Interview with Scott Stapp: Never Gonna… Stapp

When they formed in 1995, I don’t think Creed realized just how big of a band they were going to be. Joined by guitarist Mark Tremonti, bassist Brian Marshall and drummer Scott Phillips, singer Scott Stapp helped rocket Creed into superstardom, becoming one of the most successful rock bands of all time. The group has gone on to sell more than 30 million albums worldwide and even won a Grammy for their hit “With Arms Wide Open.” But due to conflicting issues in their personal lives and with each other, the band decided to split up up in 2004.

Following the breakup, Stapp decided to start a solo career, and in 2005, he released his debut album, The Great Divide, which landed at number 19 on the Billboard charts. The band has since reunited, but Scott is still deeply focused on his solo work, just as the other three concentrate on Alter Bridge. His sophomore album, Between Lust And Love, is due out later this year, and he will also be releasing his autobiography, Exposed And Released: The Confessions Of Scott Stapp, in 2012.

Scott will be performing live on Saturday, April 16, at the Starland Ballroom in Sayreville. This will be a rare, acoustic performance from one of rock’s most successful vocalists. I recently spoke with Scott about Creed, his solo journey, his upcoming autobiography, and more:

What is the main difference between being onstage alone versus performing with a full band?

It’s a big difference because it’s acoustic, so the whole vibe in the atmosphere of the show is different. It’s not the big rock show, it’s more of a singer/songwriter kind of presentation, but it still carries the passion and the dynamics of the songs and it just breaks them down into a more palatable form and more intimate setting.

Any specific songs you like to sing acoustically?

Oh, man, I really enjoy them all. I think some of my favorites are “Justified” off my solo record, “Surround Me” off my solo record, something we rehearsed today, “Bullets,” off the Creed Weathered album, “Weathered” off the Creed Weathered album, also “Are You Ready” off Human Clay. It really transforms well, you’d be surprised, because they were written on acoustic, so to take them back to how they were written, it truly is a different dynamic, but it still has the same power it does on electric. It has a really cool vibe to it that I like; it really stimulates me creatively.

Is there an added focus that you put on lyrics for acoustic performances?

Yeah, there is, and also the subtlety about how I deliver those lyrics and how my melodies are, it enables me to hear myself better, which allows me to have a softer tone at times, and yet still have the power when I want to take it. So it definitely does, and it really brings out the storytelling and story aspect of the songs. It really allows me to tell that story.

Are you going to be playing songs primarily from your solo albums or older songs?

I’m going to be doing [songs] off my Creed catalog, of course my solo record, and also on my upcoming solo record, so I’m pretty excited about the dynamic of the music. I’m also going to be playing some covers. We rehearsed today “I’m Eighteen” by Alice Cooper, also “Hallelujah,” I kind of have my eye on, by Jeff Buckley, but just my way.

Any city you’re particularly excited about going to? I see you are also planned to tour Brazil.

Yeah, man, I’m excited about South America, but I really, really enjoy the greater area where you’re at—New Jersey, New York—Houston, all of Texas, just because they’re such a diehard base, just stuck by me there, and really enjoy the music. But really, to be honest with you, that happens everywhere. I’m really very blessed. But to answer your question, the New York/New Jersey and Texas areas are always exciting.

What are you trying to accomplish on your new solo album?

You know, I never really set out when I’m writing music with an end goal, except to express myself and kind of get out what’s inside of me. It’s just something I’ve been doing my whole life. But I think as the songs came together, and as the story began to unfold, it’s really a journey—life’s journey—from one extreme to the other, and then kind of realizing in that journey that staying in the middle is where it’s at. And so the album is a direct reflection of some serious growth in my life, and it’s really been a labor of love and a growth for me—emotionally, mentally, spiritually and as a human being. So I guess that’s what all art in the end from the artists should be and should show, so I think my goal has always been just to be as honest as I can be, and let it reflect the reality of my life.

Are there any guest musicians or other band members on the album?

I haven’t decided yet. I’ve had some friends and whatever that I’ve jammed with over the years, but I’ll make that announcement as soon as I get into the studio.

You’re planning on releasing an autobiography, what can you tell me about that?

I’m working with a gentleman named David Ritz, who is just a legendary author, and has worked with great individuals: Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, Ray Charles. It’s time to tell the story, and it’s time to tell it all, tell the truth, and talk about this journey, because I think that the struggle and the rise, and the fall, and everything in between and the comeback, and whatnot, I think I’ve learned a lot, but I still have so much to learn. But I think I have a lot to share and I hope that my journey up to this point and my life and the things that I’ve unfortunately had to learn the hard way might help someone else out there to not make the same mistakes I’ve made, but also shed some light on a lot of things. And again, it’s all a part of this personal growth, journey and experience that I’ve been in the midst of for the past three years, so it’s a real catharsis and cleansing process as well, kind of on a journey to self discovery.

I’m sure you mention this in your book, but how did you deal with the hiatus of Creed from 2004 to 2009?

Yeah, I’m definitely talking about that in the book—and in detail—but to be honest with you, I’m lucky to be alive. Put it this way, I didn’t deal with it well.

Mark Tremonti promised that Creed would never get back together, but what was the main reason you guys reunited?

It was time, you know. I think a lot of things are said at various times when you’re angry or you fear something, or you don’t really understand what’s going on, and I think we all said some things we wish we could take back. I mean, what did the Eagles say, “When hell freezes over?” I guess hell froze over, so I guess when you have a running relationship like he and I have, it’s inevitable that you’re going to be drawing back to each other because there’s a void there. I just think it was time. We were family for a while, family for a lot of years, and I don’t think you can go on your whole life being mad at your brother.

How has it been since Creed got back together?

You know, it’s definitely been a growing and growth process that we’re still involved with, and I think we’re learning how to be friends and be involved with Creed and be songwriters together in a totally new way than we were before. We were young kids all living in the same house in college when we got a record deal and now we have families and other lives and different projects, so I think with how everything has gone, I think it’s gone very, very well, and I think we’re all still in the process of getting to know each other all over again.

What is your most memorable moment as being a musician?

It would have to be the moments on stage, in sold-out arenas and just the connection with the audience and love of the fans and just feeling that surreal, almost divine connection between something greater than myself, with the fans and with the music, all at once in a grand atmosphere. And that’s something that I’ll never be able to forget and hopefully I’m blessed to experience that again.

You’ve sold over 30 million records worldwide; is there anything you haven’t accomplished yet that you would like to?

(Laughs) Yeah, man, there’s a tremendous amount, and I think that what it would be is balance—serenity and peace between my personal life, my professional life and my spiritual life.

Any plans for after the tour?

Yeah, right now we’re in talks with trying to arrange studio time, to get in and turn these working demos into an album and get the record out.

Scott’s solo album, The Great Divide, is available now. He will be playing at the Starland Ballroom in Sayreville on Saturday, April 16. More info at