Hit The Lights: Creed: 'A Lot Of People Weren't Familiar With Our Heavier Side'

artist: Creed date: 12/08/2009 category: interviews
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Hit The Lights: Creed: 'A Lot Of People Weren't Familiar With Our Heavier Side'
Within a given five-year period, some achieve little, while others achieve much. Most artists attempt to establish their career in those early years, with varying degrees of success. Having sold twenty-six million albums in North America alone and securing multi-platinum discs, however, alternative rock outfit Creed have certainly garnered more success than most. Returning after a hiatus of several years, Creed boast anthemic cuts like "Higher" and "My Sacrifice" amongst their live arsenal, and having recently issued their fourth studio album, the band likely hope to pen future tracks that gain similar stature. Creed officially confirmed its split on June 4th, 2004 following the release of three studio albums, namely 'My Own Prison' (1997), 'Human Clay' (1999), and 'Weathered' (2001). Guitarist Mark Tremonti and drummer Scott Phillips went on to form Alter Bridge with ex-Creed bassist Brian Marshall, while vocalist Scott Stapp pursued a solo career. Five years later on April 27th, 2009 however, Creed confirmed a reunion of its original lineup via the group's official website. From June to July, fourth studio album 'Full Circle' was recorded in Nashville, Tennessee with producer Howard Benson. Creed's reunion tour began on August 6th in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and concluded on October 20th in Hidalgo, Texas, previewing the following five newly penned tracks; "Overcome", "Rain", "Bread of Shame", "Full Circle", and "A Thousand Faces". One week later on the 27th, 'Full Circle' experienced its North American release through Wind-Up Records. Shifting 110,000 copies in its first week of release, the album charted at position two on the Billboard 200, just behind Michael Jackson's 'This Is It' compilation. Inaugural single "Overcome" had been released on August 25th, charting at position seventy-three on the Billboard Hot 100, while sophomore single "Rain" was released on October 6th, 2009, also charting on the Billboard Hot 100 (at position ninety-one). On November 19th at 17:20 GMT, a Wind-Up Records representative telephoned Hit The Lights' Robert Gray to put him through to Creed drummer Scott Phillips, so that Creed's reunion and fourth studio album 'Full Circle' could be discussed. UG: How are you Scott? Scott Phillips: I'm good. How are you doing? I'm alright. Would it be alright if I began the interview? Oh yeah, absolutely. How did Creed's reunion come about? Reportedly, there was a meeting in an Orlando, Florida hotel. Yeah, that's where it started, back in late December of last year. Before then, we had discussed the possibility of seeing if Scott would be interested in doing some dates with Creed. He had enquired about the same through our management, and was actually the one that contacted us. We sat down in a room in Orlando, and just gave each other hugs. We talked a little bit about what had gone wrong in the past, and about the possibility of us having a few Creed dates. It went really, really well. I think all of us put aside our personal differences that seemed so important back in 2002, and we were surprised that they really weren't that important in 2009. That was the birth of it. Initially, we'd talked about doing a summer tour, and seeing how that goes. From those few meetings we had early in January and February of this year, we decided it was pretty important that we had to go along with that, and put out a new record. From there, it got very busy very quickly. We already had tour dates booked, and we needed to get an album done in a very short amount of time. We went into a rehearsal space in Nashville, Tennessee, worked there for about a month, and transferred to Los Angeles, and started working with Howard Benson. Originally, what brought Creed to an end several years ago? I think, overall, just lack of communication. Scott was going through a very difficult point in his life, some of it we were aware of, and some of it we weren't aware of. I think we had personalities that were going in very different directions at that point in time, and we just needed to take a break from each other. Mark and I went on to form Alter Bridge, while Scott went on to do a solo record, and at that time got married, met his new wife, and they had a child together. I think all of us grew up during that break. When you met with Scott, and spoke to him, was there a whole different side to him that maybe you and the other guys didn't know about? And maybe you learnt a few things about him that you didn't know before? Some of it, yeah. Some things were brought to our attention that we weren't aware of at the time. Scott, between 2002 and now, is definitely better, and a little more humble. I think the break showed him what's important in life, and what isn't as important as he thought it was. He's certainly become way more appreciative of what the rest of us do in the band, and since that time in 2002 when the band was falling apart, we're all older. We've all got families now, and we all understand that it's not that hard to put aside your personal differences, and have that same goal in mind.

