It's been 14 months since news broke that Creed called it quits, ending a decade-plus partnership that saw the band sell more than 24 million albums in the U.S. alone.
Since the announcement, frontman Scott Stapp has largely remained in the shadows — save for one interview with MTV News where he attempted to explain his side of the breakup — even as his former bandmate Mark Tremonti blasted him in various music publications. But now, Stapp's getting ready to step back into the light with a new single and solo album that he says "draws a whole lot from the past."
"My first single is called 'The Great Divide,' and that's also what I'm thinking of calling the album. And in no way is it a reference to the breakup of my former band," Stapp said (see "Creed Break Up"). "I wouldn't put that much emphasis on it by calling it 'great.' I only know how to talk about things that are going on in my life through my music. So a lot of the past is reflected in this song. As you grow older, there are certain things you shed. And in reflection, I looked back at our younger days and think, 'Wow, I don't know how I made it through that. Thank God I'm alive.' And this song has a lot of that in it."
Stapp was seated in a folding chair in a massive airport hangar in Playa Vista, California, on the set of the "Divide" video. In between takes, he was wide-eyed and eager to discuss his plans for the future. But he was also more than willing to talk about his past, in particular, his struggles with the anti-inflammatory medication Prednisone, which left him bloated, tired and very nearly ruined his vocal cords for life (see "Scott Stapp Breaks His Silence").
"I'm feeling great. I got everything taken care of that needs to be taken care of. I'm going to the gym, I'm playing some ball. Basically, I really needed the time away to heal up," he said. "But even if all the health issues didn't come up, I really needed to go away. Everything happened so fast. We were so young [in Creed], we didn't know how to handle it. So it was good to step back and reflect, to watch MTV and VH1 and be like, 'Oh, OK.' Because when you're living it, you don't know how it comes across.
"I never sat at home and listened to my own music, I never watched my own videos — the last time I listened to My Own Prison was 1997 — so [going away] gave me a lot time to reflect, and I realized 'God, I miss this. This is something that I love,' " he continued. "And in reflection and learning in my mistakes, I feel comfortable in my own shoes. And I feel comfortable being in the music business. And I feel comfortable onstage. And I feel comfortable being me."
That's more than apparent in "The Great Divide," particularly if "being me" means "sounding just like the most awesome parts of all of Creed's most awesome hits." It's got the big, booming guitars of "My Own Prison" or "My Sacrifice," coupled with the soaring choruses of "With Arms Wide Open" and "Higher." And the video, directed by Paul Fedor, allows Stapp to strike a whole lot of his near-patented rock-star poses. It's exactly what Creed fans have been clamoring for: more Creed. But they shouldn't be fooled by the song. Stapp said it's not exactly indicative of the way his solo album is heading.
"I really feel like I've grown as a songwriter. On Weathered, I felt like I was starting to know what I was doing, but I was still holding myself back," he explained. "And on the new album I wanted to show different sides of me. A few songs have a sexuality to them; a vibe to them. There's a song called 'Broken' that features piano — another first for me. But I'm still a rock artist, and there's the stuff I have a tendency to write about on there: the hard, to-the-heart stuff."
Regardless of how Stapp's solo record (which is tentatively due this November) is received, he knows that for the first time in his life, he'll be happy. For a guy who's taken a whole lot of hits over the past 14 months — from ex-friends and ex-fans alike — that's pretty much all he can ask for.
"Some stuff has hurt me along the way. And I've been self-destructive at times because of that, and I've made some bad choices because of that," Stapp said. "But at the end of the day, I'm just a person that's trying to live a certain lifestyle — which I fail at drastically and dramatically all the time — but my heart's in the right place. And in my journey, that's where it's at.
"And with how I'm trying to be as a man, I don't have to defend myself," he continued. "I've only got one being in my life that I have to be accountable to, and as long as I know the truth, and that being knows the truth, then that's cool."