INTERVIEW: Scott Stapp + Ronnie Winter

By March 28, 2014Interview

Full Circle: Conversations with Andrew Greer
Join singer-songwriter Andrew Greer as he chats with Christian music historymakers past and present.
This Month: Scott Stapp & Ronnie Winter (from The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus) 

As the lead singer for the Diamond-selling alternative rock band Creed, Scott Stapp catapulted to worldwide musical celebrity. But in the peak of his career, Stapp found himself on the brink of disaster. Resurrecting his spirit and career through a deep spiritual conversion and faith-based solo discography, the Grammy-winning rocker topped the Christian Rock charts last fall with the autobiographical lead single, “Slow Suicide,” from his latest LP – Proof of Life (Wind-up Records).

Fellow alternative front man, Ronnie Winters, has had his own recent musical conversion, turning his mainstream sensation band, Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, into a Christian Rock chart success, landing three singles at #1 – including their most recent chart-topper, “Wide is the Gate.” Stapp and Winters join the conversation to front this GMAil exclusive conversation, discussing spirituality and songwriting from the soul.

 

Andrew: Scott, you received your first Christian radio #1 with the song, “Slow Suicide”. Tell me more about the tune. And is the record, Proof of Life, a personal testimony? 

Scott: “Slow Suicide” is most definitely autobiographical. Within the song, I lay out the lifestyle that I was living and confront what that lifestyle was doing to me. It was slowly killing me physically, mentally, emotionally, and most importantly, spiritually. With Proof of Life, you hit the nail on the head. The record completely outlines my personal testimony, coming from the darkness into the light and rediscovering my relationship with Christ. Through Christ, I am learning how to love myself and love others.

Andrew: As a commercial artist, how do you infuse your songwriting with both personal vulnerability to connect with an audience and broad based accessibility to satisfy radio and fans? 

Scott: Honestly, I don’t even think about that when I’m in the songwriting process. I try my best to just create from the soul – where I feel inspired. I’ve been fortunate in that the way I organically create has had commercial appeal. The years of listening to music on the radio, the commercial formula is just implanted in me, and so it naturally comes out as I write. If I tried to think about it and create from the mindset [of commercial viability], it would definitely stand in the way of my songwriting.

Andrew: Is the process the same for you with Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, Ronnie? 

Ronnie: Like Scott, I always try my best to write from my heart. People either connect or they don’t. Hopefully they do connect. That enables us to share our message.

Andrew: As a formerly major label act-turned-independent band, how has the shift impacted your music, your career and the ability to make a living? 

Ronnie: Being an independent artist hasn’t changed much for us other than having total creative control, which is a big win in my opinion.

Andrew: Scott, with so much of your backstory made public, especially after the release of 2012’s memoir, “Sinner’s Creed”, is it tricky to perform for Christian audiences who can be known for judgmental attitudes? 

Scott: It’s funny you asked me that question. For the first time, I have felt a little bit of a judgmental spirit coming from certain individuals within the Christian community. All I can do is continue to tell the truth about what God has and is doing in my life. Of how much I love Christ and what he’s done to change me from the person I was into the person I am today. I have to leave it up to God to convince those that doubt the sincerity of my heart. It’s all in God’s hands.

Andrew: What first prompted you to make the move from Creed to the spiritual focus of your solo records? 

Scott: My Creed songs, as well as my solo songs, have always been spiritually based. As I reflect on it now, my faith and spiritual journey has always been the core of my lyrical content – my walk with God and where I was on that walk. You can clearly see that my faith has been the thread that held my music together since the very first song.

Andrew: How about for you, Ronnie? What caused Red Jumpsuit Apparatus to focus on Christian radio? 

Ronnie: I have always been a Christian, but was acting selfishly, living only for myself. I realized our music could serve as a testimony, and decided I always want to strive to do so above all other goals – no matter the cost or success.

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About Scott Stapp: Proof of Life is Stapp’s first new material since the release of his 2012 uncensored memoir, Sinner’s Creed, in which Stapp shared his life story for the first time—from his fundamentalist upbringing, the rise of Creed, his ongoing battle with addiction, the rediscovery of his faith, and the launch of his solo career. Proof of Life is an 11-track collection of songs that chronicles the extension of his journey, reflecting the maturity and wisdom of an artist that has sold nearly 30 million albums with Creed, had three Grammy nominations and one win for Best Rock Song with “With Arms Wide Open,” and 11 #1 Singles with “My Own Prison,” “Torn,” “What’s This Life For,” “One,” “Higher,” “What If,” “Are You Ready,” “With Arms Wide Open,” “My Sacrifice” “One Last Breath,” and “Overcome.” Creed put out six albums – My Own Prison (1997) 6x Platinum, Human Clay (1999) 11+ million (Diamond), Weathered (2001) 6x Platinum, Greatest Hits (2004) 2x Platinum and Full Circle (2009) Certified Gold. For more information, visit: www.scottstapp.com.

About Red Jumpsuit Apparatus: The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus emerged with their Virgin Records debut, Don’t You Fake It in 2006, spawning a series of video game and film placements in titles like Madden NFL 07, Saints Row 2 and MX vs. ATV: Untamed, the movie Never Back Down, and earning the album an RIAA gold certification the same year. Their latest efforts have charted three #1 Christian Rock singles, including “Wide is the Gate” from their latest independent EP, Et Tu, Brute? On top of RJA’s musical accomplishments, they’ve spoken on Capitol Hill on behalf of teen suicide prevention and mental health parity, founded their own charitable organization, and created a clothing line with skateboard legend Tony Hawk, while remaining one of the biggest under the radar bands. To find out more, visit: www.redjumpsuit.com.

About Andrew: Andrew Greer is an acclaimed singer-songwriter, respected music journalist, and co-creator of the innovative Hymns for Hunger Tour with fellow singer-songwriter Cindy Morgan. All Things Bright & Beautiful: Hymns for the Seasons (Lucid Artist), an instrumental collection produced, arranged, and performed by Greer, held the #1 spot on Nielsen Christian SoundScan’s Instrumental chart for 23 consecutive weeks. A 2013 Dove Award nominee, Andrew’s first Christmas record, Angel Band: The Christmas Sessions, releases this fall and features collaborations with music legends Phil Madeira, The McCrary Sisters, Cindy Morgan, and Sandi Patty. For more information, visit: www.andrew-greer.com or www.hymnsforhunger.com