Whether it was for his quasi-religious posturing or his bombastic, Vedder-lite vocals, Scott Stapp was certainly a divisive force in rock during his rise to fame with Creed in the late 1990s. Trouble with alcohol and the law led to the group's contentious 2004 breakup. But like the messianic figure often alluded to in Stapp's lyrics, Creed have risen again with Full Circle, the reunited band's first album since 2001's multiplatinum Weathered. The newly shorn 36-year-old singer called us from a tour stop in Denver.
You're wearing leather pants right now, aren't you?
No, I'm not, bro. But I have some on tour with me. To be honest with you, they're from 2002. I can't believe I can still wear them.
It's good to see that some things haven't changed. Unlike your hair.
Yeah, people kind of identified me with that. I keep it short now. I was at a video shoot yesterday and was like, "Man, I'm having a bad hair day, guys, so you're going to have to give me a little extra time." [Laughs]
It's no secret that Creed have been a punching bag for a lot of critics. Do you wish your songs were more appreciated?
Early on, there were a few mischaracterizations of the band and, being young and stupid, we took a lot of things personally. We carried it on our shoulders into interviews and probably came across as pretentious and combative instead of who we really were. And all it did was have a spiraling, negative effect.
What bothered you the most?
When "With Arms Wide Open" came out, we took a lot of shots. And for me to have written that song about becoming a father, I got a little angry when I would hear those things. I took it in a weird way, like they were disrespecting my child. And they were, man.
Fair enough. You've had a few very public meltdowns. Are you able to laugh about them now?
There's a song called "Time" on the new record that goes, "Time, you're no friend of mine." Because I can't take it back. If I could take it all back and do it all over again from the middle of 2002 to November of 2006, I would.
Like the fight in 2005 with the members of 311, including a guy named P-Nut?
[Laughs] Man, it's been a long time since I really thought about that. Those are cool guys. It was just a stupid, stupid thing. You know, each situation, and how it was covered, led me to finally making a permanent change in my life.
Did you really try to kill yourself in 2003?
That was mischaracterized a bit. It was just a thought. But when I did an interview and shared the story of that moment, it got blown into something bigger. But I was at a low point. Thank God I didn't act on it.
So you shot up your home instead of pulling the trigger on yourself?
That's true, man. I was in the throes of prednisone [an anti-inflammatory for throat problems] coming out of my body. Ever see the Ray Charles movie, when he's freaking out at a rehab clinic? Well, I was in that place. I shot a few rounds off and instantly was like, "What the hell am I doing?" So I put the guns away and ran out to the garage and got the putty and patched the holes.
I love that you own putty. Can we talk about the sex tape that also features Kid Rock?
Well, there's no sex on the sex tape. For it to get characterized that way, I mean, that kind of sucks.
The video was shot in 1999 and then stolen and released in 2006. How difficult was that for you?
What sucks about that is Bob -- Kid Rock -- and I were friends. He'd been over to my house and we jammed and hung out. We were in Tampa playing with Metallica, and I walked into his trailer and there were some strippers. It's a time in his life and a time in my life that we'd like to put behind us and not publicize because we have children now, and they're in school, and their friends read. I know he was pretty pissed off at me when that came out.
Have you spoken to him since?
We haven't sat down face-to-face. I did apologize to him that I didn't just burn that thing. I thought that was a skele-ton in the closet that would never find the light of day.
Do you wish you could also burn the video for "Higher"?
We look back at a lot of our video diary with a kind of "What were we thinking? Ewww." Hopefully, this go-around we'll make sure that they reflect the artistic side of who we are in that medium.
Does that mean you won't be taking off your shirt in your next video?
Not intentionally. If it's a live video, it might come off for a minute, just because I sweat through it. But, no, there's no shirt coming off in the video.