The troubled history of Puddle of Mudd

Puddle of Mudd used to be everywhere in the early 2000s. Singles like "Control," "Blurry," "She Hates Me," and "Drift & Die" climbed high on the charts and ruled the airwaves, and the band toured with heavy-hitters such as Linkin Park and Stone Temple Pilots. For a while, it seemed like Puddle of Mudd would take advantage of their chance and become a true rock legend … and then, something happened. And after that, something else happened. In fact, a whole lot of "something" just kept on happening, until Puddle of Mudd was less of an up-and-coming giant and more like a never-quite-was that's still trying to hobble around on its clay legs.

While the band has been making new music all these years, a long string of less than savory events has kept them from reproducing the success of their 2001 major-label debut album Come Clean. Let's take a look at the strange happenings that have been holding them back all these years. This is the troubled history of Puddle of Mudd and of their singer Wes Scantlin in particular.

Those left behind by Puddle of Mudd

Puddle of Mudd's rise to fame made singer Wes Scantlin a controversial figure on his home turf of Kansas City. A Pitch article from 2003 took a look at the events that made Scantlin a borderline pariah in the local music community, which sparked from the local view that the singer had abandoned his old bandmates when he made it big. See, the Puddle of Mudd that received airplay and played for massive audiences was not the first, Kansas City one. In fact, the original lineup of Scantlin, Jimmy Allen, Sean Sammon, and Kenny Burkitt (a group that was locally popular but prone to infighting) broke up two years before the major label opportunity came knocking. Since Scantlin was the guy who had been resuscitating what was left of the band for those years with his demos and assorted activity, he didn't end up taking the other guys with him to the next level. That's understandable in a way, but it's also more than enough to ruffle plenty of feathers in the local music community.

The fact that people immediately viewed Scantlin as a sell-out was all the more tragic because the singer had virtually no say in the matter, and he'd even attempted to bring Burkitt in the new version of the group until the record company (allegedly) balked at Burkitt's drug problem. Still, at least Allen has received plenty of royalties for some of Puddle of Mudd's most massive hits, which he helped write before the break-up.

Puddle of Mudd's Fred Durst problem

As Noisecreep tells us, Puddle of Mudd got its chance in the limelight when Fred Durst of Limp Bizkit heard one of their demo tapes. While singer Wes Scantlin was the only active original band member, Durst liked his songs enough to bring him to Los Angeles and get him signed with Geffen Records. The rap rock superstar also connected Scantlin with hordes of industry people, helped him find the right musicians for the new Puddle of Mudd, and generally opened a lot of doors.

Though Durst's hands-on involvement should have seemed like a godsend to Scantlin (who became a millionaire virtually overnight when Puddle of Mudd's 2001 major label debut Come Clean sold close to 5 million albums), the singer soon grew weary of his close association with the Limp Bizkit man. According to Blabbermouth, by 2004 Scantlin was so tired of Durst-related questions that he was openly slamming the guy in interviews, saying Durst was a high-and-mighty Hollywood star who didn't have time for the small guy, and even calling him "pathetic." That's certainly one way to compliment your mentor.

To be fair, Scantlin later adjusted his attitude. In 2011, he walked back on his statements about Fred Durst, who also expressed interest in working with Scantlin again. The Puddle of Mudd man attributed his 2004 comments to a creative argument between the two, and fully admitted that he had been behaving "like an a**hole."

The Puddle of Mudd Facebook incident

Puddle of Mudd has developed a reputation as a bit of a haphazard live act, largely thanks to incidents like the one during a Scottsdale, Arizona, concert in April 2015. Metal Injection reports that singer Wes Scantlin experienced a strange onstage meltdown during the show, as the vocalist abruptly decided to smash his own guitar, a few microphones, and even a part of the drum kit after the band had played just a few songs. Then, he left the stage, took a cab and rode into the sunset. A few weeks later, the Music writes that Puddle of Mudd was booed offstage after yet another lackluster performance in Versailles, Ohio.

In the aftermath, the band grew fed up with the less than delighted fans who were flooding their Facebook page with criticism and bile, so they decided to delete the page altogether. Unfortunately, this was not the end of their social media woes. The freshly liberated Puddle of Mudd Facebook URL was immediately taken over by an obscure Texan band called Black Heart Saints, who gleefully changed the page's name to "Check Out This Band Instead," and even reached out to Puddle of Mudd's label, booking agents, and management, offering their services as a possible replacement act that would be guaranteed to give 110%. However, the Black Heart Saints were ultimately unable to usurp the thrones of Scantlin and the gang, and Puddle of Mudd has since regained control of the page.

