“Diamonds are made under pressure!”: Stone Temple Pilots’ Dean DeLeo on the band's songwriting dynamic when they made Purple

STP in 1993
(Image credit: Getty Images)

When Stone Temple Pilots’ Dean DeLeo thinks about his band as they approached making their second record, he remembers a group determined to write songs that would move them. It was an approach that paid off, with Purple making the LA quartet huge, a record that remains their artistic peak almost 30 years later. It was a record that combined muscular grooves with sonic experimentation and imaginative anthems, but despite its grand scope, bassist DeLeo says many of the songs were built from stripped-down beginnings.

“Take the opening track Meatplow,” he told this writer as part of a Classic Rock feature about the album earlier this year, “Scott [Weiland, the band’s late frontman] and I were living together at the time, we were renting a little place over in Highland Park, just outside of Eagle Rock, and I wrote Meatplow sitting down on this couch with an acoustic guitar, if you can believe that. It was that ability to sit down, even though it was on an acoustic, to be like, 'Hey man, picture this, the guitar's doing this, the drums are doing this…’. I played that for him and he immediately just jumped right in and start singing along. Scott was just… Man, to be able to hand over a song to him was quite a treat.”

Asked about tension in the band at the time, DeLeo laughed. “Well, diamonds are made under pressure!” Looking back to what each member brought to the group, he said he believed you are only as good as those around you. “What everybody brought into the band was immeasurable,” he explained. “Like Robert [DeLeo, guitarist] bringing in the melody and music to Interstate Love Song, and what Eric [Kretz, drummer] brings into the band, Eric is extremely musical. He's probably the most musical cat in the band and plays piano guitar, bass, drums for us and on and on and on. His drumming really reflects that he's a very musical drummer. And I can't say enough about Scott. I can't say enough. The cat was so brilliant on every level, lyrically, melodically, even when we were out playing live, it was just so extraordinary to be on stage together.”

Purple turns 30 in June 2024 but as part of Atlantic’s 75th anniversary celebrations, Stone Temple Pilots issued a special clear vinyl version earlier this year.

Niall Doherty

Niall Doherty is a writer and editor whose work can be found in Classic Rock, The Guardian, Music Week, FourFourTwo, on Apple Music and more. Formerly the Deputy Editor of Q magazine, he co-runs the music Substack letter The New Cue with fellow former Q colleagues Ted Kessler and Chris Catchpole. He is also Reviews Editor at Record Collector. Over the years, he's interviewed some of the world's biggest stars, including Elton John, Coldplay, Arctic Monkeys, Muse, Pearl Jam, Radiohead, Depeche Mode, Robert Plant and more. Radiohead was only for eight minutes but he still counts it.