"I think all of us grew up during that break."

Obviously, Brian is also a part of Alter Bridge. Was it really important to have him back in the Creed fold? When Creed split, Brian wasn't a part of the fold. No, he wasn't. He left in the summer of 2000, and we went on touring without Brian being a part of it. It was extremely important for all of us that the original lineup, that the four of us, were a part of this. I think if one member had been someone else... obviously, a different guitarist is gonna change everything, but probably for the rest of the guys, having a different drummer or a different bassist doesn't mean as much. It would be less suitable calling it a reunion though, or however you wanna phrase it. I think it was extremely important that it was all four of us. It's been reported that Brian and Scott had issues with one another. But having said that, they sat down, and sorted out those issues? Yeah. In forming Alter Bridge, we brought Brian back, and I think there was a period of time there where we were all aware of the fact that there were some underlying issues that we really needed to get out into the open. We got that out of the way after Alter Bridge had formed while we were out on the road; we sat down one night, and got all the issues out. I think that's what Scott and Brian needed to have as well; they needed to sit down, and really discuss things that happened. Did you and the rest of the guys feel that in its career, Creed had given a lot, but still had a lot more to give? Yeah, I think so, if you look back at the past that we had, which was pretty amazing. Looking back at it from being in the band, I thought we were able to, in such a short amount of time... but the band was only on the public radar from late 1997 to the end of 2002. It was a five-year run, which for some bands is pretty impressive in this business, because there's bands that have gone on for ten, fifteen, twenty years... and we felt that there were certainly more chapters in our career than had already been written. Do you feel that Creed achieved quite a lot in that time in comparison to what most other groups achieve in that time frame? Yeah. Honestly, I do. Looking back on it, we sold somewhere north of about thirty million records within that time frame. It's only when you look back on stuff and reflect on it that you realize how fortunate we were to accomplish what we did in such a short amount of time - there's bands that have been together for fifteen or twenty years that are considered pretty successful that haven't achieved a sales number like that. What we were able to, the crowds we were able to do it in front of, the type of music we were playing - I was amazed by it. I was impressed by it. I think there's a lot of bands that are career artists, who put out great singles, that haven't had the opportunity to do some of the things that we've done. Looking back on it, it felt ridiculous to just throw it all away. Was there a point where a Creed reunion seemed very unlikely? Was there a point where you thought "We'd like a reunion to happen, but it's not gonna happen"? I think for the most part, it wasn't that we'd like it to happen, but it wasn't going to happen - it's that we just didn't want it to happen. I think we still harboured some of those ill feelings that we had towards each other. Finally, the light switched for everyone, and we realized it wouldn't hurt to see what's there, and go back and do this. Once that light switched for everyone, we then became very receptive towards it, knowing that Scott had changed a lot as a person, and for him, knowing that we're all older and wiser. Creed did a reunion tour from August to October 2009. Did the onstage vibe feel any different compared to the final shows the group had performed prior to its breakup? Yeah, it did. For a lot of those shows in 2002, we felt really disconnected, the three of us onstage. It didn't feel like a band. It felt like we were going out there, going through the motions, and not enjoying ourselves while we were doing it. Then this time around, seeing the reaction that the fans had to these songs that we hadn't played in forever, us sharing the stage together again, watching Scott as a new person and as a new performer, going out there and entertaining the crowd, us as better musicians than we were in 2002 - it definitely felt different. It was very comfortable, and somewhat nostalgic. How much do you feel the music industry has changed in that time? Oh man, it's completely different. Album sales, marketing dollars, the public's taste for music - I think all of it has changed somewhat. The emphasis on CD sales and that sort of thing, the benchmark of how successful it is - for the most part, just face it; you don't sell CDs like you used to, and you don't market a CD in the same way that you used to. Touring is the only thing that remains the true aspect; you pick your stuff up, and play the same size ampitheatres, arenas or whatever it is, and see who comes out and watches. That now seems to be the standard measure for how successful a band is. But having said that, 'Full Circle' still went to number two on the Billboard 200 charts. If it wasn't for Michael Jackson's 'This Is It' compilation being released that same week, the album would've likely charted at number one. Yeah, that's certainly a possibility. That's quite a feat, considering the way the industry is in 2009. Yeah, and that's something we're certainly very proud of, especially with how last minute.. not last minute, but just how quickly this all came about. Nothing was announced to the public until well into the spring of this year, and then all of a sudden, by fall we're out on tour, and we have an album that managed to go to number two. I'm not sure how it did in the UK, but it went to number two here in the US, and of course, Michael Jackson - the guy's the King of Pop, even posthumously. He put out music that people very much care about. If we were gonna come in second to somebody, you can't argue with Michael Jackson.

