by Lisa Schreiner
Scott Stapp, former front man for Creed, one of the biggest bands of the late 90’s and early aughts, dropped by the studio at The Paramount in Huntington, NY on 8/31/17 to speak to local rock station The Shark. Stapp was in the area with the “Make America Rock Again” tour, sharing a bill with Drowning Pool, Trapt, Sick Puppi3es and Adelitas Way. Orlando, The Shark’s morning disc jockey, interviewed Scott at the radio station set up next door to the popular Paramount, delving into the role music plays today and touching on the importance of mental illness education.
Orlando: When you were introduced to us with Creed, you had started at a point and then the next thing you know, it was just album after album after album. Do you still write that way?
Scott Stapp: The writing style and the way I approach writing music hasn’t changed. It still comes from an authentic place and I just try to stay true to who I am and the way I view the world and the things that I seek to learn.
Orlando: So the name of this tour is Make America Rock Again. Everywhere you look, everyone is talking about everything but music. Do you think there is a chance that with tours like this, we can actually make people think about music again?
Scott: For rock n’ roll, it just seems like one of those valleys, where it’s not getting the mainstream exposure that it used to get. I think it’s just a matter of time before a song is going to change that. And, the cycle will reverse. I think if you look at the history of music, this is just part of it. It comes in and out of favor. But, I definitely think it’ll change in the future.
Orlando: When the My Own Prison album broke, it was at the end of the 90’s, we were out of grunge already. America was looking for something, you guys were right there. What changed between then and now that caused that valley in the peak of what was once an amazing music scene?
Scott: I just think that pop music in general has become in vogue. It has become what the mass audience is kind of into. For rock n’ roll, of course we gotta stay true to our core and who we are, but we also have to dive into some new areas and push the boundaries of the sound; to tap into the new generation and what they’re into.
Orlando: Is that possible today with auto-tune, with Spotify, with everything being compressed, everything being manufactured? Is there a way to get kids to expand their minds again?
Scott: Absolutely. My manager always says ‘a hit song cures cancer’. And, that’s what it’s all about. It’s all about a hit song. It’s just going to take that right band, that right artist, that right song to open the flood gates again.
As with many interviews with musicians in recent times, the topic of recent deaths in music (notably Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington) inevitably came up, along with the indiscriminate aspects of mental illness. Stapp is no stranger to the demons of mental illness, having been diagnosed as being bipolar. The 44-year-old singer has previously admitted that he contemplated suicide in 2003; also attempting suicide years later, where he credits the rapper T.I. for saving him. He knows the battles that not just “famous people” face, but that people all over the world face when it comes to mental illness. Stapp made an insightful, well-said remark regarding the perils of mental illness:
“I don’t think it’s necessarily an issue that’s solely a result of being in a rock n’ roll lifestyle. I think it’s a human issue. I think it affects millions and millions and millions of people all over this world; specifically in reference to addiction and alcoholism and mental illness. And that’s really what we’re dealing with here. It goes far beyond socioeconomic boundaries. It doesn’t matter if you’re super successful or not, highly educated or not, it doesn’t discriminate. I think there’s still a lot of stigma out there involving that. It’s hard for a rationally sane-minded, healthy individual to understand someone who has a brain disease. Cause, you know, they’re not bleeding, they’re not getting chemo. No outside indicators that there’s a disease going on within the brain. From everything that I’ve been taught and learned about mental illness and it’s impact on the human mind is that it takes away all logic, all reasoning, and all rational decision-making, and that’s part of the disease. So it’s hard for someone who isn’t affected by that disease to make sense of it. Because, you can’t make sense of it. Just like you can’t make sense of cancer. I don’t see people in online uproars going off on somebody who has just died of cancer. There’s no difference between [that] and mental illness. It’s a disease, it takes people’s lives and people are suffering from it all over the world. We just need more education and definitely more compassion, more understanding and more of a desire to understand the realities of it. It is a disease where people have no choice.”
The “Make America Rock Again” tour continues until October 2nd; information regarding cities and dates can be found on the tour’s official site.