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Turning solo: Lead singers of bands show different sides

Published November 10, 2010 2:52 pm

Music • Frontmen Scott Stapp, Brandon Flowers and Fran Healy take time away from their bands to try something different.
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Three lead singers of popular rock bands will be performing locally this week. But fans shouldn't worry that Scott Stapp is leaving Creed, or that Brandon Flowers will be quitting The Killers, or that Fran Healy has told his Travis bandmates to take a long walk off a short catwalk. Each says he is committed to his band.

In the meantime, Stapp is on a solo tour prepping material for his second solo album, Flowers (is supporting his solo debut, "Flamingo," and Healy is opening for Flowers performing songs from his own solo record, "Wreckorder."

In separate interviews, Stapp and Healy talked about their solo turns and why there can be an "I" in team — at least temporarily.

Scott Stapp • Of the three musicians, the 37-year-old member of the Florida-based hard-rock band Creed is the only one with a solo track record.

When Creed was broken up between 2004 and 2009, Stapp recorded and released "The Great Divide" in 2005, an effort that followed his work on the music for Mel Gibson's film "The Passion of the Christ." Sapp's first solo album was certified platinum a month after its release but failed to sell as well as Creed's first three albums: all multi-platinum records that sold more than 30 million copies throughout the world.

It was a surprise to everyone, including Stapp, when Creed reunited in 2009 and the other band members asked him to rejoin the band. "There's not too many times in life when you get to make amends," Stapp said.

The reunion tour was one of the most successful tours of 2009 and early 2010. Afterward, the other two members of Creed, Mark Tremonti and Scott "Flip" Phillips, went to work recording a follow-up for their side project band, Alter Bridge — but with the intention of regrouping with Stapp at some point in the near future.

With Tremonti and Phillips working on Alter Bridge, Stapp returned to songs he had been writing since the release of "The Great Divide." He had written 15 songs before the reunion, and seven more in the past year. "A postponement has turned into a double album," the baritone said, with the release slated for next year.

During this solo tour, Stapp will be performing new material with a stripped-down acoustic (but "still energetic") band, and plans to perform songs from "The Great Divide" as well as from his band. "It's been something I've wanted to do for a long time," he said. "The fans have been asking for this for so long."

The theme of the new double-album is "Between Lust and Love," with a disc devoted to each subject. "It's been the dichotomy of my life over the last three-and-a-half, four years," he said. "[It has] characters that describe [my] life and times … It's two sides of the coin."

The self-exploration of his newer songs seems to signal that Stapp has returned to some of the values that the band began with when it was born as a Christian band. "The story's not over," Stapp said of the future. "I have to move with God's plans, not my plan."

Fran Healy • Opening for Brandon Flowers will be the 37-year-old Scottish frontman of the alt-pop-rock band Travis. The two-decade-old band is revered in the United Kingdom but hasn't made the same inroads in the United States. Yet songs such as "Sing" and "Why Does It Always Rain on Me?" and albums such as "The Man Who" and "Invisible Band" have earned the band a devoted following.

The band's sensitive, soft-rock sound is thought to have inspired bands such as Coldplay and Snow Patrol, among others.

The songs on Healy's solo debut aren't markedly different from those he has written for Travis, but he will be performing them differently for his show at The Depot: just him and his acoustic guitar. The vulnerability of performing an unplugged concert makes him feel "superhuman." He says he welcomes the opportunity to tell stories in between songs without worrying about bugging other members of a band.

The band's relationship is great, but after crisscrossing the globe several times the last several years, "Everyone wanted a break from Travis," he said. But as the main songwriter for Travis, Healy didn't stop thinking about music. "I started writing songs since I was 13," he said. "I've always kept writing. To me, it's a continuation."

The fragile-voiced tenor described deciding to record a solo album as cracking the door open and being excited about what he saw outside. But first, Healy asked his bandmates if it would be rude to record an album without them, and they gave him their blessing.

Healy's music industry credibility opened the doors for him to collaborate with Neko Case on one song, while Paul McCartney played bass on the song "As it Comes." Healy was so honored by McCartney's willingness to contribute that he wanted to repay the singer. He asked himself what Sir Paul, one of the richest men in England, would possibly need? So Healy and his wife became vegetarians, just like McCartney. When Healy told McCartney, the latter was stunned, and three days later a collection of Linda McCartney vegetarian cookbooks arrived in the mail for the Healys.

It is hard for Healy to take compliments, pooh-poohing praise about his new look by insisting that his "tramp-chic" style makes him "look like a hobo." He also passes along credit for inspiring the "faux-hawk" as a hairstyle, though the British press says he started the craze. "I can't take credit for it," Healy said. "My hairdresser can."

dburger@sltrib.com

Scott Stapp of Creed

When • Saturday, Nov. 13, at 7 p.m.

Where • Peppermill Concert Hall, 1045 Wendover Blvd., West Wendover, Nev.

Tickets • $30-$55 at 888-PEPP-TIX or wendoverfun.com

Brandon Flowers of The Killers with Fran Healy of Travis

When • Wednesday, Nov. 17, at 8 p.m.

Where • The Depot, 400 W. South Temple, Salt Lake City

Tickets • $25 in advance, $30 day of, at SmithsTix