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Scott Stapp Clears Up That Story About the Orgy on Kid Rock’s Tour Bus and Contemplates Suicide

We now come to the third and final installment of our unprecedented, soon-to-be-award-winning series on Scott Stapp’s astonishing memoir, Sinner’s Creed. In the first two parts, we looked at Stapp’s struggles with God and his context as an artist. Today, at the significant risk of ending on a dark note, we’ll look at some choice quotes from the long, slow process of Scott Stapp spiraling toward rock bottom.

See Also:
Why Scott Stapp Hated God and Other Revelations in His New Book Sinner’s Creed
How Does Scott Stapp Measure Up To Jim Morrison, Elvis, Reagan, Job, and God Himself?

Part III: “Screaming like Rambo, I unloaded 36 rounds.”

You probably know Creed as a top-selling beat combo — at the peak of the music industry, they sold around 40 million albums, which is only 10 million less than Simply Red. Despite their dizzying success, they were constantly hamstrung by forces outside their control: Scott Stapp’s ego; Scott Stapp’s addictions; Scott Stapp’s self-destruction; Scott Stapp’s war with demonic forces. I’d like to begin this segment with a passage I found particularly revealing: Even when his band seemed to be at the height of their fame and fortune, Stapp couldn’t help but foreshadow doom:

Could it all be too good to be true? Was I living an illusion? Were fantasy and reality on a collision course? Yes, yes, and yes. (pg. 140)

Actually, maybe that’s not quite enough foreshadowing. Right as the book begins, we find Scott Stapp wallowing in excrement, having leaped from the balcony of his hotel room. Maybe this sets the tone a little better:

I was now facedown in bird waste, still conscious and in excruciating pain. Looking back, I now know I was face-to-face with what I had become.

No, wait — that foreshadowing might be too heavy-handed. Maybe we should look at a collegiate Stapp’s first horrifying steps into a world of drug addiction and debauchery:

One of my friends said, “That’s good weed, right?” Pushing aside my anxiety, I replied, “Yeah, bro.” My next thought was, I just said “bro.” I never say “bro.” (pg. 76)

The inevitable fantasy/reality/bird excrement/bro collision began to take shape on Kid Rock’s tour bus, where Stapp stopped by for a visit. Stapp’s recollection of the incident contradicts the popularly reported account, which I believe involved Stapp himself getting a little bit of strippery attention. Judge for yourself:

In Tampa we played a concert with Metallica. Another high-profile rocker was also in town. He and I had become friends a few months before, and he had jammed at my house. I liked him enormously — he was an easygoing, fun-loving musician who enjoyed writing and playing as much as I did. That evening he invited me to his trailer, which was parked behind the venue. I dropped in after the show. When I arrived, I saw that he was accompanied by a group of strippers. My first comment, in jest, was, “It’s good to be king.” I was repeating a line from Mel Brooks’s History of the World, Part I, which I’d just seen with my bandmates. After drinking a beer, I left. I didn’t think much of it. When a tape emerged a few years later with me saying, “It’s good to be king,” it created a scandal. I don’t know who edited the tape to make it look like I was part of an orgy — I never saw the tape — but by then it didn’t matter. No one wanted to hear that I’d merely stopped by to say hello and just happened to walk into what amounted to a private strip club. Protesting only further solidified my image as a sinning Christian — which I was. (pg. 147)

I’ve never seen the tape, but somehow the idea of watching Scott Stapp stand around and quote Mel Brooks while Kid Rock gets worked over by strippers is even better than the tape was originally advertised. Next stop on the downward spiral: Stapp expertly punching a hater’s lights out after the sincerity of “Arms Wide Open” is besmirched:

I started to walk away, but he followed me. “You’re a sellout. You’d do anything to make a buck. How does it feel to exploit your own unborn baby?” Even though he was making no sense, something snapped in me. The next thing I knew, I’d hit him with a combination left jab and right cross. He fell with a thump. (pg. 166)

Curiously, no mention is made of his 2005 rumble with alt-reggae group 311. Strippers and violence sound like a great time, but it was all beginning to wear on Scott. Soon, his merciless touring schedule was threatening to destroy the one thing that made Scott Stapp who he was: his perfection.

