Billed as "Scott Stapp, the Voice of Creed," the upcoming tour is is so much more than a time travelling music show. Stapp has had his highs - a Grammy award for "With Arms Wide Open" - and his lows - a well-publicized battle with addiction, but he is about to reclaim his spot in rock with another round of highs. He has matured musically, emotionally, and spiritually. His love of family and God are evident in his new music. Maybe the promoters missed a step when they failed to bill this tour as "Scott Stapp, the Proof of Life" tour. Scott recently spent a little of his free-time chatting about the disc, the tour, his rise and fall, and his tempur-pedic pillow...
Todd: Scott, Todd here. Are you ready for this interview?
Scott: Yes. How are you?
Todd: Good, good. Yourself?
Scott: Doing good, man. Just enjoying the weather down here in Florida. Praying for those in the snowstorm.
Todd: I'm up here in Michigan so we got our share of it, but not quite like how they're getting hit everywhere else.
Scott: Yes. You guys know how to handle it.
Todd: (laughs) We like to think so anyway. Well, listen man, first of all, let me say, it's truly an honor and a pleasure and I really appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedule for us today. This has been an interview I wanted for a long time so I really appreciate you taking time.
Scott: No problem, man. Thank you for those words.
Todd: Let's jump into it. Proof of Life has just blown up. It's a disc that takes your life journey over the last years and really puts it out there for the public. Is this something that as you finished this up, that was the goal?
Scott: I think it most definitely was, especially after writing my book and going through that process and really at a place in my life where I had to make a commitment to really be honest with myself when looking at myself and my evaluation and really going through a journey. And change, which I think we all do at various times in our lives. With what I was commentating on in the lyrics to this album and what this album was expressing, is the candor and the clarity and the confrontation that's required for a proper self-evaluation, and then really just sharing what I learned through that process. I feel good getting it off my chest because I went through a period of my life where I went through some dark times and kind of when I woke up out of this whirlwind and really saw the damage that had been done I kind of had a feeling like, God, did any of this matter? What's my purpose? Where do I go from here? What do I do now? Was it all wasted time? During that process when I realized I could take that dark period and that negativity and that mess, so to speak, and it could become a message, I could be this change that had taken place in my life and I could be proud of my journey, not want to go on it again, it's definitely not something to glamorize, but definitely share what I learned, and also honestly reflect on myself and where I'm at. I really feel like I did that with this album Proof of Life.
Todd: This album's very personal, especially the lead single, "Slow Suicide." How easy was it for you with the forethought and knowledge that you just talked about, to actually put these songs that are so personal out there. Were there any second thoughts about doing it?
Scott: No, there were and are no second thoughts. But one thing that Howard Benson brought to my attention, which I think was critical, was right before I started really hunkering down and going to write this record, he said, "Scott, I want you to try something different." He's a friend of mine so he knew the journey I was on. He said, "That same candor and that same clarity that I've seen you develop in our conversations as friends and as you've been going through your journey and calling me and when we're at coffee, use that in your lyrics." He pointed out to me that I was always brutally honest in my lyrics but because I didn't have any answers and because I was in search of answers to big questions and still learning about life, I left things open-ended. I used a lot of metaphor and analogy and room for interpretation and kind of painted pictures and ideas. There were moments of direct candor but he really challenged me that in this entire process to try to avoid that and try to get concise and speak directly to the point of what I was trying to say because this record is talking about answers, is talking about commentary on the life that you've led. So you come to some sort of answer. I came to answers after getting to the end of this journey. So there was no room to use analogy, metaphor and really dig into that poetic posture that I had taken throughout my whole career, especially for this record. Now that's not to say I won't going forward because that's a liberty and we don't want to keep ourselves in boundaries, but I needed to establish that boundary and I'm glad Howard brought it to my attention for what I was trying to accomplish with the lyrics for this record.
Todd: That being said, were there any of these songs that just didn't come out as easy as you thought they might, lyrically? Any of these songs that just fought you during the process?
Scott: You know what? To be honest with you, all of them. Because I think it's human nature and it's so easy to kind of dance around things when we're doing honest reflection and throw it out there and it makes it more difficult when you're just pointing a finger right at yourself and when you're saying, "This is how it is and you know it." At least it was for me. So in learning to get honest, and I've always been honest, but just direct, to the point, with clarity, it was a difficult process early on because for my first five records I was in such a pattern of using that artistic liberty of poetry and innuendo, metaphor and analogy, that was changing a pattern. So just like I was having to change idiosyncrasies and patterns and behaviors that I had developed in my personal life, Howard wanted me to take that same approach to my songwriting and break patterns. Do things differently this time. That's always tough to get outside your comfort zone, and without questioning yourself and in my mind I would say a lot of times, "I can say this better." Then I would say it in a much more profound, poetic way and Howard would say to me, "No, I liked it better simple because it was direct, concise and it's all there." It was challenging but I think once I really got into a roll then it just became natural. Because I think once we do decide 100% to be that way in our lives, once we get on that roll, we can do it.
