Interview with Creed: Scott Stapp Comes Full Circle

One of the most popular bands to come out of the late ‘90s/early 2000s was Creed, with their catchy guitar riffs and extremely hooky choruses. But perhaps most memorable of all was the vocal tone of singer Scott Stapp. At the time, many would argue that Stapp was nothing more than an Eddie Vedder imitator but after three consecutive multi-platinum albums and 40 million records sold worldwide, it’s more than enough to refute those claims. In 2001, bassist Brian Marshall left the band on “friendly terms” after making some controversial comments about Pearl Jam. In 2004, Creed would disband due to internal conflicts between the band members and Stapp, who was dealing with substance abuse problems. The vocalist would move on to release his solo effort, The Great Divide, in 2005. Guitarist Mark Tremonti and drummer Scott Phillips would reunite with Marshall to form their new band, Alter Bridge, along with singer Myles Kennedy. They went on to release three very successful CDs as well—One Day Remains, Blackbird and AB III.

Back in 2004, Tremonti vowed that Creed would never return, however, on April 27, 2009, announced that the band was back together with a tour and brand new studio CD in the works. That studio CD would become their 2009 release, Full Circle, their first disc in eight years. Creed is still together and they’re hitting the road for a unique tour that will include two nights in each city. They’ll be performing their first two smash-hit albums, My Own Prison and Human Clay, in their entirety on two separate nights. This event, which was only supposed to be a couple of dates, has turned into a full-fledged tour. On April 16 and 17, Creed will be at The Tower Theater in Philadelphia and on April 19 and 20, the Beacon Theatre in NYC. Singer Scott Stapp hit me up right before they hit the road and here’s what he had to say.

This tour was only supposed to be only be few dates. Did you expect it to become a full-fledged tour like this?

I’ll tell you what we’ve been pleasantly surprised and it’s been great to be able to add-on shows. The fans have showed so much excitement and we’re gonna just keep adding them as the fans tell us we need to, and so where really pumped about it.

It’s been 15 years since the release of My Own Prison and 14 years since Human Clay. When you guys had to head in to rehearse these albums in their entirety, was it tough to remember some of the songs that you haven’t played in years? Or was it like riding a bike?

(Laughs) I’ll tell ya, some of the songs we haven’t played in 15 years so definitely there was a little bit of an adjustment and a real learning curve. Digging into these records alone, listening to them, and for some reason I haven’t listened to my music—after we’re done with the record and it’s all signed off, I never listen to the records again because I’m moving forward. So it’s been a really cool thing for me preparing for these shows to go back and listen to the records, and it’s really jogged my memory tremendously about things that were going on with the band, and how we were at 21 and 22 years old. It’s been really, really positive and rewarding for me. I appreciate our work together, and I respect what we did, no matter how inexperienced or just “learning on the fly” we were. It’s special to me and still speaks to me and really reminds me how much I love and respect my bandmates.

When you had to go back and relearn these songs and lyrics that you wrote were you like, “Wow, I was at a really different time in my life right there?”

You know, most definitely! I really began to finally, after all these years, take a look at the work I have done personally on the record, and really laugh at times in my word usage or how I put something together, but also it helped me understand how far I’ve grown and it’s been a positive thing. But definitely, there’s moments when I wish I knew then what I know now, but you know what? I think that was just a snapshot of our lives, and most of our fans were the same age at that time, so I’m finally able to look back and reflect on all of these with a new view and I’m excited to play these songs. I love the feeling that I felt in my life during those times—so young and idealistic and wanting to scream my feelings to the world because as you’ll find out in my book coming out on October 2.

Wait a minute! I didn’t know about that! Tell us more…..

Yeah, I have a memoir coming out on October 2, and it’s from day one to the present, and I just lay it all out there! During this process going on the same time over the last year as I’ve re-acclimated myself to these songs, it’s really brought a lot to my book! I’m going to be really excited to share that with everyone, and it’s been a good process for me. I’m looking forward to that and the whole thing just has so much symmetry. We’re reconnecting with fans and I feel like I’m in tune, as a human being with that youth, the blind innocence naivety, and that ignorant rebellion that felt so justified. It’s everything that you feel during that time period in your life, and it’s been invigorating for me. It’s reminded me of the purity of music and how blessed I am to be an artist. I think it’s good sometimes to reconnect with things in your life from a new perspective and kind of feel it again. For me, I can properly handle those feelings as an adult and mature emotionally, and not coming from all the different places that I was coming from at that time. It has an impact on how you express yourself in the new music and in the rest of your life. So it’s been really cool for me and I can’t wait to continue this journey and play these records straight through live because I think it’s gonna take that deeper, and it’s really gonna impact what Creed is doing for our new record and new music.

So, you’re doing two nights in each city, one night will be My Own Prison and night two will be Human Clay, with songs from Weathered and Full Circle sprinkled in. What will Scott Stapp’s favorite song to perform live be?

