I'm not ashamed to admit I like the band Creed. I get caught up in the negativity that is the rock genre. I become fascinated with how bands like Bon Jovi, Creed or Nickelback deal with all the negative energy that surrounds them on the internet. While researching Scott Stapp's career I noticed that this guy has had a lot of success. He's had successful solo albums, a successful book and let's not forget about Creed. Why do we turn our backs on those who've found success? Sure he's made his mistakes along the way, but he's come out the other side with a new album called "Proof of Life" with a brand new tour. Check out my chat with Scott Stapp.
Bob Zerull (BZ): You’re about to head out on tour in support of your album “Proof of Life.” What does the experience touring mean to you as an artist?
Scott Stapp (SS): I think what it means is maybe three or four fold. Number 1 it’s an opportunity to personally connect with my fans and meet them, shake their hands, talk, hang out and connect through the music and share that experience together. Number 2 it’s a time for me as an artist to continue to grow and develop in my creative aspect of performing, to push myself to learn on stage to get outside of myself. That leads me to my next point that drives me and keeps me wanting/needing to tour. There’s this place that comes maybe two shows a week, maybe three that’s like being in the zone. That’s the best way to describe it. You hear these athletes where they feel like they can’t miss. Their body feels like they can do anything and that’s the best way I can describe the feeling. You almost feel like you’re witnessing yourself. You’re in control, but you’re not. It’s a very unique feeling. It’s almost a spiritual nature for me, it’s something that I crave. I just wish and hope that one day that can be every night. All of that keeps me touring.
BZ: Your songs are so autobiographical and personal. When you’re playing the songs live do you get brought back to the feeling you were experiencing when you wrote the song or does the fact that you’re in the zone make for a different experience?
SS: Being in the zone just intensifies my emotional contact with each song. I’m a very emotional person. Every night when I perform the songs I feel those feelings again, it’s just part of who I am. I think that when I’m having those special nights that just intensifies it and makes it even more authentic. There’s nothing else going on in my mind or body except the emotion of each song during those nights. I’m completely one with the spirit and emotion of those songs. I use to fight that kind of connection, but now I embrace it because it’s so, not only rewarding because when you can do that it helps the song transcend any blocks. Your performance and the way you’re doing it you can authentically connect with people. That’s what it’s all about.
BZ: That’s why I think Creed blew up in the early days because people could relate to the authenticity of your lyrics. Then you get so big that you turn into what Bon Jovi was or what Nickelback is now. When I look at you I see all this success but at the same time there is a section of people who can’t stand you or Nickelback or Bon Jovi. What do you see, do you see the positive, the negative or do you just see forward?
SS: I focus on going forward. That’s something I’ve had to do my entire life. I talk about that in my book “Sinner’s Creed.’ I talk about all the struggles and challenges I faced as a child. Having that mentality of just continuing to move forward was a survival mechanism. Now I look at it as training. I don’t regret it, I’m glad it happened to me. It trained me how to deal with life in the public eye and life as an artist. I look at it as everything had a purpose. There were some bad years in there for me personally and professionally. At the time when I was caught up in the midst of that it really affected me negatively, emotionally, mentally, spiritually because I didn’t have the mindset that I have now and the understanding that I have now that those days wouldn’t last forever. All those days did was prepare me as a human being to share about those times and how I got through it. What seemed to be negative now I realize had purpose. That purpose not only transcended into my music but it made me a more humble, sensitive, compassionate and empathetic human being which enabled me to use them and have those experiences and references to help out somebody else if they’re going through something similar. It also developed me into a better person and gave me more depth in the content of my material and songs. Getting through those times helped me learn about a strength that I didn’t know that I had, but also completely validated and solidified and left no doubt in regard to my faith. My knowing that God still works in the lives of all of us as human beings if we still seek him.
BZ: Did you ever find yourself trying to impress the critics over your audience?
SS: Never. I never even thought about the critics like that.
BZ: Creed, even right now could go and play the biggest stadiums in the world. Now that you’re doing the solo thing is it fun to step back and play the smaller more intimate venues and really get to interact with the fans on a more personal level?
SS: Yeah most definitely. I think these smaller venues are places where you sharpen and hone your skills. You grow through sweat, perseverance and endurance. Along with that aspect to be able to really connect and make relationships and friendships with your fans, it really facilitates that. That’s something I’m really enjoying right now. Noticing that there are 100 people that follow me everywhere I go and I never would have noticed that playing arenas and stadiums. Playing the smaller clubs you can’t help it because you can see everyone in there. Getting to know them and their thoughts on music is just amazing and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
BZ: The album “Proof of Life” came out late last year. From what I’ve heard and read the album is very autobiographical, but everything you’ve ever really done has kind of been like that. What was different about the process this time around?
