“I wanna get like 50 speakers and put them on that goddess’ boobs and go ‘boom! boom! boom!’”
The decor at Lower Parel club Shiro is really, really tripping out Wes Scantlin, the frontman of Kansas post-grunge act Puddle of Mudd. The band - best known for early 2000s radio rock hits like ‘Blurry’ and ‘Control’ - is in India to play a five-city Hard Rock Cafe tour. Much like contemporaries Creed and Nickelback, the band’s legacy hasn’t aged well. The short-lived high of 2001’s multi-platinum Come Clean was followed by a spate of controversies, line-up changes and a descent into relative obscurity. Largely ignored by the music press, Scantlin has soldiered on despite the occasional arrest (drunk driving, riding an airport baggage carousel) and repeated accusations of lip-syncing at live gigs. A few hours before the first show of the tour, I met him to talk about the band’s upcoming album, being in India and their controversial gig in Sri Lanka last week.
Bhanuj Kappal: This is the first gig of your Hard Rock Cafe tour. What are you guys expecting?
Wes Scantlin: I think it’s going to be okay. As long as nobody from Sri Lanka shows up with a bunch of guns.
The first version of Puddle of Mudd formed in 1991 and broke up before your major label deal. What led to the breakup?
Ah, people cave in, give up. They got jobs, one dude is a plumber, the other guy was an iron worker, the other guy was a stoner weirdo. I just kinda lucked out. A lot of luck, a lot of hard work, I must say. It was just really freaky deaky. Like, I don’t know, a blessing. It was just accidental, I showed up at a concert with a demo tape with about 25 songs on it. Dropped it off for (Limp Bizkit frontman) Fred Durst at a Family Values concert. Got a phone call, fly to Hollywood, and now all of a sudden I’m in India. A lot of people quit. They missed their girls, they missed their parents, they missed a lot of things man, and I was just down to do it.
A lot of people were like ‘oh baby baby baby okay gotta go’. I said bye, okay great. Replace, replace, replace, replace, replace. These guys (referring to his current bandmates) have been in and out of the band like 6-7 times. I can’t get kicked out. I’ve tried to fire myself at least 70 fucking times, but it don’t work.
You major label debut Come Clean made quite a splash. How did it feel to have made a multi-platinum record?
After all the lawsuits and everything? Pretty good. I got sued about 500 times by a bunch of dudes that didn’t write shit. I had to spend my birthday behind 4 stenographers, 3 judges, 17 mediators, and I dunno, maybe 25 lawyers, 75-100 fucking pots of coffee and hiding behind a pill of… whatever those pills are called… opiates I guess it was, so that I didn’t have to commit suicide. On my birthday!
You’ve often been labelled a post-grunge band. Was the American underground scene a big influence or was that just marketing?
Yeah, I mean they were an influence. We’re influenced by a lot of different artists, from all over. I’ve been talking the big game about Michael Jackson and Fleetwood Mac, and there’s tons of stuff. Cheap Trick, Def Leppard, Motley Crue. Lots of hip-hop as well, NWA, Eazy E, Tupac and Biggie Smalls. And obviously, Nirvana, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, and Screaming Trees and the whole Sub Pop roster. A lot of different things, man. We’ve all been inspired by many many different artists. You name it, we’ve heard it. We’ve been listening to it all our lives. We can sit here all day and go back and forth about all this stuff.
Your third record Famous was supposedly quite difficult to record. What happened?
No, that was okay, that was not that bad. Paul Phillips (lead guitarist) left, but well, you know, it wasn’t my fault. He fucked my fucking wife. Other than that, he was an all right guy. Tried taking a lot of steroids and shit, you know. Other people tried to strangle me to death in my kitchen, of course. A lot of different, weird stuff happened. I don’t know, just a lot of crazy stuff happened in the last… shit, for a long, long time in my life. All I know is that I started Puddle of Mudd back in the day by a river that was flooding. And now we’re sitting in India and I’m trying to name a bunch of people that I adore. I’d say Prince is a good inspiration as well. It’s basically a list that would be unlistable, inlistable… it’s endless.
How’s the new album coming along? What’s your inspiration for this one?
Yeah, we’ve been recording and it’s great. We’re just trying to keep it cool, trying to reach down inside of people’s hearts and souls and inspire people. Maybe help them out if they’ve got some hard times going on, and at the same time, celebrate the happy times. Maybe your fucking mom or dad died, you know, maybe we can to help you get through the pain.
And there’s some real sexual emotional stuff in there too. Everyone wants to get laid. And then it’s nice to be inspired by different cultures as well, like you guys. We’re inspired by a lot of things and we’re very fortunate to be actually sitting here with you guys and appreciate your culture.
How is it working with Cameron Webb?
Cameron Webb is a great guy, and as a producer he’s doing a great job. He’s down at Long Beach so it’s kind of a stretch to get down over there, but right now we’ve got like five or six jams with him, and I think right now we’re about four songs short of the next LP. Which should come out in, I’d say, March.
Do you think the music press and the music industry back home doesn’t take you seriously? Does that bother you?
A lot of people just don’t like people that are successful. And they want to dog you out and treat you like a piece of shit. But ultimately, they’re not sitting in India talking to cool motherfuckers like you. We’re sitting here in India, where the fuck are they at? If I had some white rusty picket fence, in the middle of nowhere with some cruddy fucking job getting screamed at by their stupid fucking wife who’s cheating on them, they can just kiss my ass and go to hell man. Fuck ‘em, fuck ‘em all, man. I’m sitting with my band and some cool dudes in India and looking at some crazy looking goddess Buddha lady and maybe perhaps tonight I could even get a blowjob… By a chick! By a woman! Actually, I can’t do that because I’m with one woman now.
What happened in Sri Lanka? The organisers claim that you were lip-syncing.
Nothing, we played a show and we rocked. Whatever, there was a mic in front of my face, there was a mic in front of these guys’ faces, I don’t know what the fuck these people are talking about, man. We all sang and played as best we could. That’s all we can say about that. If they want to pin some bullshit on us about some bullshit that we didn’t even do, then they can go and fucking not book us again. Which they will, of course, again. About a 1000 times. We weren’t invited to go back to Brazil and now we’re going to Brazil, and then we weren’t going to be invited back to Texas but we’ve been back in Texas 9000 times. And now we’re here and I’m sure we’ll come back here. And again. And then we’re going to the UK and we’re going to go all over the goddamned world. Give me a break!
What happened to your Facebook page? I believe it got deleted after a gig in Ohio that didn’t go well.
I don’t know. I think that was a chick who ain’t going to get my dick. Doreen Fassbender, she ain’t going to get no dick. She tried to take control of all kinds of weird shit. I’m still friends with her but she ain’t going to get no dick. I’m just being honest man, at this point in my life, I gotta just throw the truth out there.
Do you have a message for your fans here?
We’re just going to create nice rock and roll music, we’re going to try to make it as nice and hooky as possible and we hope to reach you inside of your soul and your heart and inspire you. We’re trying to reach the kids a lot, we’re sincerely trying to reach the children and give them hope. I really believe that. I’m trying to reach the children who are going to play the guitar, or the bass, or the drums, or the keyboard, or the tuba, or the clarinet, or something. And keep inspiring younger people to continue to do what we actually were educated to do when we were growing up.
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