Scott Stapp on God, and Why Creed are Like Led Zeppelin

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Love him or hate him, Scott Stapp has one of those over-the-top personas that seem part and parcel of being a rock star. Best known as the leader of Creed, Stapp's deep, bellowing vocals helped that band reach massive popular heights in the late '90s and early 2000s. During that time, Stapp became embroiled in various sexual and alcohol-related situations.

These days, however, Stapp is sober and highly spiritual. His second solo album, 2013's Proof of Life, has done well on Christian radio and Stapp remains very committed to a number of charities. Speaking from his home in Florida and in anticipation of Wednesday's show at the House of Blues, Stapp spoke with DC9 about how even his darkest days helped prepare him for the better man he would become.

It's been a while since you came through our area. Have your experiences here always been positive?

Dallas has always been awesome. The city has always been great to me. I remember a show there in 1997. I've had some of my best shows in Dallas all through the years. The fans there have continued to support me and every album I've done.

Creed seemed to be quite a divisive band. It was always a love it or hate it proposition. The band was embraced by the public, but always got some very negative reviews. Why do you think that is?

I think that happens with bands that have tremendous success. You have people that love the band and you have people that hate it because it became instantly popular. They think that it is uncool to like the band. The same thing happened to Nickelback. It is something that happens in rock and roll. It happened to Led Zeppelin. When they released their first couple of albums, Rolling Stone said they were the worst band ever. Now, you will probably hear praise of Led Zeppelin as the god of rock and roll music. It's funny how things happen and turn around.

When you were young, you rebelled against religion and your Pentecostal father. Now, you've come full circle and embraced Christianity. What fostered that turnaround?

I definitely think that becoming a Christian and making that decision when I was young planted that seed in me. I decided to discover that truth for myself and find it later in life. I went out and learned the hard lessons that I was warned about in the church. It became that time. It was just in me since I was young and something I had never abandoned. I just wrestled with it. I had a lot of questions, something a lot of people do when they go off to college. In their 20s, they kind of want to figure out what they believe in. You have things you want to figure out. I had that conviction in my heart that I knew there was a God. That stayed with me.

You have the No. 1 record on the Christian radio charts. Could you ever have envisioned that when you were in Creed?

You know, at that point in time in my life, my dreams and my goals were much different. I was trying to distance myself from that in my professional life. I didn't know that the two could come together. Looking back at it now and being in this position now, it makes sense. Some of my favorite bands growing up were Christian rock bands. That was the only music I could listen to in my home. Looking at it now, with everything that has happened in my life, it makes sense. It's probably where I belong.

Did your embrace of Christianity coincide with your sobriety?

Oh no, I've always been a Christian. No matter what my struggles and doubts were, no matter what problems I was facing, I still was a Christian, I still believed in Christ. I had that faith. I didn't always live it. I wanted to experience things and learn the hard way. I wanted to figure things out myself. Being sober has definitely enabled me with clarity to finally assess my life and how I want to live it, what works and what doesn't. I was always a Christian. I think there is a misconception out there where people think that if you are a Christian, you are perfect. And I think there are a lot of Christians out there who would agree with me. It's definitely something to attempt to be better people and be more Christ like. We all have times in our lives where we don't necessarily live like we believe. We strive to be better. I went through that period and I am sure, at various levels, it will never be like it was in my 20s. I'll wander off and learn on this journey. I think that is a part of what a Christian is all about. For years, Christians and preachers in the '80s were put up on such pedestals. When they made mistakes, like every man does, it was a big black eye for the Christian community. I think it is sad when things happen that way. That is not how it should be represented. I think that Christianity and Christ came for those who are fully flawed. We are in need of a savior to help us navigate through life. That is exactly how I am and I think that is how the average Christian is as well.

You've given millions of dollars to various charities. It that about making amends for your past by walking the walk as a spiritual person?

Growing up as a kid, I was poor. My mom had to support three kids on her own with a $90 a week salary. We were on food stamps and welfare. I struggled to have a pair of tennis shoes. When I found some success and I had some money, I just felt that I wanted to help kids who were like me when I was little. Now, I know the church talks about giving and helping to take care of the poor and I am sure that's where the seed was planted in me. My initial desire, however, was because I had lived it; I was there. I wanted to do something for other kids who were like me.

The music of Creed continues to be used in movies and other formats decades after it was recorded. Why do you think it has resonated so well?

I can give you my opinion of why I think it has stood the test of time. I think, number one, it's kind of a symbol of rock and roll music. Rock and roll has a timeless appeal to it. That's part of Creed's influence upon classic rock music. It implants something in your DNA, a certain timelessness. We approached songwriting by sticking to a more traditional sound with more depth content-wise. One of the reasons that we have stood the test of time is that was our goal. People who didn't get us and may have been on the opposite side of the fence, those Creed haters. It's funny. I've seen so many stories of people who have reached a certain age and all of a sudden, they hear a song and it connected with them. It's kind of cool. Creed has been out on tour the last four years all over the world. The audience never gets old. The band is getting older, but the audience doesn't age. That is just a blessing to me and all of us. The music keeps identifying with a new generation.

Will there be another Creed album?

Right now, I want to concentrate on Proof of Life, my second solo effort. I am excited to have some success with the album. I've had some success in the Christian market and on classic rock radio. I am really excited about this record and what it means in my life and the story that it tells. I think it's where I am supposed to be right now. I think when the time comes and things are right, Creed is always there for all of us. When it is the right time and it feels right. But right now, the focus is on my solo work. I hope my record fills the gap for any Creed fans out there.

You've been through sex scandals and battles with alcohol. Looking back over those times, is there anything you'd want to change?

I will give you a yes and a no answer. In some respects, I wouldn't change anything. That's part of what makes you who you are: the embarrassments and the setbacks. They all had an impact on my life. Those things, good or bad, helped me get to where I am today. Of course, there are things that I wish could have stayed skeletons in my closet. I think all of us have things that we would like to keep buried, things that only we know about. Unfortunately for me, so much of what happened to me has been exposed. I had to learn from that. I had to wonder how to turn the bad into something positive. I asked God why he let some security guard steal a video tape of me and Kid Rock when I was 22 years old. Why did you allow that to happen? What purpose did that serve? Now, the way I look at it, it did serve a purpose to a bigger story of what God has done in my life. I know what it's like to live on both sides of the fence. It turned what looked like a mess into a message.

Scott Stapp performs with Audiomouth and Exist Elsewhere on Wednesday, March 19, at the House of Blues


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