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Bio - Wesley Reid Scantlin

 

Wesley Reid Scantlin was born a middle child at St. Joseph's Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri on June 9, 1972.  With his parents, and siblings, the Scantlin home was one that was always filled with music of some sort which would be an integral force motivating Wes to become an aspiring musician at a very young age.  As a lifetime resident of Kansas City up until his late 20's, his hometown holds many special memories for him and he visits as often as he can during breaks from his hectic schedule.  His KC roots keep him grounded and remind him from where he came, a man with a passion for his family and his music.  He never fails to mention he is a Kansas City Chiefs fan, and when he talks about his hometown, he sports an ear-to-ear grin.  

 

 

Music has always been Wes' vision, he was surrounded by inspiration as he was growing up; his mother was a singer and played piano, his dad loved rock and roll, and the Scantlin television was tuned to MTV most of the time.  Rock albums were on the stereo as well as Elvis Presley and Wes quickly became a fan of 'The King'.  As a youngster he practiced his dance moves in front of the television while watching Elvis movies and he soon garnered the nickname 'Wesley Presley' from his Dad. 

 

Wes' interest in the guitar grew just as he was hitting his teenage years when he regularly visited the home of a friend who had recently taken up guitar.  He would watch him practice and when the friend would take a break, Wes didn't hesitate to pick the guitar and try to imitate what he had observed. Soon he was armed with a gift from his mom, his first guitar that was an all-in-one guitar and amp kit from the local K-Mart.  Though it wasn't of the best quality, he was in love with this black beauty of a guitar complete with red stripe for Christmas at the age of 12.  He set out to teach himself how to play and was always eager to show his friends the new riffs he had come up with; inviting them over where they would sit for hours in his bedroom to listen.  In the early days it was pure torture for his friends, he was just a beginner and since his playing was pretty terrible, they complained it hurt their ears.  They thought he was a bit on the crazy side, but that didn't deter him, he vigilantly tried to hone his skills and he practiced constantly.

 

His next guitar was star shaped, similar to one used by KISS at the time and now that he was armed with a larger amp, he was really starting to rock the house and began recording primitive tracks on a karaoke machine.  Later his dream of owning an upscale guitar had come true and he was thrilled to own his first genuine Gibson guitar, a red 1990 Les Paul Studio Lite.  Though this particular guitar is now in the hands of a good friend for safe keeping, it carried him through the humble beginnings of his musical career, churned out some memorable music, and still holds great sentimental value to him to this day.

 

Over time, Wes was showing improvement in his technique and style.  He practiced five to six nights a week for seven years while he was nurturing his talent and it is a regiment he continues to this day.  The fuel to his drive and determination were the rock bands of his generation.   He wasn't a big collector of music CDs as a teen but he was a devoted listener to rock radio stations in the Kansas City area, and it wasn't unusual to find him listening every chance he could, even drifting off to sleep as the radio played late into the night.  He loved listening to AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Pink Floyd, and Van Halen.  Listening to the radio kept him current on music trends and influenced what he wanted to learn to play as he tried to replicate what he was hearing.

 

One favorite rock band of Wes' was Van Halen and they would unknowingly play a roll in his decision to make music with a band.  Wes was on the school soccer team and he had gone to a Van Halen concert the night before a game.  Needless to say it was a late night out, he missed the game the next day, and he was kicked off the team permanently. He realized he had bigger dreams after witnessing that show.  Having seen Eddie Van Halen play, he decided he wanted to play music and now the tone was set, the music bug had officially latched on to him and it wasn't letting go, he was in a musical death grip.  Music was changing in the 1990's, less flashy than the hair bands of the 1980's, bands like Stone Temple Pilots and Nirvana ushered in a new style of new music, which only energized Wes' desire to be a musician.

