Creed has gone back into "Prison" again. Happily.
The hard rock troupe, which has sold more than 40 million albums worldwide, is spending the spring celebrating the 15th anniversary of its breakout debut album, "My Own Prison." Creed is playing the six-times platinum set -- which launched the signature hits "One," "What's This Life For" and the title track -- in its entirety, while in cities where it's booked two nights the quartet is also performing the even more successful 1999 sophomore release "Human Clay."
"We're doing this for our fans," says Creed frontman Scott Stapp. "They've talked so much on Twitter and Facebook, 'Play more songs...off the 'My Own Prison' album and off the 'Human Clay' album' -- and the same with the (2001) 'Weathered' album and even on to (2009's) 'Full Circle.'
"So the band got together, and management, and we were sitting around chatting one day; I don't remember who came up with the concept, but we just totally fell in love with the idea -- going to small venues, playing the albums top to bottom. I think it's a great way for the band to reconnect to our roots and with each other and with our fans in a very intimate way that they've asked for."
For Mark Tremonti, Creed's Detroit-born guitarist, returning to "...Prison" has "felt like I was looking into the head of myself when I was a kid. We were just kids, it seems, when we put those albums together. I like the innocence of it. I can sense the hungry kid, the desperate college rock 'n' roll band in those albums. It really feels like you're going through a kind of time warp."
The tour takes Stapp, Tremonti, bassist Brian Marshall and drummer Scott Phillips back to when Creed formed during 1995 in Tallahassee, where Stapp and Tremonti had been friends both in high school and Florida State University. Known first as Naked Toddler, they began writing songs and trying them out local club and bar shows -- even at T.G.I. Friday's -- before landing a management deal and releasing "My Own Prison" first on the group's own Blue Collar Records before the buzz that followed attracted Wind-Up Records for a national release and subsequent success.
"It was meteoric," recalls Stapp, 38, whose lyrics for Creed's songs drew on his strict Pentecostal upbringing (his stepfather was a minister) and his own religious studies. "We were fulfilling all of our rock 'n' roll dreams. Everything that we hoped and dreamed for was happening. And there was almost an ignorant expectation; we thought everything that was happening was supposed to happen once you got on the radio.
"It was probably not until the beginning of 'Human Clay,' maybe, that we realized this didn't happen to every band and to every artist that was on the radio. But I still think it took awhile, at least for me, to really gain a deep appreciation and gratitude and thankfulness for what took place and for everything that played a part in the success of the band."
That perspective came after Creed went through some trials along the way, including Marshall's departure in 2000 and an acrimonious band breakup in 2004. Tremonti, Phillips and Marshall started another band, Alter Bridge, while Stapp recorded a solo album, but tensions gradually diminished and Creed came back together in 2009, releasing a fifth studio album, "Full Circle," later that year.
The outside interests continue: Tremonti, 38, releases a solo album, "All I Was," on July 10 and is planning a Alter Bridge's fourth release for 2013; and Stapp also continues to work on solo material and is writing a memoir. But Creed is also at work on another album, and Stapp expects that playing "My Own Prison" and "Human Clay" will have an effect on the new material.
"I think definitely playing the music from the past and all the material we haven't played is going to help us reconnect with a lot of those emotions and incite some further inspiration," he says. Tremonti adds that the new songs offer "a good mix...one more radio-friendly type song, one rocking tune, one of the more drawn-out, finger-picked, long, five-minute kind of songs -- just a little bit of everything people have heard in the past."
He also expects to follow the lead of Van Halen's latest album and "go back and kind of dive into my old ideas...and cherry-pick stuff that I enjoyed that never saw the light of day, and king of revamp those ideas."
Stapp, meanwhile, adds that there's no set timetable for the project. "We're not trying to rush this at all," he says. "We're still a band that likes to create albums and not just get three songs we think will connect with radio and put an album out. We want to put out solid albums and want it to be an organic process, just like we had with those previous records."
Creed performs "My Own Prison" on Thursday, May 31, at the Fillmore Detroit, 2115 Woodward Ave. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $25-$69.50. Call 313-961-5450 or visit www.livenation.com.
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