MTV: So it was the people who were making money by you staying on tour who wouldn't let you take time off?
Stapp: I didn't say that. I don't want to start any controversy. It's all been smoothed out. I take full responsibility for these issues. I'm a grown man. I could have said, "I appreciate your advice, but I'm not doing this," but I didn't. I chose to think that the world was on my shoulders.
A lot of that has to do with the negative comments people were making. In my head, I thought that if I canceled, people are going to say bad stuff about me. I'll be frank with you, man. This isn't a sob story, this is the truth.
MTV: That sounds like vicious cycle. You can't cancel shows because you're afraid people might think you're a diva, so you do what you have to do to perform, and they still criticize you.
Stapp: That's exactly what happened. I'll be honest, reading all that stuff really hurt my feelings. I just thought, man, I'm just in a band, doing what I love, and I'm always nice to everyone I meet. I'm a real sensitive man, and I get my feelings hurt. I thought the whole world hated me, and I was depressed.
It's weird. You can hear 10,000 positive things about you, but you focus on the one bad thing. For a while, I felt like I was on a mission to prove that I wasn't an a--hole and I wasn't a jerk and I wasn't an egomaniac.
MTV: How did you get over feeling that way?
Stapp: I've had a long time to reflect and deal with a lot of these things that hurt me. I was scared of people. I was scared of relationships. I didn't even know if I had the heart to love again or even to be happy. Eventually all the pain and hurt turned into anger and defensiveness and callousness, and that's not who I am. Basically, my prayer was to heal this heart. Heal this guy.
And that's really where "Relearn Love" came from. I can't let all this negativity change who I am. I've got to be a man for my son. I can't be this broken-down, feeling-sorry-for-myself kind of guy for my boy.
MTV: Because of the misconception that Creed were a Christian rock band, are you worried that having your first solo material appear on an album of songs inspired by "The Passion of the Christ" is going to continue that misunderstanding?
Stapp: It's ironic, because I started off in a Christian home, and then I ran from it when I was 17. Then Creed got the Christian tag, and here I am launching my solo career with a song on The Passion of the Christ album.
Creed was never Christian rock. I wrote a lot about my doubts and fears and my past, and people took what I wrote — if they had Christian ears — and heard it as Christian rock songs. I was just using music to deal with things that were going on in my life. I was questioning and confronting my past.
When people started calling us a Christian rock band, we didn't know why. Initially, Mark, Scott and Brian were kind of upset with me because I think they thought I had some kind of agenda. They weren't raised in that environment. They just wanted to be in a rock band.
MTV: Do you fear that "Relearn Love" will be taken as proof that Creed, and you personally, were Christian rock?
Stapp: No, because I'm not evangelical. I'm not doing this to try to preach this to people or to try to make people believe in what I believe in. I'm not handing out Bibles at my shows, and just like with Creed, not all of my [solo] songs are going to be about my spiritual life. It's a part of my life.
MTV: What if the negative criticism comes up again? Are you better prepared now?
Stapp: I'll just address it and be honest about it. If the Christian thing comes up again, maybe I'll put on a Superman suit with "God" in the front and be God-Man. Maybe I'll make a satire out of it. What can you do except deal with it?
At the end of the day, the people who know you, whom you love, are the only ones I'm accountable to.