by Julie L. Belcove
**Typed by Sean C. & Julie M.(Courtesy of http://www.placidminds.com)
When Scott Weiland
struts to his front-row seat at the Anna Sui runway show in February, his hair
is in cornrows, his blue eyes are rimmed in eyeliner and the words DRUG-FREE are
scrawled in black Magic Marker on his white T-shirt. (His fiancee, model Mary
Forsberg, wears a matching shirt that reads ORNAMENT.) A few cynical onlookers
whisper to one another, perhaps surprised to see that he's still alive. But
Weiland, never the shy, retiring type, is proclaiming his triumphant return to
New York with the same bravado he unleashed on stage in the Nineties as the
sleek singer of Stone Temple Pilots.
The grand entrance is understandable. Weiland's last public appearance here was in a criminal courtroom, where he was arraigned after making a drug buy in Alphabet City in 1998.
And what a long, hard couple of years it's been. Weiland's distinctive voice put STP on the charts in the early Nineties, when the rock band sold seven million copies of its debut album, Core, and won a Grammy for the single "Plush." But his weakness for heroin prevented the band from touring, costing millions in lost tickets and CD sales. As Weiland self-destructed, entering a revolving doors of arrests and rehab, the band unofficially broke up. Then last year, after yet another attempt to get clean, Weiland and his band mates reunited to record No.4.
But making that album culminated in Weiland's last overdose, a probation violation. When the CD hit music stores in October, Weiland was serving a 12-month sentence in L.A. County Jail.
Now, in his first interview since being releases, Weiland, 32 says he has been clean for almost eight months- the longest stretch since first trying heroin in 1994 - and is ready to tour again with Stone Temple Pilots this summer in an effort to reignite their stalled career.
It's a few weeks after the New York shows, and Weiland slides into a banquette at the Beverly Hills Peninsula with an unease that hovers between deja vu and dread. He has definitely been in this hotel before.
"I lived here for three months when I was doing press for my solo record," Weiland quickly explains. " I was being kept alive by pharmaceutical drugs from a doctor - in a legal way. They were keeping me heavily medicated so I wouldn't go downtown and score. But I was just wiped out."
The doctor, Weiland says, had him on Buprenex, a synthetic opiate sometimes used in detox for a week or two to ease withdrawal. Weiland was on it for two months. But neither Buprenex, his handlers nor even his mother, who had flown in to watch over him, could keep Weiland from sneaking into the Peninsula bar and downing a few drinks.
"If I had too many and I got real daring," he remembers, "I'd hop in a car and go downtown and buy crack. Really pretty ugly."
Weiland's stint as the Peninsula's unofficial junkie-in-residence came two years ago, before the drug arrest in New York cut his solo tour short, before the OD landed him in front of a judge who finally had enough and sent him to jail. As an addict with no history of violence, Weiland lucked out with a bed in a drug-rehab programs and was paroled after serving about half of his time. Although he'd been in rehab countless times before (once bunking with Robert Downey Jr. And Christian Slater), jail, he says, "gave me a long enough period of time away from drugs and alcohol to decide that I really liked how I felt. Before, I never had enough time to get over that initial craving, or obsession, or depression, to find out what being clean is really like."
His mobile phone, left tabletop, interrupts brunch three times. One call is from friend Gary Oseary, the young head of Madonna's Maverick Records, and another is from Ashley Hamilton, the musician son of George Hamilton. The third time the phone rings, it's Forsberg, phoning with some news from Hawaii, where she's on a shoot. "She called to tell me, 'I guess we didn't make a baby,'" he says, hanging up. "We're not really trying. We're just not trying not to. She stopped taking the pill, and we've been tested for everything bad someone could possibly have from not being very careful in their younger years, and everything came out cool."
