He's best known for his role as lead vocalist for rock giants Creed, but Scott Stapp is out on his own now and recently released his second solo album, Proof of Life. Scott caught up with Jesusfreakhideout.com's Michael Weaver to discuss the new album, his book Sinner's Creed, writing with his son, rededicating his life to Christ, and what his future with Creed looks like...
This interview took place on: December 9, 2013.
Sure. Thank you.
Scott: Well, it was definitely good to free myself of that, but it was also kind of painful at times to relive -- you know, to go back in my mind. When you're a kid and you're going through that stuff, it's bad, and it's horrible, and it's traumatic, but it just seems like "that's just your life." To be years away from that and then to go back and relive it -- and then being a father and understanding how much I love my children and how I couldn't even begin to do those things that were done to me to my kids -- that's when the pain really set in and I think that's when the scar that I had buried so deep within my soul got uncovered. It was a pretty traumatic experience and a well of emotions came back to me. A lot of anger and then a lot of hurt... Then just sadness. All those things that I think I kind of put away because I was in survival mode as a kid kind of came back to me. The same thing with other situations in my life that were struggles later in life. Everything kind of goes back to that childhood experience. Some of the things that happened to me when I was battling alcoholism, during the time, were so traumatic. Then I was recovering and just fighting for my life and I really didn't get to step back and really see the extent of the experience and how it affected those I loved around me. It definitely allowed me to really put some things to rest, but it pulled some things to the surface in order to put them to rest.
Scott: Yeah, man. When you're doing something like that, it's not about excuses. I'm just telling my story. I appreciate you saying that.
Scott: Man, I tell you, it's almost surreal because it's been so long coming. I feel a relief, but I also feel a little bit of nervousness in terms of how it's going to be received. You know, "Did I get right?" Which I think is normal for all artists when they're finished with a project. It definitely, definitely is the beginning of a new season in my life, a new chapter in my life, a new day--to quote a song from the record. It definitely feels good to get this record accomplished. Really, to have everything behind me that I had to go through as a human being in order to produce and make this record and write the songs. Because, if I didn't write the book and I didn't go through a lot of the struggle and the journey in my life, I never could've come full circle and really had the inspiration to write this record and really close a chapter in my life that this record symbolizes.
Scott: You know, it was not about being "back" at all. It was a couple of things. Number one, it was the best to start the story which the album tells, but it's the honest place. It's where I should have started because it's the honest place to start without trying to be crafty and paint it different than the reality of the circumstances of where I started on this journey. It just made sense. That was the first song that I wrote this year, in writing the record, and it was honestly just the only place to start by coming out up front and honestly saying, "Alright, let me start this story with the backdrop. This is where I was and this is what I was doing and this is how I began to find a way out."
Scott: You know, it's a little bit of both. It was a cognitive effort in terms of telling a story in order of how the story should be told -- that was a cognitive effort. But in terms of writing the songs, they just came out of my heart and were what I thought I needed to express. It wasn't until afterwards I realized, "Ok, there's an order to these songs." Some songs came out before others, but they were ahead of the story. You know what I mean? Each song came out honestly and straight from the heart, but in terms of putting them together in the story, I had to go back and reorganize them.
Scott: Yeah, yeah. Jagger and another teenager named Julia Michaels.
Scott: I tell you… It was really cool. When Jagger wrote the chorus for that song, he was in his bathroom and it was about 3 or 4 years ago. I had to take him somewhere. Football practice or something… I came in and he was recording that chorus into a little cassette player. I was like, "Hello?" And he was like, "Ohhh!" I startled him. *laughs* He was like, "Dad, come on!" You know? I kind of invaded his privacy I guess. He was a little bit embarrassed. I was like, "I love that melody. I love that. 'Break out.' I love it." Then I looked at him and was like, "What do you have to break out from, man? What are you trying to say?" *laughter* I looked at him and was just giving him a hard time. From that moment on, I began just discussing with him the song and I kept telling him, "Are you going to record that with your little band? If not, then me and you need to go ahead and finish it and I'll record it because I really love where you're going with this." I think he kind of set it aside and was just waiting until I came back to him when I was making this record. So when I got to the point where it's time to make this record, I said, "Son, let's finish this song." So we got together and finished the chorus. I was out in L.A. and got together with another teenager, named Julia Michaels -- a young, talented songwriter -- and said, "Hey, my son and I are working on this track, do you want to help us out?" She said, "Sure," and she came in and just brought a youthfulness to it too that I really think it really needed. Between the three of us, we finished it, but it was really cool how he started out before he was born inspiring "Arms Wide Open" and now 15 years later, we write our first song together. I think I identified with it because it completely addressed what I was feeling inside in terms of breaking out from these chains that poor decisions, and just life, I had allowed to put on me. So I really connected with it. On another level, just that teenage and youthful angst of breaking out and wanting to go your own way and be free and not let things hold you back. I thought it was a great marriage.
Scott: Yeah, my daughter is 6 too. She wrote her first song and it's called "I Love My Daddy." It just broke my heart. She's the cutest little thing. "I love my daddy because he plays basketball with me." *laughs* I just tell them to sing whatever's on their heart, man. Whatever comes in their brain.
Scott: Yeah, John Paul.
Scott: He played little bits and pieces on all of the songs. He's a very talented, up-and-coming, guitar player. He's a lead guitar player -- a shredder so to speak. He also sings, but he's got some talent and played some rhythms and a little lead here or there. Between Jagger and John Paul that's my future band, man.
