Scott Stapp Tells Story of Survival in ‘Proof of Life’
Photo: Kevin Winter
Photo: Kevin Winter
When Scott Stapp sat down in 2011 and started writing down his life story, his primary goal was to gain perspective on his troubled youth and put some closure on the debased and self-destructive life he had been leading since he became a rock star. He had no intention of publishing the story as his authorized biography, Sinner's Creed (written with David Ritz), and had no clue that the exercise would fuel the powerful content of his second solo album Proof of Life.
"One day I just sat down and started writing: 'I was born on August 8, 1973,' and just went from there," Stapp told Yahoo Music. "My initial plan was to write it all out and then burn it symbolically to say I'm letting this go and it doesn't define who I am today. I'm going to take what I can learn from it and the things I've been carrying around like a big bag of rocks and I'm going to let it go. My wife, who I shared some of it with, encouraged me to turn it into a book with the mindset of sharing my story with people who could maybe learn something from my mistakes so that everything I did wouldn't have been in vain."
As he worked on the book, Stapp fought to keep his demons at bay; and with the help of friends, family, and religion, Stapp delved into Proof of Life, which was heavily influenced by revelations he experienced working on his memoir.
"Lyrically, the record was a continuation of what I did with the book and a statement of my experiences and who I am today," he said. "I'm taking some of the messes I've made in my life and spinning them into a purpose and a message and feeling good about it because it's helping to bring clarity and balance to my life."
Clean and sober for the last three years, Stapp is shocked when he looks back at some of the things he did to himself and others when he was regularly inebriated.
"Where I am in my life now, I can't even understand where I was coming from and the decisions I made," he said. "In that sense, it almost seems as if it was some kind of dream. When I really think about it, it brings tears to my eyes because it's been such a journey to get here. It's been the most difficult thing I've ever gone through in my life. To be on this side of this now is so humbling, and it's completely changed me as a human being and gotten me more acutely in tune with who I really am and what my priorities are in this world."
With a new perspective on life and a newfound desire to make positive, constructive decisions, Stapp molded Proof of Life as a personal tale of redemption and reinvention. The songs are more intimate than those on his first solo album, 2005's The Great Divide, and deeper than anything he wrote for Creed.
"I definitely approached this record with the intention to not hide behind allegory and analogy," Stapp said. "That's something I got quite good at over the years. I've always been honest because that's the only way I know how to write music, but I danced around subjects before and I really wanted to be clear on this record from a lyrical standpoint. I felt it was very critical for me to continue to gain perspective and clarity on my past so I could help prevent it from having an effect on my present and my future."
The oldest and heaviest song on Proof of Life is "Who I Am," which Stapp wrote in 2007 for another project that never surfaced because at the time he was too foggy and unfocused to be productive. Unlike the rest of the album, which is largely a mid-paced manifesto about the healing powers of love and devotion, "Who I Am" is an urgent, full-fisted track that confronts the listener with growling vocals and screaming guitars.