Sunday, August 13, 2000

Creed moves into headliner status

By Larry Nager
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        There goes the neighborhood. Grungy rock band Creed is moving on up to Orlando, Fla., the world capital of teen pop and home to the Backstreet Boys, 'NSync and Britney Spears.

[photo] From left, drummer Scott Phillips, bass player Brian Marshall, singer Scott Stapp and guitarist Mark Tremonti.
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        “Yeah, they're actually living in the same neighborhood,” says Creed's drummer Scott Phillips with a laugh. “But they don't, like, hang out and barbecue or anything.”

        The band's singer/frontman Scott Stapp and singer/guitarist Mark Tremonti have homes in the same upscale Orlando suburb as some of those teen pop multimillionaires, while Mr. Phillips is considering buying an Orlando condo for rehearsals. He makes his home in the quieter St. Augustine area.

        It all comes with Creed's multiplatinum territory. The band's 5 million-selling second CD, Human Clay, debuted at No. 1 (it's now No. 7) and has been an album-chart fixture for 44 weeks. Their 1997 debut, My Own Prison, recorded on the Blair Witch-sized budget of $6,000, earned the band its deal with Wind-up, sold 4 million copies and was 1998's best-selling hard-rock album.

        Locally, Creed has worked its way up from club dates at Top Cat's and Bogart's to Monday's concert at Riverbend.

        As the band readied its first headlining amphitheater tour (it began Friday at the New World Music Theatre outside Chicago; Riverbend is the third show) Creed acquired one of rock's obligatory status symbols — a custom stage.

  What: Creed and American Pearl

  When: 7:30 p.m. Monday

  Where: Riverbend

  Tickets: $32.50 pavilion, $22.50 lawn at Ticketmaster, 562-4949, and the Riverbend box office, 232-6220.

        “We've got a big new stage coming out with some screens and projections, lot of fire, y'know, the normal rock-star stuff,” Mr. Phillips explains.

        “It's been a long awaited dream for all four of us to get on the big, big stage that's our own and that we've all helped in designing. I think it's gonna be really cool and hopefully give the fans something new to see, since we've probably been through that (Cincinnati) area three or four times now.”

        Creed got its start in Tallahassee, Fla., where Mr. Stapp and Mr. Tremonti had been friends in high school. A few years later, they decided to form a band and recruited Mr. Phillips and original bassist Brian Marshall, who left the group Aug. 9, citing the usual “personal and professional differences.” He has been replaced on tour by Brett Hestla.

        With its young, predominantly male audience, Creed has been one of Napster's most downloaded bands. Like another well-known hard-rock band, Creed has been watching Napster very carefully. They have mixed feelings about it.

        “The whole thing with Napster is it's awesome for unsigned bands or bands that are trying to get their start, 'cause they can get their music anywhere without having to go through a record label. And I think its starting to happen for a lot of bands now,” says Mr. Phillips, 27.

        “But it's different for bands that are already signed and already have product out. If it's given for free, I don't mind it that much and I don't think the other guys mind it that much. But the fact that somebody else is making money off it and the artist isn't, I think that's a problem. That just basically feels that somebody's stealing from you.”

        But if Creed feels Metallica's pain, the band also sympathizes with Pearl Jam in the aftermath of the nine deaths last month during a performance at Denmark's Roskilde festival.

        Like other hard alt-rock bands Creed is generally in favor of festival seating.

        “When it gets to the point where the crowds are just too out of hand, then we'll definitely go to assigned seating. But for the fans that want to come to the show and act responsibly, it's their chance to buy a general admission ticket and get as close to the band as they possibly can. We like to have that happen and like I said so far so good. Knock on wood.”

        The group is working up material for its next album for Wind-up, the independent label that recently signed Tristate rock band Swim. But unlike most bands, Creed's writing duo of Mr. Stapp and Mr. Tremonti prefers working on the road.

        “Most of Human Clay was written during soundchecks for the "My Own Prison' tour and a lot of this (third) album is kinda coming around that way.”

        But there's no pressure. One luxury of having sold 8 million CDs, adds Mr. Phillips, is time.

        “We're taking it real slow. I think everybody is kinda interested in taking a good chunk of next year off and for the first four or five months just doing absolutely nothing, lettin' Creed go away for a little while.”

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