No matter how you came into this world you can’t run or hide from the one subject no human being can deny ever having; the theological discussion. This is not an easy subject to speak about as some have literally come to blows over who is right and who is wrong, but none of those people were truly there in the beginning, so how the hell do they know? They don’t—they don’t know what really happened but the topic of God is no laughing matter if you truly wonder about your eternal rockin’ soul. Did God create us or was it the Big Bang Theory? Did we crawl out of scum of the ocean to evolve into the species we are today or did God truly create the heavens and the earth? What about the Good Book? Was the Bible just one big screen play written by those taking too much LSD? And who’s this Jesus guy anyway? He’s depicted so many different ways in pop culture as well as in religious history. Some say his hair was long and unkempt while others say it was most likely short but irregardless, he walked this earth and his message was clear, especially to singer/songwriter Scott Stapp.
Stapp has always been a Christian and his words coupled with his music became his Creed. A ‘creed’ by definition is a summary or statement of what one believes. It originates from the Latin credo meaning “I believe” and it rang true for all members; but not all members were Christian and they didn’t have to be because again, what one believes is their personal credo and it doesn’t have to have religious over or undertones. Creed is no longer a band; it was over for them by 2004 but they put out some of the most thought-provoking and heart pounding music during their run as a Grammy winning rock n’ roll band.
Though it was widely mused, Creed was never a Christian rock band yet to this day people still believe that’s what they were. It was only Stapp who was the active Christian; the other members were atheist. Letting out a hearty chuckle when asked about Christianity and Creed, Stapp sits back for a second. His aura comes through as a calm and protective spirit; whatever nervousness was present immediately dissipated as a peaceful feeling spread throughout the room. “Well, you know that’s a great question. The question I would like to start with to turn it around before I answer is, ‘Does it sound like rock ‘n roll? Does it look like rock n’ roll? Then it is rock n’ roll. What my faith is shouldn’t scare anyone away from the music, but with that said Creed was not a Christian rock band at all and never had any agenda to prophesize or share Christ with anybody.”
Making that statement very deliberately clear, Stapp’s voice loses its strain as he continues. “We were four guys in college who wanted everything that the traditional ‘rock star and massively huge lifestyle’ would bring; you know sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll music and we were all about living it and doing it. The conflict resided with me; because I was a Christian but I was rebellious; I thought the church were a bunch of hypocrites, and I thought that the message about love, which I was reading in the Bible, when I needed it from them [I was young and made some mistakes] but they didn’t get it; instead they judged me and condemned me and threw me out. So I was bitter and disenfranchised with the church and didn’t want to hear their lingo; I didn’t want anything to do with them. I thought they were all fake and judgmental and I didn’t want to be anything like them. My understanding of what God and Christ were was based upon my own study of the Bible and I didn’t see that happening and I wanted nothing to do with it so I ran away and rebelled. When I was writing songs, I dealt with a lot of those issues, especially when I was writing for Creed and reading the Bible. It was the way I used to express things; I used religious imagery but the way I used to resolve conflict always pointed to God even though I had doubts…even though I was questioning and living the life that I was living.”
Not every song Creed wrote had to do with faith but the tunes that did were heard by the Church and somehow they decided, based on certain references heard in the music, that Stapp was ‘one of them’ and they claimed him as their own and did the same with the band, Creed. It was that type of hype that caused a lot of trouble within the band due to the rest of the members not being religious at all; they were atheist and didn’t want to be labeled with that stigma. They saw it as a death sentence and a curse; it was something that didn’t represent them, the life they lived or their beliefs. It ultimately led to the bands first break-up.
Being Christian doesn’t mean you’re perfect but walking the fine line between your religious values and being human is an art. Those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones but Stapp thought that didn’t apply to him; not really. It took him a while before he found that his alcoholism and addictions were going to kill him if he didn’t see the light. Sometimes you have to take a little walk through Hell to come out the other side and believe that God is good and there is Proof of Life.
“I believe alcoholism and addiction is in my family but for me, it began with just college,” says Stapp thinking back a minute before he continues. “I started out just doing it on the weekends with everybody else, except I was that strange person who would black out every other week and I had no idea what that kind of indicated at the time. And then it wasn’t until really…2001, when it became a daily thing and then kind of turned into an ‘all day’ thing. In the beginning it was still all about the show must go on so I decided to take what ever mean necessary to do that and then alcohol became my means to feeling normal and not having anxiety, or not being able to sleep and just to go on. And of course pain killers became a part of that because I would try to quit drinking by substituting in pain killers and that wasn’t a very good idea. It just became a cycle and eventually just kept spiraling down and down no matter what my intent was or I was telling myself it was. I had a major problem and I think the fans knew before I did! The ones that were close to following everything about us; and you know it took a long fall figuratively and literally, to finally break me enough to confront that and be honest with myself.”
