Creed’s Scott Stapp On How They Wrote My Sacrifice
There was a time in ancient history – as the late ’90s were crossing over into the early 2000s – when Creed were one of the biggest rock bands on the planet. After the stratospheric success of their second album, 1999’s Human Clay, which featured the ubiquitous hit With Arms Wide Open, the Tallahassee four-piece – vocalist Scott Stapp, guitarist Mark Tremonti, bassist Brian Marshall and drummer Scott Phillips – followed it up with Weathered in 2001. While the album didn’t do as commercially well as Human Clay (it’s sold somewhere over six million copies in the U.S. to date, compared to almost double that for its predecessor), it did spawn My Sacrifice, one of Creed’s most well-known and recognisable singles. Creed, of course, broke up about three years later – Scott went his own way, while the other three went on to form Alter Bridge along with vocalist/guitarist Myles Kennedy – but the song continues its own ascent, having racked up more than 140 million views on YouTube.
Talking about it now, almost 20 years after its release, Scott is pretty philosophical about its meaning and the point in his and the band’s life at which it was released. For while Creed were on top of the world, the fame and fortune that came their way – for Scott, at any rate – was tempered with a whole host of problems including severe alcohol and drug addiction. That struggle, for Scott, formed the centre of the song and its video – it’s him coming to terms with his addictions and the fact that, despite his best efforts, he’d been unable to stay on the straight and narrow. As such, My Sacrifice began life as a song of personal redemption and catharsis, but soon grew to become something much, much bigger, as Scott explains…
“This song – and I think you can see it in the video – is essentially talking about coming out of the throes of a dark period in your life, whether that be a dark depression or a period of substance abuse or alcoholism, and then reconnecting with yourself. And what you see in the video is a version of me in a boat and then also a drowning version of me pulling myself out from underneath the water into the boat – and I think that really captures what the song means. It’s coming from the darkness back into clarity, coming from the gates of death back into life. I had tried to get better [from substance abuse, addiction and alcoholism] alone for so many years, and I would have times when I would come back and hold on for a period of months, but then I’d fall again.
“So this song is really talking about reconnecting with yourself. And then, of course, there are also elements – and shots – of someone else that you love and your feelings when you’re with them. So there was a two-pronged approach to that song, and I think Mark [Tremonti] and I captured it well with that one. I’m very proud of that song and every night I still play it at my shows and the fans react, all these years later, the exact same way they did when it first came out. I’m humbled by that.
“From what I remember, writing it happened the way things usually happened when we wrote together – Mark’s got an acoustic guitar and I’ve got some lyrics I’ve begun, or we’re just freestyling and something comes out. A melody or a line or a lyric comes out and we start playing off each other and discussing, ‘Let’s go here, let’s go there, let’s do this’ and then I would step away from that session and go bury myself into the lyric writing. And then I’d get back together with him and we would develop the song even more. It all came together in a very symbiotic way – like 90 per cent of the songs came during our writing relationship did.
“I don’t think, at the time, that we had an understanding or the experience of what it meant to have a song that would stand the test of time like that, but we did know and have an inkling in our minds that we thought we had written something special, something that would connect with people. And we definitely thought that our fans at the time would appreciate it and like it, just as we did. But we had no concept that it would be a song that would stand the test of time like it has.”
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