Todd: Having read through Sinner's Creed and now listening to this album, it's almost like it's an accompaniment. It's the accompanying soundtrack to that. Is that how you felt going through the process?
Scott: After the fact, most definitely. When I was writing the book I definitely started from day one when I was a child and went through my entire life. I think that it just naturally began to impact my music and where my sources of inspiration were coming from. As I was on this journey and self-discovery, which I think everyone should do, man. You don't even have to have a book publisher. I didn't even start off to write a book. I sat down and wrote, Hey, my name was Anthony Scott Flippen, I was born August 8, 1973 at Orlando Regional Medical Center, and I went from there. It was really good to kind of get it all out and get it down and not pull any punches and make sure it was the exact way that it was so I could finally have clarity. As I was finding resolution in my mind and tying up the loose ends to my life and the experiences and how I saw life at this point, the songs were being born. It definitely is a soundtrack to the process of kind of turning from that worm, getting into a cocoon and then becoming a butterfly.
Todd: Very cool. It's good to see that someone who has had effect on so many people can actually be so brutally honest. Not only with themselves, but with the public. It's nice to see out and just as a side note.
Scott: Well, thank you. My fans over the years had appreciated and told me many times they appreciated my honesty in my lyrics but what I noticed too was they always had a lot of questions. I spent my whole life with questions. At this point in my life and based on the experiences that I had gone through I finally had some answers. I felt I owed that, to not only myself but to the fans of my music because I think they're beginning to get into that same place in their life if they haven't already gotten there. You know what I mean? I really felt like they expected me to do that. They expected me to grow up.
Todd: And you've certainly done that. If anybody hasn't taken the opportunity to listen to this album yet, they're a fool.
Scott: Wow, thank you.
Todd: Let's shift gears a little bit. You're getting ready to take this out on the road.
Todd: To spread the gospel, for lack of better words. Personally I'm very excited. Here in Flint, Michigan we're going to see you guys up at the world famous Machine Shop (http://www.themachineshop.info). But how are you approaching this tour, not so much different than a Creed tour, but even like the last tour, for the Great Divide, where I saw you here in Michigan. But how are you approaching this tour different than that.
Scott: I tell you, being in much different place in my life and I'm really preparing like I never have before in my entire career. I run 5-7 miles a day. I practice and work on my instrument and my singing and my guitar playing every day and really am preparing to deliver my catalog and this new record like it should be. I'm at this place, man, where authenticity is so important to me and so important to my survival as a human being, to maintain my good sense of self and purpose that I pour my heart and soul into this to do it right. In the past I guess I could kind of fly by the seat of my pants with just youth and raw talent but as I've gotten older I'm realizing that I'm still young and I can do it better. I feel like I'm doing things and performing and singing better than I ever have and I want my body and my mind and my spirit to be prepared properly for it. I'm really looking forward to the most on point, energetic rock and roll show I've ever done in my life. At least, that's my goal.
Todd: Right. I don't doubt that because I actually spoke to Chad Szeliga (read this interview HERE) and if I wasn't convinced listening to the album that you weren't on top of your game, he would have convinced me. He is behind you more than most people.
Scott: Yes, I love Chad and he's become a dear friend. It's good for me man, and I'm so blessed, and I just thank God I'm so grateful every day. Sometimes we go through these different challenges in our lives and we don't know what God has in store and what the end is and in learning, for me, to let go and just surrender, I really did a lot of praying, man, and just trying to get the right people in my life and he's one of them. He has this passion and this drive and this hunger and he loves the music and we even have a creative chemistry. That's a relationship that's going to be going on a long time and I'm excited to have him as a part of the band.
Todd: That's awesome. Speaking of this tour, as you're getting ready to hit the road and you look around the room or your house, what are those things that you think to yourself, I can't leave home without this?
Scott: (laughs) I tell you what, I've been made fun of my entire career by my buddies. They've busted my chops because they say I don't leave enough at home. I would carry five bags and all kinds of stuff. Now I've learned to travel light but I tell you what, one of the most important things that I could ever bring on the road with me, aside from my wife and my kids when they can come, is my Tempur-pedic pillow. I got to have it, man. Sleep is so important to me and one of my new addictions is the Tempur-pedic pillows and stuff, so that's a definite requirement outside of my wife and my kids.
Todd: Okay. If a fan got a hold of your phone or your iPad or your iPod, which album on there would they be most surprised with?
Scott: Wow. Probably a few, probably a bunch. The Jackson 5. Donny Hathaway Live, A Song For You. Otis Redding's Greatest Hits. Some people might not expect that to be in my playlist. Jay-Z, Eminem.
Todd: A little Detroit in there, I like that. Well, cool. As you're ramping up for this tour, can we expect to hear the Creed songs? More importantly, I'm one of those guys that went out and bought one of those two million copies of The Great Divide, are we going to hear stuff from beginning to end of the Scott Stapp discography?