Stapp was spiraling downward quickly. Alcoholism and drug addiction as well as other bad choices enslaved him and made him their hostage. The making of this record became all-encompassing and important as it symbolized to Stapp that what he went through didn’t kill him. “I was a prisoner and it had robbed me of everything and anything in my life,” Stapp says with conviction. “I was blessed and fortunate enough by the grace of God to survive, to begin my road to recovery and had the tools to live again. At one time, actually more like two or three times, I should have died and could have died hundreds of times so for me it symbolized coming out of that whole hostage situation, so to speak, and really just kind of shouting to myself and to those that wrote me off, ‘Hey, I’m not dead I’m alive, and I got a little bit more in me’ and everything that was a mess with me, really was repurposed and became a message for me and a new way of life, and the principal of learning that for me in every area of positivity in my life; physical or mental was all based on my spiritual condition. And I finally got to a place where I had no more doubts about God and the reality of God in my life and how God and my faith as well as like-minded people pulled me out of the grave.”
Proof of Life is a collection of songs that tells the story of his fall and rise from the ashes and finding his faith again as a Christian. Hit Me More, off his newest release, talks about a conversation he had with God while laying on a ledge 15 stories up. He fell from a higher ledge at the famous Delano Hotel in South Beach; off the penthouse floor. And this should have been his end; bleeding and broken, his eyes fixed on the stars, he yelled at the sky, ‘Is that all you got?’ “I’m sure you’ve seen Forrest Gump and that guy, while they’re out on that shrimp boat during the storm,” explains Stapp, “he’s the one who lost his legs. [Captain Dan] He’s up on the mast and there’s a hurricane coming and it’s raining down, and lightning and he’s screaming, ‘Is that all you got!?!’ to God and that was the conversation, literally for about 30 minutes after I fell off that ledge.”
Stapp takes a long breath and lets out a little laugh as he thinks back to the past and continues, “By the grace of God I landed on a lower ledge instead of falling I believe 15 stories. I mean, my hip was broken, my head was cracked open… and a lot of rage and anger came out for the first 30 minutes and that was kind of where I was. I soon broke spiritually; I was already broke physically and my perspective changed but that along with just a personality characteristic that I had from earlier in my life, ‘You can’t hurt me’ and ‘bring it on’, those two worlds kind of collided to inspire that song. What also came out of it too is that I still connect with it in a place were I am today but with no arrogance, and no ego. I have that confidence not because of me but because of what’s in me; my relationship with God and walking with the strength that I can only get through him.”
Imagining Stapp laying there in the stillness of the night; just him, his thoughts, broken hip and the noise the blood made while oozing out of the crack in his skull must have become a sobering moment for him. Stapp was flipping God off in every manner possible while his life was slowly slipping away and in that state of mind, he didn’t care. ‘Come get me now mother-fucker; I’m right here’ was now his credo. He was challenging his father. Yes; his father. As a young boy Stapp didn’t have a dad so he asked God to be his father.
“I remember as a little boy, I became a Christian when I was eight years old,” states Stapp. “On my front lawn; I’ll never forget it I was all by myself, laying in the grass and looking up at the sky and I asked God to be my dad. See, I didn’t have a dad and I wanted to be like other kids so I asked in my ‘kid way’ to ask Jesus to live in me. I promised him I would be a good son and I’d do what ever he’d ask me to do. I asked him for many things; what ever the mind of an eight year old wants; I think it was to be famous and have money and all these other things but I promised that I would do it for Him. And I believe that something real happened there and I also believe that all these things that happen in my life, it could have happened a different way had I not chose the path that I did; it could have been easier; I could have matured to this place through a more loving manner but because of the choices and path that I chose, it required what it required and so I look back now not with resentment or bitterness or regret but with a sense that it took as long as it took to get to where I am today and cause what has happened within me to happen and so that mess is now caught in my message. All that I was embarrassed or humiliated about has been repurposed and now gives me purpose and helps me connect and communicate on so many levels with different and other human beings who are going through things and have struggles and there are other things I would have never known until I find purpose in it; not that I would ever do it again or advise anyone to make those stupid decisions but that’s what it took for me.”
Finding his faith in Christianity again, Stapp has opened a whole new door to his music and purpose in life. He leads by example and those who follow feel the warmth and compassion emulating from him. Alcoholism and drug addiction will always be a constant battle and he’ll be the first one to admit he does have to keep himself in check but after discussing his fall from grace, finding his faith again and getting the chance yet one more time to move his rockin’ life forward, Stapp might be right when he sings and says that just maybe—Maybe, Jesus Was a RockStar.