The road to "Shangri-LA DEE DA" began in the Summer of 2000 as Stone Temple Pilots set out on two North American tours - first with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the next as headliners on MTV's "Return of the Rock" fall trek.
Robert DeLeo: It was a bit of a let down, releasing "No. 4" while Scott was in jail. But when he got out, it definitely wasn't too late to go out and do shows. There was certainly a lot to prove there, and I think we proved it hands down. People saw that we were out there and hungry. And, coming off the success of being on the road, we were all in a position - as human beings and musicians - to really take the time, effort, and space to create this record.
Dean DeLeo: There were instances on the road that really made us rise to some sort of place we never had been before. Opening up for the Chili Peppers, we really wanted to give those boys a run for their money. So we kicked and crawled and scratched our way through it, and it was fun doing it, man. It was fun getting out there and serving that shit up hot and saucy every night.
Scott Weiland: Did we have something to prove? Yes. Every time we make a musical statement, be it live or on record, we have something to prove. To contribute and give something back to the community of music. To be inspired and to inspire, to take and give back. To keep the water flowing and never stagnate. Atrophy and gangrene are the enemy.
Eric Kretz: We have so much respect for each other. As musicians, and brothers, and friends. It was a very prosperous tour, emotionally. It really rekindled the brotherhood again. In that sense, it made it very easy for us to get together and make this record.
The band started 2001 by moving into a palatial Malibu villa-cum-studio to begin sessions for the new album.
DD: Our last gig was in November. We had some time off over the holidays with the families, then jumped right into the Malibu house the first week of January. We rehearsed and demoed stuff and then we started getting down to the nitty gritty and actually making the songs what they are.
RD: We had the chance to make our recording atmosphere a home atmosphere. A lot of times, for me, songs are written at home. Because that's the most comfortable place to be open with myself. And that's what we did on this record - we created a home space, to write these songs and put these songs together. We were able to be close with each other. There was no excuse not to be.
SW: Aside from the fact that it allowed everyone to know what was going on in one's personal life - perhaps a little too intimately - it was perfect for bouts of insomnia. We could keep each other up for hours mulling over parts, layers, sounds. It also gave us a golden opportunity to brush up on our tennis game.
RD: Dean only lives about 15 minutes away from the place, so it was actually Eric and Scott and myself, living in the house. We had our own cook, and so four of us were actually living there. Then we had a film crew, there were four people from the film crew in there documenting the whole thing. And we had Brendan O'Brien, our producer, and his three people. And then we had our four techs. So, yeah, it was a full house.
DD: Well, you can tell who's driving the boat. "I got a great idea, guys. This next record we're going to make, let's make it five minutes from my house!" All right!
RD: The special thing about making the record was that before anyone else got there, we had six weeks to allow ourselves to put these songs together. We had Scott's engineer, Doug Grean, and it was the first time we've actually worked with ProTools. That allowed us to really put the blueprint down for the record.
EK: On every record previous, we would sit there in the rehearsal room, and hash the songs out, and get the performances up, and arrange them. And do it all down to two track. When we came in for this record, we had a lot of mellower, more ethereal songs we wanted to try to accomplish first. We"d get to the hard rock stuff later, because we've always been able to do that very easily. So instead of everybody playing, and getting the performances down, we'd just sit down with an acoustic guitar and talk about what the song meant, and how we wanted to approach it. Basically we'd just throw it down on the ProTools, get the tempo right, and then we'd all do our own form of guerilla production and start throwing down idea after idea after idea. Anything was acceptable to try.
The blueprint in place, Stone Temple Pilots began recording in earnest, drawing from over 30 new songs. While many of the songs were born during the sessions, others originally came to life at various stages in the band's career.
DD: There's a lot of songs that have been kicking around for a long time. "Hollywood Bitch," that's been around since the "PURPLE" sessions. There was also a very bastardized version of "Hello It's Late" that sounded nothing like it does now. All that remains is the chord structures. It was a little more guitar oriented, as opposed to Robert replaying the song on a Rhodes. It really took on its own life as Robert transposed it onto piano. Then there's stuff like "Bi-polar Bear," I've had that thing in my pocket for four or five years.
RD: The thing that really epitomizes this record for me is the fact that we finally got the opportunity to be open to each other's ideas, thoughts, and emotions. That really meant a lot to me.
SW: ""Wonderful," and "Long Way Home" were both sort of initiated and brought to the band by different members, in Atlanta at the 99X Fest. We woke up on the buses early and rolled into the dressing room. Coffee, cigarettes and Krispy Kreme Donuts were waiting - Oh the evil Krispy Kreme! Robert grabbed an acoustic guitar and began showing me a little tune that he had bouncing around in his head all night. He began quietly humming a little melody that sounded really quite sad. I was really caught off guard because it reminded me a lot of Nick Drake, who I had been listening to a lot at the time. It's always been inspiring when Robert just seems to pull a tune like this out of the sky, so the two of us, sort of in a tag team process, finished writing the rest of the song.
RD: "Wonderful" was a song that came to me while on the road. Sitting on the bus, driving through the middle of nowhere, can create a mental space in which you can really sort your feelings out. And if the guitar's there, great.
