For their part, the band and their management brush off any suggestions that the tour is underperforming. "There's not been a show yet that I perceive to be less than successful," Geary says, and given that Creed is reportedly guaranteed to earn in the low-to-mid six figures for each of the 40 dates, his sangfroid is understandable. And most observers concur that Creed's new album, unimaginatively titled Full Circle, will debut at No. 1. While the prospect of once again collecting Dubya-era-size paychecks helped motivate the band to reunite, they were already living in contemporary rock-star comfort: Tremonti and Phillips in the exclusive Orlando enclave of Isleworth (where Tiger Woods is a neighbor); Marshall in Costa Rica, where he owns a bed-and-breakfast; and Stapp and family in a lavish eight-bedroom McMansion in Boca Raton.

For Stapp, simply proving—to his family, his fans, his bandmates, and, yes, his Savior—that he is no longer an angry, confused ass-hole is all the motivation he needs to reform Creed, record a new album, and complete a successful tour. Back in his candlelit dressing room, he appears relaxed and finally at ease with his past. When he says "I'm lucky to be alive"—which he does, often—he is being clichéd, perhaps, but not melodramatic. As showtime approaches, he confesses to one last remaining vice: cigarettes, a pack a day. He got hooked last year, sharing smokes with officers and enlisted men during a monthlong tour of overseas military bases. "Today's my last day, though," he says, shaking a Marlboro Smooth out of its ice-blue pack. "I'm putting the patch on tonight. I promised my wife I'd stop. So today's the day." He lights the cigarette, takes a deep pull, and smiles. "But I will relish this down to 11:50 tonight."

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