Many people are under the impression that Wes Scantlin, the singer and guitarist of Puddle of Mudd, is the sole creative force behind the group’s pain-stricken melodies. That’s not the case. His bandmates help shape the arrangements and throw in complementary parts, and there’s an even more powerful influence at work – one that’s ingrained in Scantlin’s blood.
Unlike the many hard rock bands who sing about how badly their parents screwed up their lives, Scantlin has nothing but praise for his dad, who helps the singer decide which Puddle songs make the cut and which are scrapped. “I bounce everything off him,” the frontman said with pride. “He’s a good ol’ boy from Kansas City, and when he hears something he likes, he gets goose bumps and the hair on the back of his neck stands up.”
As an adolescent, Scantlin butted heads with his father, but things have since changed. Now he considers Papa Scantlin to be one of his greatest influences and the reason he’s so inspired by classic rock.
“He was constantly blasting Led Zeppelin when I was growing as a little baby in my mom’s stomach,” Scantlin said. “And he also played me Jimi Hendrix, the Stones and the Beatles when I was a kid. I think that all soaked in me and comes out in my music.”
As much as Scantlin trusts Daddy’s opinion, the frontman admits his bandmates sometimes get their way. For instance, the singer originally wanted to call Puddle’s new album Galvanic because of the electrical charge he felt from the music, but the rest of the group wasn’t feeling it.
“They thought it was a little cocky,” Scantlin said. “I didn’t see that side of it. But everyone liked the name Life on Display because this record is my life and our lives. We’re putting it on display and everybody can try to step in it.”
Not only does the album reveal Scantlin’s complex personal life – his frustrations with the music industry and relationship woes – it also clearly illustrates what he’s been feeling lately besides classic rock. Many of the vocal harmonies are reminiscent of Alice in Chains, and the doom-laden guitars recall other grunge bands including Nirvana, Soundgarden and Pearl Jam.
“I love all that stuff, and God rest Kurt Cobain and Layne Staley’s souls, man,” Scantlin said. “They inspired me super-big time and I’m not ashamed to admit it.”
Although the first single from Life on Display, the Nirvana-esque “Away From Me,” has only just hit radio and the album doesn’t come out until November 25, Scantlin is already preparing for album number three. In addition to compiling old material for a B-sides disc, he’s penning new songs almost daily.
“I just can’t help it,” he said of his addiction to songwriting. “I really have been blessed with a gift, and I’m gonna use it to the best of my ability. It’s therapeutic for me, also. I don’t think I could survive without making music.”