SS: I think with this time around, from my stand point I was less coming from a place of the inside looking out and more of a place of looking within. I’ve always been honest and candid and clear with my lyrics. In this regard I wasn’t looking outside of me I was looking to talk about me in a different way and share a commentary or musical journey of a period in my life that I came out of and really articulate what I learned. This record was unique in that it was very much a record of honest self reflection. I think that in order to grow in any aspect of your life you have to do that, it’s just crazy that it took me 39 years to do it?
BZ: Is the album a soundtrack to your autobiography “Sinner’s Creed?”
SS: They definitely correlate. They definitely go hand in hand. I don’t think I could have written this record if I hadn’t written the book and gone through the journey, the whole process of coming through the darkness and coming into the light. Writing my book was part of that process. It was a personal inventory and analysis of my life and not candy coating my role in everything, good or bad. That began the process of mental clarity. It began the process of honestly being able to look at things and accept when I was at fault and when I made mistakes and being able to say that’s ok. Being able to acknowledge that is part of growing. So most definitely they’re tied together.
BZ: Are you one of those guys that is always writing or do you need to be inspired?
SS: It comes in phases and seasons. There are times when I feel compelled to write everyday. Then there are times when I won’t write at all for two or three months and then inspiration just hits. There are times when it’s very in the moment. Sometimes I feel compelled to just grab the acoustic guitar. What I've found that when I typically go through a phase where I’m not writing it’s because the life that I’m living is an important part of my growth. Writing in the midst of that won’t give me the clarity that I need. Also I do go through times where I will force myself to write just to keep my chops up. It’s a mixture of all of it.
BZ: I’m a big fan of rock music and I’m hung up on the negativity in rock music. When Avenged Sevenfold goes number one everybody turns their back on them. Does it ever get frustrating that nobody will give your music a chance because you’re a Christian or you are in Creed?
SS: It doesn’t bother me. I wish their minds would open and more of a connoisseur and less of a critic. It’s not something I can spend my time thinking about. When it does get on my radar is when it’s the gate keepers doing it. When it’s the people who decide what gets on rock radio, and that happened to Creed. What they don’t realize is that they’re affecting your livelihood. They’re affecting your fan base. When you talk about Avenged Sevenfold, right now there may be fans doing that, but when it comes to gate keepers and the people who decide what gets on the air waves thats when I think about it and I’ve had a lot of time to think about that.
BZ: Do you think rock music is in a good state right now?
SS: Not at all. I think the gate keepers need to really get back to staying true to what rock n roll is. I think a lot of different genres are being called rock n roll and they’re not rock n roll. I saw that within the Billboard Awards. Some of these bands are not rock bands, but they’re winning best rock band and best rock album. I think rock n roll needs it’s identity back. As rock artists we can’t blame100%. I think the staple of rock music since it began is the passion, the spirit and the honesty for which the songs come. Also it’s swagger, it’s energy, it’s relevance to the realities of life today. I think as a group when us rock artists collectively get back to that I think that’s when it’ll jump back into the scene.
BZ: I have noticed that the young bands that I’ve talked to all seem to support one another which I think is the first step. I’ve also noticed and I don’t know if you have but you can hear the Creed influence and you can hear the Sevendust influence a lot in newer bands. Is that something that is cool to you?
SS: I’m honored, I’m humbled by that. I don’t usually say that much. I leave that for guys like you. I’m glad that you did acknowledge that because it’s real. It’s really happening. I think my challenge to these young guys and new bands is to take that foundation and better it. Let it evolve and make it their own. I think that’s coming. I think we’re in a period of having to get our chops ready but also our minds and our souls in the right place to deliver the kind of rock n roll that needs to come for the next generation. It’s just a matter of time.
BZ: The status of Creed, are you guys just in solo mode right now and then maybe in a few years you’ll get back together?
SS: There’s no real time table, we’re still a band. We’ve worked on new material for our next album whenever that time is. I think right now we’re being fulfilled creatively. What we’re doing individually outside of the band is what we need to be doing in our lives right now. As artists I think when we feel an authentic and organic pull that it’s time we’ll make another record. Right now though we’re excited about what we’re doing individually.
BYLINE: Bob Zerull is the Managing Editor of Zoiks! Online. He writes pop culture commentary, does interviews with bands, and reviews music and stand-up concerts. He also administers Zoiks! Online's Facebook page. Follow Bob on twitter at bzerull. Email Bob at email@example.com.