In April, Creed announced that all four of its original members -- Scott Stapp, Mark Tremonti, Scott Phillips and Brian Marshall -- are back together for a summer tour and a new album, entitled "Full Circle," to be released this fall.
On paper, the band looks ripe for a reunion: its 1997 debut, "My Own Prison," sold more than 6 million copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan. 1999's"Human Clay" was certified diamond for sales in excess of 10 million copies, according to the RIAA, and Creed's last studio album, 2001's "Weathered," sold 6 million-plus.
But despite all this, ticket sales for Creed's new tour, which begins Aug. 6 in Pittsburgh, have ranged from "mixed" to "disaster," depending on whom one speaks to and, to be fair, depending on whether one is involved in the tour. Has the band been gone long enough to inspire real nostalgia?
Billboard sat down with frontman Scott Stapp and guitarist Mark Tremonti to talk about how it feels to be reunited, what the new album sounds like and why they're determined to give fans their money's worth on the road.
What was it like when the band started playing again for the first time?
Scott Stapp: We were all in my studio at home, and we didn't know what to do right off the bat. So I was like, "Let's just go back to the beginning." We played "My Own Prison" and it was like we hadn't missed a beat. In fact, we played it better than ever. After that a new song came out within 15-20 minutes called "Full Circle."
Creating music together is the easy part for this band. It's all the other things involved in the business of rock and roll that can pull us all away from what we love to do most, which is write music and play live.
How has Creed's songwriting process evolved?
Through reflection and maturity we've learned to listen more to each other, speak less. Back in the day it was defined as, "You play guitar and I do melodies and lyrics, and we talk about arrangements together." We had a "stay in your lane" mentality. It's good to be in a place where I can pick up a guitar and play something and Mark [Tremonti] genuinely is interested in hearing that. If he's got a melody idea, I'm all for it.
What is the band's dynamic like now?
When we started jamming together again, there were definite moments I was looking at Mark playing and his eyes were closed, and I was like, "Man!" I'm honored to be a part of this collaboration with someone whose playing is so real, you can hear it in his fingers. Flip [Scott Phillips] and Brian [Marshall], they bring something so unique and special to the songs that we write. Outside of playing drums, Flip plays guitar and saxophone, and he really is starting to get an ear and feel for arrangement -- which he may have always had, but never expressed. It's awesome to bounce stuff off of him now. And Brian's just a 100%, born-to-be bass player. I feel very, very fortunate and blessed to be able to be with these artists right now, making this record.
What does the new material sound like?
The music that's coming out is just straight from the heart and covers the whole gamut of human emotion and social relevance. At times it's very brooding and deep, but a glimmer of hope pokes its head out. And then there are the just straight-up, frustrated rock 'n' roll songs, the aggressive, heavier tunes. As a lot of artists mature and get older, I notice that they shy away from that. I don't know why. The more records we make, it seems, the more intense and heavy we get.
What are some of the highlights on the album?
"Full Circle" is the title track. It's got a big rock 'n' roll chorus: [sings] "It's funny how times can change, rearrange, distance makes the pain fade away." We have some more intense songs like "Bread Of Shame," with heavy guitar riffs. There's another song called "A Thousand Faces" where I sing, "Now I'm forced to look behind, forced to look at you, you wear a thousand faces, tell me, tell me which is you."
Take our album "Weathered" that's about polarity, so to speak -- going from bullets to lullabies. Look at that and imagine six years of life and experience and growth, mentally, emotionally, spiritually and artistically. Everything's a little bit more dramatic in every area, and we're pushing the boundaries. This band's not afraid to do anything.
What are your expectations for the new album and tour?
I really feel that everything's going to work out alright when we get this music out and let the fans know. We have a lot to prove to ourselves, to each other, and most importantly to them. After this tour and the record, I think it's just going to grow. I just gotta believe the best is yet to come. If we have the opportunity to go out and play our songs, there's a niche out there for us, and it's going to be a combination of the fans who liked us based on the last three records and also a whole new generation of fans. I don't want to let any of them down.