People’s words echoed in my ears: “We’re counting on you. Don’t let us down, no matter what.” Oh, the irony! The Creed machine demanded perfection, and perfection was something I knew well. I had been beaten by my father for my imperfection. And I was about to learn that show business gives beatings for imperfection too. (pg. 167)

As the pressure continued to increase, Stapp’s unraveling mental state soon deteriorated into the poetry of a madman:

“Come on, Alan. You know I’m the mailman. I deliver. But will we have scheduled breaks or time-outs? You know the band rule — no more than three and a half weeks on followed by three weeks off.” “Time off? Did you hear what I just said, Stapp? There ain’t going to be stopping during this tour. No breaks. You don’t need any. You’re the iron man of rock and roll.”

The iron man was covered with rust.
The iron man was made of clay.
The iron man was, as the song “Weathered” put it, “covered with skin that peels and it just won’t heal.”
The iron man was defeated before the fight.
The iron man had surrendered to avoid the battle.
The iron man was coming undone. (pg. 168)

 

And then, it was all just too much: Scott Stapp nearly fulfilled his own prophecy of following in Kurt Cobain’s footsteps. And just as post-grunge put an arena-rock spin on grunge, Stapp’s suicide would be a much grander gesture:

With two fully automatic tactical assault rifles pointed at both sides of my battered brain, I was no longer shaking. My hands were as calm and steady as my father’s. I took a long, deep breath and closed my eyes. It was time for goodbye. (pg. 169)

But at the last moment, his suicidal impulse became a Johnny Utah orgasm of anguish and flying lead!

I looked around the room at all the trophies of my so-called success. Screaming like Rambo, I unloaded thirty-six rounds of bullets on every award and achievement I had won with Creed. Glass was shattering. Bullet holes riddled the walls. I had shot up my house. But I was alive. (pg. 169)

Tragically, his brush with death wasn’t the end of his torment. He was still haunted by troubled dreams of fire and death:

Despair set in and told me I would never get better. I hungered for restful sleep, but the second I slipped into unconsciousness, my dreams only made things worse. I dreamed I was flying in a private jet with the band. The pilot suddenly died of a heart attack. I raced into the cockpit to take over the controls, only to crash into the side of a mountain. (pg. 192)

His drinking escalated, and it took a toll on his marriage. Here, Scott explains a news story of domestic abuse. Once again, the media made a mountain out of a molehill:

Jaclyn felt like she needed help, so she instinctively called the police. They presumed that there had been violence, even though that wasn’t true. Jaclyn was the first to say that nothing along those lines had occurred. The police arrested me nonetheless. I was taken in, and they threw the book at me. Eventually the charges were dropped, but once the media got hold of the story, another untrue urban legend about me was born. (pg. 204)

Popular accounts at the time had Scott Stapp hurling an Orangina bottle at his wife’s face, but the beverage is not mentioned here. Finally, we come to the legendary bird excrement incident of the prologue, in which Stapp suffered a Scarface breakdown in a Miami hotel room:

I stayed up for three nights numbing myself. I was obliterated. Guilt and paranoia had set in. I looked around the room and saw nothing but the Miami-white walls, white marble floors, closed white blinds. My institutionalized insides were coming to the surface. In my mind, my penthouse turned into a scene from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. The imaginary cops were after me. I had to get out. (pg. 205)

And so he did. How? Well, friends, I’m afraid you’ll just have to read Sinner’s Creed for yourself if you’d like to hear the full story. I think you know by now that it’s worth it. And just to avoid leaving you on a bummer, some final words of wisdom from Scott Stapp about the dangers of the pop music scene:

There were times I’d been living on the bread of shame. I felt all of us in the band had. That bread is as toxic as the culture of rock and roll itself. (pg. 212)

Don’t eat the bread of shame, ladies and gentlemen. Let no shameful bread pass your innocent lips.

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How Does Scott Stapp Measure Up to Jim Morrison, Elvis, Reagan, Job, and God Himself?

This week, Sound of the City presents a series of excerpts from Sinner’s Creed, the incredible memoir of Creed frontman Scott Stapp. In our first installment, we detailed the spiritual turmoil that defined Stapp’s life and music; he was a man pursued by demons, alternately yearning for God’s love and rejecting Him bitterly.