Oh, man! I tell ya, it changes on [any] given night, but I think that the most consistent favorite song that I like to play, and it’s been this way ever since the song was written, [is] “Faceless Man.”

Really? I expected “With Arms Wide Open.”

Of course that song is special to me in a whole other dimension because of my son where “Faceless Man” is on a spiritual dimension for me, and I connect with that song in a special way, and it’s the same with “With Arms Wide Open,” but it’s outside of things that I can see. Based upon my faith, it’s the most important feeling that I need to be focused on because if I’m not focused on that, I’m not a good father, I’m not a good husband, and I’m not a good person. You know what I mean?

Absolutely! Now, of the two nights, which album will be your favorite to perform?

Oh, wow! They’re both going to be great! They’re both going to be fun! We were so fortunate to have so many number ones in a row off My Own Prison and Human Clay that playing each record, the fans know the words to nearly every song, and so the energy is buzzing on both. Of course, you’d probably have to give the edge to Human Clay because it’s our highest selling album and it had “Higher” and “With Arms Wide Open” and “Are You Ready” and some of the other songs that we released off of it. It’s gonna have a different energy that’s more on the level of the big theme from that album, [like] “Higher.” So they’re both going to have an impact and have energy both ways. It’s just a different vibe. “Higher” could never have come and “With Arms Wide Open” could’ve never been born, and a few other songs on Human Clay, had I not, from a lyrical standpoint, been in the experiences and the headspace that I was and that we were on My Own Prison. I found in looking back at my life, and my personality and my mistakes—there’s been a bit of an extreme in my life from low lows to high highs, and not much in the middle. I go into detail about that in my book to explain that because I’ve finally been able to understand that, and begin to correct that.

Your opening act is a bunch of local NYC guys, Eve To Adam. Were they handpicked by you guys for this tour?

We were sent their music by our agent and managers, and the other guys may have met them. I don’t really know about that. I don’t know how the music really got sent but we dug it, and of course, we want to like the band’s music that we’re playing with and we’ve always been that way. So, yeah! We like those guys!

Back in 2004, guitarist Mark Tremonti stated that Creed would never return, yet in 2012, here you are, selling out venues on one of the biggest tours of the spring. What changed?

I think that there were a lot of different factors from an emotional level and a friendship level and a family level. Hey, we got into an argument, so-to-speak. We handled things the wrong way and we took a break. We kind of said to your brother and sister, “I need a break from you!” But you want to come back to your family; you want to come back to your friends. I’ve known Mark since he was 16 years old, and I feel like the four of us have accomplished so much together, and then our relationships as friends. We’ve been true friends! I think time brings healing, and a different understanding of situations and events when we put them in perspective, and I think it was the natural even flow of our relationship. It’s like a girlfriend that you’re totally in love with and you’re married to, and then you have a blowout and you get separated, but you’re still in love, and slowly but surely, you come back to that. Now, I have to be honest, and I talk about this in my book, it’s not how it was, but we’re in the process of getting there and there are always little bumps in the road, but it’s about getting through those and maintaining our commitment to each other and the fans and the music. Up to this point, we’ve been able to do that.

It’s no secret that the other three guys are in that other band and you have your own solo music. Do you feel that working on different projects and your time apart has made Creed, as a band, stronger?

Most definitely! Absolutely! When I got back together with these guys in late 2008, we started jamming; I really saw just a growth in them that made me have more respect for them and excited for the music that was to come, and I was really happy and excited about the music on Full Circle, and the music that came out of that record, and am really looking forward to making more music!

One last question before I let you go, Scott! Would you and the band ever consider a Creed/Alter Bridge tour or even a Scott Stapp/Alter Bridge tour?

You know what? I guess there are possibilities for everything, but for Creed, we’re keeping Creed focused on Creed. We all have our independent stuff and we’re all supportive of each other about that. We all have our own shows and our own tours and our other projects that are there and we continue to be involved in and move forward with, but at the Creed shows and in Creed’s world, it’s about Creed, and I think that’s how we show our loyalty and commitment to our Creed fans and each other. We just continue to support each other in our other endeavors when Creed’s not together. From a musical standpoint, we’re a different band. I’m different, those guys are different, and I think that the differences are so great that it’s just a different thing. It’s like putting a jazz band in with a ska band.

The feedback that we got from the Creed fans is that they’ve felt neglected for years. They felt that the band that they loved just fell off the map and no one knew what was going on until I had some personal struggles, and other projects were launched and nothing was ever addressed, and so the Creed fans felt like they were abandoned then they had all these new choices. What we’re trying to do is give them the Creed back that they knew and loved and just follow their lead once we do that. If the fans demand certain things, we have to consider it, but that is what they’ve demanded because of the circumstances on how Creed went away.

Creed will be at the Tower Theater in Philadelphia on April 16 and 17. They will also be at the Beacon Theatre in NYC on April 19 and 20. For more info, go to