Scott Stapp knows how precious life is now. After spending much of 2015 in recovery due to a disastrous 2014, Stapp is looking to make this his year, starting with a seventeen-date tour of the East Coast. Fly talks to Stapp about his plans for the new year, the beauty of South Africa and the “surreal” Creed years.
Kevin Stairiker: To start off, do you have any New Year’s resolutions? Is it a “new year, new you” situation?
Scott Stapp: I tell you, I think I make the same New Year’s resolutions every year, probably very similar to a lot of people out there. I’m going to eat better, work out more and stop spending money on wasteful things.
KS: How far into the year do you usually make it?
SS: It varies. Usually 3-6 months, and then I’ll get off track and get back on it. But like I say every year, “This year it’s gonna stick for the whole year.”
KS: Well, hopefully 2016 is the year for you. I saw that you were in South Africa last month, how was that experience?
SS: It was awesome. I’d never been to South Africa before and I’ve come to find out I have a lot of fans there. And to go over there for the first time in my career and play for these fans for the first time and really experience the energy and the passion and the love and the connection was awesome. It was a beautiful place, a beautiful country.
KS: The band that you played with there, is it the same band that you recorded Proof of Life with?
SS: No, it’s actually not. I used various different studio musicians, big name guys who have been doing records for a long time, on Proof of Life. Josh Freese, Kenny Arnoff, Phil X, to name a few. But this band is a band that I’ve been putting together for a few years. I’m really excited about these guys. They’re all extremely talented musicians and they all bring something unique to the live show which makes it exciting to me because I love to rock with my band. They’re all fans of the music and fans of what we’re doing, which comes through in the live show.
KS: Are you going to be working with this band on new music or going back to the well of session players?
SS: You know, I plan on it. It’s something that as our chemistry continues to develop and as we continue to grow as a unit, it’s just natural for me to start writing songs. We’ll see what the future holds, but it’s definitely something that I’m interested in doing.
KS: Do you have anything in the pipeline now?
SS: Yeah, I do. I’m actually working on a full-length record now, the details of which I’ll be announcing at the end of February, beginning of March. And then I’m also working on some solo material, and one song in particular, called “Up from the Ashes” which I’ll be releasing the first quarter of this year.
KS: I assume that the title “Up from the Ashes” is in reference to the last year or so?
SS: Yeah, it really is. The song was inspired by a lot of the events that happened in my life over the last year, and it was kind of born from that.
KS: Does it feature a lot of the same themes as Proof of Life?
SS: You know, it does, that would be a safe characterization. It definitely has some of the same themes.
KS: Will the setlist feature songs from the album and possibly that new song?
SS: Absolutely. I’m playing songs from the Proof of Life album, a couple songs from “The Great Divide” album and then I’m playing songs from my Creed catalogue, so my live show is really a collection of my entire music career.
KS: Speaking of collections, that’s the perfect segue since you just released the With Arms Wide Open boxset. Did you comb through the archives yourself to compile it?
SS: The label did that for us. They went through and combed through everything and then sent us songs and said “Hey, what do you think of this, what do you think of that?”
KS: What was it like to go through a catalog from beginning to maybe end, at least in terms of the boxset?
SS: It was a little overwhelming in one sense and then in another sense, it just kind of takes you down memory lane. It takes you back to different periods in your life and brings back those memories. It was a good experience.
KS: And now that you’re older and it’s been twenty years since [My Own Prison], how do you look back on those days?
SS: They were a fairy tale, man. Looking back at the first six, seven years of Creed on the national stage…it was too good to be true, man. Everything we did was successful at that time and all of our dreams were coming true. And just when we thought it couldn’t get any better, it did get better. So it was quite a run.
KS: If I have the numbers right, you were 24 when Creed got big, which is how old I am now, so just thinking about being that age and going to the heights that you did seems unbelievable.
SS: (Laughs) Yeah. I never thought I’d say this, but I wish I could go back and do it at 35 or 40.
KS: Yeah? What would be different?
SS: I think I would have appreciate things much differently and had a more mature outlook on everything that was going on. Back then, at that time, life was a party and it was rock and roll and we were living fast. Obviously, it caught up with me.
KS: Sure. Were there any specifically surreal moments during that run where you just looked around and thought “What is going on?” In a good or bad way.
SS: Absolutely, and solely in a good way. I remember looking out in the audience at Woodstock [‘99] and there was 500,000 people in the audience, as far back as I could see, all the way to the horizon line was people. When we were playing our set, there were people singing as far as my eyes could see to the songs. That’s just a surreal moment. You know, I remember moments in the arenas, sold-out crowds and just knowing that Creed had the entire arena in the palm of our hand is just a surreal experience. It was awesome.
KS: You know, I was just watching the video of when Robby Krieger sat in with you guys at Woodstock for “Roadhouse Blues.” That alone must have been like a dream come true.
SS: Yeah, it was awesome. It was a dream come true. Growing up a huge fan of The Doors and then not only getting to play with them for a week in LA and then live on VH1 and then getting a chance to have Robby sit in at Woodstock, I mean, that was just a complete dream come true.
KS: I would be remiss to not ask about your most recent VH1 experience on “Couples Therapy.” How was that?
SS: You know, it was probably one of the most challenging experiences of my life and also definitely one of the most vulnerable situations I’ve ever put myself in. And my wife and I, that was real therapy for us, we were real. We went in there on the heels of a family crisis that was real that the whole world knew about. We went in there with real life problems and real life situations to work through and we did that. My mindset was, I put my family out there with my situation and we had an opportunity to explain, set the record straight and work through the problem with the same type of national exposure that the crisis itself got. It just seemed like the right scenario for us at the time.
KS: It seems like it turned out ideally, on one hand you could address the past year while also working through your problems with your wife. It seems like a win-win.
SS: And we did. It was a win-win. And looking back, as difficult as it was, if the situation was the same again, I’d do it. So it ended up being a win, but we were definitely a little terrified about what we were getting ourselves into. And then, man, to be honest, the cast of characters that were there…(laughs), it was definitely an experience.
KS: In regards to the “Scott Stapp Reviews Creed” video from November, and please correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t remember ever seeing you do anything outwardly funny like that before.
SS: You know, you’re right, that was my first shot at comedy. I tell you, if I could go back and do it again, my criticism would be having better deliveries. I think my deliveries could have been better, but it seems like by the reviews that we got and the comments online that we accomplished what we set out to accomplish, which was to make people laugh and most people thought it was funny.
KS: And like you say at the end of the video, “Assassin’s Creed” is coming out soon, so you’ll have another chance.
SS: That’s right, man, that’s right! I’m going to start my own movie review website.
— Scott Stapp (@ScottStapp) January 14, 2016
KS: Wrapping up, do you have goals for the year or goals for the tour? We talked about resolutions earlier, but for the tour specifically, what are you hoping for by the end?
SS: You know, I’m just hoping to continue to connect with my fans and make new ones at the same time. I love what I do and I love having the opportunity to continue doing what I love and I’m really thankful for it. So I just want to bring my heart and soul and passion to every show and make a memory every night for everyone in that room. And continue to reconnect with all the Creed fans out there. I know that’s not too profound. We’ve got a lot of fans in Pennsylvania, and a lot of friends, too.