Creed: Second Coming
Originally published in Guitar World, January 2010
Creed were the celebrated gods of American rock before their world came
crashing down six years ago. Mark Tremonti talks about the group’s resurrection and the making of their latest effort, Full Circle.
For Creed, the beginning of the end came on the night of December 29, 2002, at what guitarist Mark Tremonti refers to as “the infamous Chicago show.”
During the band’s headlining performance at the Allstate Arena that evening, frontman Scott Stapp was visibly intoxicated and barely able to sing the words to the band’s songs. More than once he dropped to the stage floor; on occasion he walked off entirely.
“He was just wasted,” Tremonti recalls. “We had to hold off the show for 45 minutes to try and get him sobered up, but he couldn’t pull it off. He swore up and down that he could do it, but he went out there and it was just an embarrassment.” In the aftermath, several concertgoers slapped the band with a class-action lawsuit seeking reimbursement for ticket and parking fees for the thousands in attendance that night.
Up to that point in their career, Creed had weathered their fair share of criticism. Their music had been dismissed as overblown and derivative of early Nineties grunge acts like Pearl Jam. Stapp’s lyrics led some to charge that the band members were closet Christian rockers with a serious messianic bent. But the fallout from the Allstate show marked a different kind of problem for the group: dissent was beginning to brew among Creed’s fans and within the band’s own ranks. “At that point,” Tremonti says, “I just figured, Scott’s self destructive, and I want to get away from him.”
Creed were perhaps the biggest-selling American rock act of the late Nineties and early 2000s. Their three albums—1997’s My Own Prison, 1999’s Human Clay and 2001’s Weathered—sold more than 25 million copies in the U.S. alone. But a little more than a year after Chicago, Creed were finished. Stapp embarked on a solo career, while Tremonti and drummer Scott Phillips hooked up with singer Myles Kennedy and original Creed bassist Brian Marshall and found success as Alter Bridge.
Creed, and Tremonti in particular, were publicly adamant that the group would not reunite. But as the saying goes, time heals. Stapp found his way back from a prolonged period of addiction to alcohol and prescription drugs, and earlier this year he reached out to his former bandmates. They talked, and eventually they attempted to work out their problems. “Sometime around February” of 2009, Tremonti says, “we went down to Scott’s house in Boca Raton [Florida] and tried out some of the old songs. The first one we did was ‘My Own Prison,’ which was the one that gave us our start. And right off the bat it sounded like Creed. It was like going through a time warp. It felt right.”
Today, Creed are back on solid footing. They recently completed a summer reunion tour of U.S. sheds and just released Full Circle, their first studio album in eight years. Produced by Howard Benson (Daughtry, the All-American Rejects), the album boasts the type of muscular riffs (first single “Overcome,” “Bread of Shame”) and anthemic choruses (“Rain,” “Time”) that fueled past smash hits like “Higher” and “With Arms Wide Open.” Tremonti says he’s proud of the finished album and is looking forward to more Creed activity in 2010, including another leg of the U.S. tour. And though there are plans in the works for Alter Bridge to reconvene for a new album next year, the guitarist is clearly enjoying having his old band back at the moment.
“We’ve changed so much as musicians and as people in the time we’ve been away from Creed,” Tremonti says. “But one thing that hasn’t changed is that, when we play the songs and we hear the crowd singing the words back at us, it’s incredible. The connection that people have with this music is powerful.”