But there’s more to Scott Stapp than wounded faith — he’s a man shaped by a complex set of influences, both spiritual and worldly. Who are Scott Stapp’s heroes? Where does he place himself in the canon of rock? In Scott’s own words, we find answers.

See Also:
Why Scott Stapp Hated God And Other Revelations In His New Book Sinner’s Creed
Why Do People Loathe Nickelback So Much? (And Do They Deserve It?)

Part II: “Like Job, smitten with boils.”

A formative influence on young Scott Stapp was his grandfather, a man who taught him that God was brimming with love for His creations. But while Grandpa was a Christian, he was also a lover of that old-time religion. In Grandpa’s Native American rituals, Scott found a powerful connection to his warrior roots:

My head spun as we danced in circles, my heart in sync with an ancient rhythm that seemed to emanate from the center of the fire. I was an Indian warrior — just like the men dancing around the fire. Just like Grandpa. (pg. 7)

Although his love of homegrown spirituality was born around that fire, his love of music flourished in the gospel choir his stepfather took him to. There, he found inspiration in the gushing approval of local ethnics:

Nothing pleased me more than when they would turn to me and say, “Hey, white boy’s got some soul!” (pg. 39)

Although White Boy doesn’t talk much of politics in Sinner’s Creed, he does reveal one hero who blessed him with the finely tuned moral compass that guided him through his troubled life: the Gipper.

My high school years coincided with the Ronald Reagan eighties, a time of moral renewal for a country recovering from the decadence of the sixties and seventies. I respected Reagan. I loved America and took pride in it. I saw myself as someone who could play an important role in this new era of conviction and purpose. And yet . . .

I liked Madonna. (pg. 49)

He’d been a Reagan fan from a young age, but he wanted to be more than the leader of the free world — he wanted to be the rock star leader of the free world.

I stood up on the bed and made a declaration: “When I grow up, I’m going to be bigger than Elvis and pay all the bills and buy you a fancy house and a fancy car. I’m also going to become president of the United States like President Reagan.”

“You can’t be both,” Mom told me.

“Yes, I can. I’ll be Elvis during the week and the president on weekends.” (pg. 1)

His youthful fascination with Elvis no doubt gave him the swaggering leather-pants bravado that made him an icon of masculinity, but his love of poesy came from quite another place; when he discovered the music of the Doors, his life was changed. (He even moved to Florida to attend the same university where the Lizard King once studied.) Clearly, he saw himself as a man crafted from the Morrison mold:

In Paris we made the pilgrimage to the cemetery where Jim Morrison is buried. He was the one who led me to Florida State, where our band was born. He was the one who showed me that poetry and rock could be forged into a single expression. This master of rock romanticism had died at age twenty-seven. I was twenty-five.

Like John Keats, he represented the death of beauty at a tragically young age. Both men had made an early exit yet had gifted the world with their exquisite art. Was it my fate to follow Morrison to an early death? Would the same bewildering stardom that had destroyed Morrison destroy me? Or was I flattering myself to even make the comparison? Was I ego-tripping to imagine that I would be remembered as someone even remotely as gifted as the leader of The Doors? (pg. 127)

When things got rough in Scott Stapp’s life, his Morrison obsession took a dark turn: Now that he was in the pantheon of rock royalty, perhaps he was doomed to join his peers in the 27 club.

I had become a shell of myself — a grandiose, ego-inflated shadow of what I used to be. At some moments I was convinced there was only one escape that made sense. The only way out of this misery was to end it. In the irreparable life, accept death, I thought. Be a martyr. Go down in history with Hendrix, Bonham, Joplin, Morrison, and Cobain. Your death will make everyone happy. You’re worth more dead than alive. (pg. 169)

In his blackest visions, Morrison’s fate taunted him:

In one dream I saw Jim Morrison running through a fire that was burning down the cemetery where he was buried in Paris. In the same cemetery, I came upon my own tombstone. (pg. 193)

As he continued to spiral downward, his old hero came back into focus. Even if he narrowly avoided becoming the next Joplin or Cobain, might he follow in the heavy footsteps of the King himself?

