In an interview Music Life Magazine conducted with former Guns ‘n Roses guitarist Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Thal about his involvement in the band Art of Anarchy a couple of months ago, the talented axe-man had nothing but praise to say about that band’s vocalist and his friend, Scott Stapp
“Scott is doing even better than you could have expected. I don’t hold it against people for going through difficult times. It’s what you do about it. But he took care of himself and he fought through it and he rose above it and he stayed dedicated and determined and has maintained his sobriety for well over two years now and deserves a lot of credit for that. And I see on the road how he is inspiring so many people who have gone through similar things and they see him overcoming and not only just getting past it, but being a better person for it. That really inspires people,” he said at the time.
After a number of career ups and downs and an even more tumultuous personal life that has included a number of brushes with the law, a number of very public ‘moments of difficulty’ (in counselling parlance), bouts of alcoholism, drug addiction and a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, Stapp has kept the demons at bay, and is thriving in his overall health and wellbeing, as well as his career.
The long-time former (and possible future?) singer with rockers Creed has enjoyed his time touring with Art of Anarchy since the release of the band’s album The Madness in the spring of 2017. He is now in the midst of a new solo tour, The Make America Rock Again Tour, which began in Nebraska on Aug. 9, has a swing through Texas before heading and up and down the east coast of the U.S. throughout the first couple of weeks of September, ending in Las Vegas on Sept. 29. There are no Canadian dates, but there is a show in Watertown, NY, near the Ontario border, on Sept. 2, at the Exhibition Hall.
On the Make America Rock Again tour, Stapp is headlining, and joined on the tour by the bands Drowning Pool, Sick Puppies, Trapt and Adelita’s Way.
“Some other bands are going to pop in along the way. It’s been going great so far and it’s been a good time. I think each band on this tour has its own individual identity and its own fan base. I think that what we all have in common is that we are rock and roll bands and we just want to put on great rock shows,” said Stapp from the tour’s stop in Odessa, Texas.
And he said fans of Creed we definitely be pleased with his set list.
“The fans can expect to hear a predominantly Creed set, maybe one solo tune that I enjoy playing that connected with fans [usually either Slow Suicide or Who I Am from 2013’s Proof of Life] from my last solo record. It’s the closest thing the fans are going to get to a Creed show until Creed gets back and does another tour, so that’s what the fans can expect. All the Creed fans that want to get their Creed fix are going to get it when they come to see me. And all the fans that haven’t had a chance to see Creed, this is as close as they’re going to get until the band gets back together and does something,” Stapp said, adding that there are also still some tour dates in the offing for Art of Anarchy, a band that he said he has thoroughly enjoyed working with since coming on board in late 2015.
As again, talked about in the interview with Bumblefoot, Art of Anarchy endured its own crucible regarding the involvement with the late Scott Weiland, who recorded the band’s self-titled debut album, participated in promotional video and photo shoots, but ultimately declared that he was not a member of the band. Weiland would die of a drug overdose mere months after the Art of Anarchy album release and Stapp was tabbed to be the band’s new vocalist/songwriter.
In essence, both Bumblefoot in the previous interview, and Stapp himself feel that Art of Anarchy, as a function creative and touring entity, really began when he entered the picture.
“The primary legacy that he [Weiland] left behind as far as Art of Anarchy is concerned is that he wasn’t a member of the band. And it was never a band in the truest sense of the word. He was kind of a hired gun to come in and lay down vocals and did it from a distance, and they never toured. So I kind of feel like Art of Anarchy, as a band, began its legacy with this new album. I really don’t feel like there is a legacy prior to me entering the band. There is a story, for sure, but I really think the band started with this current record, The Madness. Everything for it was done as a band, man. We did it old school, holed up in a basement, just the five of us, and threw ideas around and hammered the songs together, like a real band does,” Stapp said.
“And then we promoted the record as a band and have been touring the record as a band and we function as a band. So it’s the real deal. And it’s been so much fun; I wouldn’t do it if it wasn’t fun. It’s something I enjoy tremendously. I really enjoy working with new artists like the Votta brothers in this band, and other artists who I have known, but who I have never worked with. Art of Anarchy has been great for me in terms of writing new and different sound music than I have before in my career with different collaborators. I honestly have enjoyed the whole experience.
