The day after staying up until 3 a.m. to work on his solo debut, Scott Stapp listens to the raw recordings, laughs and says, “Wow, what was I thinking with that verse?”
The laughter should come as no surprise: Stapp has a sense of humor — about himself, his journey with Creed, his strict childhood and his religious beliefs.
Also, contrary to his bigger-than-life, rock-star image, he is a goofball — he will get up in a karaoke bar and sing a Prince song, complete with falsetto, while people boo him. And he loves to share the spotlight — with his new band and especially with his 7-year-old son, Jagger. “He’s much much cooler than me,” Stapp says. “Jagger will come onstage and tear it up.”
Stapp calls “The Great Divide,” released Nov. 22 via Wind-up Records, a true expression of himself. But the problem he faces is that most people at radio and retail don’t know who Stapp is; they just know Creed.
“Listeners think it’s the new Creed record,” says JJ Morgan, PD at KFBZ Wichita, Kan., says of the reaction to the title track. “They don’t necessarily know the name [Scott Stapp], but they know he’s the voice of Creed.”
That’s not surprising, given that Creed sold more than 30 million albums between its start in 1995 and 2004, when the band officially called it quits.
Radio support has been mixed, pushing the track only to No. 20 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks chart and No. 35 on the Adult Top 40 list. “People seem to have some sort of preconceived notion about Scott Stapp,” WRQC Fort Myers, Fla., PD Lance Hale says, “and it’s not positive.”
Maybe the fans have yet to forgive Stapp for mumbling lyrics and rolling on the ground during a Creed show in Chicago in December 2002. Some Creed fans were so disappointed that they filed a class-action lawsuit, which was dismissed in 2003.
Stapp remembers that show well. In 2002, he injured his back in a car crash. Around the same time he developed a nodule on his vocal chord. To keep touring, Stapp says, a “rock’n’roll” doctor prescribed him the anti-inflammatory steroid Prednisone.
“I thought they were trying to help me,” he says. “I was in a lot of pain. I didn’t find out until months later, when I was bloated and losing my mind, that the Prednisone was killing me.” (The doctor who prescribed the drug to Stapp has since lost his license.)
That was the Stapp who lay on the ground during that Chicago show. Perception is a funny thing, he says.
The audience thought they saw a man giving up on them. But Stapp says what he saw was the world giving up on him.
“I asked the band, ‘Do you have my back?’ I asked my business associates in the audience, ‘Do you have my back?’ I felt no one had my back. That’s why I laid down on my back. I sang the rest of the song with all my might, because I’d never let the fans down. I felt alone.”
With “The Great Divide,” Stapp says he has once again channeled his darkest moments into rock songs.
Stapp also invests his spirituality into his work. In fact, his first solo outing was “Relearn Love,” a track he recorded for “The Passion of the Christ: Songs,” a collection inspired by Mel Gibson’s 2004 film.
“I am a Christian. But isn’t all music, all art, spiritual?” he says. “I don’t have an agenda in my music to make people believe what I believe. I’m just sharing my life experiences.”
Additional reporting by Joy Mitchell.