Scott Stapp's life seems right out of a Hollywood movie. Small town kid (from Goldsboro, NC) becomes a big Rock star. But drugs, alcohol and a hyper-inflated ego bring it crashing down. After seriously contemplating suicide, he turns his life around. The End.
Stapp's parents broke up when he was very young. Not much was known about his biological father - except that he's long gone. Scott's mother married a Pentecostal minister (Steven Stapp) who often brought the wrath of God down on his stepson- okay, maybe just making him write out bible passages as punishment. In time, Stapp internalized those religious teachings. But that didn't stop him from getting expelled from Lee College in Cleveland, Tennessee, for using marijuana (probably inhaled too).
In high school, Stapp, a budding singer, met guitarist Mark Tremonti and years later they started Creed, one of the '90's most successful bands.
With Creed riding high, Stapp founded the With Arms Wide Open Foundation, a nonprofit "dedicated to helping underprivileged children and families around the world." The foundation's name came from a hit Creed song that was inspired by Stapp's son Jagger. He also donated over $1 million to support the foundation's worldwide humanitarian efforts. Here's the plot turn. After multi-platinum success, Creed disintegrated, due largely to band members' ongoing disputes with their frontman, Stapp.
A clear line can be drawn between Stapp's alcohol and drug abuse and the demise of Creed. It started with the misuse of pain pails following a car accident that manifested itself in a disastrous Creed show near Chicago (Rosemont). Fans sued the band claiming Stapp "was so intoxicated and/or medicated that he was unable to sing the lyrics of a single Creed song."
Though Stapp denied the accusation, Creed issued an apology on his behalf. After the case was dismissed, Stapp admitted that he was intoxicated during the concert. The fall out finished the group (for the time being).
In June of '04, Wind-Up Records officially announced that Creed had broken up. During its run, they had sold over 30 million CDs. Not bad. Not bad at all.
It's not unusual for the vocalist of a massively popular band to go solo. Here's what was odd. Creed founding members Tremonti, Scott Phillips, and Brian Marshall went on to form Alter Bridge with vocalist Myles Kennedy. They effectively replaced their singer and moved on. In fact, Alter Bridge released an album long before Stapp got around to it.
In '03, fueled by a bottle of Jack Daniels, Stapp contemplated suicide. He was convinced that anyone involved with Creed wanted him dead if only to increase record sales. "I had crazy thoughts going through my head," said Stapp. With a gun to his head he realized he couldn't pull the trigger after looking at a picture of his son Jagger. Stapp committed himself to sobriety and he upped his humanitarian efforts by supporting America's Second Harvest food banks, the Haiti earthquake relief effort and earthquake and tsunami relief in Japan.
Prior to "The Great Divide's" release, Stapp contributed vocals to the acoustic ballad "Relearn Love" for the "Passion Of The Christ: Original Songs Inspired By The Film" compilation.
Then Stapp nailed a slick piece of marketing with NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing - bet you didn't know that's what it stands for). The title track was heard in NASCAR ads promoting the Chase For The Championship. Just to make sure everyone got the Stapp/NASCAR connection, he sang the national anthem at the Ford 400 race in Homestead, FL on the Sunday before the release of "The Great Divide." The album went platinum.
Stapp rolled out "Proof Of Life" in '13. "This is the most meaningful record of my career," he stated. "I've made a lot of messes in my life but I've learned I can take a mess and turn it into a message." Produced by Howard Benson and mixed by Chris Lord-Alge, the lead single was "Slow Suicide."
2005 The Great Divide
2013 Proof Of Life
Inevitably, Stapp's solo career is framed by Creed, and by extension, Alter Bridge. The comparisons and similar touchstones are unavoidable.
On his own Stapp comes reasonably close to Creed. "The Great Divide" features heavy guitars and angst vocals. The album starts tough with "Fight Song" and "Justify" ("I do not have to justify my life"). They are followed by an obvious attempt to create anthems - the title track, "Let Me Go" and "Surround Me." These mid-tempo songs anchor the album. Deep into the set there are a pair of songs that really shine. Surprisingly, it's the acoustic flavored "Sublime" and the closing ballad "Broken."
Overall, "Proof Of Life" is better than AB's "Fortress," which dropped only a few weeks earlier, because Stapp predictably shows he is still invested in his former band's sound. Not only are the lead single and set opener "Slow Suicide," "Who I Am" and "Crash" evocative of Creed, they are the set's best songs.
The acoustic laced title track goes for uplifting with "Hit Me More" serving as the "I can take it and survive" song. Later in the album, at the point where if the listener is not sold yet they never will be, Stapp uncorks his Kid Rock does Christian Rock on "Jesus Was A RockStar" before downshifting to solo Eddie Vedder territory for "What Would Love Do." Then it all ends pleasantly enough on a '80's Pop/Rock note with "Dying To Live."
Also see Creed.