“When I first wrote the song, it actually started out as a bossa nova piece,” reveals Stone Temple Pilots bassist and primary songwriter Robert DeLeo of “Interstate Love Song,” the country-tinged third single from the San Diego rockers’ sophomore classic Purple (the super deluxe edition of which will be available Oct. 18 on Rhino Records). “I had been getting introduced to a lot of bossa nova and samba at the time like Joao Gilberto and Jorge Ben, and I wrote it on a cheap $25 guitar that was sitting in the back of the truck we used to ride around in with the gear on our first tour. Maybe one day we will record it the way I originally intended it to be, but that’s how it started. The twang, however, added a nice Jerry Reed/Glen Campbell hook to it.”
When asked about the country elements of the song, which peaked at the top spot on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock Songs chart and No. 2 on the Alternative Songs chart, the New Jersey-born DeLeo quickly references the influence of Bakersfield as a key element to the song’s dusty shuffle.
“I love Buck Owens, man,” he tells Billboard. “I have all the old episodes of Hee-Haw TiVo’ed. I loved watching Buck Owens and Roy Clark play on that show, and it was a huge influence on me. Growing up in the ’70s, there was so much great talent we were exposed to, and it played a big part of my later songwriting.”
In line with Rhino’s acclaimed repackaging of STP’s 1992 debut Core, this 3-CD/1-LP strong edition of Purple contains a trove of demos, early versions, acoustic renditions of album tracks and even a cover of the Beach Boys’ 1965 deep cut “She Knows Me Too Well.” However, the real find on this forthcoming collection is the complete concert from the New Haven Veterans Memorial Coliseum in New Haven, CT on Aug. 23, 1994, a taste of which you can check out via the premiere of a full-throttled live version of “Interstate Love Song” below.
“That was the ‘brothers’ tour, because we had us headlining with Redd Kross and the Meat Puppets opening,” DeLeo recalls. “I remember because we had a picture of all six brothers together. We were all out at one time. That was great. I have that photo somewhere.”
The show was originally recorded for a concert film based on the Purple tour that never materialized; according to DeLeo, that video footage has since gone missing.
“That was a fun tour for us because we had a chance to really make a wish list of what we wanted for the stage,” DeLeo tells Billboard. “We had the chance to have these 100-feet-high purple curtains that framed the stage, and then we had 25-feet-high lava lamps with movie projectors that showed images inside the lamps themselves. I remember the first time we went in to see the lighting show and how it all worked for pre-production before we took the stage, and thinking do we even need to be up there? It was so beautiful and exactly how we wanted the visuals to look.”
Yet this particular concert in New Haven — which included wildly diverse covers such as Woody Guthrie’s “Gypsy Davy” and David Bowie’s “Andy Warhol” along with the majority of Purple and select faves from Core — was also one of DeLeo’s more harrowing moments on stage, with the cameras compounding the jitters surrounding the band’s very first arena tour.
“I remember being really nervous, because when you got those cameras on you when you’re playing, it brings a different element and makes you think a little more about what you are actually playing when you’re up there,” he admits. “It’s one of those things, you know, we were onstage in front of 25,000 people all of a sudden on that tour. It was very shocking to have that many people in front of you.”
Stone Temple Pilots, with current singer Jeff Gutt, will launch a co-headlining U.S. tour with Rival Sons on Sept. 13 in Baltimore that runs through Oct. 9, where they will play a homecoming gig in San Diego.