“The band itself is great. We have John Moyer from Disturbed and Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Thal from Guns ‘N Roses and who has an amazing solo career and then the twins [Jon and Vince Votta], so it’s a good mix of identities and artistic influences. And it all came together very organically. It’s been great all the way around.”
And what is also great is Stapp’s state of mind, mental, physical and spiritual health. As Thal mentioned, the sobriety has held, and Stapp said it is not something he will ever take for granted.
“Man I am doing great. And you know I am really, really enjoying my life in sobriety and the all the healthy aspects and healthy choices that I have made to change my life. And it is really having a positive effect on me all the way around in terms of the health of my mind and my body and my soul and my spirit. It’s really reinvigorated me artistically and in every aspect of my life,” he said, explaining how he manages to hold the fort, psychologically and emotionally, while still being in the public eye and enmeshed within the music business.
“The number one thing that has been a constant in my life and helped me on my healing journey has been my wife and my family. Jaclyn and my children and her family have just been angels in my life and been so supportive and loving. And treating the underlying clinical depression that I have battled since 1998 and finally getting that under control and manageable has had a tremendous impact on my life as well. Then I really got back into health and fitness: eating healthy and completely changing my lifestyle. And lastly, it’s been about just reconnecting with my spiritual self and my spiritual being and my faith. I think everything that I just listed, collectively, has begun a pretty dramatic and dynamic chance in my life and I continue to approach it one day at a time.
“I don’t think I have arrived or have got this beat. But today I know I do and if I just keep doing the same thing that I did yesterday today, then all should be well.”
Stapp said another key aspect of his recovery and return to health has been coming to understand the importance of balance in life – something that many millions of people struggle with who are not world-famous rock stars.
“You’re absolutely right about that. Back in the day, the importance of sleep wasn’t even considered, for example. The importance of diet wasn’t even considered and I am sure all of that had an impact on my initial onset of severe depression. So I got burned out and depressed and reached for quick fixes,” he said.
“Now in my life balance is crucial. I have a tremendous amount of balance between time working and time with my family, which is so critically important to me. And then there’s just understanding the importance of having a healthy lifestyle and making that a priority at all costs.”
The discussion returned to the subject of Weiland, whose struggle with addiction and mental health holds some frightening parallels to the struggles Stapp experiences. The fact that Weiland lost his battle, while Stapp is seemingly winning his is not lost on him. And with the more recent loss of Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell and Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington to suicide brought the importance of fighting that good fight, and also seeking to bring greater awareness of the prevalence of mental health struggles throughout the broader community to the forefront of Stapp’s mind.
“Those deaths were tragic, first and foremost. And it’s also a very in-your-face reminder to me of how close I was to reaching the same end that the three of them did. And it’s only by the grace of God that I didn’t. So it’s really just raised the awareness in me of the seriousness of addiction and alcoholism and the seriousness of mental illness and how so many people suffer in silence. It’s an issue that we need to have more compassion about and knowledge about and understanding of,” he said.
“There are millions of people out there suffering and I know because I have been there. I have walked the walk and my suffering, many times, ended up very public and was very misunderstood and so those deaths affected me in two big ways: one being that it’s reminded me of places that I never want to go to again. And if I ever get close to going again, to make sure that I immediately get the help that I need.
“And secondly it’s put me in a position to want to speak out on these issues and raise awareness and use my platform in a positive way to continue the conversation and help bring education and awareness – to spread the message of compassion and non-judgement and for people to understand. And I also want, for those that are suffering, to encourage them to reach out for help and get help before it’s too late, because help is there. And I really want for people who know family or friends that are suffering from mental illness or addiction to be an angel in that person’s life and step in and help someone in need, because those that are around them can save a life. This whole subject is something that is very near and dear to my heart and something I am very passionate about because, by no means have I arrived. I am still doing this one day at a time so I know what it’s like because I have lived it do I can speak truth from that perspective.”
Stapp said he will be entering the studio in October to begin write and record a new studio album to be released in 2018.
For more information on the Make America Rock Again tour, visit www.makeamericarockagain.com.
- Jim Barber is a veteran award-winning journalist and author based in Napanee, ON, who has been writing about music and musicians for a quarter of a century. Besides his journalistic endeavours, he now works as a communications and marketing specialist. Contact him at email@example.com.