I started having recurring nightmares that I was fat Elvis during his final days. No one is comparable to Elvis. But in some ways I felt like I was walking in his shoes. I even started calling myself Fat Elvis. (pg. 176)

The poetry of rock and roll was never far from Scott’s mind. When things were at their worst, he recalled the words of Kurt Cobain — uh, Neil Young — uh, wait, what?

During this time I used to quote Def Leppard: “It’s better to burn out than fade away.” (pg. 162)

Of course, rockers weren’t the only ones who guided Scott through his winding path of torment. As a scholar of the Word, he also saw himself mirrored in Biblical figures:

Like David, I would spend time in a cave of sorts, depressed and alone. And while I’ll never know what it’s like to be crowned king, I can identify with the challenges of superstardom he faced — power, wealth, and women. I spoke about David in my Sunday school class with what the teacher called unusual insight. I talked about how worldly lust had lured King David into sin. I analyzed the consequences of adultery — how David became both a manipulator and a murderer. Theoretically, I seemed to understand the story, but I was just mouthing words. Those concepts, which would be all too real later in my own life, had little meaning for me as a preteen. (pg. 23)

He made repeated references to Job, who was tormented by God to test his faith. He saw a lot of himself in that poor wretch, though he was lucky enough to keep his handsome looks:

At times I felt like Job, smitten with boils. Only for me, it was my soul that was covered with boils. (pg. 221)

At the end of the day, there was only one comparison that could possibly fit:

When you finally reach the top, you want to take a couple of victory laps. You want to strut. That’s only natural. But what happens when you confuse yourself — your talents, your charisma, your creativity — with God? (pg. 131)

What indeed? Stay tuned for the answer: In the final part of our fascinating Scott Stapp series, we’ll join our hero in his moments of deepest despair. When Scott Stapp hits rock bottom — and he does every dozen pages or so — the echoes reverberate through all of creation.

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BOOKS ARCHIVES CULTURE ARCHIVES MUSIC ARCHIVES

Why Scott Stapp Hated God and Other Revelations in His New Book Sinner’s Creed

These days, it’s possible to feel a perverse nostalgia for Creed, the original kings of gloss-grunge Christosterone buttrock. After Stapp and Co. burned out in a blaze of ignominy, Nickelback popped into their slot at the bottom of the critical totem pole so gracefully that we barely noticed. But Creed was no Nickelback: Creed sucked better and sucked harder, and their hilarious music — even now that no radio station would be caught dead spinning it — is aging like a fine box of Franzia.

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See Also:
Why Do People Loathe Nickelback So Much? (And Do They Deserve It?)
Nickelback (And Paul Scheer) Try To Figure Out Why Everyone Hates Nickelback


This month, Scott Stapp released his memoir, Sinner’s Creed, detailing his dark history of abuse, addiction, faith, and redemption. It could have been a leaden tale of spiritual struggle, but Stapp — and his veteran rock ghostwriter, David Ritz — pack it with all the qualities that make Creed songs so wonderful: It’s a grandiose, ridiculous, overwrought, egotistical, and unintentionally comical tale of spiritual struggle.

No secondhand description could do justice to the absurd majesty of this book. To convey the torment, the triumph, the martyrdom, and heartbreak, we must bring you Stapp in his own beautiful words. This week, Sound of the City is proud to present an unprecedented multi-part series on Stapp’s poignant struggles with his father, his God, his art, and, most of all, himself.

Part I: “I hate You, God!”

Like most Creed videos, much of Sinner’s Creed finds Scott at the edge of a crumbling cliff, striking of pose of crucifixion and heaving his bosom skyward, crying out for a God that has forsaken him. He is bedeviled throughout by depression, self-doubt, addictions, and, occasionally, actual devils; through it all, he screams at the heavens for answers. In our first installment, we’ll look at Stapp’s most dramatic moments of demonic warfare and holy angst.

The tone is set by the prologue, in which Stapp recounts hitting spiritual rock bottom, flinging himself from the balcony of a Miami hotel in an episode of drug-induced paranoia. From the get-go, Scott elaborately pleads with the man upstairs for one last break:

“How could You allow all this to happen to me?” I yelled. “You know I love You and my heart’s in the right place. Why didn’t You protect me? Do You know what humiliation this is going to bring to me? I’m going to be another one of those Christians who embarrass You. Listen, just take my life. I don’t care. But please spare my wife and son from shame. They’ve been through enough. I’ll never understand why You would bless me so much only to take it all away.”

