The Downward Spiral of Wes Scantlin

On January 16, Wes Scantlin had been at Denver’s International Airport for a less than an hour before he’d felt that familiar whirring-click of police handcuffs. His band were en route to a club show in the city, but while they were waiting for their bags, he’d ill-advisedly jumped on an airport luggage carousel and found himself in a restricted area. Now, if you’ve been to an airport in the past 15 years or so, then you’ll know that airport security aren’t keen on grown men mucking about. He was arrested and later let out on bail, thanks to a fan desperate to see the band that evening.

It’s yet another howling embarrassment for the 42-year-old, who’s been in the headlines more for his bad – and often dickish – behaviour, rather than his post-grunge songwriting nous. So where did it all go wrong?

After years of plugging away on the toilet circuit, Scantlin’s fortunes changed. A chance meeting with Limp Bizkit’s Fred Durst led to his band signing with the Flawless label, a division of Geffen. Their major label debut, Come Clean, spawned the hit singles Blurry and She Hates Me. Its 2003 follow-up, Life On Display fared almost as well, but seemed to spark something of a decline. The band spent the rest of the decade staring at dwindling record sales. Maybe those massive hit singles were simply a fluke as people quickly realised that Nirvana did this sort of thing far better.

So, as his band’s popularity started to fade like a photograph in a barber shop window, Scantlin has found himself in varying degrees of trouble over the years. Let’s look at his rap sheet.

In 2007, he was permanently banned from Elvis Presley’s Graceland after going for a swim in a pool that was off-limits to the public. “We were just being dumb little rock stars,” he protested after the incident. Quite.

Things have started to hot up in recent years. 2012 saw the end of his four-year marriage to Jessica Nicole Smith, and to add to his woes, he was pursued by the Internal Revenue Service for taxes in the region of $60,000. He was also charged with cocaine possession that year, and only escaped jail after agreeing to attend a drug counselling programme. And in September, a Los Angeles-bound flight was forced to make an emergency landing in Austin, Texas, where he was arrested for public intoxication (see his mug shot below). Not a classic year, by any stretch.

The following year, he was arrested in West Hollywood on domestic violence charges after an altercation with his ex-wife. He was arrested for a second time that week due to warrants linked to his 2012 drugs charge.

The rest of 2013 passed without incident. No, we jest. He met some more stern police officers in July after allegedly vandalising his neighbour’s patio with a circular saw and a sledgehammer.

In the first week of 2014, news broke that American Express were taking him to court for non-payments, and in April, he had a meltdown during a Dallas show after throwing beer and a microphone into the crowd. Fan reports suggest he was also lip-syncing, too.

And to round off this litany of misery, celebrity gossip site TMZ reported that the singer had fallen behind on his mortgage repayments and as a result, the bank have foreclosed on his $1.7 million home which he bought 10 years ago. It couldn’t get any worse, really. But it has – they released a single called Piece Of The Action last September.

So, what have we learned about Scantlin? He’s made some bad decisions and gives the impression that maybe the rules of life don’t always apply to him; he’s rubbish with money and he gets dehydrated at high altitudes. And he’ll never, ever get a job on DIY SOS.

Simon Young

Born in 1976 in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Simon Young has been a music journalist for over twenty years. His fanzine, Hit A Guy With Glasses, enjoyed a one-issue run before he secured a job at Kerrang! in 1999. His writing has also appeared in Classic RockMetal HammerProg, and Planet Rock. His first book, So Much For The 30 Year Plan: Therapy? — The Authorised Biography is available via Jawbone Press.