Creed Singer Finds “Proof of Life” on Solo Journey
Over the past decade-and-a-half, longtime Creed singer and current solo artist Scott Stapp has sold nearly 30 million albums, logged no less than 11 number-one singles, nabbed a GRAMMY Award in the Best Rock Song category for “With Arms Wide Open,” and has even added author to his list of credentials, thanks to 2012’s memoir Sinner’s Creed (Tyndale House). But the road to success hasn’t always been easy. With the tabloids regularly on the prowl, the singer/songwriter has battled demons, including drugs, alcohol and depression.
Though the years surrounding Creed’s 2004 break-up were particularly tumultuous, Stapp is now completely clean. He recently sat down for a candid conversation with UPtv.com, sharing his excitement about his first solo album in more than eight years, Proof of Life (Wind-up Records). “The title came from the song of the same name, which came together when I was in search of trying to find my identity again as an artist, songwriter and musician outside of the way things had been in past,” explains the 40-year-old superstar. “I was able to get outside of the box that I had been in artistically with new feet and a new foundation underneath me, thanks to sobriety and a breath from the depression. [Making this album] was almost another level of my recovery. This is who I am, this is what I do, this is a part of me, this is the honesty and the passion and the forthrightness that makes me who I am as a human being and as an artist.”
Battling back from the bottom
The last few years of Stapp’s life have been on the upward swing, with a massively successful Creed reunion album and tour in 2009, followed by the autobiography and road to this rootsy modern rock record. But 2004 told a different story. Tabloid headlines exposed Stapp’s nightlife escapades, run-ins with the law, and more than one near-death experience, though it all reached a final straw for the embattled artist after the 2005 release of his platinum selling solo debut The Great Divide.
“I think we find in life that our bottom is when we decide to stop digging and it took me a long time to understand that,” he admits, citing a near fatal fall in Miami in November 2006. “Sometimes you have to learn things the hard way and sometimes it takes more than once. It’s something I prayed for daily and I finally surrendered to fact that ‘hey man, I don’t know anything. Tell me how you did it’ and I reached out to those who had similar issues. I looked at what they did to get their lives on track because I wanted what they had. It was about getting outside of myself and eliminating ego, as I speak about in the song ‘Who I Am.’”
You are not alone
As Stapp’s unveiling these deeply vulnerable new songs with fans, he’s finding a massive community of people from many walks of life who’ve experienced similar struggles, which is giving him the chance to turn the past into uplifting messages for the masses. “I think the first thing you have to do for that process to happen is create the path to recovery and you have to reach that road and get through it,” he continues. “I realized through that process that I wasn’t alone in this journey and that there were many, many millions who were on this path. Some had already gone through this journey and there would be others following behind me. That process gave me hope and began to give me a purpose, and I thought, ‘you know what, through this experience I can share how I did it and how I made it through.’ [I went from] looking back with guilt and shame on those experiences and changed it into ‘now this has a purpose.’ Now I can go forward and be of service to someone else who’s looking for a light to help guide them out of the darkness.”
So what exactly is this light Stapp is referring to? Perhaps the best answer comes from one of his new songs “Jesus Was a Rockstar,” which gives the ultimate shout-out to the source that saved his life (in more ways than one). Though the Creed frontman’s never been shy about his faith in the past, even if the act as a whole never specifically defined itself as a “Christian band,” Proof of Life most certainly finds the explosive entertainer expressing himself with unflinching boldness.
“I think I entered the music business with a lot of doubts, with a lot of questions, and a lot of uncertainty, but deep down inside, I knew I believed in God even though the church and religion in general had left a bad taste in my mouth,” he recalls. “Through all the successes, and then through the lows and struggles, my faith has gotten to a place where there’s not a shadow of a doubt in my mind about God, my faith in Christ or about anything that I’d die for and that’s the difference in my faith now. When I was a child, I used to lie in my bed and I’d turn my bedroom light on because I was a little bit afraid of the dark. I’d just pray and pray and pray, ‘God, just turn the bedroom light off and I’ll do whatever you want me to do,’ even though that bedroom light never turned off. But using that bedroom light as an analogy to my life now, it’s gone off over and over and over again in the places I’d least expect it. I’m just so humbled, grateful and thankful even for the worst days, because if it wasn’t for those days, I never would’ve been able to see and understand the hand and the power of God.”
Even with the obvious renewal of spirit, one can’t help but wonder how Stapp will be able to steer clear of previous roadblocks when he hits the road in support of this record. Aside from the constant adoration that’s sure to be heaped upon him by fans, there’s the typical rock n’ roll lifestyle aspect to consider, whether it be backstage temptations, getting the keys to literally every city he visits or having the wealth to do pretty much anything he’d like.
“I don’t surround myself with people that are doing things I don’t want to do,” Stapp insists. “I don’t go to places where there are things involved that I don’t want to do. I don’t have things [backstage] that I don’t want to put in my body. Aside from that, I have three children and my wonderful wife Jaclyn, so it’s a family affair. My shows have to be conducive to [my kids], so if it’s not appropriate for them, it’s not appropriate for me or anyone else for that matter. Family, changes in my life personally and spiritually, and then just maturing [have helped], plus if you’re not surrounding yourself with all that stuff, it removes the immediate access of those temptations.”
About the Writer
Andy Argyrakis is a Chicago-based entertainment writer/photographer who appears in the Chicago Tribune, IllinoisEntertainer, Daily Journal, Concert Livewire, Hear/Say Magazine and Image Chicago (to name few). His record label writing credits include Warner Brothers, Atlantic, Curb, EMI and Universal, with additional photo credits for Fuse TV, Live Nation, Nikon, Pollstar, Celebrity Access, Paste Magazine, MTV.com and Vibe.com. He’s also the author/narrator of “Access Matthews” (an audio CD tracing the career of Dave Matthews Band) and spends considerable time on tour, including outings with Arlo Guthrie, The Guess Who, Madina Lake (on Linkin Park’s Projekt Revolution) and Gospel Music Channel’s “Gospel Dream” (where he served as season one judge).