As his grip weakens and he plunges from the deck, all the very real horrors of the underworld nip at his heels:

I felt my spirit plummeting through the stages of Dante’s Inferno. Devils were chasing me with knives and swords, bayonets and scythes. Snakes were curled around my arms, their mouths biting my neck. The Enemy himself, a pitiless beast with eyes of blazing fire, was in pursuit, looking to devour me whole.

Spoiler alert: Scott Stapp is not devoured by Satan (maybe in the sequel). Let that not diminish the fact that his tale played itself out on the grandest possible scale; Scott Stapp was not just a simple plaything of heaven and hell, but the king in their eternal chess game:

I felt like I was in the middle of an epic battle between God and Lucifer, good and evil, life and death. At that moment I couldn’t deny that the devil had complete control over me, but I also knew I had a heart that loved God. At many times throughout my life, I felt I was living under His divine control and following His purposes for me. So how could the devil have won?

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Stapp’s relationship with God wasn’t always so fraught. In the beginning, he found love, comfort, and an on-the-nose literary arc:

I felt certain this heavenly Father loved me completely. Unlike my biological father, He would never leave me. (pg. 8)

But as life got heavier and faith became more complicated, Scott suffered a series of demonic attacks. Along with the unholy terror, he faced grim foreshadowing: Would his religion eventually become a liability in a music industry hell-bent on peddling sin?

It came through the brick exterior of our house, directly into my room, and stood in front of my bed. I heard its voice: “Scott, stop talking to others about Christ, or I’ll kill you.” (pg. 45)

From a young age, Scott was fascinated with rock and roll. This didn’t sit well with his stepfather, a terribly abusive fire-and-brimstone type. When he caught the boy experimenting with rock music, he issued an ultimatum that would haunt Stapp’s career:

“Why is the electric guitar so bad?”

“Because it’s the instrument of Satan, that’s why. It’s designed to deceive you, to cause you to do things you should not do. It’s an instrument geared to defy the discipline you need to do God’s will and God’s will alone.” He paused to take a breath. “In this house and in your life, there will be no electric guitars — ever.” (pg. 26)

(But, thankfully, there were.) As young Scott grew into a man, his faith only deepened . . . until the death of his grandfather, which provoked the first of many intense tantrums of wounded faith:

So in that moment of deep loss and shock, I turned on God. I slammed the phone down and bolted outside. Running down the street crying, I screamed at God, “Why? Why? How could You take him before I said goodbye? I hate You, God!”

I fell to my knees in the middle of the street and looked to the midnight sky. I couldn’t stop sobbing. I couldn’t stop asking why. (pg. 74)

[
As his fame grew, Scott found himself living the voluptuary life on a lapsed Christian. Had he become the very demon who had once boarded him in his bedroom? In the eyes of the public, it was a strong possibility:

There were also threats to my life — accusations that I was the Antichrist and should be crucified upside down. At one point we had to contact the FBI. (pg. 176)

Years of hard living, hard touring, betrayals and lapses took their toll, leading to the near-death plunge detailed in the prologue. Naturally, some old foes were along for the ride:

Amid the beauty of this free fall, I could hear hideous laughing. The laughter grew louder and louder, as if thousands of demons were welcoming me to my death. (pg. 205)

At the end of the book (well, right before Scott Stapp uses the last 50 pages to print every single Creed lyric, ever) our hero finds closure in a personal insight set to music:

But in the end I know that I’m fatally flawed. In the end I’m a slave to one master. That master is sin. After all is said and done, this is my Sinner’s Creed:

Sin screams, “What’s yours I want”
Sin screams, “What’s mine I’ll keep”
Sin is forever knocking, beating at the iron door
Don’t even open it for an instant
Sin always wants more (pg. 230)

In our next installment, we’ll see Scott Stapp putting himself and his art in context: How does he compare to Jim Morrison, Bono, Elvis, Job, King David, and God?

Note: I’m not exactly sure how page numbers on the Kindle work, so the numbers listed here may be partially or entirely meaningless; passages in the prologue were not assigned page numbers.