The Early Days of Scott Weiland & Rocco Guarino
Here’s another excerpt from the interviews we filmed with Scott Weiland before his passing in 2015 for Cerwin Vega. Rocco Guarino, his longtime producer and engineer, talks about getting started in live sound. Scott talks about his early days in the choir and joining his first band.
Special thanks to Evan MacKenzie for interviewing and JP Robelot for recording sound.
Scott Weiland & Rocco Guarino – Parallel Lives
Cerwin-Vega Professional Audio
I was born in California. My mom divorced my dad and she got remarried a couple years later. We moved to Manhattan Beach for a couple of years. Right about the time when I was about to turn 5, my dad got transferred to Cleveland. He was working for TRW. We lived in this small town outside of Cleveland, called Chagrin Falls. Then my dad got transferred back to LA and we lived in Huntington Beach. That’s where I went to high school. Probably the first band that really grabbed me was The Beatles. My father, he was a huge music fan. He turned me on to The Doors. He turned me on to Merle Haggard. He turned me on to The Beatles. His record collection was amazing. He was a huge influence on me. He also sang all the time and had a great voice. So I would sing along with him. I also sang in the choir too. I was always in the choir, even in high school, when it wasn’t cool to be in the choir.
I started out when I was probably 12 or 13 just playing guitar, organ, the obligatory family Hammond we had in our living room. That kind of turned into being in bands. So I was in my first band when I was like 16 and played guitar. We needed to practice and rehearse, so I was always the guy that was just sort of drawn to the gear. I always just picked up the PA gear, the mixing board and PA system. We had an old Yamaha console. I don’t remember the model number. It was giant. One of our friends’ moms sort of gave us some money to go buy a PA and helped us. We had a Peavey PA, a giant folded horn thing I think it was. There was all Peavey speakers [laughs]. Real quality [laughs].
When I was 16, I formed my first band with my friends in high school. My best friend was on guitar. We rehearsed in my garage. My parents allowed us to and we set up our equipment and just started writing songs. In the garage, it was a 60s Shure PA with those tall columns. It had like 6 channels. We weren’t a cover band. We were an original band. We started out playing house parties. Then, I started booking us shows at clubs. We all had to get fake IDs, so we could play the clubs. We played like the Golden Bear and a bunch of really cool clubs, Concert Factory. I booked us also shows up in LA like at Madam Wong’s.
I think, like a lot of guys, I probably started doing live sound. That’s how I started out, doing live sound for my bands. That evolved into recording. Then, once I sort of…live sound for me was very rewarding, because it was the energy. You’ve got one shot. If you screw up, there’s no second take. There’s no mixing. There’s no mastering. It’s there. Everyone that’s there hears it. So there’s a little pressure involved which I always kind of thrived on.