STONE TEMPLE PILOTS guitarist Dean DeLeo spoke to about the band’s decision to launch an open audition on their web site for a new lead singer to replace Chester Bennington, who left the multi-platinum rock act at the end of last year.

“We kind of came to the realization a while back that the situation with Chester was not really allowing us to do all that we would have liked to have been doing,” Dean said. “His involvement with LINKIN PARK and, of course, his family limited the time that we had with him. I will tell you this: Mr. Bennington gave it absolutely all that he had. I love him dearly. I love what he brought to the band on every level. He approached the stage each night like it was his last day alive, man. But it was very evident that time was just not allowing us to do what we wanted to do.”

He continued: “We’ve played with a lot of singers over the last several months, and we felt that we’d be doing ourselves — meaning Robert [DeLeo, bass], Eric [Kretz, drums] and I — a disservice if we didn’t allow all the talent that is out there to become a part of this. So, good or bad, we opened the floodgates.”

Asked what they are looking for in a frontperson, Dean said: “We’ll know when it’s the right person before they’ll even open their mouth, just when they walk into the room. We’re looking to be moved by somebody. You know, Glen Campbell said to me a long time ago, ‘Dean, you got to live it to write it’ — and you kind of know when that person walks into a room. I want to be hit in that place in my soul where music buries itself. That feeling, man. That’s what we want.”

Dean also talked about the passing of STONE TEMPLE PILOTS‘ original singer, Scott Weiland, nearly three years after the vocalist was fired from the band.

“You know, it’s sad man,” he said. “It sucks. I wasn’t in much contact at all with Scott for a few years. But I’m reminded and think about him daily. And when I say it’s sad, I’m not referring to Robert, Eric or I; we were divorced and most likely never going to work with Scott again. What really, really bums me out is we all have kids. He’s not going to see his daughter go to her first dance or his son go to his prom or help him parallel park. That’s what really, really brings me down.”

He added: “Look, if you want me to climb up on some sort of high horse right now, I was affiliated with one of the greatest singers, man. I had the luxury and the fortune of making records with one of the greatest singers. My wife is notorious for leaving the radio on in the car; whenever I get in the car lately, there’s an STP song on the radio. And I’m just, ‘Aww, man.’ I’m reminded of him daily and I’m reminded of him at a time when he was vibrant and so full of life and hope, a time when he was electric with creativity and inspiring.”

Bennington joined STP in 2013, shortly after they fired Scott Weiland. He recorded one EP with the band, “High Rise”, and did a handful of tours.

Weiland died in December at the age of 48. The Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office in Minnesota said a mix of cocaine, ethanol (alcohol), and MDA led to the rocker’s passing. Also mentioned was Weiland‘s history of cardiovascular disease, asthma, and multi-substance dependence as “significant conditions.”