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Weiland finds freedom in his music

Scott Weiland says songwriting has helped him cope with "romantic torture."

Scott Weiland says songwriting has helped him cope with "romantic torture."

BURBANK, Calif. – Scott Weiland, famed frontman for two rock supergroups, has discovered solo work’s prize and penalty: liberation and loneliness.

“I’ve been recording in between periods of romantic torture, which is the concept of this album,” says the singer, whose divorce from his second wife, Mary Forsberg, informs several anguished lyrics on second solo album “Happy in Galoshes.”

“Writing these songs has been my saving grace. I have felt in the past like a marionette. This album is my freedom.”

Weiland, 41, is smoking and impeccably attired as usual when he takes a seat in the control booth of his Lavish Studios, a former machine shop transformed into a dim sanctuary with candles, recording gear and red lanterns hanging from a velvet-draped ceiling.

He sounds by turns defiant and wounded as he recounts the events leading to this pivotal juncture. His career is rebooting, but his personal life, littered with arrests, substance abuse and rehabs, has sapped him. In 2008, his mother was diagnosed with cancer, and his brother suffered a fatal drug overdose. He’s especially distraught over his split from Forsberg.

“When you’re in love, you’ve found your soul mate, you think life is going one way, and suddenly it’s completely apparent it’s not. You have to rethink your whole purpose,” he says, adding haltingly, “She’s the love of my life, and I’ll always love her.”

He sits a little straighter and says: “This record has helped a lot. I was focused. I’m doing what I want to do creatively, and that’s kept me going.”

Weiland, who performs in Tucson on Tuesday, co-produced the new 13-track “Happy” for his Softdrive label with songwriting partner Doug Grean. Paul Oakenfold and members of No Doubt crop up, and Weiland covers The Smiths’ “Reel Around the Fountain” (on the two-CD deluxe edition) and David Bowie’s “Fame.”

“Happy” took shape during a tumultuous decade after the release of solo debut “12 Bar Blues” in 1998. In 2003, he left Stone Temple Pilots, the grunge-era giant that sold 35 million albums globally and spawned six No. 1 singles, including Grammy-winning “Plush.” In 2004, former Guns N’ Roses players enlisted Weiland to sing in Velvet Revolver, another hard-rock juggernaut that fired him last April after acrimonious exchanges.

“There were too many egos, and I’m not leaving myself out of the mix,” Weiland says. “It was a recipe for incredible success and disaster.”

The highly touted STP reunion tour followed, leaving fans clamoring for a new album. Weiland is on the fence.

“When you commit to a band that big that sold so many records and touched that many people, you can’t easily get out of it,” he says. “I’m finally on my own, at a place I’ve wanted to be for so long.”

Not surprisingly, “Happy” is as motley and unconventional as his lifestyle.

“It’s definitely eclectic,” Grean says. “He’s really breaking the mold people put him in as this heavy rock/grunge superstar. There’s country and jazzy and bossa nova stuff that redefines him. It was a fun, challenging, unpredictable experiment. The hardest part was carving out time. He kept doing things like getting into a superband.”

They formed a “trauma bond” 14 years ago when Grean’s brother, who is in rehab, “got a crazy new roommate in the middle of the night,” Grean says. “He had a mountain of baggage, I mean actual luggage. I wasn’t a huge STP fan, but we became friends.”

Weiland’s figurative baggage is substantial, too. He served a day in jail May 12, 2008, for a DUI arrest in 2007. He still drinks but points out he kicked heroin six years ago. In March, he completed a stint in rehab.

“When my wife was divorcing me, I relapsed on cocaine for three months, and I put myself in rehab without telling the band because I knew there would be manipulation for me to complete the tour,” he says.

It’s not the only reason he’s gun-shy about band duty.

“There’s a beauty in being part of a band, when there’s equality and trust,” he says. “But at this phase of my life, I want to write and not have to think about whether a song is going to be a hit. I want to explore the music that inspires me, and I don’t want to ape myself.

“I’ve been saying for a long time that I couldn’t see myself shaking my (butt) in leather pants when I’m 40. My goal in STP was to leave an imprint. That was done. I want to move forward and be in control of what I do musically. I have kids, and I don’t want to spend my life on the road.”

Noah, 8, and Lucy, 6, have altered his priorities and calmed a chaotic lifestyle. He’s considering a move from Los Angeles.

“On the veneer, it’s a lovely place, but the underbelly is dark and insidious. Everyone wants what everyone else has.”

Having experienced its dark side, Weiland no longer craves the veneer of rock stardom.

“I’m a disciple of David Bowie, and I see myself at that crossroad of ‘Young Americans’ and the Berlin records,” Weiland says, citing the Brit icon’s transition from 1975′s rock/soul hit to his late-’70s experimental trilogy.

“I want to surround myself with people who understand the music that inspires me. I don’t want to get battered from throwing myself around on stage. I want a performance style that’s more cerebral and emotional than physical. I want to be a creative artist, not a whirling dervish.”



What: Scott Weiland in concert

When: 8:30 p.m. Tuesday

Where: The Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St.

Price: $25 advance, $30 day of show

Info: 740-1000, www.rialtotheatre.com

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