Wes Scantlin: Annamaria DiSanto/WireImage.com
Liane Bonin
November 18, 2003 AT 05:00 AM EST

Whatever you do, don’t call Puddle of Mudd a prefab boy band. When the group’s debut album, ”Come Clean,” went platinum on the strength of hits like ”She Hates Me” and ”Blurry,” some said the credit should go to Flawless Records president and Limp Bizkit leader Fred Durst. Not so, says Mudd’s founder Wes Scantlin, 31. With the release of the group’s second album, ”Life on Display” Nov. 25, he sets the record straight for EW.com: His band is no leftover Bizkit.

How involved was Fred Durst in putting together your new album?
He was our foot-in-the-door guy, but I’m trying to let everyone know he doesn’t write Puddle of Mudd songs, he doesn’t write the music, and he doesn’t produce it. He was the trigger, but we can kind of do that ourselves now. So he’s the president of our record label and he does his own thing and we do our own thing. He gives us our own space, and he’s cool. Everything got misconstrued when we did press for our last record, so I’m trying to straighten it all out now.

Like what?
I was bummed that people thought we were [formed like] a boy band. That pissed me off. I’ve been in this band since I was 23 years old, but people were saying Fred put all these people together with me, wrote all our songs, and produced everything.

The music scene has changed since 2001, but ”Come Clean” is still straight-ahead rock. Any desire to shake things up?
When I saw everyone jumping on the bandwagon of rap-rock, I didn’t. I stayed true to my nature. Other songwriters are confused about what’s going to sell and what they need to do to create a hit song now, but I don’t think about that s—. I think the trend will circle back to hard rock. Hell, yeah.

Reportedly you had 17 songs slated for ”Life,” then added another 3 songs. So why are there only 12 on the album?
You have to streamline, but it’s scary and it’s tedious. Scary because you don’t want to give anyone your CD [because there’s always the danger it might get] put on the Internet, and tedious because you write a song and think you’re done with it when someone asks you to go back into the studio because they think you can do it better. And then the song ends up being the same way it was. But I feel like we nailed it in the end.

So how is ”Life” different from your debut?
From my perspective, we’re better musicians than we used to be. Not that we sucked or anything, but if you practice and practice and practice, you get better and come together as a team.

A lot of your songs focus on rotten relationships. Can you even write when you’re goopy in love?
It’s a bitch, man. When everything’s nice in a relationship for me, I get pissed off, because I don’t pick up my guitar as much as I’d like to. But when I’m on the road I get lonely, so that helps. Right now I’m pretty solid in a relationship, but I’m back on the road, so I’m totally bummed out and lonely. The road has ruined so many relationships of mine, it sucks.

You’ve mentioned that you’ve written about a cheating girlfriend, only for the lyrics to come true months later. Is this your subconscious trying to tell you something, or are you just freaky psychic?
It is a weird freaky type thing that happens, but some of this s— comes true. I can’t say I’m a psychic weirdo, but there’s a thing my mom told me, which is, ”Write it down and make it happen.” So it kind of scares me. I guess I could write the next ”Shiny Happy People,” but I don’t want to.

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