STONE TEMPLE PILOTS embark upon a new sonic adventure with "Perdida", the band's first-ever acoustic album. It includes 10 deeply personal songs that weave introspective lyrics together with unexpected instruments to take listeners on an emotional and musical journey through letting go and starting over.
"You have to live it to write it," says guitarist Dean DeLeo. "And this record is a reflection of where we've been recently."
Bassist Robert DeLeo says "Perdida" (Spanish for 'loss') shows how music has helped them process grief, search for meaning and, ultimately, create something beautiful from the pain. "When I've gone through things in my life, I've found that sitting down and having an honest conversation with my guitar is the best therapy."
"Recording an acoustic album like 'Perdida' is something the band has wanted to do for many years," says drummer Eric Kretz. "We performed on 'MTV Unplugged' in 1993, and we usually play acoustic mini-sets on tour, so when Robert and Dean started playing their new songs for us during our tour last year, we knew right away they would be perfect for an acoustic album."
Writing lyrics for an introspective album like "Perdida" meant exposing himself like never before, says singer Jeff Gutt, who joined the band in 2017. "It's an emotionally honest album and I needed to approach it that way for these songs to resonate. I had to let myself be as vulnerable writing the lyrics as Dean and Robert were writing the music."
To record "Perdida", the quartet assembled at Kretz's Bomb Shelter Studios in February. The key to making the album, Dean explains, was finding a way to say more with less. "Everything you hear serves a purpose, from the space in the arrangements to the different instruments. We only added things that served the songs."
As a result, there are instruments on "Perdida" that you don't normally hear on an STP record, like flute ("I Didn't Know The Time") alto saxophone ("Years") guitarrón ("Miles Away") and enough vintage keyboards to make Rick Wakeman jealous. "We've done similar things before — like the trumpet solo on 'Adhesive' from 'Tiny Music' — but never on such a large scale," Robert says. "Working with other musicians on this album was such a joy because it gave us a rare opportunity to hear our songs through someone else's ears."
That approach shines on the title track, where a nylon-string guitar takes the lead as keyboard, violin, viola and cello ebb and flow behind Gutt's soaring vocal on the chorus: "Oh perdida come and go/Stay with me tonight/But in the morning please be gone."
"She's My Queen" is another highpoint on the band's sonic adventure. Built around an Indian drone and carried along by a gently pulsing beat, the song casts a hypnotic spell that's punctuated by background singers, flute and Marxophone — a special kind of hammered dulcimer from the 1920s.
The songs that open and close "Perdida" — "Fare Thee Well" and "Sunburst", respectively — are fitting bookends, Gutt says. "They really capture the emotional journey that takes place on this album. It starts with saying goodbye on 'Fare Thee Well' and ends with a new beginning on 'Sunburst'. It's a melancholy record, but it ends on a hopeful note."
As it happens, those two tracks also spotlight facets of the DeLeo brothers' distinctive songwriting voices. "Fare Thee Well" by Robert pulls you in from the first strum of the guitar and has you singing along after one listen. In Dean's "Sunburst", the melody unfolds gradually, rising and falling multiple times before building to a cathartic guitar-fueled crescendo.
"Perdida" track listing
01. Fare Thee Well
02. Three Wishes
04. I Didn't Know The Time
06. She's My Queen
07. Miles Away
08. You Found Yourself While Losing Your Heart
09. I Once Sat At Your Table
In addition to the album, STONE TEMPLE PILOTS will also launch an acoustic tour in early 2020.
"Some songs are obvious candidates for an acoustic performance," Dean says. "What will be really interesting are the unexpected choices, where we reimagine a familiar song and present in a totally different light."
Kretz says the band is looking forward to not only performing the new songs, but also pulling songs from previous albums into the setlist. "We'll finally get a chance to play songs from our catalog that we've never played live, or in some cases, haven't played live in more than 20 years."
"We've talked about doing this kind of tour for years, and now it's finally happening," Robert explains. "We're excited because it's not only a chance for us to celebrate our new album in a special way, but also everything that's brought us to this moment."
"An Evening With Stone Temple Pilots" tour dates:
Feb. 05 - Vancouver, B.C. @ Commodore Ballroom
Feb. 07 - Snoqualmie, WA @ Snoqualmie Casino
Feb. 08 - Boise, ID @ Knitting Factory
Feb. 09 - Portland, OR @ Roseland Theater
Feb. 12 - San Francisco, CA @ Herbst Theatre
Feb. 13 - Beverly Hills, CA @ Saban Theater
Feb. 15 - Denver, CO @ Fillmore Auditorium
Feb. 17 - Kansas City, MO @ Uptown Theater
Feb. 19 - Milwaukee, WI @ Turner Hall Ballroom
Feb. 21 - Detroit, MI @ The Fillmore Detroit
Feb. 22 - Covington, KY @ Madison Theater
Feb. 25 - New York, NY @ Gramercy Theatre
Feb. 27 - Toronto, ON @ Danforth Music Hall
Feb. 29 - Atlantic City, NJ @ Tropicana
Mar. 01 - Boston, MA @ The Wilbur Theatre
Photo credit: PR Brown