MANHATTAN, NY—Anthony Scott Flippen was born in Orlando, Florida, to Lynda, a school teacher. Little is known about his biological father. He was adopted by Steven Stapp, a dentist who married Scott’s mother, and decided to take his stepfather’s last name. However, upon realizing that his initials would spell out the word “ass,” he took his middle name as his first and took the name he is now known as, Scott Alan Stapp.
Stapp and guitarist Mark Tremonti had been classmates in high school and friends at Florida State University. They formed a band in 1993 originally known as Naked Toddler, which later became Creed. Creed became among the leaders of the post-grunge movement of the late 1990s and early 2000s. The band launched its career with three consecutive multi-platinum albums, one of which has been certified diamond and has sold over 28 million records in the United States and over 40 million albums worldwide. Creed was recognized as the Rock Artist Of The Year at the 1998 Billboard Music Awards. “With Arms Wide Open” won a Grammy Award for Best Rock Song in 2001. Stapp’s debut solo album, 2005’s The Great Divide, also sold more than two million copies. Creed disbanded in 2004, citing tension between Stapp and the other members, reunited in 2009, and seems to be on hiatus now.
Stapp published a memoir, Sinner’s Creed, in 2012. The book detailed many of his struggles, including those with drugs, alcohol and suicidal depression. Bouncing back sober and more spiritual than ever, Stapp released his second solo album, Proof Of Life, in November 2013.
The present tour is billed as “Scott Stapp, The Voice Of Creed,” so the foregone conclusion was that his new show would include a hefty amount of Creed songs. At Irving Plaza tonight, the theme seemed to be about waking up to survival. Stapp opened with a solo song, the autobiographical “Slow Suicide,” in which he sang, “I can’t let this life pass me by, in a blink of an eye it ends.” He followed that with the Creed song, “What If,” the solo song “Justify” and the Creed song “My Own Prison.”
So it went all night, with Stapp rhythmically alternating solo and Creed songs. Stapp’s vocals still bore an intense masculinity in line with The Doors’ Jim Morrison and Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder, but without the studio precision perfected on Creed albums. This time around, his vocals were more fragile. The lyrics to the older songs revisited Creed’s trademark soul-searching element and newer songs were often more conclusive, proclaiming victory over life’s hardships. In “Break Out,” Stapp sang, “I’m gonna break out, I’m gonna break free.” Two of the four encore songs, “Crash” and “Dying To Live,” seemed to refer to his new choice to live after a near suicide when he jumped off the 10th floor balcony in a Miami hotel. The music did not break new ground, however, in that it was driven by Creed’s classic hard-rocking power-balladry and Christian-infused testosterone. This time around, however, Stapp was staffed by a backup band, and the stage was all about him, not a band that created music together. This was not necessarily good or bad, but with seven Creed songs in the set, Stapp struggled to redefine his solo identity.