For Scott Stapp, where do you begin? You can start with Creed, of course, who broke through in the 90’s as one of the leaders of the hard-rock/post-grunge movement. You can carry on through the first Creed disbandment and afterwards when he released his RIAA Platinum-certified debut solo album, The Great Divide. Some years later, Creed reunited with a new record and toured the world for a few years, before returning to the back burner as the individual members returned to their projects outside of the band.

For Stapp, that was his solo music with 2013’s Proof of Life, 2019’s The Space Between the Shadows, and now 2024’s Higher Power, which was released this past Friday, March 15th. Outside of music, there’s the at this point well-documented and acknowledged trials and tribulations he has gone through in his personal life. But, this is no time for dwelling on the past — as Stapp himself has atoned for such actions and to his credit owned up to them more times than many others would.

Instead, we are looking forward. Higher Power itself is a testament. “I think it’s fitting for the album and the story it shares,” Stapp tells me earlier this month regarding the meaning behind the album. He credits God as his higher power, and is vocal about the guidance he received to get him through this self-described “season” of his life.

“It’s also been a quest, in a sense, in how I’ve tried to change my life over the last decade,” he continues to share. “In terms of finding sobriety, finding recovery, and then reconnecting with my spiritual life and faith that I had as a child. I think that this record in its entirety chronicles that journey.”

In that sense, Higher Power serves as a narrative from start-to-finish — where he’s currently at in his life and moving forward. It’s admirable at the very least, having been able to navigate all the curveballs and challenges that kept popping up in his life. To not only come out of such a tumultuous time in his life, but to turn it into art and something positive on the other side.

“It’s all you can do,” Stapp says, in regards to taking a period of time that was painful, destructive, and caused damage to his life and those around him. Taking something negative and trying to alchemize it into something positive he feels like is something he’s done his entire career, but with a catch this time around. “It just comes from a place of finally getting to a point of truly understanding that the only way I’m going to be the man that I want to be — and the human being I want to be — is through my faith and through sobriety.”

When I bring up to Stapp that it’s been five years since his last solo record, he’s quick to joke (though serious, as well) that you “have to scratch off 2020 and 2021 as years that didn’t exist.” Which, you know, that’s fair enough. And in the sense of whacking two years out of existence, then we’re down to 3 years between album’s and that’s a normal album cycle. This is kind of fun.

In a more serious nature, Stapp recollects the creative freedom he has had in his career — both solo and with Creed. “I’ve been fortunate in my career that I’ve never had a gun to my head in making records,” he explains. “I’ve been given the freedom to create when I feel inspired, to create when I feel compelled, and then turn in my album when I feel it’s done.”

Higher Power was no different, as he tells me he first entered the studio back in January of 2021 — a full 3 years before the record’s release. Although he took his time, and entered the studio in spurts when the time was right. He also explains a self-described “detour,” referencing the “Light Up the Sky” collaboration he did with Trivecta and Wooli.

He refers to this recording process as being in the flow; going in and recording based on inspiration and when he would feel compelled to write. But there’s another influence for Stapp. “Also using the studio as therapy to help me navigate through a very difficult time in my life,” he explains. “There were points in this record where I was running to the studio to create because I needed it for my sanity. I needed it as an escape to get out the emotions and feelings that were going on in my personal life and around me at the time.”

The benefit behind being able to take your time putting out a piece of art so deeply personal and connected to your journey likely can’t be overstated. There is something deeper, though, as when we are discussing the recording process for Higher Power, Stapp tells me it didn’t always feel like it was part of the grand plan. “I think I forced this one through because I believed it was part of my plan,” he emphasizes. “So I felt that everything that could possibly try to get in the way of me completing this album got in the way, and I’m just so glad at the end of the day that I warrior’d through. I saw it through because I felt in my spirit, that I was called to make this record despite what any of the gatekeepers thought.”

One of the standout tracks on Higher Power is “If These Walls Could Talk,” which features the powerful vocals of Dorothy. Although it was more of a process than you may think to get Dorothy on the track, and involves some names you may be surprised to hear.

To go back, though, Stapp tells me from the very beginning that he knew “If These Walls Could Talk” was going to need additional vocals provided by a woman with strong vocals. “Initially, being in Nashville for 7 years now and having the country bug,” he begins to share, “I thought this song could be — and still could be down the road — an entry point to the country music world.”

The first artist who organically popped up he says, is none other than Substream-favorite Alexandra Kay — who was just recently announced to be opening for Jelly Roll this summer. He saw the Creed-medley she had done on TikTok that went viral, and later on went out to one of her shows in Nashville where he wound up performing with her on stage. “Initially, she was the frontrunner,” Stapp confesses.

Though he was still thinking through on who to invite to do this duet with him — which marks his first duet ever — his management suggested to him none other than Lainey Wilson. “But she had just done a duet with HARDY and Jelly Roll, so I thought she was probably all duet’ed out from those,” Stapp further admits.

Ultimately, with Kay still as the lead contender for an appearance on “If These Walls Could Talk,” Stapp wound up in Montana doing a show with Daughtry, where Dorothy was going to be opening. “We watched 3 or 4 songs in her set and I knew probably 2 or 3 songs in that that was the voice that I needed on the song,” he says. After the show they met very briefly, and later down the road his producer Scott Stevens was also in the studio with Dorothy and further connected them and put them together for what would be the final version of “If These Walls Could Talk.”

Impressively enough, they were never in the studio together or did any of the music video together; in fact, the only time they spent together in person was the 5 or so minutes after their show together in Montana. Later on, Stapp recalls playing “If These Walls Could Talk” while in the car with his daughter and her initial reaction serving as the final confirmation he had made the right choice. “She hears Dorothy’s voice, there’s chill bumps all over her body and there’s tears coming down her face and she goes ‘Daddy, who’s that?’ And then I explained to her it was an artist I was considering for the song and I knew right then, but that was just confirmation by her response.”

Though Higher Power in its entirety has been out for a little under a week now, the title-track has already been making some noise itself. As a solo artist, it has provided Stapp with his highest charting single on rock radio — while still being on an upward swing. He’s grateful to rock radio, crediting them for welcoming him back with 2019’s The Space Between the Shadows and only further extending their arms out this time around.

“I’m just grateful because I think it’s perfect timing how everything worked out with Creed,” Stapp says. “And everyone in the band is of the same mindset that a rising tide raises all ships. We’re all being supportive of what each other is doing, because who knows, there could be another 10 years before we tour again.”

Speaking of Creed and that tour, Stapp is just as excited to be out on the road on his own and having more solo songs to play. While he admits he will always be performing Creed songs — likening it to “Going to see Bono solo and he didn’t play ‘With or Without You’ and ‘Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For’ or ’Streets Have No Name’” — his solo tour will be mostly dominated by his own songs.

Between Higher Power and everything going on with Creed, 2024 has been and is set to continue to be a big year for Stapp. Both on a professional level, and even on a personal level as he just became a Grandfather. If the record is a testament to his journey along the way and how far he has come, then everything lined up in 2024 is only further proof that perhaps at long last everything is as it should be.

While the future is always uncertain — something everyone has especially learned after the last few years — sometimes it’s necessary to take a moment and take in where you are. In another sense, that’s what Higher Power is, and Stapp wants to make sure that if he can do it, the rest of us can, too.

‘Higher Power’ is out now via Napalm Records and can be purchased here.