Wes Scantlin's car bomb "shenanigans"

Usually, rock stars tend to stay away from bombs unless they're part of their stage pyrotechnics, but Puddle of Mudd's Wes Scantlin is not like other rockers. According to Louder, Scaitlin grew tired of the thieves terrorizing his West Hollywood neighborhood in 2016. After his home had been broken into several times, the singer developed a novel strategy to deter future crimes: He rigged a realistic-looking prop explosive to the cars standing outside the house. Unfortunately, the thing about fake car bombs is that they're very difficult to distinguish from real bombs, especially if you go all in like Scantlin did. He jerry-rigged a radio under one vehicle, with wires leading to the engine, and the other car had wires leading from the gas tank to the door. Predictably, scared neighbors called in the bomb squad after seeing the contraption, and the officials evacuated four surrounding buildings before moving in on the supposed bombs.

This seems like the kind of move that might have landed Scantlin in some pretty serious hot water, especially in this time of terrorist threats. However, Scantlin was somehow able to waltz away with little more than a stern lecture and a slap on the wrist, despite his many previous misdemeanors and troubles with the law.

Wes Scantlin's marital trouble

Rock star marriages have a notoriously small chance for long-term survival, and as Loudwire attests, Puddle of Mudd's Wes Scantlin is no exception. In 2012, he was going through a divorce with his wife, Jessica Scantlin. Though the legal proceedings should have been fairly easy due to the fact that Jessica had signed a prenuptial agreement, things soon required more lawyering up than expected because she decided to challenge the prenup by insinuating that it was unenforceable and she had been coerced into it. She wanted half of the money Scantlin earned from his music during their marriage, but they ultimately settled on an agreement where Scantlin would pay his ex-wife the maximum spousal support of $2,500 per month. Scantlin was happy enough with the outcome that he added two smiley faces to his signature on the divorce papers.

While it remains unclear precisely what was going on behind the scenes of their four-year marriage, Loudwire mentions that it was the singer — not his wife — who filed the divorce papers in November 2011. This seems like a strange turn of events considering Scantlin had been known to call Jessica his muse and an inspiration for many of the band's songs. Still, perhaps this loss of Scantlin's muse was only fitting, given that Puddle of Mudd was sailing through some pretty rough waters at the time, and guitarist Paul Phillips had recently quit the band.

Puddle of Mudd's abandoned vocalist

In 2016, Puddle of Mudd frontman Wes Scantlin went through one of the most humiliating experiences a rock star can endure. His own band decided that enough was enough and walked out on him … while they were onstage, in the middle of performing for a capacity crowd. Still, the walkout wasn't exactly unwarranted — as Billboard reports, the group's sold-out concert in Doncaster, England, was an unmitigated disaster and it immediately became apparent that Scantlin was struggling to sing or even stay upright, reportedly looking like he was pretty heavily under the influence.

Partway through the show, the crowd got rowdy and the rest of the band decided they agreed with the audience's disappointment. As a result, everyone in Puddle of Mudd not named Wes Scantlin quit playing and walked off the stage, leaving the incapacitated singer alone in front of the fans. Somehow, things managed to get even more embarrassing after that: Instead of quickly skulking away in shame, the lone, shirtless singer remained onstage, sitting on a chair and soaking in the fury and disbelief of the 500-strong audience.

Puddle of Mudd's troubles at Graceland

If Elvis Presley is the ultimate symbol of rock 'n' roll, then getting banned from his beloved Graceland must be the equivalent of being relegated to playing pan flute in a third-rate folk band. As Music News and the Memphis Flyer report, Puddle of Mudd managed this less than admirable feat in 2007 when they were gearing up for the release of their Famous album and decided to take a tour of Graceland. Partway through the tour, lead singer Wes Scantlin saw the King's swimming pool and promptly cannonballed into the water. "I just wanted to go for a swim," he later explained.

As common sense should probably have told Scantlin, the pool was extremely out of bounds for visitors. Security guards immediately removed Scantlin from the premises, and the musician picked up a cool lifetime ban to Graceland for his troubles. Unfortunately, the story doesn't tell how the rest of the tour went for the other Puddle of Mudd members. Maybe the poor guys were either thrown out with their frontman … or even worse, they had to go through the rest of the tour, sheepishly avoiding eye contact with everyone and doing their best to pretend that they had no affiliation with that strange pool-jumping dude.

