Wes Scantlin of Puddle Of Mudd

by Greg Prato

On "Blurry," "Control," and what's next for Puddle Of Mudd.



In 1999, Wes Scantlin was on his way to New Orleans to start a new life as a bartender when he found out Fred Durst, the Limp Bizkit frontman and nu-metal kingmaker, was interested in signing him to his label, Flawless Records. Scantlin had slipped a demo tape to Durst's bodyguard when Bizkit came through Kansas City, where his band Puddle Of Mudd spent much of the decade playing the local haunts. A deal was done, and Scantlin was dispatched to Los Angeles, where he was teamed with new bandmates in a new Puddle Of Mudd to record their debut album, Come Clean. Released in 2001, it spawned the hits "Control," "Blurry," and "She Hates Me."

Three more albums followed during the decade, but then 10 years went by before Puddle Of Mudd returned in 2019 with Welcome to Galvania. During that time, Scantlin found himself in trouble with the law several times before eventually entering rehab. Now he's got his life back together and we should see a new Puddle Of Mudd album in 2023 - Scantlin tells us it's "basically done."

In this talk, Scantlin brings "Blurry" into focus and explains how he writes a song. He also talks about his favorite unheralded PoM track, and his infamous SiriusXM performance of "About A Girl."
Greg Prato (Songfacts): How are you currently doing? I remember a few years back there were reports that questioned your well-being.

Wes Scantlin: I am doing perfectly fine. No worries, no bad nothin' - just in good health and just chilling out.

Songfacts: How did you get your life back on track?

Scantlin: In my opinion, it's get rid of the lurkers. Switch gears, change your playground and your playmates, hit some meetings, and run from evil freaking crazy-ass bitches. [Laughs]

Songfacts: How do you find you write your best songs?

Scantlin: Most of the time, in the beginning I like to be doing everything myself. No outside opinions in the first part of composing a song... I need to be solo. Later on I can bounce it off some different people and get a sense of what they think. Collaboration with different songwriters after I've already mapped out the whole beginning of each composition. Later on, it's nice to have some pretty cool advice and different kind of ideas for the direction the song is going.

Songfacts: Can you give an example of a song that improved after collaborating with someone on an idea you had?

Scantlin: There's a lot of back-and-forth type of stuff with all different kinds of people. Fred [Durst] was very helpful in building a song. His direction was pretty cool - it's kind of like a rollercoaster. The bridge has got to be insane, everything has to be hooky all the way through the whole song.

I always like to break it down in the middle eight and then erupt it. Elevate it from ground level and then make it boom, go crazy, straight to the moon. And have a killer last chorus with an insane outro. Balls to the wall, just blowing your face off.

Songfacts: There was a very popular TV series called The Good Place that a few years ago had an episode where "She Hates Me" was played. How did you feel about it and did you have to authorize its use?1

Scantlin: Well, I didn't know anything about that until just now. I might have to check into that and see if I got what I deserve to get.

Songfacts: You wrote the song "Blurry" when your son was young and you were missing him. How do you feel about that song now?

Scantlin: That song I wrote with Jimmy Allen - the original guitar player for Puddle Of Mudd2 - and it was called "Electron Moon." So, "Blurry" is semi-"Electron Moon." It's three notes, basically - the whole song is - except for the melody doing the melodic thing.

When I got out here to LA, I didn't know anybody and I was really sad because I missed my family and my kid. I missed everybody a lot. I had to put my hammer down and just get after it and make it happen. So, basically the song is just about missing a slew of people that you love and adore.

Songfacts: Brad Stewart of Shinedown has a writing credit on "Control." How did that happen?

Scantlin: He came in and he was going to be possibly playing the bass. Me and Paul [Phillips, guitar] and Doug [Ardito, bass] were in this rehearsal hall, and I had songs that I was showing them, and I went, "Does anybody have a riff?" And Brad was like, "Yeah. Check this out." He started playing the "Control" riff.

It happened pretty quick. I was actually stealing my own shit from a different song, too, which was called "Hate Sex." "Control" used to be called "Hate Sex," and then Brad gave it a different rhythm and he just started playing it on bass.



Songfacts: What was the lyrical inspiration behind the song "Famous"?

Scantlin: You think you're all cool and shit, and you live in the Hollywood Hills, blah blah blah. That was a triple collaboration - with Doug Ardito and Brian Howes3.

I was just kind of poking fun at myself. They added lyrical content. Brian Howes had that riff, which was actually really similar to "Stoned," and he wrote that riff, so those two songs are almost musically identical.

Songfacts: "Drift And Die."