Scott: *laughing* We played our first gig about 4 months ago -- 6 months ago, actually -- at the church outside for a fundraiser and it was awesome. We raised $48,000, believe it or not, for the church. Like three of four thousand people showed up, so it was really, really cool.
Scott: Well, I think that song, again, has two different lines of thought with it. Number one, I'm not the rockstar, man. If you want to talk about who the rockstar is, it's Jesus. So, it's not about me, it's about Him. I wanted to just lay the case out there and be like, "Hey, let me tell you what a rockstar is." I just went right into it with laying the case for how that's who we should glorify. Not me. Then another line of thought in that song was that, [throughout] my whole life, I was told that the electric guitar was an instrument of the devil. [JFH (Michael): Oh yeah.] And that, in being involved in rock'n'roll music, you couldn't be a Christian. You couldn't bring glory and honor to Christ and to God. So I had a conflict because of that spiritual abuse. I had a conflict that I really wrestled with my whole life because I had this hole in my soul that pulled me closer to God whenever I would play music-- and rock'n'roll music and electric guitar--but then I would feel this guilt and this shame and this condemnation because of how I was lied to and told that it was of the devil. I had this conflict, so I think in writing this song, too, it was to erase that conflict. That I CAN glorify Christ through a rock'n'roll song. I CAN be a Christian and a rock'n'roll singer. I CAN spread the message of Christ through rock'n'roll music. It was resolving that conflict within me. It was basically those two issues that inspired that song.
Scott: *laughing* Exactly! That's just the old Pentecostal/Church of God [church] back in the day.
Scott: Yeah. I couldn't even listen to Stryper in my house. I love those guys. I love that song "To Hell With the Devil." They love the Lord and they've been doing it for years and that record was "satanic" in my home solely because of the electric guitars. I'm glad the church has grown from that.
Scott: I just announced my tour last week. You can check it out on my Facebook page and ScottStapp.com. I start in March and I'm doing a U.S., smaller venue, tour on my first run. Then I'll be headed over to Europe and the rest of the world. So, all of the touring starts in March.
Scott: You know what? I love Brett. Brett Hestla. He and I wrote a song together back in the day called "Brother of Mine." [JFH (Michael): Love it! Love it.] I remember we wrote that in the basement, but it was more of a balcony basement; kind of a loft in my house in Orlando. He came over and we spent a couple of days and wrote that song. I love Brett, and over the years with me moving to Maui and getting married and having kids and just living elsewhere than Orlando, we fell out of touch. He's a brilliant and talented artist and a great guy. I have nothing but love and good things to say about him.
Scott: Under the current circumstances… No, it's not going to work. Let me tell you why. Right now, Mark has basically said to me, "If you don't use the producer that I want to use - I'm not making a record with you. If you don't perform on stage the way I want you to perform - I don't want to do anything with you. If you don't use Alter Bridge's manager and business manager - I don't want to work with you. And if you don't change the way we've structured the royalties and the finances on the songs that you and I wrote, Scott - I'm not going to work with you." And basically he said, "If you just don't do everything 100% my way," then he doesn't want to do it. I can't do that, man. You know? I want to be an artist. I want things to be as they've always been which is: Mark and I write the songs and I get to express creative thoughts and that we make mutual decisions. I can't be in a situation that's turned into a dictatorship where I'm told that if you don't do everything my way then get away from me. That's basically what's been told to me. [JFH (Michael): Wow…] Even to the point of, "I don't want you walking on certain areas of the stage. I don't want you to have a cat walk because I don't want you out in front of me." Just all of these limitations and all of these rules and all of these, "If you don't do this, then I'm outta here," demands have been put on me. I've tried my best, brother, to be a Christian and do what I feel the Lord is wanting me to do and I just felt in my heart that it became an unhealthy situation. I love those guys and I pray from them every day and wish them the best, but until Creed gets back to a mutual respect between Mark and I -- and not Mark telling me all these things I can and can't do or he's going to walk -- it's not going to happen.
Scott: Yeah, man. And you know what? I really feel in the bottom of my heart that I'm doing exactly what God wants me to do with my life right now. When some doors close, -- I know it's a cliché -- but God opens a window. He's just opened a ton of them. He's just parting the seas in terms of where He's leading me and guiding me in my life and in my career. There are issues that go back to every major rock band in history between the guitar player and the singer in terms of one or the other wanting everything to be about them. I can't control how the world accepts bands and the role of how front men seem to get a little more attention than the other guys. I can't control that. If I could make it equal, brother, I'd do it in a heartbeat, but you can't work with someone who says, "You need to do this, or I'm out. You can't walk here on stage. You can't perform this way. You can't do this." I can't do that. I don't think that the Lord would require me to do that.
Scott: Well, I'll tell you. The best way is to let your life do the talking. I've never done THIS before. This is the first time that I've been down this road in my life publicly and privately. It's my first. My first time in my life where I'm in recovery, where I'm sober, where I'm walking my walk with Christ and I'm trying to do what that calls for me to do in my life. These are firsts for me in everything. Any message that I have for anyone out there is, "Don't give up. Hold on to Jeremiah 29:11. God wouldn't take us this far in our lives, when we're trying to live for Him, to turn His back on us. Just hold on for another day," and that's what I believe every day.
Scott: That's it, brother. Thank you so much for your time. I really appreciate it.
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