Scott Stapp Talks “Survivor,” How Solo Writing Differs From Creed

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

Scott Stapp’s “Survivor,” the latest single from his most recent solo album, The Space Between the Shadows, recently went to radio. And from the comforts of his coronavirus quarantine, in his Nashville home, the former Creed frontman is celebrating its success. “I had my biggest single add day at radio that I’ve ever had in my solo career!” he exclaims. 

The track holds a special place in the rocker’s heart, as it tackles the battles he had to overcome in order to reach his current milestone of nearly six years sober. “A lot went into that that song in terms of reflection,” he tells American Songwriter. “It’s about a mindset that I used when I was going through different challenges and adversities in my life.” Stapp says he shaped the song around a positive affirmation, which, during his “dark days,” he tried his best to speak into existence. “I found that having this survivor mindset – which is what this song is ultimately all about – during difficult times of crisis in life really helped give me strength to keep fighting and maintaining the courage that I needed to get through and make it to the other side,” he adds.

“Survivor” was crafted during Stapp’s album writing sessions for The Space Between the Shadows but the singer reveals that the lyrics were largely inspired by some one-liners and declarations that he jotted down when “in the thick of it six years ago.” “I didn’t realize that later in going back and looking at that those lines, they would eventually lead to a song,” he explains.

Stapp hopes that people find “Survivor” to be an uplifting anthem in the face of the current pandemic and that anyone going through what he experienced can take away some strength from it. “I think that was always part of my intent in putting that message into a song, the hope that it would connect with someone who may have been struggling with the same issues that I dealt with,” he says. “I wanted to take that situation in my life that could be looked at as a waste but realize that it had purpose. And to take that experience and pull the data out of it and try to pass that along through song.”

Putting together The Space Between the Shadows was a fun experience for Stapp. His process involved getting together with what he deems his “writing band:” Marti Frederiksen, Scott Stevens, Blair Daly, and Zac Maloy. “We operate just like a band,” he says, noting that the foursome calls themselves “The Four Horsemen.” Stapp explains that this latest album was “very much written like a band,” noting that the process kicked off with him coming into the room with an idea. Then the team would then start riffing together and hammering it out. “We’d just start bouncing things off each other, guitars would get picked up, and everyone would be throwing out,’ hey, what do you think of this? What do you think of that?’” he says. This, per Stapp, is completely new territory, as during the Creed days, he and Mark Tremonti had a very different creative process. “Mark and I would initially write and create ideas separately but then come together and share our ideas. Then we would write the songs and go teach them to the rest of the band,” he reveals.

But with his latest solo material, Stapp says there was a lot of push and pull, challenges, creative disagreements, and playful attempts to one up each other in the studio. “And all of that combustion I think created one of the best albums I’ve written as a solo artist today. And so I really like that process,” he explains. Stapp discloses that he’s never been one to think that everything he writes is good. So having someone say “Hey man, you need to try that again or re-approach that lyrically” was the push that he needed in order to get this record to the next level. He calls the experience “awesome” and says that working with such close pals really made him able to open up and be vulnerable, which he hopes is apparent when people listen to the album. 

Stapp has a separate touring band, which he says he’s also grown quote close to. And he’s started to dive into doing some writing with them while out on the road. “So look for my next solo album to have songs that were written on tour, with either me and my guitar player Yiannis Papadopoulos or my guitar player Ben Flanders,” he announces. 

Like many artists, Stapp is using his time in social isolation to experiment with new music. “I’ve been fiddling around on guitar. I will put some chords together that pull something out of me, and I’ll start singing and I’m like, ‘Oh man, I need to get my phone out and record that,’” he says.  While he hasn’t put together any full tunes yet, Stapp says that he has definitely been collecting some ideas that he is tucking safely away. “It could be a chorus. It could be an intro on a verse. It could be a verse and a first chorus. And I record those ideas knowing that that’s what I’m going to walk into the studio with when it’s time and then we’ll roll from there,” he proclaims.

But new music, for Stapp, is still a ways away. He teases that he’ll release another single from The Space Between the Shadows in September and that he’s got some upcoming tour plans, pending the state of the coronavirus pandemic.
So 2021 is when fans can expect him to really begin committing to making the next record. 

For the time being, Stapp is making the best of his mandated downtime and using this as an opportunity to connect with his fans on social media – “trying to share hope and optimism and unite together.” He’s been busy adhering to his fitness routine, helping his budding singer/songwriter daughter to mess around with ProTools, and hanging out with his boys. He’s also been playing board games with his family and spending some quality time with his wife — “I can’t even remember the last time prior to this experience that we have been in kitchen together cooking for our family,” he reveals. 

He has, however, given himself one productive task: the mission of quitting vaping before the end of his quarantine. “Since I was 13, I’ve had a nicotine habit. And then when I got sober, I switched to vaping with the intent of weaning myself down to zero nicotine and then stopping,” he reveals. The journey, says Stapp, is going well. He tells us that he is officially on day 5. “So I pulled it together to do this interview with you and afterwards, I will go sit in the corner and rock and scream out loud,” he jokes, noting that he’s been hiding out in his studio man cave during the toughest part of the withdrawal phase but between 2PM to 8PM is when he tends to get a reprieve. “And so that’s when I ‘come out of my dungeon’ and the kids are like ‘okay. Dad’s back!’” he proclaims, with a laugh.

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