The couple has been together for about two and a half years, ever since Weiland separated from his first wife, Janina. "We've been pretty much in love for eight and a half years," he says. They met when Forsberg was a 16-year old model and he was a 23-year-old struggling musician whose day job was driving models to castings around L.A. Now she has a tatoo that says "Scott's" a couple of inches below her navel, and they're planning a late May wedding. Weiland says that they go to therapy together and that his selfishness is often a topic. "I ruined my first marriage. I was not an equal participant, and I want to be."
Weiland need a cigarette mid-meal and leads the way to the bar. He's about to strike a match when the bartender politely reminds him of L.A.'s smoking ban, so he heads outside. On the way back to the table, in answer to a question about his fashion fetish, he says he's wearing a pair of women's pants from Urban Outfitters. "I love the way women's pants fit," Weiland says. He has been intrigued with clothes since he saw John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever and wore his mother's print polyester shirt - unbuttoned to there - and his grandmother's platform shoes to school in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. (He was nine at the time.)
If Weiland sounds a bit like a walking cliché - a 12-stepper with a handful of platinum records, a model girlfriend, a studied flirtation with androgyny and no filter between brain and mouth - at least he hasn't found religion. What Weiland does want now is to be on top again - which he says should happen with STP hits the road this summer. 'That ups my value so much more, in anything that I do," he says, "whether it's taking an acting role, signing to do a campaign for a designer's clothing line or striking a joint venture with a major distributor for Lavish Records."
Lavish is the imprint label he started last year, before going to prison. So far, Weiland has signed one act: a young rapper from Englewood he discovered in jail. 'We were out in the yard one day, and I just starting busting a beat out of my mouth and he went free styling off it," Weiland remembers, "and I just went, holy sh--, this guy is something else." Weiland had produced a CD for the rapper and his partner called the Underdogs, and his plans to get it into the hands of underground dee-jays. (Weiland, who owns his own recording studio, also served as one of the producers of Limp Bizkit's hit CD Significant Other, which he says provided a nice source of income while he was behind bars.)
'I know I have good ears-I've written 15 top-three singles and sold 20 million records worldwide," he says, though the figure is closer to 16 million, "and I have helped other bands get signed over the years, never really going after points the way I should have."
Longtime STP manager Steve Stewart, who met Weiland when they played in rival Southern California bands in the mid-1980's, says the musician has always been driven. "He definitely has a talent for picking good music," Stewart says. "He throws out a million ideas a day."
Weiland is anxious to watch the Lakers game, so we get into his black BMW and drive to the house he's been renting in the Hancock Park section of L.A. He stops at a corner store on the way for more cigarettes and an orange Tootsie Pop. When we pull into his driveway, Weiland who is acutely aware of his image, begins apologizing for the relative modesty of his house. "My house is not very fabulous and rock-star-like," he says.
Indeed, nothing about it screams rock star, except maybe the purple-and-black color scheme of the upstairs bathroom and the fact that Weiland's wardrobe takes up more space than Forsberg's. (Weiland's relationship to clothing can sound almost sexual. Take his description of a pair of Gucci pants he bought three or four years ago. "They were narrow on the hip and high in the crotch and fitted in the legs, even tapered a little at the knee, with a flare that broke nicely on the shoe," he says, breathing a little harder. "I was into it, totally commited.") His last house, the one he shared with his ex-wife and recently sold, had all the extras. Here, there isn't even a wall size music system. Later, when Weiland wants to play a few CDs, he explains that Forsberg did something to the stereo and now only one speaker works.
"Want some fake wine?" He asks, then disappears into the kitchen, returning with a bottle of sparkling grape juice and a couple of wine glasses.
As his eyes fix on Kobe Bryant running across the TV screen, Weiland slouches into the green sofa and starts talking about how his troubles began. Although he says he never much liked pot, which he first tried at 13, he was a heavy drinker by the time he was 18. "I couldn't wait until the weekend came because I couldn't wait to get drunk," he remembers. Making his behavior all the riskier, he says, was the fact that several family members were recovering alcoholics. As Weiland edged toward alcoholism, he also took to experimenting with drugs and, while on tour with the Butthole Surfers, tried heroin. He was hooked instantly.