"Mark Tremonti has a very signature style, though it might be certainly more aggressive now than on any past Creed albums."

How did writing sessions develop for 'Full Circle'? We actually went down to Scott's house. He lives in South Florida, and we live in Central Florida - it's about a three hour drive. Mark and Brian and I hopped in a car, drove down, went to Scott's place, and met his family. He's got a pretty nice studio above one of his garages. We set up instruments, and just stared at each other for about twenty minutes, thinking "What are we doing? Where do we start?". We immediately started playing old songs; we started with "My Own Prison", and then played "Torn", and then "Ode", and "Higher". That got the juices flowing again, and got us used to playing with each other. Why did Creed decide to work with Howard Benson? We looked at a couple of different producers. Scott had actually talked with Howard Benson before regarding some of his solo stuff, and was very impressed by him. Howard happens to be a friend of one of our managers, and once we started throwing around names and mentioned him, one of our managers said "Howard's a good friend of mine". His track record speaks for itself; he's worked with bands from Sepultura to Daughtry to Kelly Clarkson and so on, all different styles of music. The man seems to bring the best out of those bands. After the conversation we had with him on the phone, it felt like he was the right guy. What new ingredients are on 'Full Circle'? It's obviously been several years, so Creed has new things in the arsenal. For instance, take a song like "Bread of Shame", which is a very drop-tuned, double bass, mid uptempo type song which is very aggressive: I don't think that's a song we would've done in 2001, 2002. A few others are on there, but I can't think of any specific parts I'm trying to describe. All of us though, from the time that we broke up, at least for Mark, and Brian and myself.. we all sat down, and said "Alright. We're going to push the envelope of what we do as far as we could". We had heavy songs on records that got released; we were known for "Higher", and "My Sacrifice", and the songs "With Arms Wide Open" and "One Last Breath" - big rock ballads if you will. I think a lot of people weren't familiar with our heavier side, and that was something that we wanted to try to showcase in starting Alter Bridge, playing a lot of the European festivals that we did with bands like In Flames, and Opeth, and Metallica, bands that are way heavier than we ever were as Creed, and us wanting to be up to their calibre. We push ourselves musically, and as musicians, to be better. I think that naturally carried over into us reforming Creed, and not wanting to make the same stuff that we did in 2002. But having said that, what musical links does 'Full Circle' have to Creed's past? For me listening to it, Mark Tremonti has a very signature style, though it might be certainly more aggressive now than his guitar solos or whatever were on any past Creed albums. Also, Scott has a very signature sounding voice How do you, Mark and Brian juggle time between Creed and Alter Bridge? So far, it's going good. We're not gonna be home much, as we're very busy. Right now, the focus and the emphasis is on Creed. We've shut down for the winter as far as touring goes, though we're still doing interviews, promotion and that type of thing, and probably a couple of acoustic performances here and there. We are gonna start working on Alter Bridge stuff next month, and when that time expires, we'll jump back into Creed. We're looking forward to a big tour through most of the year. And with Creed, what are the current plans? Current plans with Creed? We are taking a break as of this winter to let the album get out and circulate among the fans. We'll start back again in a few months time with a tour that starts in North America, which'll last most of next year. So with Creed, there will be future albums and so on? I would think so. We've put all this effort into reuniting this band, and as friends, and it would be a shame to just do one album, and then walk away from it again. Finally, do you have a message for the fans who've supported Creed? Thanks for your continued support. I know that we've been away for awhile, but we're back, and hope we're gonna see each and every one of you very soon. Ok. Thanks for the interview Scott. Sure. Thank you. All the best. You too, thanks. Bye. Bye. Interview by Robert Gray Ultimate-Guitar.Com 2009
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