STONE TEMPLE PILOTS – TINY MUSIC… March 26th 1996, Stone Temple Pilots released their third album Tiny Music…Songs From the Vatican Gift Shop, on Atlantic Records.
For the first three years of the band’s career, most critics viewed STP as a band grasping at the hem of Eddie Vedder’s cutoffs. 1992’s Core was an undeniable, hook-laden juggernaut, and a maligned masterpiece of the era. But with the following releases, the band really stretched out to show what they were made of.
1994’s Purple was an album of great depth, immaculate songwriting, gargantuan hooks and more importantly, it defiantly gave two fingers to the poe-faced music press and the lemming-like readers that followed their every word. They wrote killer rock songs, and that was enough for the millions of fans STP had gathered.
Come 1996, Tiny Music… saw Stone Temple Pilots moving away from the sound present on their first two records and incorporating a wide variety of different influences. STP understood alternative rock as merely another kind of pop music and were content to work within its established forms.
The album is glammy and sexy in a way that would make Seattle’s finest blush. Its experimental streak showed that they were willing to explore new sounds, but only if they resulted in pop gold. The songs themselves are emotionally direct, conjuring T. Rex, Bowie, and Exile-era Rolling Stones; like those totems of exhaustion and bravado, nearly every song sounds like it was recorded at 4:30 in the morning.
It’s immediately apparent from the opening instrumental jam, that STP might have a lot more to them than perhaps most were aware of. Of course their ardent fans always knew this band’s talents and depths.
“It took a while to get a vibe of what we had grown into,” late frontman Scott Weiland told MTV as the band was nearing completion of Tiny Music. The question was: “‘Do we turn into a butterfly or do we turn from a maggot into a fly?'” he added. “It could’ve gone either way.”
What makes Tiny Music impressive is how the band brings in elements of psychedelia, trancy shoegaze, jangle pop, and other forms of melodic alternative guitar pop. By accentuating their pop tendencies in both their riffs and melodies, they are able to slip in a number of creative arrangements which manage to expand their musical repertoire significantly.
“When the band recorded Core we were basically homeless,” said drummer Eric Kretz, before starting with Atlantic Records, touring, and going through the processes of success. “It was only five years later, but we were in a different place with different struggles at the time. We were dedicated young, green musicians, and we’re traveling the world, and we’re doing great, and the performances were great, so when ‘Tiny Music’ came around, how could we challenge ourselves from what we’ve done previously.”
“Friends and fans of the band liked STP on the first two albums,” says Kretz, but loved them after Tiny Music. I think it’s because we made this record more for ourselves, to challenge ourselves and what we’ve done previously. In a way it was acknowledging what we’ve already done and say ‘fuck that, we’re going in a different direction.’
Now 27 years later, Tiny Music was the most cohesive hodgepodge STP could have ever created. “The album came out a little more lighthearted instead of being overly serious,” says Kretz. “There are songs on there like ‘Adhesive’ that we were really just drawn to because they’re so dreamlike. Then you have a song like ‘Art School Girl’ and a few others that are just punk and we were just laughing when we were recording them. We weren’t always sure that everything had to be on the record, but we just recorded it and had a really great time.”