Q: Stone Temple Pilots are releasing their first album in nine years this June. Did you ever think of skipping the record and just doing the cash-grab tour?
A: We got back together and toured in 2008 and realized pretty quickly that we were going to get burned-out playing the old songs every night. We have just as much fun in the creative process as we do on the road—it's not like when we were in our twenties and it was rock-and-roll hell on wheels.
Q: Do you miss that?
A: No, I don't. I had plenty of it.
Q: What does the new album sound like?
A: We have a tendency to make a straightforward rock-and-roll record, then try and spread our wings a bit. Core and No. 4 were rock records—the others had different touches. We went off the deep end with our last one, with Shangri-La Dee Da. Lived in a house in Malibu, had a film crew there. That record caught people off guard. It was inspired by Grandaddy and Sparklehouse and the Flaming Lips. It sort of divided our audience a bit. The meat-and-potatoes rock fans didn't really embrace it. Then we split. I prefer to break new ground, but it gets harder and harder with the territory that's already been walked on. We started doing demos and it became apparent that this is a back-to-basics rock record. There's some stuff that deviates, like "Cinnamon," which is the Beatles meets Joy Division. It's a different sound for us, but this is a Stone Temple Pilots rock record.
Q: The band's breakup in 2003 was acrimonious. How were you able to put the past behind you?
A: Well, no one does drugs anymore, so it was pretty easy. Dean DeLeo and I were the close runners-up to the Toxic Twins throne. The wounds heal. And we got the humor back in the band. That's the most important thing—to laugh at the same funny stories we were laughing at years ago.
Q: Dean has questioned your sobriety.
A: He's probably referring to my drinking. I still drink. If he thought he could drink and not do drugs, he might do that too. I can have a scotch and not want to shoot up.
Q: You sound so matter-of-fact about it now. Why were the drugs so hard for you to kick?
A: Heroin made me feel all right in my own skin. Before I did it I was uncomfortable going into crowds, which is interesting given my profession. But when I did dope, the fear went away. That's why I hung on to it so long. But my kids fill up that hole now.
Q: I read that when you were in jail for possession you taught music to your fellow inmates.
A: A counselor gave us some Christmas carols, and I'd learn all the parts and assign the harmonies. There were some former Crips and a white supremacist in there, which added some levity to the idea of missing the holidays with your family. I ran into a couple of those guys a while back and had a good laugh. As horrible as jail was, there were some first-rate guys in there.