Interview: "Changed Man" Scott Stapp talks Alcoholics Anonymous, Tallahassee life and winning back fans before show at Ruth Eckerd Hall

Arms not quite wide open, Stapp reveals a little about where he's at these days.

click to enlarge Scott Stapp, who plays Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater, Florida on September 16, 2017. - c/o the artist
c/o the artist
Scott Stapp, who plays Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater, Florida on September 16, 2017.

98 Rock's fervor for throwing on some of Tampa's biggest hard rock events once again pays off for its fans, as the station brings its Make America Rock Again event back for the second straight year. Advertised as Tampa's "best hard-rocking party," this one day event housed in Ruth Eckerd certainly has some intrigue for the hard rock fans in the area, both young and old.

Make America Rock Again at Ruth Eckerd Hall — 09.16.17 (w/Scott Stapp/Drowning Pool/more)

Headlining his second Bay area event of 2017 is Scott Stapp, the high-profile frontman of Creed. He's coming off a June 1 show in Clearwater's Beach Rock Lounge, and is currently celebrating the 20th anniversary of Creed's commercial bombshell My Own Prison

Also on the bill is fun, alt-rock trio Sick Puppies plus Drowning Pool and Adelitas Way. 

No stranger to headlining, or rather making headlines, Stapp has been on a bit of a redemption tour over the last year. Since his widely-publicized downfall after Creed disbanded in 2013, the star has found himself the center of attention for all the wrong reasons. From drunken public outbursts, becoming homeless, to having a suicide attempt thwarted by T.I., Stapp's image in the public eye has been anything but positive.

In 2017 we find Stapp a changed man. He's back where he feels most at home, playing rock music on the road before the fans still enthused enough to come out and see him. While this is a solo performance (as was his show in June,) Stapp also keeps busy as a member of the supergroup Art of Anarchy. 

While some may have become disenchanted from his antics over the years, it's hard to ignore one of the most polarizing voices in recent rock history. Stapp is responsible for smash hits "With Arms Wide Open" and "Higher," after all.

After missing us during his Clearwater stop, Stapp caught up with CL to help promote Make America Rock Again, which takes place September 16 at Ruth Eckerd. Check out the full Q&A below and get more information on the show via

Make America Rock Again w/Scott Stapp/Drowning Pool/Sick Puppies/Adelitas Way
Sat. Sept. 16, 7 p.m. $29-$79.75.
Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 McMullen Booth Rd., Clearwater.

This upcoming tour has some special meaning for you as it comes on the heels of the 20th anniversary of Creed’s My Own Prison. How has your music changed since then?

I feel my music has evolved sonically in terms of style. Lyrically, I continue to pull from life experience and inner thought processes always trying to create the most honest reflection of my soul and perspective.

The confessional “Changed Man” seems like an attempt to reconnect with fans/friends. Do you still worry about reclaiming fan approval?

"Changed Man" was inspired by an experience and near literal conversation with my wife Jaclyn. It was written for her. Approval has never been a motivation for me in my music or songwriting. I just want to be honest and authentic.

In your interview with GQ, you spoke about attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings as often as five days a week. Do you still attend meetings while on tour?

Yes, I do.

What emotions are you going through as you prepare for the upcoming tour? Are you nervous? Excited?

I'm excited to get out on the road and play. It's what I love. Connecting with the fans through rock music is whats its all about for me.

Lastly, as a fellow Florida State Alumni, what was it like growing up as a band in the Tallahassee music community?

At the time Creed was starting out in Tallahassee, the music scene there was very small and just forming. I think because of that, Creed had a lot of opportunities and local support. Creed would have never made it on the global level had we not had the radio and fan support in Tallahassee.

In Tallahassee there are stories about the house you used to live in. Are there any truth to the crazy rumors?

I haven't heard any of these "crazy rumors" but I guess there is probably not much truth behind any of them. We were low key, normal college boys enjoying the college experience like everybody else.

Get more information on the show via

LJ Hilberath

Franz “LJ” Hilberath is a Clearwater-native who contributes to Creative Loafing's Music section. He previously served as an intern and is now a freelance contributor for all things music.LJ can be found in the field reviewing concerts and music festivals around the country, and also works interviews for both local...
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