 

Wes didn't quite fit into the typical teenage mold in junior high, which continued throughout high school, a feeling like he was a displaced freak.  Finding friends in neither the preps nor the jocks, he was tagged as a stoner.  His long blonde hair led others to believe he was a rebellious teen and other students often picked on him.  He found a bit of happiness in the junior high school band where he played tuba, egged on by a promise from the band instructor it would enhance his kissing ability.  He wasn't a teenager of large size, he was actually quite the opposite and the tuba weighed almost as much as he did.  He did take a lot of pride in doing his part, even commenting to Kerrang! Magazine that he was a "bad-ass tuba player."

 

He was getting older and soon was a guitarist in his first band, Good Question.  Another band followed, High Impact, but they were soon dissolved as well.  There were very few things Wes found in school that were enjoyable but one class in particular that broke his discord was his creative writing and poetry class.  He seemed to be able to put the words on paper easily and it was one of his favorite courses.   Not fitting in with the label of the jocks or the preps, the dread of his high school days were soon over as he graduated from Park Hill High School in 1990.

 

Some memories of high school remain bittersweet during those years and still burn today.  Wes was reminded of the narrow-mindedness of authority figures when even as an accomplished musician, an attempt to revisit his old high school several years ago was unsuccessful.  Just wishing to say a 'thank you,' the former stereotyped, longhaired student who had made his mark and turned his hometown proud was not even allowed to enter the premises.

 

 

After graduation, Wes was ready to become serious with his music and had regular band partners he would rehearse with circa 1992-1993.  Their practice hall on Woodswether Road in view of the Broadway Bridge by the Missouri River was an affordable place and with the monthly rental fee of $80 a month, he was committed to putting in some earnest effort.  Several other musicians used to practice in the same building, and as fate would have it, one day his band partners failed to show for a practice landing him solo for the day.  But luck was on the other hand; another band had some of their musicians fail to show up as well.  The proposition was made to jam together; the day shouldn't be a total waste.  What they had found was what each band had separately been missing, and now together they  each brought a missing piece of a puzzle to form a complete picture.

 

Guitarist Jimmy Allen and drummer Kenny Burkitt seemed to make a good connection with Wes rather quickly.  Their first session together led to an impromptu Alice In Chains cover.  Sean Sammons later came in on bass and they were soon rehearsing and writing music as an ensemble.  The time period was 1993 and a the time torrential rains in the Midwest had wreaked havoc on the Missouri River, which becomes the origin of the band name Puddle of Mudd.  The river eventually topped the levee and flooded the area; in its wake, mud was everywhere.  Their practice hall became flooded with the muck and mire leaving them to wade in through puddles of mud to get to their space.  Wearing their grungiest pants and old shoes to get to practice, they would look out of the building's windows and watch cars and debris float downstream.  The band name was agreed upon, with the extra 'D' for good measure.

 

They began playing area clubs and bars and soon Puddle of Mudd earned a name for themselves.  They were just starting out and sometimes there would only be a few patrons to play for but they took each gig seriously and loaded the gear in and packed it up at the end of the night, an audience was an audience and they always gave 100% for those that showed up to hear them.

 

 

Nightlife hotspots Niener's, America's Pub, The Beaumont Club, Davey's Uptown Rambler's Club, The Filling Station, and The Hurricane introduced the locals to this hip new quartet who brandished their instruments as their battle armor.  They were heavy into self-promotion, creating the necessary homemade flyers that could be posted at venues and around the city to advertise upcoming shows.

 

A Kansas City public access television station provided Puddle with a forum for jumpstarting their image on a larger scale and they appeared on the program Burning Down The House.

 

In time, they soon had enough material to record their first EP with seven original tracks and pegged it the name Stuck.  Puddle was administrated under the entity of Mudd Dog Records and released their debut CD in 1994.  It was recorded in June at Ed Rose's Red House Studio in nearby Lawrence, Kansas.  Ed Rose and the members of Puddle of Mudd co-produced the album with the following tracks: You Don't Know, Used, Drift & Die, Harassed, Poke Out My Eyes, Prisoner, and Suicide.  John Matousek, based in Hollywood, California of Master Work's mastered the tracks.  Stuck was available at local record stores, they had officially arrived. 

