Creed-frontman and Grammy-nominated Scott Stapp has had an illustrious career, and one that also includes a handful of personal issues. There’s no need to re-hash everything that Stapp has gone through in his personal life over the years, but know that he has confronted it head on and come out the other side.
The most prominent battle that Stapp faced in his life was fighting his addiction to alcohol and other substances. Though he has started and stopped attempts to get sober for many years beginning around 2007, sobriety is something he changed back in 2014. It was a long road back to making music for Stapp, as his last released album was in 2013 with his solo album, Proof of Life, but ultimately he was able to get his life back on track and release a new album, The Space Between the Shadows, this past summer via Napalm Records.
As Stapp tells me, the journey to making music again was really put on hold for the first few years of his sobriety. “I really just put that out of my mind the first couple years, and just focused on my family, on my sobriety, on getting my feet firmly on the ground, and living life,” he explains. Recalling the numerous unsuccessful attempts at getting sober, Stapp tells me, “I had so many false starts and stops because literally one time I went straight from a [rehab] facility to band rehearsal and out on tour. No time really to spend learning to walk again, to view life in a different way, changing old behaviors and patterns, reconnecting with those I love: my wife, my family, my friends.”
For Stapp, this involved really just learning how to re-live life as a sober man. This may sound silly to someone who has never had to go through his fight, but it’s something all too real. There’s a lot to get back into, and letting our body and brain heal from years of abuse and damage. Once all of that was able to happen, then the creative juices started flowing again for Stapp. “For me, it was so important to just kinda put everything — in terms of my career — on the back burner, and just focus on my health and family. Then, that set a really good foundation for me to build on and move forward on, which I think has set me up so far for long term sobriety and a successful future.”
All of this is not said with empty words, it’s something that Stapp appreciates every day. Throughout our conversation, he emphasizes his excitement to just be discussing music again, talking about his records, to have a third single (“Survivor” — more on that later), and just a general rebirth of his life and career. “I learned so much and I’m able to now share that in stories and share those experiences, and share those thoughts and things that I’ve learned in song,” he says.
Like everyone else right now, though, Stapp is sort of just hanging out at home and making the best of his current situation. For him, self-isolation includes staying at home with his wife and three kids, and a lot of homeschooling. “My wife and I have become school teachers and I have mad respect for these teachers,” he begins to explain, “I’m blown away at trying to re-learn third grade math, which is completely different than how it was. I didn’t think you could change how math equations were done but they do it this new way and I’m like ‘…what?’ And then my sixth grade daughter I’m like ‘My gosh, did I learn this stuff in sixth grade?’”
He’s appreciating the time at home, and seeing his family more than he normally would in a normal society. While he is writing songs here and there, that’s not the majority of how he’s spending his time — and his kids are enjoying it, too. He shares a touching story of a few days prior to our conversation, he was teaching his 9 year old son (him and his wife alternate days teaching), and in the middle of teaching his son looks at him, “He goes, ‘Dad, you know what, one thing I like about this pandemic is that you’re home every day.’ And I just — oh my gosh, the things kids say. You know what I mean? It just brought a little tear to my eye, because it made me realize how much he misses me when I’m out on tour.”
Relating our current worldwide pandemic to his music, Stapp and I shift our focused topic to his latest single, “Survivor.” The day of our conversation, the visualizer for the track was dropped and that dominates the latter half of our interview. It’s a powerful track that demonstrates how far Stapp has come in his sobriety and refocusing his life. But, he also thinks the song can relate to the current state of the world, “I think that in the world we’re living in now with this pandemic and this coronavirus, I think the world has shown that survivor mentality. We have stepped up as a society, and I’ve been blown away and just humbled to see people do what they have to do to protect the vulnerable and people around them. That’s what survivors do, and I think this song really reflects the mentality that society has and why we’ve made it this far.”
But as you might have guessed, the track was never written to be related to a worldwide pandemic. In fact, a lot of the lyrics were written before Stapp had even gotten sober himself. “I’ll never forget when I was in the midst of adversity and struggle and crisis and I’m writing down in my iPhone notes ‘I’m bulletproof,’ ‘adrenalized,’ ‘burning up, ‘cauterized,’ — I’m starting to write these lyrics and I’m not even [sober] yet, but I’m writing them down as like, this is how I need to feel, this is where I want to go, this is what I’m trying to achieve, this is what I need to convince myself,” he tells me. It was positive affirmation put into writing and helped him realize what he needed to do. Since then, he acknowledges the song has taken on it’s own life and become more than just his own story.
This is something that Stapp wanted to acknowledge in the visualizer for the video, and if you haven’t seen it yet you can find it below. It’s a powerful video that illustrates just what Stapp wants to make clear: while he has overcome so much, and come out the other side, he’s not the only one to do this.
“I think there’s so many survivor stories out there, and I think the visualizer really captures that. [It] shows someone who’s holding a sign who survived cancer, the struggle of an immigrant who’s just trying to survive and start a new life, the survivors of war, the survivors of discrimination, the survivors of the Me Too movement, and abuse, and sex trafficking. I could go on and on. Those are our heroes, man, those are real life heroes that — before their situation changed, they fought hard and believed it would change and that belief became reality. That’s what it’s all about: it’s about a mindset and mantra,” Stapp explains.
For The Space Between the Shadows, Stapp tells me that he as been “blown away” by the response to it. It’s exceeded his dreams in terms of reception by fans, and even radio play with getting to a third single from the record. “Who would have thought,” he ponders, “honestly, from where I was a little over six years ago, to be on the phone with you talking about a record and a third single, and a new visualizer video that was launched today. I never would have thought a little over six years ago that my life would be where it is right now.”
While his plans to continue promoting the record in 2020 have come to a halt due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Stapp is looking forward to continuing to make music and get back to live shows once it’s safe. There’s no timetable, of course, and he stresses the importance of the fans, venue staff, his crew, his band, and everyone involved — but one thing is more clear than ever: Scott Stapp is certainly back.