NY Rock Advertiser
                    Scott Phillips, Mark Tremonti, Scott Stapp, Brian Marshall
    

With soul-searching lyrics that question religion and society, Creed’s singer/songwriter Scott Stapp has struck a chord with people across the planet. Along with Mark Tremonti (guitars), Brian Marshall (bass) and Scott Phillips (drums), the members of this Tallahassee, Florida-based quartet are garnering a devout following. “There’s always a spiritual thrust to what I’m writing,” Stapp says. “Spiritual, not religious. For me, religion was about 'what not to do.’ Spirituality opens you up, sets you free.”


    NYROCK:

The so-called Bible Belt has a lot of religious hardliners, but funny enough your biggest fan base – just like Marilyn Manson's – seems to be just there....

         MARK:

I guess there are certain parallels between Marilyn Manson and Creed, even if Manson has his problems with the censorship a lot of parents force upon their children. They censor what the kids are supposed to read, which music they're allowed to listen to, all that.

    NYROCK:

Could you elaborate on those parallels?

         MARK:

Like Marilyn we're against following rules – some old rules completely blind – just because those rules are there, just for the sake of following rules. A lot of times the rules are outdated. They don't make sense anymore. Pretty often they don't have anything to do with moral values but with narrow-mindedness and hypocrisy.

    NYROCK:

No offense, but Manson seems far more controversial than Creed....

   SCOTT S.:

Of course, Marilyn went off into the other direction, total controversialism. That's his way. We still haven't found our way, but we're still looking for it. I think we're on the right track, but we're still in a phase that has more to do with orientation....

    NYROCK:

So what do you think is your appeal?

   SCOTT P.:

I think a lot of kids identify with Scott's lyrics, especially kids who live in the Bible Belt. They can relate to it because it's stuff that has happened to them, or is still happening, you know.

         BRIAN:

A lot of kids there aren't allowed to listen to rock music. Some parents still think rock music is the tool of the devil to corrupt the young and innocent....

   SCOTT S.:

I don't want to deny beliefs or make people turn away from religion, but I think everybody should have the right to take a look and form their own opinion, without being forced to believe something, and they shouldn't have to be afraid of the backlash.

    NYROCK:

I believe you never had a problem with censorship....

         BRIAN:

No, we never did. But one of the reasons why we never had this particular problem is that we don't talk about drugs, sex or violence. I think that's one of the reasons why we escaped the censorship of the parents so far.

    NYROCK:

Did you have that in mind? Scott, did you write the lyrics with that thought in mind?

   SCOTT S.:

Photo © Bridget Hollenback
Probably nobody's going to believe me anyway, but no, I didn't. I just wrote what was on my mind. I was thinking about other things and expressed them in my lyrics. That was it basically. Of course, our critics will not believe it anyway, but that's how it happened.

    NYROCK:

Scott Stapp writes all the lyrics. Is he the spokesperson of Creed, or is it his personal opinion?

         BRIAN:

I like the lyrics. I think Scott really knows how to write lyrics, but I think they're very personal, very much a part of him and far less something we'd say.

   SCOTT P.:

I agree. They are a part of Scott's personality.

   SCOTT S.:

It's kind of annoying, you know. I think I'll write completely different lyrics for the next album. I hate to be tied down, to be labeled. I think I'll be far less personal and more universal....

    NYROCK:

There was a bit of confusion over your lyrics. Many people thought you were a Christian rock band because you used biblical references....

         BRIAN:

Scott writes the lyrics and he had a very religious upbringing, but it doesn't mean we're religious. He uses it as a metaphor. That's different. He uses the symbolism, but that doesn't mean we're Christian rock.

   SCOTT S.:

We're not into organized religions. That doesn't mean we're immoral. We have morals, but I don't think you need to be religious to have morals.

    NYROCK:

Since labels are unpleasant but necessary in the music business, how would you label your music?

         BRIAN:

I think we're a rock band, a real rock band in the tradition of Judas Priest or Black Sabbath....

    NYROCK:

But you sound more like Pearl Jam and Alice In Chains....

         MARK:

I think Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains are not bands you can compare us with, definitely not. OK, Scott might sound a little bit – just slightly – like Eddie Vedder, but our roots are in rock.

   SCOTT P.:

I think we're a band who'll be around in ten years time, and people will talk about our songs and not about our escapades.

    NYROCK:

It took you a long time to end up with a major label, even though you had quite a success selling the album under your own label, Blue Collar Records.

   SCOTT P.:

It was kinda strange, you know, usually the employees of the labels really liked our album and wanted us on board, but sooner or later one of the bosses decided not to sign us.

   SCOTT S.:

Yeah, the bosses thought rock was out and nobody would buy a rock album today anymore. It was such a weird situation. We had a great album. We had some success with that album – even without one bit of promotion – but it was damned hard to find a major who was willing to put the album out.

    NYROCK:

Is that how you ended up with Wind-Up Records, which is more or less an indie label which made a major break through with Creed....

         BRIAN:

I think it was as much a stroke of luck for them as it was for us. There was a certain nervousness around, of course, but yeah, what can we say? It all worked out for everybody.

    NYROCK:

So everybody's rich, famous and happy now?

         BRIAN:

You're kidding, right? Well, we got more money now than we had. We don't have to worry about food anymore, but we're far from rich, really far away from it.

   SCOTT P.:

It's amazing what kind of costs you've got to face. There are costs popping out from everywhere. It's kind of weird, the people who actually make an album, the musicians, seem to be the ones who earn the smallest part of it all.

    NYROCK:

How do you explain your success in Europe?

         BRIAN:

I guess it's not so different in Europe. There seems to be no real language barrier – the kids want good music and good lyrics. We give them both.

May 1999

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