 

Wes, along with Jimmy, Sean, and Kenny had regional success with their debut CD under the guidance of Wes' good friend, Bigg Dave who became their manager. You Don't Know and other cuts from the album were being played on 98.9 KQRC The ROCK radio station in Kansas City.  Puddle was everywhere locally including 1994's KQRC's Rockfest at Sandstone and Freaker's Ball with Mortal Reign and Strutter.

 

Trying to stir up interest, they gave away countless CDs and tapes to touring bands trying to get discovered.  A fence-jumping, ditch-crawling, smooth-talking Wes would do just about anything to get their CD into the right hands.  Once, he really missed the strike zone while tossing their demo on stage at a Stone Temple Pilots show with a narrow miss to Scott Weiland's head.  A few labels had their interest peaked in the band, but time and time again leads were dead ends and official offers for a record deal never panned out.  Puddle later released a two-song demo CD that included Chemical Head Change and What You Gonna Do/Angry Young Revolution.

 

In the early summer of 1996, the original members of Puddle of Mudd disbanded.  Jimmy had grown tired of the disputes and was losing his good friend Wes over business decisions and left the group.  Sean also departed.  The band underwent many changes, members were leaving and coming back, along with new musicians were doing rotations in the band.  Not dissuaded, Wes continued to try to make a career out of music.  He was flooded with anger and every other emotion you could think of over the demise of the band.  He locked himself in the basement of his parents' home working many days and nights drilling out song after song. Wes, Kenny, and Sean later regrouped Puddle of Mudd by fall without Jimmy to record the Abrasive under Hardknocks Records, Inc. in 1997 using some of the songs Wes had written.  The second disc under the Puddle of Mudd name had eleven tracks, Abrasive, Nobody Told Me, Stressed Out, Hour Glass Man, Migrain (sic), Said, All I Ask For, Purple Heart, Locket, Time, and Piss It All Away, which was originally titled Erase.

 

Part of 98.9 KQRC's radio programming was a Sunday late-night spotlight show titled Unsigned, where local bands received interview time, the opportunity to do acoustic sets, and play some tracks from their new CDs.  Puddle was happy to have the exposure on September 8, 1996 and again on July 13, 1997.

 

Word of Puddle's local rise in popularity was getting out and a few music writers were taking notice.  In the September 1998 issue of Banzai, Music is Everything publication, Wes graced the cover with an enthusiastic pose with his guitar, emulating more of a surfer dude style than one of a Mid-Westerner in a band.  Inside the edition, a short piece written by Melinda Weaver gave us a nice review of Puddle's performance at The Beaumont Club's inaugural event, Hard Fest.


 

 

 

 

A variety of careers followed Wes as he tried to keep his dream alive. Taking any job he could, he was a plumber which he quickly quit the first day because it was just too disgusting, a construction worker, a waiter at the Club 427, and even as a cook.  Wes also worked at the quaint Kansas City diner called Hayes' Hamburgers and Chili, spending many mornings cooking breakfast for the patrons and even today when he goes back to Kansas City, he pops in to visit.  The restaurant still has flyers from his old Puddle of Mudd days.  Even though family friends owned the restaurant, it did not keep him from getting fired many times for being late, it was very difficult trying to balance a job and playing late night gigs.

 

At age 24, life happened and Wes had been blessed with the addition of his son Jordan into his life.  Jordan became the love of his life and has been the inspiration for him to want to be successful.  Whether being just the best Dad he can be or a soulful musician, his son still remains the center of what he does.  His desire to provide his son with not only the basic necessities of life, but also some of life's fun little extras became priority for Wes and he was ready to give up his dream of becoming a nationally known musician.  He had been proud of his musical success to date, had a brief taste of the rock and roll lifestyle and even with all of the downers, he had accomplished quite a bit.  But it was plain to see he was going nowhere fast and could not depend on making music as the source of his income, he was now in the mindset to become a nine-to-fiver where he could depend on a steady paycheck.  Child support was becoming an issue and he had come to accept that it was time to call it quits with the music business.