Power tool attack

When it comes to potential next door neighbors, rock stars are probably not too high on most people's wish list. As Loudwire attests, Wes Scantlin proved in 2013 that he ranks particularly high on the "neighbors from hell" list when he physically attacked a Los Angeles neighbor's house because it was supposedly infringing on his own. That wasn't a typo, by the way. He didn't attack the person living next door — he specifically assaulted the building itself. Armed with a buzz saw and a sledgehammer, the Puddle of Mudd frontman entered the neighbor's patio and started destroying property. We don't know precisely what he did, but it allegedly included at least hitting a brick wall with the sledgehammer and was more than enough for the police to arrest him for felony vandalism.

When TMZ later caught Scantlin leaving the police station, the singer claimed that his actions were merely a retaliation, and his neighbor (with whom he had allegedly been feuding for a while) had vandalized his house first.

Taxes schmaxes

A wealthy rock singer might be able to live his life exempt from many of the more mundane adult responsibilities, but there's one liability even stars can't escape: taxes. According to Rolling Stone, Puddle of Mudd's Wes Scantlin found this out the hard way in 2011, when it turned out he had completely failed to pay over $60,000 in federal and California state taxes in 2009.

As Loudwire notes, this significant chunk of back taxes was met with a "the matter is being taken care of" comment by the singer's representatives, so it's possible this particular trouble was merely an honest oversight on the vocalist's part. Still, a hefty sum of unpaid taxes and the IRS peering over his shoulder must have been the cherry on the awfulness cake that the year 2011 had prepared for Scantlin. After all, it was the same year the singer went through a divorce, and his guitarist decided to quit the band.

Domestic abuse

Puddle of Mudd frontman Wes Scantlin has had a tumultuous relationship with authorities, and one of the most serious incidents that put him at odds with the law was also arguably the saddest for fans of good, decent human behavior. As Billboard reports, an otherwise normal Monday afternoon in 2013 saw Scantlin getting arrested for domestic abuse in West Hollywood after he had allegedly started dragging his ex-wife and pulling her by the arm (or possibly shirt). The vocalist appears to have been pretty unapologetic at the scene, and sources said he got "very mouthy" with the officials.

This less than savory incident happened in the wake of other arrests and charges, and Scantlin was promptly taken into custody with bail set at $20,000. This wasn't just an unfortunate one-off for someone who was going through a rough patch, either. Scantlin has a history of domestic abuse arrests, as Billboard notes that the singer was taken into custody in 2002 for fighting with his fiance and forcing her into a car.

Puddle of Mudd faced accusations of lip syncing

Lip syncing in live concerts is one of those things that is Simply Not Done by any self-respecting rock band … which is a shame because that's precisely what many people have accused Puddle of Mudd of during the 2010s, with multiple reports of Puddle of Mudd apparently lip syncing.

This is perhaps not super surprising if you've been paying any attention to who Wes Scantlin is. If he's the type of person who will take the stage under the influence, you can imagine he probably wouldn't be very good at lip syncing. As the lead singer and natural target of the accusations, Scantlin has generally met the criticism with full-on meltdowns onstage. His interviews have been no better about addressing this admittedly touchy subject. In a 2015 story by the Hindustan Times, Scantlin countered the lip syncing accusations (this time by a crowd in Sri Lanka) by going on offense: "I don't understand what these people are talking about. Give me a break; we were all singing. If they don't want us to come back, then f*ck it, we won't go back. They can kiss my a**."

Wes Scantlin's substance abuse

Puddle of Mudd's singer Wes Scantlin has been through heaps of controversy, and as Detox to Rehab tells us, a lot of it has been because of his issues with substance abuse. News and rumors have connected him to various narcotics, ranging from the rock star staples of alcohol and cocaine to some more … out-there choices, such as bath salts and an assortment of mind- and mood-altering drugs. In a way, this makes sense because a lot of the tragic incidents he's been associated with only make sense if you assume the man behind them was completely out of his mind.

Not only does this make his 14-year string of arrests and strange behavior fall into context, but it also makes it all the better to hear that he has made a legitimate attempt to get clean, which Blabbermouth reports is exactly what he did in 2017. As of July 2018, Scantlin was a cool 11 months sober, and judging by recent interviews, it appears he has left his long trail of destruction behind and is now fully focusing on family, friends, and music. Hopefully he can also do it without anymore domestic violence.