One rock fan's immodest refusal.
Dateline: PHILADELPHIA, Dec. 31, 2002. The members of the rock group Creed touched down on Philadelphia earlier today, and they've just completed their sound check for their New Year's Eve show at the First Union Spectrum. In the green room, somebody appears with a copy of this paper in hand, its tabloid front announcing, "WHY CREED SUCKS."
No shocker there. The band has seen this kind of thing before, so much so that at this point, it may be more of a joke to them than it is to the people slagging them.
Creed has seldom heard an encouraging word from the press, but the wisdom is that the joke is on us, not the band: Their latest record was recently certified as having gone platinum ... five times over.
The band members fight the good fight, though, and briefly consider cutting up the paper's cover and rearranging the letters in "WHY CREED SUCKS" to spell something else and then send it back. Problem is, the only thing you can really spell with "WHY CREED SUCKS" that makes any sense is, well, "WHY CREED SUCKS."
This story is basically a vehicle for a headline. Because sure enough, the whole world, it would seem, has conceded the band is terrible: They travel in only the most cringeworthy cliche, they are pompous to what would be the point of comedy--if only they were in on the joke--and they embody all that is dead, idealess and cowardly in present-day rock 'n' roll.
It's almost cruel, then, to single them out--the band is nothing more than a quartet of ridiculously clad and coiffed ducks in a barrel. Why pick on them?
Creed--and their torpid, halftime-playing, self-congratulatory type--are a cancer on the most beautiful thing God ever gave us in the 20th century: rock 'n' roll. And if we're ever to reclaim rock 'n' roll as anything other than acquiescence to the eventual mainstreaming of everything, it's worthwhile to peer through Creed's putrid fog of self-love and see, after all, in the cold light of day, Why They Suck.
Creed is the logical conclusion to all that went wrong--or, if you're in the record biz, right--with the thing the music industry calls "modern rock." Modern rock, perhaps more so than any other genre of music in our lifetime, was a complete and total creation of the marketplace.
Before 1993, there simply were no bands anywhere that sounded like Creed or that pushed the buttons for mass appeal in quite that same way--which is to say, before 1993, it would have been hard for any band to get it together to so thoroughly rip off Pearl Jam.
Creed's sound is the sound of what was very likely hundreds of bands from the mid-'90s: monster riffs; deep, thundering Led Zep-esque beats; and searing choruses that played fast and loose with spiritual truisms (� la U2) delivered by a singer well-schooled in yarling--that back-of-the-throat, oh-so-masculine Jim Morrison/Chewbacca noise perfected by Pearl Jam singer Eddie Vedder.
When Nirvana finally blew the lid on what until then was called "alternative music," or even worse, "postmodern," it was arguably the first time record executives had been caught with their pants down, in the upstream of a movement, since the dawn of the '70s.
Sure, R.E.M. and U2 had made dings in the armor in the late '80s, but even at the height of their respective popularities they were, as a rock phenomenon, a little more understandable, seeing as how both bands essentially traded on more pragmatic versions of conventional boomer politics and aesthetics. They weren't angry; they were passionate.
But when Nirvana came along, their hearts were full of sloppy, slobbering, snotty rage--so much so that to their eternal chagrin, they were able to appeal to those very same social subsets against which they raged: jocks, airheads, Hessians and, unbelievably, even Christians.
To their credit, Nirvana tried to keep a lid on their fame and appeal as best any million-selling-plus band could: They dropped instruments on their faces on national television, made sure their live shows were maddeningly messy and Kurt even announced he was bisexual before running off to make a 10-inch with William S. Burroughs. A recipe for lasting rock fame this was not.
But the appeal only stretched further, the anger, as John Lydon once sang, being an energy of its own. By the mid-'90s, the world was rife with Nirvana (or worse, Pearl Jam) cover bands, and record companies were eager to snap up the copies--which were invariably easier to deal with than the thorny originals and their stances against Ticketmaster and, ultimately, each other--and get them on the radio.
Creed was but one these bands, toiling in relative obscurity in their hometown of Tallahassee, Fla. It is said that lead singer Scott Stapp, the drip, moved there from his native Tampa after reading that Jim Morrison himself briefly lived there. He then reconnected with some old Tampa buds who'd also moved to the big city and--voila!--Creed was born, quickly finding what would be their base audience through the ages: people who didn't know any better.
PW's 2015 Gift Guide
Dinner with Luke Palladino