 

In addition to personal obstacles, by early 1999 differences of opinion and other factors led to the members Puddle of Mudd ending their association once again, the ride was over, or so it seemed.  There was too much trouble for him to get into in Kansas City and it was time to move on.

 

 

 

Wes had some relatives living in New Orleans, Louisiana, and he had contacted a cousin who was opening a bar in that area.  He was going to leave the KC area and become a bartender at his cousin's establishment as well as manage the career of his then girlfriend who was a feature dancer.  Just when Wes least expected it, in walks a story that dreams are made of.

 

On August 8, 1999, last minute plans to attend the Family Values Concert at Kemper Arena in Kansas City with his close friend Bigg Dave would change his life.  Limp Bizkit was on the show's roster and it was Wes' lucky day, he just didn't know it yet.  Bummed out by everything he was carrying on his shoulders, he wasn't up to going and had to be coerced into attending the show, and therein lies the key to the current success of Puddle of Mudd.

 

Wes habitually carried demo tapes for that 'just in case' opportunity.  Leischen, who is a long-time friend of his from the Kansas City area, had put together a compilation of Puddle of Mudd songs on cassette tape and Wes was down to his last two copies, actually one last copy as he had given the other tape to his Mom.  Hesitating, he took his last tape off of the kitchen bar and he was off with his friend for one last night on the town.  

 

While at the venue, Wes met another friend of his who had created some fake backstage passes and asked him if he wanted one. Having spent many years hawking his demo, Wes had that sinking feeling that if it was ever going to happen it was going to take a miracle.  Making his way around security he had managed to get backstage and although he did not meet anyone with a band, he did come across Ritchie, a security guard for Fred Durst of Limp Bizkit.  Durst had started his own record label named Flawless Records, a new division of Interscope Records, and had the concept of a "Diamond in the Rough."  He was in the market for talented, unsigned bands.  He was receiving demos from all over the country and had found another up-and-coming new band, Staind. The security guard said Durst would get it, but Wes was doubtful, even commenting to the guard he knew it would end up in the trash.  Weeks later he would learn that it did indeed end up in the hands of Durst.  

 

Wes had packed his belongings and was now on his way to New Orleans, Louisiana to take the job his cousin had offered.  Taking a detour on his way south, Wes was in Mobile, Alabama at a run-down motel when he got the news that Durst had called. His good friend Bigg Dave had been desperately trying to reach him and had left 30 messages on his pager, which had been turned off. Durst was interested in developing his talent.   Wes was exuberant and was soon running amuck around the hotel unable to contain his excitement.  By the time Bigg Dave had made contact with Wes, a celebration had been underway back home in Kansas City without him. Durst was anxious to get Wes to Los Angeles, California as soon as possible.  He dropped everything and was ready to go to L.A.

 

Wes is clearly a case of 'what you see, is what you get.'  There are no false pretenses, nothing fake or phony.  The grit to stick it out was finally going to hit pay dirt.  Durst's lead man wanted to hear Wes in a live environment but there was a problem, they were no longer performing as Puddle of Mudd, the band had split.  Enough players were quickly gathered to perform at a showcase to audition for record executive Danny Wimmer who had flown in just for the occasion.  Danny Wimmer saw a spark in the performance but the news wasn't good for everyone who played that night.

 

Danny was ready to offer a deal, but after a private drive and discussion with Wes and Bigg Dave, Wes was now put in an awkward position.  The proposition was not for everyone at the audition, the offer was for only Wes.  The pressure was tremendous; he was the bearer of bad news to the rest of the band who had hoped their wait for success was over as well.  Wes really took a lot of grief for this move by both the band and his friends.  In actuality, the band on the demo tape no longer existed.  Many different musicians had joined and left Puddle in Wes' attempt to hold it all together.  While Kenny was the only original member at the audition, many people resented Wes' decision and felt he had betrayed everyone.

