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Music Preview: Small miracle formed this Puddle of Mudd

Wednesday, March 27, 2002

By Scott Mervis, Weekend Editor, Post-Gazette

The idea of a wannabe slipping a tape to a star who comes through town and getting a record deal is a rock cliche. And more likely a fantasy.

But it actually happened in the case of Puddle of Mudd, performing at M tonight. Three years ago, singer-songwriter Wes Scantlin got backstage at a Limp Bizkit concert in Kansas City with a fake pass, and he handed a tape to a security guard, who -- miraculously -- passed it on to Fred Durst, Bizkit frontman and president of the fledgling Flawless/Interscope label. After a live audition, he offered Scantlin a development deal.

 
 
Puddle of Mudd

WHERE: M, Strip District

WHEN: 7:30 tonight

TICKETS: $18; 412-323-1919

   
 

The catch was Scantlin had songs, but no band, as his Kansas City-based group had recently split. Durst hooked him up with guitarist Paul Phillips, a friend, and bassist Doug Ardito, an intern at Interscope. The drummer auditions turned up Greg Upchurch, who had played with the Los Angeles band Eleven and was on the road with Soundgarden's Chris Cornell.

"I was kind of skeptical because rock music wasn't doing [dirt]," Upchurch says in a phone interview. "Everybody was looking for the next rap or female artist; nobody was looking for rock bands. But I got the demo and thought, this is perfect for me, something I can bash away on."

Like most people who hear Puddle of Mudd, Upchurch's first reaction was how much Scantlin's voice sounds like the late Kurt Cobain's. Having been a big Nirvana fan, he wasn't bothered by it.

"If somebody comes up to you and says, 'You know, you kind of look like Brad Pitt,' would you be upset? It might bother us if they said you sound like Poison or something. Or you sound a lot like Blind Melon."

While Puddle of Mudd may have been thrown together -- not unlike a teen-pop act -- Upchurch swears they weren't contrived by Durst and the label.

"He doesn't have any impact on the music that we write or the performance or the way we look or anything like that. The look was, wear what you would wear any day of your life. If you're just going to the store, wear that. We're not a flashy band."

Apparently, that's exactly what some rock fans are looking for, because Puddle of Mudd has exceeded all expectations. Following the success of the breakout single, "Control," "Blurry" is currently in the Top 10, and the debut album, "Come Clean," which peaked at No. 9, is lingering in the Top 20.

"I think people just like a good, straight-ahead rock band -- guitar, bass and drums," Upchurch says. "I think people are ready for that. It's a good time to be in a rock band. Hopefully, they won't kill it off the way they did grunge."

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