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Brian Marshall interview in Journal Gazette
Posted on Sun, Jan. 23, 2005
After the breakup of Creed, the band reformed as Alter Bridge – without lead singer Scott Stapp. Alter Bridge performs Thursday at Piere’s.
Alter Bridge happy to shed its Creed baggage
By Steve Penhollow
The Journal Gazette
When a band loses its lead singer, it is pretty easy to figure out what happened.
It is usually a case of a frontman or frontwoman (Natalie Merchant, Peter Cetera, Steve Perry and Lionel Ritchie to name but a few examples) becoming quite a bit more famous than his or her bandmates and absconding with the band’s signature sound to start a solo career.
The remaining band members are left with a legacy they can’t readily build on. They can either hire a sound-alike vocalist or go off in a different artistic direction. Neither option has a high success rate.
The story of Alter Bridge, performing Thursday at Piere’s Entertainment Center, is different – for reasons that might never be fully understood by the general public.
There was a time, not so long ago that the recollection of it has passed from our short-term memories, when Alter Bridge went by the name Creed. It was one of the biggest bands in rock music.
Creed played Memorial Coliseum in late 2002. Less than two years later, Creed shed lead singer Scott Stapp, morphed into Alter Bridge and returned to the club circuit.
By all accounts, everyone involved in this fairly unprecedented busting up of a blockbusting act was – if not exactly happy – satisfied with this development.
A good person to ask about all this is Alter Bridge’s bassist Brian Marshall.
Marshall was a member of Creed until he was fired by Stapp in 2000 after the former said some things in an interview that the latter didn’t like.
It is somewhat telling that the first thing The-Band-Formerly-Known-As-Creed did after Stapp’s departure was hire Marshall back.
Marshall says he and Stapp had a history of butting heads. The termination was indescribably difficult on him at the time, but he says he thinks everything worked out for the best.
“It was him or me,” he says. “That’s what he said to them. He laid the gauntlet down. The band had to make a decision, and ultimately they made the right one. They did what was best. I probably would have thought differently if you had asked me awhile back.”
And what about the band’s most recent decisions?
“What I was dealing with finally caught up with those guys,” he says. “I saw that happening long before I left. I knew it was only a matter of time. I’d see and hear little things that would lead me to believe that there was trouble. I knew how the band worked. I knew how Scott was.”
Here is the place where Marshall’s equivocation gives way to silence.
It is perhaps important at this point to provide a brief sketch of the kind of rock icon Stapp is.
Stapp is a charismatic and enigmatic frontman in the tradition of U2’s Bono and The Doors’ Jim Morrison with one important difference: Many fans of Creed saw a Christian underpinning in Stapp’s lyrics.
It would not be overstating things to say that Stapp’s appeal among some fans approaches the Messianic.
The most public chink in Creed’s armor revealed itself over the course of several months in late 2002 and early 2003.
In April 2003, four angry Chicago-area fans sued the band, claiming that, throughout a performance in the Windy City the previous winter, Stapp “was so intoxicated and/or medicated that he was unable to sing the lyrics of a single Creed song.”
The case was ultimately thrown out by a Cook County, Ill., judge.
Marshall has some insights into what happened during that show but he discusses them gingerly.
“I don’t know what I want to say about that … I want to be diplomatic … It’s a little hard,” Marshall says, sighing.
“It’s difficult because on one side of it, Scott has a good heart about him. On the other side, he is speaking lyrics and feeding into a perception that is not honest. It is not the way he lives his life.
“It is hypocritical. And that’s where a big wedge was driven through the band.”
Marshall says that particular performance and its aftermath was especially difficult on the band’s guitarist Mark Tremonti, who has relatives in Chicago.
“He was very embarrassed by it,” Marshall says. “It was a big problem for Mark. His philosophy was, ‘Do whatever you want to do in your own time, but don’t let it compromise the integrity of a performance.’ ”
That strangely historic and historically strange Chicago show was not the only case of odd behavior on the part of Stapp reported in that general chronological vicinity.
According to an article posted on CNN.com, “the band canceled a (spring 2003) tour, saying Stapp needed time to recuperate from an Orlando, Fla., accident. But a police report prepared after the April 19 accident cited no injuries. The accident followed an alleged brawl involving Stapp in a St. Augustine, Fla., bar on April 14. According to reports, Stapp socked a patron for yelling, ‘You’re not a superstar.’ Earlier that year, on Feb. 8, Stapp allegedly threatened the owner of a Maitland, Fla., tattoo parlor for blowing his cover with customers.”
Calls and e-mails to Stapp’s label, Wind-Up Records, seeking comment on these reports and rumors were not returned.
Incidentally, Wind-Up Records is also Alter Bridge’s label.
Marshall says Alter Bridge is happy to be back on the club scene, happy to leave behind Creed’s Christian overtones, happy to move away from Creed’s balladry toward something harder-edge, happy to have Myles Kennedy on board as lead singer.
In interviews conducted since the dissolution of Creed, Stapp has said a Creed reunion is not out of the realm of possibility.
But Marshall is unambiguous on that score.
“No,” he says. “I think he’s off his rocker. There isn’t a day in hell I’d be on the same stage with him again.
“It’s not worth all the frickin’ money in the world.”
If you go
What: Alter Bridge
Where: Piere’s Entertainment Center, 5629 St. Joe Road
When: 8 p.m. Thursday
Admission: Tickets, at $19.50, are available at all Ticketmaster outlets and charge-by-phone, 424-1811.
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