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Puddle of Mudd and Other Cautionary Rock Tales

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Best case, Puddle of Mudd front man Wes Scantlin is eccentric. Worst case, he sounds like he might have taken "Psycho," the band's No. 1 Billboard Mainstream Rock hit from 2008, a little too seriously. Since rising to prominence with 2001’s Come Clean, Scantlin — whose band was signed by Limp Bizkit’s Fred Durst, enough to knock any man off the rails a bit — has weathered a number of personal and legal issues, including:

  • A pair of domestic violence arrests
  • Failure to pay taxes
  • Felony vandalism
  • Being banned from Graceland a decade ago for swimming in an off-limits pool

The personal woes have intensified for Scantlin of late. Since the beginning of 2015, he has been arrested for drunk and disorderly conduct, led authorities on a high-speed chase and been popped for DUI and destroying private property. Most concerning, however, was an incident in April of this year, when Scantlin was arrested at his home following a standoff with 30 armed police officers.

The incidents have piled up onstage as well. In the past three years alone, Scantlin has thrown things at audience members, destroyed his band’s instruments and been alleged to have drunkenly lip-synced a concert in Ohio. Things escalated earlier this year, when Scantlin stopped mid-set and accused a fan of stealing his house (how one would go about doing so, I’m not quite sure) before exiting the stage. His bandmates had enough two months later, when they abandoned him during a set in the U.K. following yet another drunken rant.

And yet, Scantlin will (hopefully) be in the Houston area on August 25, when Puddle of Mudd plays the Pub Fountains in Stafford.; and August 27 at Dickinson's 18th St. Pier Bar & Grill. He is certainly a curious fellow, and if a number of the allegations above are indeed true, it’s fair to call Scantlin deranged.

This has certainly affected his career in a negative way. Puddle of Mudd was once one of the hottest bands in mainstream rock, buoyed by such hits as “Blurry,” “Control” and “She Hates Me.” But times have been lean of late, as Puddle of Mudd hasn’t released a single of consequence in more than five years. Hell, the band hasn’t produced a new album in seven years.

This is a shame. Despite its commercial success, which often negates love from misanthropic types and rock critics, Puddle of Mudd was the rare band that sold records and received rock radio play at the turn of the century, and yet did so without alienating the critical community. In short, they were essentially a poor man’s Foo Fighters, minus the pedigree and Dave Grohl’s inherent charm.

Scantlin isn’t the first rocker to sabotage his career in a cocktail of booze, drugs and ego, and he sure as hell won’t be the last. If anything, the rock landscape is littered with more bands that came apart at their peak than those that persevered through the hard times, enjoyed the prime years and came out pretty well on the other side. In short, U2 is the exception. Guns N’ Roses is the rule.

Once the biggest rock band on the planet (and still a mythical figure of sorts in classic-rock circles), GN'R was essentially derailed by ego, infighting, drug abuse and myriad other factors that have ended any number of bands. More than 20 years after breaking up, GN'R finally got its shit together (or just really needed the money) for its big reunion tour, which, by all accounts, was a big hit on a recent stop in Houston.

The list goes on — Nirvana, the Eagles, the Police, Rage Against the Machine, the Pixies. All were legendary bands, and all ended acrimoniously via some form of discord, drugs or ego (in many cases, it was all of the above). For Christ's sake, even the Beatles couldn’t keep it together for all that long!

Of course, many of these bands have since engaged in temporary or long-term reunions, but those are very rarely as satisfying as the band’s prime years. While I’m sure the recent GN'R set at NRG Stadium was awesome, no way it stood up to Axl Rose and Slash circa 1988. How could one expect it to?

Scantlin certainly isn’t Axl, and no one is going to confuse Puddle of Mudd with pioneers and reinventors of the rock game. He is what he is — a weird (and possibly bad) person with a penchant for music — and his band is what it is, a talented crew of musicians who found lightning in a bottle once upon a time and never really capitalized on it.

Scantlin and Puddle of Mudd are textbook examples of a band done in by drugs, infighting and otherwise erratic behavior. They’re also an example of another tragic rock tale — that of wasted potential.

Puddle of Mudd performs Thursday, August 25 at the Pub Fountains, 12720 Southwest Freeway, Stafford, and Saturday, August 27 at 18th St. Pier Bar & Grill, 111 18th Street, Dickinson.

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