Scott Stapp is a name that once commanded respect in the music industry. When Creed was at its highest and most celebrated point with its singles, “Higher,” “With Arms Wide Open,” and “My Sacrifice” at the top of the charts, Scott Stapp was on top of the world. Unfortunately, it all came crumbling down. He even admits that he was a laughing stock and his name was made into a joke.
In those moments, the world was a very dark and unwelcoming place for Scott Stapp. His mind was clouded with drugs and alcohol but he finally hit his bottom and started to fight his way out. His second solo album, Proof of Life was released at the end of 2013 and it shows both the rock ballads that are the epitome of Scott Stapp’s sound and a harder side. The hard and angry tracks take us, as listeners, through the darkness that he fought his way out of. Those same tracks prove that Stapp is still here, still alive, and still fighting to gain back the respect he once had.
It’s never easy to overcome addiction and, for some, they never want to talk about it. For Stapp, however, his book, Sinner’s Creed and his newest album were a release of the pain and isolating moments of his life that were created by his addictions.
Scott Stapp took a few minutes from his busy schedule to talk to Pop-Break about the long, arduous and painful journey that led him to where he is today. He talks about what it was like to see people turn his art and music into a joke and how his newest music is a step away from that pain and a step towards a world in which he is clearheaded and truly experiencing life.
Pop-Break: First and foremost, I want to start with the new album that you released at the end of last year. Congratulations on Proof of Life. I can tell that it’s really a passion project. So, for you, was it hard to write or record songs that were so personal?
Scott Stapp: I think I was really ready to let this stuff go. I wrote a book in 2012 called Sinner’s Creed and really, that was a process and a journey of self-discovery for me to make sense and organize and finally look at my life, see how I got to where I was at that point and then. I think, in going through that process honestly and not pulling any punches and candy coating things as it pertains to myself and my weaknesses and my mistakes and my role, I realized that all these things that I thought I had made such a mess of in my life.
They began to have new purpose and I began to see a message in that, in sharing my experiences, understanding my platform and understanding being at that place in my life. I’m aware of everything, it’s not all a whirlwind. I thought this stuff is inside of me and I’m just going to let it out because I really think I have a story to tell and I just want to put it out there. The record was kind of like the final chapter to my book, like the soundtrack to my book so it wasn’t difficult for me. It was freeing. It was liberating.
PB: Well, as you listen to this album, you get the feeling that there are two different feelings to it, so I want to talk about a song that I perceive is from each side. First, can you kind of take us a bit through “Slow Suicide,” what it was like to write that and the mindset behind it.
SS: I think it was important for me, with that song, to just address some of the negativity and the things that were coming at me as well as the choices, poor choices, that I had made during a tough period in my life and then acknowledge what I learned from it and call it what it was. I think coming right out with that first line, “I’m not evil no matter what you think of me,” I definitely intended that to confront how I had been made to feel for simply, in my opinion, just being human. But I also can’t play victim with that. It’s taking responsibility but also, that’s what rock ‘n’ roll is all about, it’s got that defiant stance as it opens up but then epiphany comes where I realize what I was doing and that I couldn’t let life pass me by anymore because it’s going to be gone. Here I am, making my second solo record and I have a 15 year old son, a seven year old daughter and a three year old boy and I’m 40 years old which, I still feel young and whatnot, but man, where’d the last 20 years go.
PB: I understand.
SS: And that’s going to happen again, I guarantee it. But this time I want to enjoy every bit of it and I want to be aware. I don’t want those dark days, especially ones that are self- inflicted.
PB: The album just has so much power behind it, especially with a song like that you can really feel it. Now, kind of on the flip side, one of the other vibes I got from the album I really wanted to focus on is the title track, “Proof of Life.” It’s rather apparent that it was written in a different vein than “Slow Suicide.”
PB: Why did you go with that as the title track?
SS: Because not only does the song sonically and as it’s written just define and epitomize my brand of a rock song, I would say “Proof of Life” is my identity in a rock song, it’s a Scott Stapp rock song.
PB: You can hear that.
