Creed
Creed is Scott Stapp on lead vocal; Mark Tremonti on guitars and backing vocals; Scott Phillips on drums, percussion, keyboards; and Brian Marshall on bass. Contributed photo

Scott Stapp has stood on the mountain, looking down from the top of the charts with songs like "With Arms Wide Open."

He's also been at the bottom, looking at the disarray of his life after an acrimonious split with his band, Creed, five years ago, which was fueled by personality conflicts, drug and alcohol abuse and the rock ‘n' roll lifestyle.

This time, things will be different, he says, because he knows who he is and knows what he wants.

"Most people are a lot different at 35 than they are at 21. We're different men. We're married, we have families, we have different priorities. We have different reasons behind why we live and why we do what we do."

The first time around, he said, "I wasn't ready at all. I wasn't ready to be out of my house, to be honest with you. To be blessed with all that popularity along with the financial rewards that came with it, at the maturity level of a 15-year-old, no, I wasn't ready. My heart wanted to be," he said, but he couldn't have imagined what was to come.

"I made some bad decisions, all a reflection of not having made a firm commitment to who I was as a person. I was still trying to figure that out."

Because of the spiritual overtones of much of their music, many of the fans wanted them to be a Christian band.

"I was trying to understand that and believe that and wrestle with that. We got into this band for all the classic reasons - it was sex, drugs, rock ‘n' roll. We were a rock band, a bunch of young, immature kids."

It was a confusing period, he said, and when they got slapped with the Christian band label, it was even more confusing.

"We did our best to educate our fans, not because we wanted to deny that but because we didn't want to be hypocrites. We knew we weren't living that."

When the band got back together last year, it was like coming full circle, which is the name of their new album. They were starting fresh as more focused people, Stapp said. They knew what went wrong the first time and were determined to set a steadier course this time around.

"I always believed in my heart that we would (get back together). I believed even though a lot of things were said. I didn't take it all to heart after I thought about it. Yeah, things stung initially," he said, but he understands now that they had to step away from each other to come back together.

"Now I feel like we can honestly do that, use the gift we've been given of music. Just the skill level of the band, the growth and maturity as artists" is so much better, he said.

Stapp said he now has a deeper understanding of love and life and he brings that with him to the music.

"I was in a spiritual journey and will be for the rest of my life. I did believe in God, and I did have a knowledge of Christ and faith and Christianity because my parents raised me that way. At that time in my life, I was running from that," he said, because he was taken in by the glamour.

"I learned real quick what the world had to offer. It offered death, and I came close to that."

Stapp said Creed is still not billing itself as a Christian band. "I can do that (proclaim Christianity) on a personal level, but collectively I have to speak for the four of us. But I'm a Christian, and I've made that commitment."

Stapp said coming back together as a band has been wonderful and difficult and worthwhile.

"The best way and only way to communicate how we felt was to be vulnerable and honest when we were creating music. Everything was coming out in the songs."

And that's how they healed and came back together, Stapp said. "Just as our bodies heal slower as we get older and recover slower," he said, forgiving and getting back to a good place took longer.

"I could go outside and play on the monkey bars all day long and not have a sore muscle when I was kid. But if I tried to keep up with my 11-year-old all day, I'd be stiff all over. So I've been able to forgive and forget, but it's not the same with everybody. We do tend to hold onto things - it's a natural defense. But things from the past are not going to happen again."

At every show they play, including at Fort McCoy on Aug. 7, the band will be honoring the military and asking audience members to contribute care packages for the troops.

If you don't know where to send one, he said, contact Fort McCoy and they'll tell you what to do.

"You can make a difference. We have that belief that we can start the fire. Behind the big rock show, we're there to remind you who the true heroes are. We want to keep that memory going."

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