 

What people tend to forget is that Wes stuck it out the longest.  Not to give him full credit for everything leading to his opportunity to get signed, but in fairness he was the one who kept pressing on and was relentless to the very end.  He had pleaded for years for players to stay only to have some say they had to have a reliable source of income, he had understood their financial need.  It was only by chance those who auditioned were ones Wes could pull together; the band had been dissolved for some time.  He was not in control over what Danny saw in him that he didn't see in the others.  This will always be an issue with opposing opinions, only those involved know what was said, but feelings of resentment and bitterness still exist today.  

 

Wes woke up from the dream and was close to stepping into the reality of the 2001 Puddle of Mudd lineup.  The miracle had materialized; coincidence and circumstance had put him in the right place at the right time, karma, plain and simple.  Opportunity was knocking on his door and he was taking that leap of faith that would change his life forever.   The deal was inked, with Wes as the lone signer.

 

 

 

Once he arrived in Los Angeles, priority was in finding musicians that were compatible with his style. Wesley was soon paired with Doug Ardito, a bass player from Bedford, Massachusetts, Paul Phillips, a guitarist from Jacksonville, Florida, and temporary drummer Josh Freese. The band set out to record their first album together titled Come Clean. Greg Upchurch from Kingston, Oklahoma permanently filled the drummer spot after the album had been recorded. The next step was promoting it.

 

Like being thrown into a lake without knowing how to swim, Durst sent Puddle of Mudd out on a tour bus with a manager to open for Staind in May 2001. Their CD had not been released so hardly anyone in the audience knew who they were. Puddle had to win over their fans city by city. They were getting their first taste of living on the road.

 

The album originally had a release date of August 14 but was postponed for two weeks later.   As part of the album publicity blitz, Wes and friends returned to Kansas City's 7th Heaven Record Store on August 11 for an in-store signing and rooftop performance.  It was unforgettable and the parking lot was filled to capacity.

 

 

Their debut album Come Clean arrived in stores on August 28, 2001 and it has been a roller-coaster ride ever since. They continued touring in 2002, promoting the album and the four singles that were released. While touring had many special moments, one in particular stands out as memorable. A definite highlight for Wes was in 2001 when he performed at the MTV European Music Awards with Fred Durst and the legendary Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin). In front of a worldwide audience, they performed the Led Zeppelin classic, Thank You.  Jimmy Page later gave Wesley a signed box set of Led Zeppelin CDs and they remain a favorite in his collection.  

 

"I performed with Jimmy in Frankfurt at the European Music Awards. We were on tour in America and Fred (Durst) called me up on the phone and asked me if I wanted to play Thank You by Led Zeppelin. Of course I was like SURE! No problem!. Jimmy is definitely my favorite guitar player of all time. It wasn't even a dream of mine to play on stage with Jimmy Page because that kind of thing doesn't even happen. But it has happened now and it's one of the best experiences that I've ever had to go through."  Wes Scantlin - www.topforty.co.za

 

As Wes puts it, the album Come Clean is a self-proclaimed abstract autobiographical diary of my life. He is able to translate his life into song, a feat that makes you feel like you are living it with him. Many of the songs reflect his personal hardships and relationship woes. He has the uncanny ability to pull you into the heart-felt lyrics. Unique lyrics from a unique individual. Drift and Die written many years ago, reflect on him as a struggling musician dealing with life. For many years and despite the hardships he endured, Wes had tried to keep his dream alive. Not giving up, he continued to hone his writing skills. He learned very early on as a teenager to keep a notebook with him constantly to write it down, the good and the bad. Even today, he still keeps a notebook or paper with him at all times. The quality was always there and was just getting better as time passed. It's all about the song and the message you try to get across with your music.