SW: We played "Wonderful" for Dean and Kretz. Dean was so moved, he grabbed an electric guitar and a little practice amp and began playing a riff that would become "Long Way Home." The melody and words sort of came out of me immediately. We knew exactly how we would approach this one in the studio. How can you get away from what it is? It's a goddamn Black-Light Poster Rock Anthem!
EK: "Coma" was something that Scott brought in from his studio, with that little vocal bit - aaa aaa aaa aaa aaa aaa aaa aaa aaa! Most people think that's a guitar, but it's actually vocals, chopped up on ProTools.
SW: The original track I wrote and recorded at my studio earlier in the spring. It's a soft-loud-soft-loud rock-n-roll hybrid with a descending vocal harmony that sounds like a DJ scratching records looped to a funky James Brown-esque beat.
EK: We all fucking dug it and started writing the song right there. What's nice is we were all on the same page. Like, there's two verse parts of the song, and I really wanted to put two different drum kits on it, one for the first part of the verse, a little hip hop thing, and a bigger kit for the big rock part of it. We really get into tones, and everyone really got into making it sound like a fucking machine, a band machine.
RD: So the way we did the credits was, we put the person's name first who came up with the song idea originally. I mean obviously Scott's going to write all of his own lyrics and most of the melodies. But, you know, a lot of the time the music comes first with us. A lot of times, if I have a song, I'll have it pretty much complete when I bring it to the band, but then Scott always manages to come up with something that takes it to another level.
As with the four previous Stone Temple Pilots recordings, the band decided to work with producer Brendan O"Brien - the George Martin to STP's Beatles, the Eno to their U2.
DD: We wanted this record to sound as great as it possibly could, we wanted it to be a very hi-fi sounding record. And there was no doubt, with Brendan at the helm, that this was going to be all that we wanted it to be.
SW: Brendan brings perspective, musical brilliance, and a doctor's degree in dealing with whining brats like us. We've always been co-producers on all of our albums, including the side projects. We've worked with exceptional individuals like Daniel Lanois, Jack Joseph Puig, and Chris Goss, but when it comes down to it, would we be as focused without Brendan? Or would we get lost in the cerebral world of self-indulgence? I don't know...
RD: When you have a song that you're showing to the band, you have your ego out there, saying, "This is a good song." But there's times where your good song might not be as good as you think it is. What Brendan brings is a fifth ear, saying, "You know..." And that takes someone who you respect. I wouldn't put that job in just anyone's lap. I trust Brendan's decisions immensely.
DD: Plus, his mixes are just incredible. His mixing to me is very reminiscent of how Page mixed those early Zep records. Really great separation, everything is very audible, very loud. A lot of bottom. And also, when the songs are kind of at that 98 percent point of being done, Brendan has a way of sprinkling an extra little bit of magic sauce over it. For instance, in the second verse of "Bi-polar Bear," you hear that great keyboard line - Brendan. In "Wonderful," there's the mellotron over the bridges - Brendan. He's just really great at what he does.
The magic and spontaneity of the "Shangri-LA DEE DA" sessions were filmed for posterity by photographer Chapman Baehler.
SW: Chapman's a genius. It was everything we expected. It was the right time to undertake an ambitious project like this. We purposely held a lot back over the years, not wanting to give away too much and burn people out. Now here we are, five albums out and it feels right to open up and expose ourselves a bit more to people.
EK: It's weird, it's like a blessing and a curse. Sometimes you do ham up a bit more, for the camera. Other times, you don't even know they're there. Sometimes if you're having a hard time, struggling with a part, or coming up with a fresh idea, then it kind of gets in your way. It was a strange experience. But we just felt that it was a good time for us, and we were comfortable enough to do it. I'm glad we did it, in hindsight. The stuff Chapman shot looks fucking beautiful.
The album received its puckish moniker late one night towards the end of the sessions.
DD: We were sitting around the table late one night and I jokingly said "I've got a great title for this record, man." And those guys fucking lost it. They just laughed and laughed, and like two or three weeks later, Scott goes, "You know what, man? That title is so good, we have to use it, just for the sake that nobody else uses it ever again." Now I've got to come clean as to where I got it from. As a young young young boy, I was watching a Flintstones episode, and that's where the Rubbles and the Flintstones vacationed: Shangri-La Dee Da Valley. It just seemed apropos, with where the recording took place, and how the sessions took place.
With "Shangri-LA DEE DA" complete, Stone Temple Pilots are revitalized, re-energized, and - most importantly - ready to rock.
SW: I'm beyond pleased with how the record has been received so far by listeners, but we're not inventing the wheel or curing AIDS.
RD: I definitely feel like it might be a restarting point, from say, "PURPLE." It's definitely the most cohesive record we've done. A healthy Scott means that we are going to make this kind of record. The whole concern, since we made "CORE," was to make the best music we can make. "Classic rock" used to kind of be a no-no word to me, but now I take it as a compliment. That our rock is classic. That's a huge compliment.
DD: You know, like a bottle of red, I think this is us getting better and better with age. I'll be very honest, there were often very trying times, but maybe it all adds up to where we're at right now. Maybe it's an integral part to where this record is, and where we are as people. We're still doing it, man.
EK: Yeah, we're proud as shit of it. Here's a band that's been together for 12 years, doing what they do best. And doing it at the right time.
-from the official Stone Temple Pilots website
--- from the official Stone Temple Pilots website