INTERVIEW WITH THE ARTIST
Scott Stapp's Proof of Life
By Hannah Goodwyn
Scott Stapp is known for his Grammy Award-winning band Creed's No. 1 hit songs, as well as, his tabloid publicized mistakes. In the past few years, the "With Arms Wide Open" songwriter has turned a corner with a recommitment to God.
Recently, Stapp chatted with CBN.com about his new solo album, Proof of Life, released by Wind-up Records (the mainstream label for Seether and The Darkness). The Creed frontman also revealed how ego destroyed his life, his renewed desire to share his faith and why he thinks Jesus is the ultimate rock star. Here are excerpts from that phone call:
Hannah Goodwyn: You've been quoted as saying, "Now, I see that I'm able to turn that mess into a message", referring to your past. What is that message?
Scott Stapp: I got to a point in my life where I questioned my purpose and I lost sight of what my purpose was. I felt like I had really made a mess of things and really lost everything, and I didn't know what was next. Through that questioning and that hopelessness, I found that what gave me hope was realizing that… God had turned what I thought was a mess into something that I could use to share with someone else who are going through the same thing, or going through many struggles in their life. In sharing that with somebody else, it began to heal me.
Goodwyn: God has a unique way of redeeming our past, doesn't He?
Stapp: Absolutely, because sometimes when we're going through horrible situations in life that really there's no answer for, and there's no reason why… abuse, trauma, the loss of loved ones. I'm not here to say that there's a meaning for all of that. But I found that what God did in my life was give me an opportunity to say, 'I can get through this with God's help. God is pulling me through this, and I'm going to get through this'. What gives that purpose and meaning and makes it all matter is being able to pay that forward and share that experience, and that strength, and that hope that God can only give you with someone else.
Goodwyn: "New Day Coming" speaks to the thought that even though it doesn't logically make sense, surrendering does lead to victory.
Stapp: Absolutely. Part of what "surrender" meant for me and in my life was surrendering control and stop trying to think, 'OK, I'm going to do this. I'm going to do that. I can do this or I need to do this. I need to do that in order to get here'… having one foot in the future and one foot still dragging in the past and trying to control my own destiny. In finally giving that control over to God and saying, 'you know what, my way isn't working, I need your help', that was the ultimate surrender to me. That goes all the way down to your ego and finally saying, 'I can't do this, but He can', and then just digging into God's Word and letting that living Word leap off the pages and connect to you and your life. That's the beauty of God's Word.
Goodwyn: "Who I Am" is all about how ego trips us up. What's the story behind that song?
Stapp: That song was one of the first songs that I had ever written where I decided to embody a character. What that character was, was "ego." I really felt like in order to fairly paint the picture of all the things I was confronting in my life on this record, I felt like, for me, ego… and not in terms of thinking that I'm better than everyone else, because ego can take many shapes and forms… but that ego, for me, led to so many bad choices and so much of that control. Again, we go to the surrendering point. So, ego was one of my nemeses. In order to tell the story on this record, I needed to give that nemesis a voice and a personality, and a character to show the power of what God can do over situations in our life, especially when it comes to self will, and a self will that's run riot.
Goodwyn: "Only One" paints your relationship with God in a clear picture, especially the lyrics… "I will be the first hand reaching out / I will be the last one giving up on you." How has God taken you "from your nightmares and put you inside your dreams"?
Stapp: It's just been a miraculous but very, very hard struggle. And it's not easy. The trials and the struggles in life, like it says in scripture, are there to help mold us and help build our character, and make us stronger. But when you're in the middle of it, that's the last thing that you want to think about, that's the last think you're thinking about, and again, there's "Only One."
That's another song where I embodied a character. I embodied that still, small voice inside of me and put it into song because I felt it was important to show the two wars that were going on within me. With the song "Who I Am" being ego in my way… and then "Only One," which is the grace and the love of God, and how He spoke inside my heart amidst all of those situations until finally my heart was ready to see that this is the solution. This is the answer. I've just got to let go of who I am and start trying to figure out who He is. Once I got on that path, that's when my life started to change.
Goodwyn: Speaking of figuring out who He is… "Jesus Was a Rockstar". That song title could be startling to both atheists and believers. What led you to this interesting conclusion?