 

The songs range from hard rock and roll, to the more subdued anthem of Blurry. After an emotional move to Los Angeles, he found himself missing his family and friends, but mostly his son Jordan. The song Blurry outlines the reality of not being able to see his son as much as he would like, and his move to Los Angeles made the situation even more frustrating. A show in his hometown of Kansas City in 2002 tells just how special the song Blurry is. Wes brought out his son Jordan to sit on a stool onstage with him as he sang an acoustic version of 'his song'.  In front of friends and family, the entire audience was moved to tears.  That song has such impact, one can't help but connect with it.

 

With a bare-bones approach to performing, the band needs no gimmicks to put on an awesome performance. Armed with a no frills rock show, the music stands alone on it's own two feet.  Puddle of Mudd's delivery concept is emotionally packed. One thing no one can deny is that Wesley is very passionate about his music. Once condemned to write while at his most miserable, he is learning he does not have to be in that spot to draw from those difficult times and write out the emotional part of it. He faces everyday problems just like everyone else; stress, confusion and just the struggle of day-to-day living to keep that creativity going. It's that labor of love that he uses to unite the perfect words with the right music.

 

An obstacle musicians must face daily is that of the critics.  Some have been very supportive in recognizing the talents of all of the member of Puddle while others have not been so kind.

 

One of the most legitimate tests of a band's success is the Billboard Awards.  With five nominations in 2002, Puddle swept the Rock Group of the Year, Rock Single of the Year for Blurry, Modern Rock Group of the Year and Modern Rock Single of the Year for Blurry. Billboard has validity; the awards are based on sales and radio airplay.  Wes said it best to their detractors during his portion of the acceptance speech on December 9, 2002.

 

"Thank you very much. I think that the public has spoken and we love all the fans and everybody who helps us out, say hi to my Mom and Jordan and my Dad and my family. Thanks a lot." Wes Scantlin - Billboard Music Awards Show.

 

As the band moved on through 2003, the success of Come Clean had not yet come 
to an end for Wes to earn recognition as a songwriter.

 

         On May 20, 2003 at a ceremony in Beverly Hills, CA, the American Society of Composers, Authors          and Publishers (ASCAP) recognized Wes for achievement with two awards. Wes, along with fellow          co-writers Doug Ardito of Puddle of Mudd and former band mate Jimmy Allen, received the approval          of his peers by capturing top ASCAP honors with a prestigious win for Song of the Year for Blurry          from the debut album. He was also an award recipient for one of the most played songs of 2002          with Blurry placing in the top five.

 

On May 18, 2004 Puddle were performing a concert at Oklahoma City's Bricktown Event Center, a hometown show for drummer Greg Upchurch.  On the same date on the west coast in Los Angeles, Wes was about to be honored at the 2003 ASCAP Awards and although he couldn't attend, former band mate Jimmy Allen represented him.  Wes and Jimmy had co-wrote one of 2003's biggest hit songs She Hates Me and Jimmy was able to pass on the news to Wes via telephone.  It was an exuberant time for Wes personally on the heels of his second ASCAP Award, life was good.

 

It has been a long pilgrimage for Wes; from the very first day he picked up a guitar to reaping the rewards of a hit debut album that spurned four hit singles through 2003.  A journey that was once only a dream, Wes has taken the first steps of many towards a successful career in music. Because his music reflects his life, his career will always be a 'work in progress.' Wes Scantlin has paid his dues.

 

Congratulations and best wishes for continued success with Puddle of Mudd. Dreams do come true. Thank you for not giving up.

 

Credits:  www.puddleofmudd.com, www.mtv.com, www.vh1.com, www.rollingstone.com, www.guitarworld.com, www.dotmusic.com, www.gibson.com, www.washburn.com, www.muchmusic.com, www.rockkansas,com, www.topforty.co.za, http://launch.yahoo.com, www.maximumink.com, Hit Parader, Metal Edge, Kerrang!, Guitar One.

 

POMuddRockOn Karen 2002-2006