"At the time, I felt I found the thing I was lacking," Weiland says, "like I found the key to myself, to make me feel like I thought everyone else felt."
In the beginning, Weiland says, he would get loaded with friends, but heroin repeatedly made one steady user sick. "We'd have fun, though," he says, "while she wasn't throwing up." Within a year, his taste for heroin, which at its height cost him $3,000 a week, was a problem, and he was hiding his growing addiction from his wife.
As if his band's hard-partying lifestyle and his family history of addiction weren't dangerous enough, Weiland had yet one more enemy that wouldn't be properly identified for several years: manic depression. Diagnosed with depression and anxiety as a child, Weiland had gone through a medicine cabinet of antidepressants, from Prozac to Paxil, with little relief. With doctors failing to recognize the bipolar nature of his illness, Weiland says, he was unknowingly self-medicating his highs and lows with street drugs.
Although he had regular dealers, Weiland says he often lacked his friends' discretion when it came time to buy heroin. "I like the excitement of the street and mixing with the dregs of society," he says, recalling how he'd often venture into seedy neighborhoods in search of a fix. "If you're in a city and need to cop dope, just find out where the hookers are-98 percent of them are dope fiends-or find out where the methadone clinic is-they're all dope fiends."
The flip side, Weiland admits, is that the street "is where the heat is." Weiland fell into a pattern of getting arrested and then being sent to rehab, deluding himself into thinking he could be a casual user like many of his friends. "My chemical adventures," he admits, "affected STP's relationship in such a way that we couldn't stand each other's company for periods of time when we could have been making more records."
During his estrangement from the band, Weiland recorded his solo record, 12 Bar Blues. On tour to promote it, he was scheduled to play Manhattan's Irving Plaza on the night of June 1, 1998. Peter Gabriel, Weiland says, had even promised to join him on stage for a few songs. But that afternoon, Weiland went to the projects on Avenue D, asked a guy on the street where he could buy and followed him to a dealer's apartment. After making the buy, Weiland says he was on his way back downstairs when his go-between, about 10 feet ahead of him, was stopped by the police.
"I hear cops yelling at him in the hallway, 'Put your hands on your head!'" Weiland remembers. "I don't know what to do. I come down. They have guns drawn on us."
Weiland disputes the police officers' widely reported claim that he voluntarily confessed he'd just bought drugs. "The cops flat-out lied," he says. In Weiland's version, the police had targeted him because they recognized him. " I'd hid my stash in a pretty creative place -- not on my person, but in my clothes," He'd loosened a few stitches in the waistband of his Levi's. When the cops frisked him and found nothing, he says, they threatened him with more serious charges, so he handed over the dope. Whatever the truth, that night's concert--along with his entire solo tour -- was promptly canceled, and his record languished unpromoted.
No. 4 has been suffering a similar fate (though going platinum, as it did recently, is hardly humiliating). Now that Weiland's out of jail, STP is shooting a new video and playing small gigs in preparation for a summer tour. The singer admits his bandmates are hesitant to trust he'll stay clean.
But Guy Oseary says this time is different. Oseary was 16 when he first met Weiland, who later moved into Oseary's house after one stay in rehab. " He seems awakened to the fact that it's, no more f---ing around," Oseary says. " You look into his eyes and see he's clear-minded. He's healthy. He's working out. His energy is totally up. You can just tell."
The singer says he'll be accompanied on tour by a professional companion, himself a recovering addict, whose job is to help musicians stay on the wagon. He is determined not to blow this chance. " When you have an opportunity, you have to take advantage of it," he says, "because otherwise you are sitting there watching f---ing MTV and kicking yourself in the nuts because the Backstreet Boys are on for the 10th time of the day and we are not."
The game's over--the Lakers won--and Weiland has to get it going. He has an AA meeting to attened. "To protect the investment," he says, "things can't be the way they were before."
W Magazine -- May
2000, Volume 19 Issue 5; Page(s): 96-100