Stapp: Well, I tell you, that song had two veins that it was born out of. One was the reconciliation that I could be a Christian and also play Rock and Roll music. Because of how I was brought up, those two worlds could not coexist. Rock and Roll was of the devil. The electric guitar was of the devil. Rock and Roll music was the devil's world, the devil's playground. So, me having that beaten into me through the warped religious beliefs of my father, and then having this unquenchable pull and urge and inspiration, and feeling drawn to God through Rock and Roll music… It created this inner conflict that I could never resolve until I found God's grace. Once I found God's grace, that's when everything made sense. So I'm dealing with that dilemma in that song, and then also dealing with the fact that I'm not the rock star. Let me tell you who the rock star is. It's not about me. It's about Him.
What our world classifies as a rock star now is much different than I think what a "rock star" would have been 2,000 years ago. Just based on the state of mind of the world, the two could be the same. But it shows you how far away we are from God, that I could be classified as a rock star when the real rock star, the first rock star, the original rock star, the rock star that should be what we call a rock star today is Jesus Christ. Let me tell you why. If you look at the story of Christ and you look how radical He was and how revolutionary He was, and His passion, and His fire, and everything He did. I mean, it's lasted 2,000 years. His message, His song, so to speak.
So, that was really what I was trying to put out there, and also to stimulate conversation and try to get the message of Christ to a group of people that would never normally hear it in a church and deliver it in the form with a rock groove, that in the past was the antithesis of what we, as Christians, thought Christ's message could be delivered on, to make it a way that's palatable to those who are in this world.
Goodwyn: You make a bold statement in that song, "Bring Jesus back again."
Stapp: Oh, absolutely. I'm ready. The thing is when you fall in love with Jesus and realize that Jesus is so in love with you. When you finally accept that love and you fall back in love with Him… the only thing I can liken it to you is when you're in love with somebody and you want them with you. You don't want to be away from them. You want them back. That's where that emotion came from. I want who I'm in love with here. I want Him to come back and I think all of us who love God and love Jesus, that's the desire of our heart.
Goodwyn: Your last song on Proof of Life, "Dying to Live", reminds me of the verse where Jesus said, 'If you try to hang on to life, you're going to lose it, but if you give it up, you'll save it'. Tell me a little bit about that one.
Stapp: Christ was the first representation and the ultimate example of showing mankind that you must die in order to live. He didn't just say it; He did it. Not only did He die to live, He died so we could live. He died in our place. The Christian walk, in my opinion, is just a constant series of us reenacting what Christ did on the cross for us, in our personal lives. As we grow as Christians, we are continually dying to things in our life, so that we may live life and live it more abundantly.
I didn't start off as an alcoholic. I became that over years. So when I drank, I was doing it like everybody else and had no idea. It really didn't mean anything to me. When it's said, Romans 6:23, "The wages of sin is death"… I didn't really know that or have firsthand knowledge of that until later in my life … [when it] almost killed me. I [use] that example to say that part of me had to die so not only I could continue to live on this earth as a human being, but so that I could continue to grow and live as a Christian, and really understand what true peace, and love, and happiness is.
I'll never be perfect, but I still am going to continue until the day that I go to Heaven to have to die to certain things in my life in order to continue to grow. And you know what, things will probably resurface. I think we all go through that in our life, where things we thought we'd beaten come back. But that's what I found in the beauty of God's grace, and an understanding grace as laid out in Romans. It's a powerful thing; and it's radical.
I spent my whole first 40 years of my life in search of what Christ really meant, and thank God, over the last couple years, grace finally began to sink into me. And it's powerful. It brings tears to my eyes every time I talk about it because it's just amazing to know that we have a God who loves us, who never turns our back on us, who's waiting for us to turn around.
Once that hits you and it finally does, you just want to share it. When you have a light that can take away the darkness, when you have a cure to a disease, when you have a solution to a human struggle and condition, you want to share that with everybody else because you don't want them to suffer too. You want to share your hope, and you want to share this fire, this joy that's been given to you. That's the power of God. That's what God has done in my life. And I just want to share it and be a part of those who are seeking that, and continue to grow.
Hannah Goodwyn serves as the Entertainment producer for CBN.com.
For more articles, visit Hannah's bio page.
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