Scott Stapp is back. Again. Now, before you check out and go back to perusing another C-List celebrity Twitter feed, consider the circumstances under which the once-heralded voice of Creed is returning to the stage. He’s fresh off the all-too-public soul searching of Vh1’s Couples Therapy, he’s seeking penance for his latest descent into drug-fueled paranoia, and the last round of “Proof of Life” dates found him in arguably his strongest vocal condition since the early aughts.
The fact that venues continue to roll the dice on a guy who has burned more bridges than the Confederacy is compelling in itself, because any apprehension whatsoever would have been unheard of back in the day when “Human Clay” was surging its way to 20 million copies sold worldwide.
Just how did Stapp go from a commanding performance at Woodstock ’99 to shacking up in a hotel room under the impression that ISIS had infiltrated his own family?
Elizabeth Barret Browning would say “Let me count the ways,” but I’m going to assume that anyone still interested is already familiar with Stapp’s history. To put it in a more relatable context for you, I’m going to paraphrase everyone’s favorite underachiever, George Costanza, for the most succinct rationale: The erratic, bipolar Scott had been killing the sober, immensely gifted Scott for far too long and a Scott divided against itself cannot stand.
Something had to give. Someone had to step in and finally provide Scott with the proper diagnosis before it was too late. Thankfully, he went through an intensive recovery program and established a healthy lifestyle to manage his newfound bipolar identification.
Buffalo will experience first-hand whether or not the effects of that program stuck when Scott Stapp plays Buffalo Iron Works on Jan. 26. I spoke with Scott recently to discuss his ongoing recovery as well as what people can look forward to on the upcoming tour.
While the circumstances surrounding our conversation differed from the first time around back in 2014, I still believe in his ability to deliver in a live setting and remain one of his fiercest supporters even if the rest of the critical community stopped caring a long time ago.
Ask anyone who was inside The Bear’s Den during his triumphant performance in June 2014 and they’ll tell you the same.
MNOD: So much has happened since we last spoke in 2014. How do you feel right now?
Scott Stapp: I’m feeling good. I’m excited about bringing the tour to South Africa, and I feel as if where I’m at right now in my life is a healthy and stable place to be. I’m in the 12-step program and I exercise regularly. It’s been quite a journey throughout the last year and a half, but I’ve finally regained control of my life and my career.
MNOD: Why did you decide to take your journey public on Vh1?
SS: A few things, really. Because my latest crisis was constantly publicized through social media, I wanted to set the record straight on my own terms by continuing to take fans on this ride with me. I had to share my reality and expose everything I was going through in an attempt to save myself, my family, and my marriage. Jaclyn and I met with Dr. Jenn in private to make sure that we weren’t getting involved with just another reality show. We had a lot of issues to work through and had to be convinced that real work was going to get done. The show allowed us to bookend my struggles while, at the same time, sending a message to other people that they should never have to go through the fight alone.
MNOD: What do you think was gained from the reality show experience?
SS: A lot. Jaclyn and I learned how to be vulnerable with each other as well as how to walk through the tears. It was uncomfortable for both of us at times, because we were essentially learning how to get comfortable with discomfort. We shared everything that was in our hearts and minds while the cameras seldom stopped rolling, so the whole scenario was definitely an adjustment for us.
MNOD: Do you feel as if finally being diagnosed as Bipolar has made it any easier to seek proper treatment?
SS: Absolutely. The details of my condition were finally explained to me in a way that I was able to move forward to a better direction. I’ve sought the proper help and all the self-medicating I had been doing is finally in the past, so my objective now is just to stay focused and healthy. My wife and kids were the only thing that kept me going throughout all of it.
MNOD: What do you think sparked your latest loss of control?
SS: It was a few different things. I had been self-medicating for a long time and my relapse hit hard, so the complexity of the situation just grew from there.
MNOD: When you hear yourself discussing ISIS and how outside forces are conspiring to bring you down, what goes through your mind?
SS: It’s horrifying to see how incredibly out of my mind I was during that time. I was so close to death that I’m now motivated to prevent such a downward spiral from ever happening again.
MNOD: One of the scariest elements of mental illness is that someone can go off the rails with very little provocation. What advice would you give to others currently dealing with a similar condition?
SS: Most importantly, I would tell them not to suffer in silence. Reach out to whomever you can and don’t try to fight it alone. Whether you’re talking about depression, addiction, or any mental illness, your loved ones are always there for you. I would also encourage loved ones to never be afraid to intervene on someone’s behalf, because attacking the condition before it’s too late should always be the goal.
MNOD: How has your latest comeback influenced the direction your next album will take?
SS: I think it’s still too early to tell, because I have so much to process before getting back into the swing of making a record. I have written a new song about all the devastation I’ve gone through in my life and how I’ve survived despite some crazy circumstances. It’s a song of rebirth meant to accompany a campaign called “Up from the Ashes,” which will raise awareness for mental health.
MNOD: I consider 2013’s “Proof of Life” to be one of the best things you’ve ever done. Do you think the follow-up will be fashioned in a similar vein?
SS: I’m sure it will still have a redemptive quality to it, but I’m planning to dig deeper into my struggle and get more specific about things that have gone on over the last year and a half. I also have some new territory to explore, so we’ll see what happens. I used some extremely talented studio musicians in Los Angeles on that album, but I haven’t really set anything up for the next one yet.
MNOD: How do you feel about getting back out on the road?
SS: I’m excited about it. Performing live is what I love to do, and the energy that exists between the fans and the music is addictive for me. I can’t wait to get out there, especially given where I’ve been during the last year and a half. I thank God I’m alive, I thank God for my wife and kids, and I thank God for music.
MNOD: Everyone always wants to know about another Creed reunion. Have you spoken to the other guys about making it happen?
SS: I have. I actually just spent a weekend at a golf tournament with Scott Phillips and it’s something we’d both love to do. Mark Tremonti and I have been trading texts back and forth for a while, so I guess we’ll reassess when our schedules open up.
Scott Stapp will be at Buffalo Iron Works on Jan. 26.
See http://www.buffaloironworks.com for details.