For Creed, making their new record, Weathered, was an exercise in restraint. During the entire year and a half that the band toured behind its previous album, Human Clay, frontman Scott Stapp had one rule: No new songs could be written.
"We wanted to live life and have experiences, and set aside a time later where we would write," says Stapp. What's more, in the months since they returned home to Orlando, Florida, Stapp and guitarist Mark Tremonti vowed that they wouldn't listen to any music at all. "We didn't want to be subconsciously influenced by anything," Stapp says. "We wanted this record to completely come from what was in us." The discipline paid off: Three weeks after Stapp and Tremonti started to work, they had written an album's worth of material. "Everything just poured out of us," Stapp says.
Due out on November 20th, Weathered is, according to Stapp, "a very extreme record," and he says some of its songs are "the heaviest, most intense music we've ever written." But midway through, the eleven-track album takes an upswing, using the first single, "My Sacrifice," to segue into uplifting numbers comparable to Human Clay's "Higher." "It's almost two records in one," Stapp says. "Sometimes we want to freakin' rock, and other times we want a lullaby. It's a symbol of mine and Mark's personalities, which have very high highs and very low lows."
The writing was done mostly in Stapp's living room during four-hour jags. In the final days, they worked from his boat, a Sea Ray cruiser, jamming late into the night. "Being out on the water, under the stars with your best friend, was a cool way to be stimulated," he remembers.
For one of their more experimental tracks, the duo enlisted Bo Taylor, a Cherokee, to sing on "Who's Got My Back." Stapp, himself part Cherokee, says that his desire to "reconnect with [his] roots" inspired him to involve Taylor, who is an avowed Creed fan. "I played him the demo and spoke with him about what the song meant," Stapp recalls. "We talked about it for forty-five minutes, and we had him do about four or five chants. One of them was just perfect."
Weathered was recorded in Ocoee, Florida, in a house owned by a former member of Tabitha's Secret, Rob Thomas' band before Matchbox Twenty. Producer John Kurzweg, who also worked on Creed's two prior records, says that Stapp, Tremonti and drummer Scott Phillips were more relaxed during the Weathered sessions than in the past. "They're willing to get a little heavier in places, and a little bit lighter, too," he says. The title track, the producer says, has a classic-rock vibe that reminds him of Bad Company or Lynyrd Skynyrd.
The band was halfway through recording on September 11th, and Kurzweg says the mood intensified in the following weeks. "We tried to go forward and do the best we could," he says. "But all the songs were written before. Not one lyric was changed."
Stapp says that regardless of the reception for Weathered, he's confident it's the best record the band has ever done. "If there's one thing those guys do well," Kurzweg says, "it's that they know how to write songs. They're not necessarily trying to change the face of music -- they just want to do good, strong rock music. And when I heard these tracks, I thought, 'They've done it again.' "