Hello, and welcome to 1998. Today’s top story: Scott Weiland, co-founded and frontman for Stone Temple Pilots, has been fired from the band. A single-sentence comment from the band’s publicist states, "Stone Temple Pilots have announced they have officially terminated Scott Weiland." Weiland apparently learned about his "termination" from news reports rather than first-hand from his bandmates. Couldn’t they have call him on his flip phone? Harsh, dudes. I haven’t been this disappointed in since The English Patient beat Fargo for Best Picture last year. (That reminds me, the Oscars are next month! Do you think L.A. Confidential has a shot?)
The rumors started circulating a month or so ago—a rash of feverish whispers, that at the time, felt like nothing more than wishful thinking. Even after local media ran semi-blind items on the matter, the news seemed too good to be true. When the cat from Spinlab officially tipped me to the occasion, I allowed myself the luxury of believing there might indeed be some serious substance to the murmurings. Still, it wasn’t until I was two feet away from the stage, that the reality fully kicked in: Scott Weiland wasn’t just coming back to the MIA; he was coming back to play an intimate joint named Ricochet. And I was one of just a handful of folks fortunate enough to be there for the spectacle.
Okay, so it wasn’t much of a spectacle. It wasn’t much of a show either—not in an arena way anyway. But it was a rock show. The down and dirty mix of rumble and roar from which all rock springs, and to which all rock stars are indebted. Since Weiland has always been the kind of rock star who, even at his most glam, kept respect for his roots, the stripped bare affair made seemed to perfect sense. For the die hard fans of Weiland’s solo efforts, the Ricochet staging undoubtedly proved to be a perfect (and rare) occasion to hear their hero sing many of the songs that represent his life after the demise of both Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver. The largest part of the 200 folks in the sold-out crowd seemed quite content simply to hear and see Weiland sing, no matter what he sung.
Of course, Weiland will never rid himself of the fact that he is much more than the sum of his solo parts—nor should he. A particularly trenchant take of “Barbarella” closed the show, providing ample evidence that the later output can stand alongside anything he’s ever performed; just as a particularly feverish version of The Libertines’ “Can’t Stand Me Now” showed he can still stand and deliver. But it was when the 80-plus minute set was over, and Weiland and his mates returned to blister through STP’s “Vaseline” and (I think) Velvet Revolver’s “Dirty Little Thing,” that the crowd got the full wow they’d wanted all along.
This weekend the Danish duo War, the punk-tinged multimedia side project of Iceage’s Elias Bender Rønnenfelt, announced that they would be changing their name to Vår. Whether or not this has to do with the California funk band ("Why Can’t We Be Friends”) that’s been kicking since the 1960s is unclear, but it did get us thinking about bands that have changed their names.
Like with any name, when a change occurs, it’s easy for fans to lose track of you and momentum to be lost. But for some bands, things turned out just fine. And in almost every one of those cases, the other group that called dibs on the original name, well, they’re proof that a name alone doesn’t make for success.
When the Thin White Duke first started out, he performed under his given name, David Jones, releasing songs like “Liza Jane” and “I Pity The Fool.” Failing to find success, and worried about being confused with Davy Jones of The Monkees, Jones started performing at David Bowie. Success eluded him for a little while longer, but not much. These days the fake last name is all you need to say to conjure images of a space-man superstar.
Just last week, Dive, the new project from Beach Fossils vet Z. Cole Smith changed its name, which we liked to think of as invoking a great Nirvana song, to DIIV. Why is that? In a statement, Smith said, “Out of respect for Dirk Ivins and the original Dive, this former DIVE has renamed itself. We’ve not been contacted by Dirk Ivins or his lawyers, but the short of it is that I don’t really give a fuck what the band is called. I originated this project in a bedroom with no internet and didn’t know if it would ever leave the bedroom. "DIVE", the word, was an element of what inspired the project in its genesis, but we’ve outgrown the name and its associations. The band is the same, the music is the same, the future will always be the same. A name is nothing." OK then!
Stone Temple Pilots
Originally named Swing, the band that was to become STP changed its name early on to Mighty Joe Young, perhaps a reference to the 1940s box-office bomb. When the blues musician who already performed by that name asked the band to pick a new moniker, they settled on Stone Temple Pilots, although legend has long had it that before STP stood for that, it was an acronym for Shirley Temple’s Pussy.
This English band formed in the 1980s and didn’t need the “UK” to explain to people where they were from. When the group was about to embark on their first U.S. tour, however, an American rock band called the Charlatans complained and the UK was tagged onto the end of their name. It didn’t hurt much, the group’s 1992 single “Weirdo” charted on both sides of the pond.