Scantlin: Me and Jimmy Allen, the OG guitar player, we would sit there and write, and he actually wrote a lot of the lyrics on that, and the music. And then I was just melodically coming in.

Jimmy was writing, and then I would come over he would fire up a joint or something, and he would show me his idea. Then he was like, "Come up with some killer melodies." So that's how that went down.

Songfacts: "Spaceship."

Scantlin: That I wrote by myself from top to bottom. It's just a little sexy-type song. It's basically, one of these days we're all going to have our own spaceships, so you might want to take your date on a little cruise to Uranus. [Laughs]

Songfacts: What's a Puddle Of Mudd song that doesn't get a lot of attention but is very meaningful to you?

Scantlin: "Heel Over Head" is really cool. I wrote that when I first got to LA. There was this Russian girl, Elena, and she would come by the house. She was really good friends with Rick Rubin. She'd come by and say, "Wesley, want to smoke some greeenge?" I was telling her to call weed "Grinch," because it's green, but she couldn't say it correctly. She would come by and tease me and be flirting with me... and she would never let it totally go down. I wrote that song completely about her.

Songfacts: Do you find smoking pot helps you write songs and boost your creativity?

Scantlin: I don't really know technically - I don't smoke pot anymore. It's sort of hilarious that it's legal now, but back in the day when I was a teenager growing up, I would have been trippin'. But I don't smoke weed anymore. You can get a little bit loose when you're songwriting - it gives you a little more courage.

To a certain extent with moderation, certain different types of chemicals probably help the creative process because it releases your inhibitions. When you're writing, you just want to do what you're doing without any outside opinions. Certain substances do release your inhibitions and give you a little bit more freedom.

Songfacts: What are your thoughts on Puddle Of Mudd's cover of Nirvana's "About A Girl" from a few years back?

Scantlin: Oh yeah, you know what? I was acclimating and it was a tiring day, and I had already performed five or six songs at one time, and by the time I got to that one - which I shouldn't even have done because I cannot nail that song - I was a little tired. It looked and sounded like total shit. But live to fight another day, dude.

Songfacts: I understand that Puddle Of Mudd is working on a new album.

Scantlin: The album is basically done. It's getting mixed and mastered, and sprinkling the "Disney magical fairy awesome stuff" on top of it is John Kurzweg, who did Come Clean and Life On Display. He's making it happen, man. It's incredible. It's wonderful to listen to. I pat myself on the back and give credit and love to each and every person that collaborated with me on this next record.

December 19, 2022

For more Puddle Of Mudd, visit puddleofmudd.com.

Further reading:
Mark Tremonti of Creed and Alter Bridge
Lajon Witherspoon of Sevendust
Scott Weiland - Memories Of A Rock Star
Brad Arnold of 3 Doors Down
Limp Bizkit Songfacts

Footnotes:

  • 1] The episode is titled "Leap To Faith." The scene takes place in The Bad Place - a proxy for hell - where the song plays on a loop along with "Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer." (back)
  • 2] Jimmy Allen also has writing credits on "Drift And Die" and "She Hates Me." (back)
  • 3] Brian Howes was one of many producers the band invited to work on Famous. The former Closure frontman, who'd recently produced and co-wrote Skillet's Grammy-nominated Comatose album, shares credits on "Famous" and "It Was Faith." (back)

More Songwriter Interviews

Comments: 1

  • Kurt from Seattlehonestly the performance was hilarious
    10/10
see more comments

Editor's Picks

John Kay of Steppenwolf

John Kay of SteppenwolfSongwriter Interviews

Steppenwolf frontman John Kay talks about "Magic Carpet Ride," "Born To Be Wild," and what he values more than awards and accolades.

Stephen Christian of Anberlin

Stephen Christian of AnberlinSongwriter Interviews

The lead singer/lyricist for Anberlin breaks down "Impossible" and covers some tracks from their 2012 album Vital.

Francis Rossi of Status Quo

Francis Rossi of Status QuoSongwriter Interviews

Doubt led to drive for Francis, who still isn't sure why one of Status Quo's biggest hits is so beloved.

Barney Hoskyns Explores The Forgotten History Of Woodstock, New York

Barney Hoskyns Explores The Forgotten History Of Woodstock, New YorkSong Writing

Our chat with Barney Hoskyns, who covers the wild years of Woodstock - the town, not the festival - in his book Small Town Talk.

Michael Bolton

Michael BoltonSongwriter Interviews

Into the vaults for this talk with Bolton from the '80s when he was a focused on writing songs for other artists.

Prince

PrinceFact or Fiction

Prince is shrouded in mystery, making him an excellent candidate for Fact or Fiction. Is he really a Scientologist? Does he own an exotic animal?