after leaving in 2005 -- for several songs on "Volume 4." And he's willing to do it again for future material -- if, of course, they can stay up past their bedtime.