FEATURE: Stone Temple Pilots “Purple” Album Turns 30 and Made One Hater a Fan

How can a certified metal guy explain to the reader how this album has gone from being the enemy to a close friend?

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It started many years ago with the release of the band’s debut record, Core (Atlantic Records). The vitriol that flowed through my veins over this record made blood run cold and my heart nearly seize at seeing the MTV Headbanger’s Ball (wait what?) video of the song “Plush”  being performed acoustic.

But that Sex Type Thing song sure did hit didn’t it?


Time passes, and Stone Temple Pilots becomes one of the biggest bands in the world back in an era when this could still happen on a debut record, much as it happened with The Doors. Look for parallels between these bands as the article continues.


In 1994, one of the greatest movies of that era, The Crow, portrayed as an actor’s debut that actually wasn’t was released and due in no small part to Brandon Lee’s on-set death, it becomes the blockbuster of the summer. Your friend and humble narrator even took it in at The Union Station Cinema, back when it was still a going concern.


On that soundtrack was a song called “Big Emtpy.” Another song by hated on by some, but oddly worked for this author. Can one really hate a band if one deeply enjoys 50% of the singles they release?

In 1994, there was no confusion in my mind, because this band was the enemy. A blood enemy. STP was Grunge, and I was metal. They were the Romulans to my Klingon. They were tricksy and I was honor.

The next year, as this author was working at the Nine Inch Nails concert, another blood enemy, he forged a friendship with a kindred spirit in the hallway as the concert was going when they should have been working. Should the Star Trek analogy need to be continued, consider Trent Reznor and his gang of miscreants as the Ferengi.

He told me about STP and how they rock harder than anyone and they were wrongfully considered to be a Pearl Jam rip-off. Well, as long as we’re going to Denny’s after work and getting some mozz sticks, whatever you say, Mark. The friend’s words were dismissed out of hand. Why listen to the music on the full album? Why admit to liking something you like?

Oh, the gatekeeping that was being done here.

Three decades later, that 18-year-old man who would not consider Purple, who got angry when KSHE 95 played “Interstate Love Song,” is listening to that song now, but there’s no anger, only tingles.

“Vaseline” with its decidedly nonsense lyrics paints an imagist picture that’s worthy of the previously mentioned band featuring Jim Morrison.


To paraphrase one of the greatest fictional philosophers of a time yet to come, Bender Bending Rodriguez, this album transcends genres as it reinvents them. The weaving in and out of Rock, Blues, Americana, and yeah, some grunge too, will keep this album fresh for generations to come.

This is my cautionary tale. It’s a lesson that wasn’t learned until much later, when all feelings of shame have been wiped clean from my consciousness. Though we in the metal community love to separate music into these defined boxes, which is so helpful when it comes to what to or not to expect, just remember this.


“There are simply two kinds of music, good music and the other kind.”

  –Duke Ellington


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