It’s never a good sign when a band’s frontman finds out that he’s no longer employed from watching TV. That’s what happened to Scott Stapp, lead singer of the seminal late ’90s rock band Creed.
“Someone called and wanted to do an interview,” he says, about his band’s break up. “‘About what?’ I asked. The reporter told me to turn on the TV. That’s how I learned about it. Seeing it live.”
It was a rude awakening for the gruff-voiced vocalist, but one he needed. At the time — the end of 2004 — he was hooked on the anti-inflammatory drug Prednisone, which started affecting his life.
“Long-term use of that stuff can make you temporarily insane, gain weight and become crazy,” he reveals. “And that’s what happened.”
It took about two years until he finally cleaned himself up — though he was arrested in 2007 for aggravated assault — but it took even longer to repair the damage with his bandmates.
Stapp hadn’t spoken to anyone in the group for four years. In 2008 mutual friends opened the lines of communication between the singer and his guitarist and long time friend Mark Tremonti. Eventually, Stapp met with Tremonti’s manager who arranged a meeting between the two. Soon enough they were writing together again.
“He could see his friend was back,” says Stapp. “He could see it in my eyes. We said sorry, and within an hour we were on the couch sharing ideas and playing acoustic guitar.”
Naturally, the songs that appear on Full Circle, the group’s first record since 2001, deal with the inter-band turmoil and the struggles Stapp has had to overcome.
“This album completely defines and describes the emotions of my journey from six years ago to today,” he explains. “To me the record is one big story.”
While the group is still working out their issues (“it may never be how it used to be,” says Stapp.)
It’s clear from the album that the band is rejuvenated. They still stick to their Pearl Jam-lite formula — brash, meaty riffs, deep and growly vocals and soft overwrought ballads — but the songs emit a passion that’s always lacked on their older material.
Even Stapp can feel the difference. “There’s a more powerful delivery and a clear identity that reflects true nature of the band,” he says.
Despite the stronger sound, it’s still unclear if the popularity they had pre-break up — they sold millions upon millions of albums — would stick with them today. So far they’ve had trouble selling tickets to some of their shows, and the buzz hasn’t been all that loud. But a new record could change that. Either way Stapp says he doesn’t care if the band’s selling power has waned.
“We never had those expectations before. We never said let’s sell 30 million albums and we don’t now,” he says. “We just want to write the best album, top to bottom, we could. That’s why we’re a rock band.”