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"I'm not evil, no matter what you think of me," sings Scott Stapp in the opening line of "Slow Suicide," the first song from his second solo album, Proof of Life, the lyric video of which premieres below. The song focuses on Stapp's gradual decline from a life of drugs and alcohol and his realization of how much he damaged himself and others.
"It's an honest reflection and characterization of myself and what I was doing to myself," Stapp told Yahoo Music. "Not only through drugs and alcohol, but through anything in my life that was robbing me of peace, joy, commitment, happiness, and all the positive things this life has to offer."
The song marks Stapp's return to the spotlight following Creed's 2009 reunion album Full Circle, and it's his first original since his 2005 album, The Great Divide, which went platinum less than a month after its release. Unlike that album, which was written when Stapp was in the throes of self-destruction, Proof of Life was created clean and sober. Most of the album was written between January 2013 and this summer; it comes out November 5 and was produced by Howard Benson (Halestorm, Skillet, Daughtry).
"Slow Suicide" is a gritty burner, which opens with whirling, dizzying guitar feedback that blends into the main surging riff. From there, the number see-saws between a muted-chugging verse and a euphoric chorus capped with a dissonant, distorted declaration, "I was committing, I was committing, I was committing slow suicide!"
When he started working on the tune in early 2013, Stapp had no intention of writing such a confessional song. He was actually hanging out with his friend Scott Stevens, the former lead singer of L.A. band the Exies, and the two were reminiscing over the past decade.
"The song came so organically," Stapp said. "We began to share and trade stories and talk about where we were today as opposed to where we were 10 years ago. And through that conversation, lyrics started coming. Scott and I grabbed our guitars and the song was born."
While "Slow Suicide" starts as a cautionary tale, it turns into a story of redemption. "I can't let this life pass me by/ in the blink of an eye it ends," sings Stapp in the chorus, which features one of the album's strongest hooks.
"I'm 40 now, and it seems like only yesterday I was in high school, only yesterday I was in fourth grade singing 'I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy' in a school play," he said. "And here I am now. It's like, 'Man, where did the years go?' That's how fast it goes by. And that's how I'm gonna look back when I'm 80. And I don't want to get through this second season in my life and be writing songs characterizing slow suicide. So it's real appropriate for me to encapsulate and bring conclusion to the last 35 years with this song and this album."
For Stapp, who had several near-death experiences and once picked up a gun to kill himself, but changed his mind, "Slow Suicide" is a self-affirming declaration that he won't return to his former state. It's also a wake-up call to anyone still battling personal demons. But it's not a slap in the face; it's more like a steadying hand to offer support and guidance by example.
"Anything we put into our lives that is bringing negativity at any level into our lives is slowly killing us," he said. "I had that epiphany as we were writing that it was slow suicide because there was a choice I made in all those areas in continuing that behavior or letting it go, as difficult as it may be. And by the grace of God and the help of others who have been on this journey before me, I was able to make the right choice."