Creed is one of those populist rock bands whose massive success infuriates critics and sundry detractors. A post-grunge act from Florida whose second-generation stylistic similarities to Pearl Jam et al have been well-documented, Creed nonetheless attracted a multi-platinum legion of followers who could care less if Eddie Vedder came before or after Scott Stapp.
Of course, while spectacular success is a fun thing, Creed - vocalist Stapp, guitarist Ben Tremonti, bassist Brian Marshall and drummer/keyboardist Scott Phillips - were in some ways deluded by their early and avalanche-quick popularity. It came so quickly through albums like "My Own Prison" (1997) and "Human Clay" (1999) that a defensive sense of entitlement organically developed within the band.
At first, Stapp says, the critical vitriol was bewildering and hurtful. Eventually, after the sustained success of 2001's "Weathered" album, it started to annoy the band. Despite selling more than 40 million records globally, Stapp displayed increasingly odd behavior, tension developed within, and Creed broke up in 1995.
Time's funny, though. Folks grow up, mature, have families, develop a more comprehensive and open way of looking at things - and, for all those reasons and more, the band reformed. In 2009, they released their fourth studio album, "Full Circle," which sold 110,000 copies in the first week.
Stapp and Tremonti are reportedly writing tunes for a new album, and Creed is on the road with a stop scheduled Saturday in the Mohegan Sun Arena. For several cities, Creed will play a two-night residency where, for one performance, as part of the set list, they'll play "My Own Prison" in its entirety. For the other show, the complete "Human Clay" album will be included.
For single-night dates, fans will get a comprehensive and representative mash-up of the band's entire catalog.
Recently, Stapp called in to discuss All Things Creed.
After all this time, Creed is touring again, selling out big arenas - in some cities, two nights - and it must be tempting to think, "Hey, Critics! Are you idiots paying attention?"
"(Laughs) We've been so blessed and I feel so appreciative and humbled because our fans have enabled us to rise above that. You know, all of the awards we've won, except for the Grammy stuff, have been voted by the fans. So, whenever critics write that we were rip-offs or not relevant or whatever, the fans have said, 'We don't think so.' I guess 25,000 people in an arena make a good point." (Note: Creed has been nominated for three Grammys and won a Best Rock Song Grammy for "Arms Wide Open.")
Admittedly, Stapp didn't always feel that way.
"Earlier, when we were young and passionate, we did stand up for ourselves, and we did have chips on our shoulders. In our naivete, every dream was coming true, and to be slammed, well, that didn't seem part of the deal. And we came off in the press as aloof or spoiled or arrogant and bratty. The truth was, we didn't have the emotional maturity and knowledge to put things in perspective. It's like the kid at school who gets made fun of - it's only natural to sulk or get upset.
"But look at a tragedy like the tsunami in Japan. THAT'S reality and puts things in serious perspective. I'm so lucky to have a job and friends and family. I couldn't have understood that before, and I had personal issues I had to go through - and I had to go through them in public. I made a lot of mistakes."
At the same time, some of the band's critics have mellowed somewhat in their assessment of Creed. Does it appear that way to the guys in the band?
"Well, just like us, the critics are older and have more life experiences, too. Maybe they can relate to us somewhat. It's important to connect to the media in a positive way while staying honest and respectful and thoughtful. Journalists are doing their jobs. That we were even relevant enough to have been noticed - even if it was negative - meant we mattered to someone. I think it will all be more fulfilling and positive going forward."
Given the span of time between "My Own Time" and "Full Circle," there must presumably be a big difference between the backstage rider then and what Creed requires for the Mohegan Sun show.
"(Laughs) I can start by saying I can at least remember the rider now! It's pretty calm. I specifically don't need any more alcohol or new socks and underwear in each town. Back then? Well, we were young and had a lot of stuff in there. Each guy had his own idiosyncrasies. You know: 'My mom makes sandwiches with no crusts, and that's how I like them.' That kind of thing. Part of it was us, part of it was enabling by our management. They'd overpamper us to keep us making money, and we took advantage of it.
At the same time, if you've got 15 guys on a tour bus, you want to be comfortable. So every detail was covered because we couldn't go grocery shopping or whatever. Each guy had his own mini-refrigerator, and you'd fill it up with stuff from the arena because that was the only way to get it sometimes."