An abandoned attempt to make a followup to 2009's "Volume 4: Songs in the Key of Love & Hate" led Puddle of Mudd to opt instead for a covers set, "re:(disc)overed," which is due out Aug. 2.
"Since we started we've been non-stop -- make a record, go on tour, then right into rehearsals and the next record, then back on tour...," guitarist Paul Phillip tells Billboard.com. "We were really burned out, and when we started trying to write again it just wasn't time yet. And we had been doing (AC/DC's) 'TNT' and (the Steve Miller Band's) 'The Joker' and had so much fun with those that one thing led to another and we decided to make a covers record. It was just something fun to do, and we had a blast."
"Re:(disc)overed" features 11 of the 15 songs Puddle of Mudd recorded with producer Bill Appleberry during January and February at the Bomb Shelter, a studio owned by Stone Temple Pilots drummer Eric Kretz in Los Angeles. The Rolling Stones' "Gimme Shelter" is the set's first single and will be serviced to radio in mid-June, and the album also includes versions of Free's "All Right Now," Bad Company's "Shooting Star," Neil Young's "Old Man," Led Zeppelin's "D'yer M'ker" and Elton John's "Rocket Man."
"We chose a lot of things that were challenging," Phillip explains. "People hear Puddle's gonna do a covers album and they think it'll be Nirvana and the Ramones and Metallica and stuff like that. And that's something we wanted to do, but we wanted to stretch our legs, and it was a very challenging thing to have songs that have piano and these big, crazy arrangements and stuff. I mean, doing an Elton John song with piano and backup singers and stuff is not easy. It's easier to record a Puddle of Mudd song, but to tackle an arrangement like that is a lot more difficult to do, and that's what we wanted."
For the most part, Phillips adds, Puddle of Mudd chose to "pay tribute" to the songs "rather than bastardizing them like a lot of people do when they do covers. We really tried to keep them true to what they were, because they are great songs already, so who am I to go in and change a Rolling Stones song? They're not slavish copies; these songs do have a Puddle of Mudd flavor to them, but we didn't go in and change parts just to make it sound more like us."
Phillips calls the guitar solo on "All Right Now" was his "arch nemesis," but the most challenging track, he felt, was "D'yer M'ker." "I really didn't think we were gonna pull that off at all, just because the reggae feel is not what we do, and the way (John) Bonham played it, he's just got that thing that not many people can do, you know? So I was very surprised by that one, personally. I think we did a really good job."
Puddle of Mudd will be on the road this summer, starting with Memorial Day weekend festival shows in St. Louis and St. Paul, Minn., and also including an appearance at the Download Festival on June 10 in the U.K. Frontman Wes Scantlin says the shows will featuring an opening set of the entire "re:(disc)overed" album, followed by an intermission and then a set of Puddle of Mudd's original material. Meanwhile, the group is eyeballing an original album; Santlin has written four songs he describes as "really cool, heavy stuff, really wicked, almost like Soundgarden, 'Badmotorfinger' type old-school Puddle of Mudd." And both Scantlin and Phillip predict that making "re:(disc)overed" will have some impact on Puddle of Mudd's new songs, too.
"I think this kind of opens us up," he says. "I think it brought everybody's playing up to another level...and maybe a platform for us to experiment a bit more on the next record and try some different things. This is going to be a real important record for us and we really want to try to take it to the next level and surprise people, so I think ('re:(disc)overed') is a great springboard for that to happen."
The track list for Puddle of Mudd's "re:(disc)overed" includes:
"Gimme Shelter" (Rolling Stones)
"Old Man" (Neil Young)
"Stop Draggin' My Heart Around" (Stevie Nicks with Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers)
"The Joker" (Steve Miller Band)
"Everybody Wants You" (Billy Squier)
"Rocket Man" (Elton John)
"All Right Now" (Free)
"Shooting Star" (Bad Company)
"Funk 49" (James Gang)
"D'yer M'ker" (Led Zeppelin)