Jeff Gutt hasn’t skipped a beat since being revealed as Stone Temple Pilots’ new singer on Nov. 14.
“I’m going back to the gym with my personal trainer — getting ready for touring, getting everything ready,” Gutt tells Billboard with a laugh. “We want all the ducks in a row so we can hit the stage and just go for it every night.”
STP will begin doing that on March 2 in Santa Clarita, Calif., the first of 14 dates the group has planned for the spring of 2018, including festival appearances at Welcome To Rockville (April 28), Fort Rock (April 29) and Rock On The Range (May 20). (See the full itinerary below.) Tickets for STP’s headlining shows go on sale at 1 p.m. ET on Dec. 8 here and tickets for those will include a digital link to the group’s new album, which is due out in the spring, but no title or release date has been announced yet.
STP has, however, released “Meadow,” its first new song written and recorded with Gutt, a former finalist on The X Factor who began auditioning for the band during August of 2016 and was offered the job in May of this year.
“If there wasn’t new music I don’t know that we’d really have a leg to stand on, but we’re sitting on 14 new songs right now,” guitarist Dean DeLeo says. “We wanted to have that ability to create new music and to go on and make more records and more music that we can just pile into the STP canon.” The new album, he adds, “is very STP. It goes from acoustic-based, beautiful things to really hard-hitting, heavy moments. We just have that ability to not be in one place, musically. So this record is just like any other STP record in that regard.”
DeLeo acknowledges that “it was a daunting task to find the guy that we felt was able to do what we asked of him and move forward rather than go backwards.” That included an open online submission process that netted 15,000 hopefuls online, and STP auditioned 29 other potential singers in front of Gutt, who was brought to the band’s attention by a pair of friends — one of whom promoted him to STP’s management, the other who introduced his music to bassist Robert DeLeo during the all-star Hollywood Vampires tour stop in Detroit during the summer of 2016.
“The guy’s through and through a great singer, and he’s a good dude, which was definitely one of the boxes that had to be checked off,” Dean DeLeo says. “When we started getting shoulder to shoulder and started writing with him and preparing for a new record, he didn’t have the gig at the time but it was very evident he had a very good sensibility of what the song needed and what the song wanted, and that’s what really, really interested us. We kept throwing stuff at him; We were like, ‘Are you OK, man? Are you fried?’ ‘No!’ The guy wrote melodies to, like, seven songs in an afternoon, right on the spot riffin’ ’em out. It was impressive.”
For Gutt, a 41-year-old single parent from Michigan, joining STP is both a dream come true and “totally surreal.” “I’ve had some time to get used to the idea,” says. “It’s a very strange feeling, but at the same time I’m blessed and very honored. It’s like joining the Led Zeppelin of my generation. I feel like I’m living in a movie.” Gutt is also aware that he’s filling some big shoes — both of original STP singer Scott Weiland, who passed away during 2015, and of Chester Bennington, who was with the band from 2013-15 and died during July of this year. As a fan Gutt said he “studied” Weiland in particular, and he feels ready to both honor his predecessors’ legacy and bring something new to the band.
“I don’t really feel that pressure,” Gutt says. “I was studying Scott when I was coming into singing myself, and I learned so much from (listening to) him. It was fun to incorporate all those things in my own way and still sing true to Scott’s stuff and really keep that as true as I could.” DeLeo adds that, “(Weiland) did not make this an easy task. I’ll put the blame on him; The guy was incredible in every sense of the word. He was an extraordinary poet, an extraordinary lyricist. He had this gift of melody and he really knew how a song worked. And that’s what really turned our heads with Jeff, because he brought that in, too.”
The DeLeos and drummer Eric Kretz are also confident that Gutt will allow the band to resume a trajectory that’s been frequently interrupted and even harpooned over its 32-year career as it dealt with Weiland’s substance abuse issues and other internal matters.
“I felt like I was slighted with Scott,” Dean DeLeo explains. “As great as he was, my entire life was two steps forward and three steps back. So I’ll tell you, it was a real pleasure to be able to write and record a record under these circumstances (with Gutt). It’s something I haven’t experienced in decades, so this feels great.”
The full STP 2018 tour itinerary includes:
March 2 Santa Clarita, CA @ The Canyon
March 4 San Diego, CA @ Observatory
March 8 Pasadena, CA @ The Rose
March 9 Las Vegas, NV @ House of Blues
March 10 Phoenix, AZ @ Marquee
March 12 San Francisco, CA @ Fillmore
March 13 Sacramento, CA @ Ace of Spades
March 15 Portland, OR @ Roseland
March 16 Boise, ID @ Knitting Factory
March 17 Billings, MT @ Pub Station Ballroom
April 28 Jacksonville, FL @ Welcome to Rockville*
April 29 Fort Lauderdale, FL @ Fort Rock Festival*
May 20 Columbus, OH @ Rock on the Range*
* Tickets do not include digital album