Wes Scantlin, February 24, 2004

 

Written & Photos by: Jason Perlman

 

Jason: It was interesting, I was reading in, I think it was Guitar One, just about your passion for classic rock and just straight-forward rock. I think a lot of people get the impression because of the connection to Fred Durst that Puddle of Mudd was going to be this nu-metal type of band.
Scantlin: Before, critics were connecting two people. They were just connecting us together because he signed us, and you know there were a couple of rumors that were spread that (Durst) actually produced some stuff and wrote things and shit for us and it never really happened. It was just rumors that other people started and the rumors get out and people believe them then they go, “Oh yeah, man.” But I can understand why people might think that. It would be easy to think Fred signed us so we must be the next heavy nu-metal band. But I never ever had written any type of songs like (Durst’s) disc is...or for that matter a lot of other heavy metal bands. I do love classic rock and I love all of the old-school rock bands and there’s probably a hundred different bands that I never even mentioned that I never really got a chance to mention. But it’s cool, man, because I’m glad that we got this separation and we can stop being Fred’s band and we are our own band now.

 

Jason: What was it like going through the second record? For the first record, you probably had a lot of the songs already written. You were going into the studio recording material you already had and this time around was really ... you toured, you had to write and then you had to record. It was like really your first time to being a nationally-signed band. Was that easy for the band to still write and put out the music or was it a bit stressful to be out this time?
Scantlin: I wasn’t really like stressed out about it that bad myself, but the pressure that I was given was like big time coming from the other end of it. It was always coming from the record label itself because they stressed about the sophomore jinx and it was like, “Oh man, can they make a record like last time? Are they truly like gifted songwriters? Can they really do this and do it again?” And I wasn’t really too pressured by that. I was just pressured by other people trying to make decisions about the music that I was creating with my band and that’s the toughest thing because you got people that are sitting in high places that don’t really know too much about music, ya know? They just got there for some reason or another because they’re good business people. But at the same time you kinda gotta take their opinions and then let them kinda marinate inside. Sometimes you know they’re right but most of the time they’re really not right at all about anything (laughing). So you fight and it’s a fucking war, man, when it comes to doing a record. Just like that old saying, “Sometimes you can get too many cooks in the kitchen.” Sometimes some of these people just want to eat the food and they don’t know how to cook it.

Jason: This record is, I think, lyrically so much more mature than the first one and I think that the emotion on this record is so much more mature than the first one. Because of the success of the first record, were you able or was the label giving you a little more freedom to be yourselves and not try to say, “How do we get a hit single for this band or maybe you should...”
Scantlin: We got a lot of freedom on this. Well, we did except for the very, very end; right when we were getting it done. That’s when the freedom kinda goes away. They get the actual record of the songs and they have their opinions just like everybody else would. There’s a lot of music that I’ve heard in my life that grew on me. There’s songs on the record that people have told me that they can just listen to and it’s like, “Wow! Man, I thought it was great.” And there’s other people that got the record and called me like two weeks later and said, “You know that one song, I didn’t really get it at first. But I’ve heard it like five or six times now and the fucking thing is awesome. That’s a great song.” There are just certain songs that grow on people and there’s other songs that just naturally hit a vibe with people. It’s a hit and miss thing. But I think there’s plenty of hits on this record and ya know Heel Over Head is doing really well right now and it’s doing better than Away From Me did, which Away From Me is like one of my favorite songs on the record. It’s one of the happier songs. But Heel Over Head is an awesome song that I wrote a long time fucking ago when I was doing the first record and I think that Spin You Around is going to be like the next fury for this record and I kind of want to release this Freak of the World song just because I know that kids will just love it.

Jason: I was going to say that is the one that I would...
Scantlin: I’ve had a lot of younger people go like, “That is a cool song. From start to finish.” I’m the freak of the world and all the kids in the world all think they’re freaks and some adults think they’re the freak of the world and I think I’m a freak...I’ve always been a freak. I’m just kind of a freak in through the world and I kinda wrote that song about myself. I’ve always been like this long haired freakin’ kid.

 

Jason: Were you ever surprised, it seemed like for a while any time you turned on the radio you would hear your voice just saying “I love the way you spank my ass...”
Scantlin: I usually don’t write lyrics like those. I was going out with a really freaky stripper chick and I had to go pick up her from work a lot of the times and all of her stripper friends would all smack each other’s asses all the time. And I just liked the way they smacked each other’s ass. It was really a couple of years of my life and I had fun doing it. It was an interesting time and so I wrote a song about it. Maybe on the third record, I’ll get back to some more sexually freaky type lyrics than on this record. This record was more of a deeper type of emotional record.

 

Jason: I was going to say that it seemed like Nickleback was able to capitalize on that.. At first you make top 40 radio and then...
Scantlin: Yeah, they did the fuck me song , yeah, and I was like hey man, ok....(laughing) he’s freakin’ out.

Jason: Yeah, it’s like everybody is allowed to bring their freak on and put it on radio now.
Scantlin: Sex sells, man.

Jason: Except at the Superbowl.
Scantlin: Yeah, except when you whip your titty out.

 

Jason: Yeah, maybe if it was like Brittany or Christina that would be okay, but no one wants to see Janet.
Scantlin: It was a cool ring though.