Scott: Most definitely. I'm planning on doing at least three to four songs off each of my records, not including Proof of Life in its entirety.
Todd: You're going to do that in its entirety on this tour?
Scott: Right now I'm planning on it. I'm planning on playing all the songs of my new record and like I said, three to four songs off all my previous records. It may end up being three off my previous five records; that's fifteen songs plus this eleven. It's looking like twenty-six, twenty-seven songs. If they will allow me to play that long.
Todd: That's a great set.
Scott: Because I really feel like the fans at this point who come out, I want to make them happy, dude. I know that there are fans that are going to want to hear some songs off My Own Prison. I know there are fans that want to hear some songs off The Great Divide. I know there are fans that want to hear songs off Human Clay and Weathered. I would feel like I let them down If I didn't give them that when they pay their hard-earned money to come see me play. So, yes, I'm a purist in a sense that I want to play my new record and I want to say, "Hey, this is who I am today," but also who I was in the past is part of who I am today. I think I have a real great opportunity to put together a real amazing journey through the musical catalog to the present which I think clearly is going to connect, man, and make it a pretty rocking show.
Todd: Speaking of the journey, who made you want to pick up a microphone and do this, Scott?
Scott: I tell you, I think it may sound cliché, but I tell you what, when I was a kid there was something about Elvis Presley. I remember being four or five years old and jumping on my mom and dad's bed. It was actually just my mom. I remember her playing some Elvis records and I used to tell her, because the way I would see her face light up, I guess, and the way how excited she got when she would sing the songs, and I told her I wanted to be like Elvis. After that, believe it or not, Def Leppard had a huge impact on me, U2 had a huge impact on me, and then Jim Morrison, as everybody knows. I got the opportunity to sing in third grade because I was in trouble and I was in the principal's office, and the music teacher just happened to be in there and she asked the principal, what was I doing in her office? She explained to her that I was having a hard time not being the class clown and trying to make everybody laugh and disruptive. She goes, "Let me bring him with me. Is it okay if he comes to chorus?" So I went with her and there were kids there and she asked me to sing some of my favorite songs that were on the radio and I did because I just, I don't know, it was just natural. From that moment on I had every male lead solo in the school play and it was off from there.
Todd: Awesome. Incredible how much of an affect a teacher can have on a child's life.
Scott: It changed my life, it saved my life. I can look back at many times in my life where if it wasn't for music, I don't know where I'd be. I definitely know in my spiritual life that music is a conduit between me and my relationship with God. It's just a deep part of my soul at every level.
Todd: Any chance Somewhere in the Middle of Lust and Love is ever going to see the light of day?
Scott: I tell you, only one song off that record made it onto Proof of Life. That's "Who I Am.' Because Who I Am probably epitomized the person who wrote Between Lust and Love. Those songs I'm sure will see the light of day on B-sides, releases, or movie soundtracks or what not, I've got so much interest from the fans wanting to hear those songs and so I'm definitely going to record those and put them out in some way.
Todd: I can only imagine how strong songs written by Scott Stapp and Desmond Child are.
Scott: It is definitely a different feel than this album. Because I was still in the middle of the darkness, man. Still battling the demons back and forth. It's kind of like that space in life and time, you know, exactly what you hear the title say, Somewhere in the Middle of Lust and Love, that's exactly where I was. So the songs are kind of on both sides. Come from the influence of both of those words. Proof of Life is definitely inspired after reaching the side of love on a regular basis.
Todd: That's great. I've got two more for you, if you don't mind, before I cut you loose.
Scott: Yes, no problem.
Todd: If you could go back through the history of music and be a part of any one song or album, what would it be?
Scott: I would love to be a part of U2's "The Joshua Tree." That song was, in my opinion, it had some divine moments that really just, I would have loved. I'd love to be a part of that, most definitely.
Todd: Great choice. Well, finally, you've given us your Proof of Life but according to Scott Stapp in 2014, what's the meaning of life?
Scott: Love, man. I know that's cliche and I know it's general, but it's the truth. In falling in love with what real love is, as it was shown to me by Jesus Christ, it's changed my life, and it's changed how I love and in everything that's wrong with me, which there are a million things, it gives me a new frame of reference to try to continue to grow from, at every area and in every area of my life, man.
Todd: Very cool. Listen, Scott, I really again, I can't thank you enough for this, I appreciate it, and I cannot wait to see you tear the roof off of the Machine Shop in Flint, Michigan on March 29 when you're touring to support Proof Of Life.
Scott: Oh, yes. Looking forward to it, brother. Make sure you come say hi to me at the show.
Todd: I will. Appreciate it, Scott.
Scott: No problem, man.
Todd: Again, we will definitely say hi on March 29 in Flint.
Scott: Awesome man, well hey, thank you for your time brother, and I appreciate it. Great questions.
Todd: All right man, we'll talk to you soon.
Scott: All right. Bye-bye.