SS: And I think that, the other reason is because I went through a period in my life where I thought I had wasted everything and I had blown everything and I was a failure and I was stupid and I was just really down, and I got to a place in my life where I was like, “Come on God, it can’t all be for nothing.” When I began to say and think that way, that’s when I began to realize that taking those experiences and those journeys and those stories and sharing them was almost raising that dead part of my life and bringing it to life. Almost like I had been held captive and I was a prisoner and a hostage to those dark times. But this record was proof that it mattered and that there was something to learn from it. I could share that. A lot of people wrote me off. A lot of people. There were even rumors that I was dead for a while and I very well was. I was in a dark place and so the third prong to that is the confidence coming back but a healthy confidence, a humble confidence saying hey, this is my proof of life. I’m not dead yet. Don’t write me off.
PB: That’s amazing.
SS: So it’s all three of those in one.
PB: You describe the message and what you’ve been through and the light of it all through your album and now you’re also touring. How is that different for you, presenting the material live?
SS: It’s been liberating because every night I see and hear from the fans and the audience that they’re right there with me. Their lives have had times where they have felt this way and at some level it’s connecting. It’s almost like we’re all in there just singing at the top of our lungs like, “Hey man we’re human beings and this is life and we’re singing about it and it’s okay.” It’s empowering.
PB: It sounds like an amazing feeling.
SS: It really, really is. I’m really blessed and fortunate right now in my life with this record and with my fans and how they are feeling it. And then me, being back to myself and being clear and not numb where I can recognize this, having the maturity to love and appreciate it and be so grateful for it; I think that’s what that eight year dark period in my life, I think that is what it was meant to do. It was meant to get me back to that. It didn’t have to be that difficult but I made it that way. If I would have learned the right lessons and grown emotionally, spiritually and as a human being a different way, I wouldn’t have had to go to those dark places. But your bottom is when you decide to stop digging and I kept digging and digging and digging for a while.
PB: But you got out!
SS: Yeah! I did and it was also tough. I enabled others to make a mockery out of me, a joke out of me, which was tough to deal with. I care so much about my art, my poetry, and my writing, and my expression as an artist and I finally earned that respect by the public and by the music industry. Then I feel like it was all just wiped away and I was just a laughing stock. That hurt, man, and it really got to me but the way I look at it is: I needed that to grow as a human being and then also to appreciate the gift and the blessing that I have to do what I do. How else are you supposed to think about it? If you don’t put a positive spin on things in life then you’re just going to beat yourself into depression and just want to end it all. So that’s my new philosophy. Everything, I just try to look at the positive and go, well, you know, I guess this happened for a reason. What do I need to learn here? It helps me navigate through life a lot easier.
PB: Absolutely. And I think this album really shows that and I think that it’s going to help a lot of other people get into that mindset as well.
SS: Yeah, thanks!
PB: Well, you have the new music and you have had a career that has spanned a very long time. What song are you most proud of?
SS: Wow. What song am I most proud of? Man, you know what? That’s like asking me to pick out of my three kids, which one do I love the most or am most proud of. I’m going to try! You know what, I can’t tell you. It could change like every thirty minutes depending on what mood I’m in. You know what I mean?
SS: Awesome. Well, you know, I’m really, right now, out of all my records, Creed and solo, right now I am the most proud of Proof of Life and then the Weathered album would be a close second.
PB: See you came up with an answer! Well I think you have to be a firm believer in that everything happens for a reason to get you where you are. If you could go back and give yourself one bit of advice though, what would it have been?
SS: One piece of advice? Wow. Probably say no to drugs and alcohol. I know that’s cliché and whatnot but that’s what really took me down and really interfered with my entire life. I thought, just being in a rock and roll band, that’s what I was supposed to do. We were just four college dudes and we looked at our rock shows at that point in time, although we really cared about the music and the crafting of the music and how it was written, the show was a party and the party lasted after the show. We were in college and that’s what we did and we carried it out and it caught up with me. So if I could have learned to have fun responsibly and not let it impact me as a human being and then my music, that’s definitely something I would do all over again.
PB: Well people who are new rockers and just making a name for themselves, they are just experiencing ego and that rockstar lifestyle for the first time, what would you tell them?
SS: Oh man. I would tell them don’t take anything for granted because it can all go away in an instant.
PB: Well that’s all I’ve got, do you have any other message you want to get out there?
SS: I just want to encourage the readers that, if they don’t already have the new record, take a chance on it because I think they won’t be disappointed.
Scott Stapp will perform at The Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, NJ on Saturday, April 5. To purchase tickets, click here.