 

Jason: Overall, when you finally made it to the end of the process for this record and put it in your CD player and play it straight through, how happy were you with how it ended up?
Scantlin: I’m so very, very amazed at the sound and the ambiance of the record. It took us a little longer, and a lot of sleepless nights went into it. Just like sittin’ in the house lookin’ outside the window, writing on the acoustic guitar, waiting for one of the guys from the band to walk in the door at 2 o’clock in the morning so that I can get their opinion. Sitting there just writing songs, damn, it’s a good feeling. It’s a time-consuming process and sometimes songs happen in five seconds, or one minute and sometimes it takes a week or something to get it the right way. So, it’s always a very mysterious journey, but it was fun, I’ve been having a good time. I’m kinda taking a little break from writing right now, just because this last record really like, I was like living this shit. I went through it anyway, but every time I had to re-record this stuff, I relived it and went kinda like loopy again, man. So, right now I’m trying to find inner peace within myself because I’ve been on a destructive path lately.

Jason: How have you felt the band’s been able to take what was on this CD and transform it to a live show? How’s that progression been okay for you, or is it that always a bit..
Scantlin: That’s always difficult. When you listen to your record and you sit there and you hear a lot of different overtone parts, and little different kind of sounds and shit and you just go like, you finally just got to say, ‘Fuck it,’ and just go out and play it live the way it’s played live. Sometimes songs on records sound better live and sometimes, well, they’re both different and it’s just practicing and basically sitting down and relearning the best to your ability. Some of vocal stuff that I do on the record like, I was very fucking scared to get up on stage and actually have to sing the song because I took my voice to a new level on this last record. But you know what man, I’ve been practicing and I’ve been doing it every night and I’m getting better at each song that we’re doing off the new record, and Freak of the World is a bitch. It’s a total bitch to sing live. Heel Over Head, what used to be a bitch to sing live but now I can just fly through it and I’m starting to joke around with it and do what I want to do with it...you just kind of got bite your lip, man. Just turn it up and go for it.

Jason: I was at the Rolling Rock Town Fair last year and saw you guys there. You’re obviously playing before tens of thousands there now you’re headlining your own show, playing smaller shows but everybody here is a diehard Puddle of Mudd fans. Is there any difference in doing the two shows as a band, or is it pretty much the same no matter what’s going on?
Scantlin: It’s kinda like a give and take on that because when you play in front of a more diverse crowd, you get this nervous energy in your system like you really want to win them over. I am saying to myself, ‘Wow, I’d like to make these people our fans.’ And then when we play our own shows, I’m not really sitting there having to worry about it because everybody’s singing all the lyrics and everybody loves all the music so, it’s definitely a little easier and a lot fun, because everybody is going crazy at our shows, having a good time. It’s really fun to get up on the stage in front of another band’s crowd and there’s some people in the front row and your looking at them at the beginning and they’re kinda gazing at you like you’re a dumb ass and by the end they’re into it and then they look like we kinda won them over so, it’s always kinda fun either way.


Jason: I remember the funniest thing about that was, I remember talking with the Town Fair’s publicist and she was trying to gather people for interviews for MTV2 when Def Leppard went on and everybody went to watch Def Leppard play and you couldn’t get anybody to do the MTV interviews.
Scantlin: I went and watched them.

Jason: They were awesome.
Scantlin: They were rockin dude..

Jason: They were great
Scantlin: I couldn’t believe they were playing before us, that’s how shocked I was, I was like, ‘Wow, dude Def Leppard is playing before us.’

Jason: That’s when you know you made it.
Scantlin: They still do their songs fuckin’ great and they’re awesome. Pretty much perfect, man.

 

Jason: Can you see yourself being the age of Joe Elliot and still doing this thing or is this something that is, you know, you can’t even look that far or is it just something that you couldn’t imagine being that age and still going out on tour?
Scantlin: Puddle of Mudd has been around for a long time. I’ve been with this band for almost ten years now and I would love it for it to go as long as it possibly can. I don’t know if I really want to get up on stage when I’m 40 or 45 years old and have to sing some of the songs that I’ve written that are like pretty screaming songs. I wouldn’t mind, maybe if I were 45 doing like acoustic jams. I’ll probably do the Pearl Jam thing, you know when you just kinda mellow out after another five years or something, just kinda go, okay man, ‘I’m sitting pretty now, everything’s cool, I’m just gonna write some cool tunes and deal with more of the mellow shit.’

 

Jason: It would be weird seeing a bunch of geriatrics singing ‘I wanna spank your ass”, you know...
Scantlin: Like the Rolling Stones when you got like the coolest groove in songs. I’m up there tearing my throat up every night and sometimes it’s a fucking, it wears on you man.

 

Jason: There are reports of the first record and this record, just ya know the reports of the band itself. Obviously mistakes have been made and all that stuff, but is there anything you look back on and like you did this or maybe should have put this song on the first record instead of, or is it, do you ever look back or is it just looking forward?
Scantlin: I try not to look back as much as possible, I don’t really regret anything except maybe there are a few songs that I probably would have picked to be on the new record than that are actually on there, maybe just one or two but I don’t want to sit there and dwell about it, I dwell about enough shit anyways. I’ve been like, right now in my life, I’m just trying to maintain sanity while I’m on tour for probably a while, we’ll probably be on tour now. It’s fun, it’s really amazing to be on tour and playing to sold out crowds every night but at the same time, you do miss your bed and your family and shit.