"I remember reading the Bible one day," he continues. "I forget exactly what verse, but what I took from it was 'Okay, God, I'm going to try this: Every time I feel like punching a hole in the wall, any negative feeling, I'm going to do just the opposite.' I've been committed to that because I knew if I wasn't, I would lose everything that I loved."

Stapp is referring to Jaclyn and his two children: Jagger, of whom Scott was granted custody after his first marriage ended in divorce in 1999, and his daughter, Milan, age 2. As for his bandmates, they had written him off after the 2002 Weathered tour, on which Stapp was frequently loaded on a mix of hard liquor and prednisone, a corticosteroid prescribed to treat nodules that had formed on his vocal cords. Stapp, who had also been in a car accident that spring, maintains that his bandmates never understood the physical pain he had to endure. Regardless, all parties agree that he was most unpleasant to be around. The tour's penultimate show, on December 29, 2002, proved the last straw: Fans actually filed a $2 million class-action suit against the band after Stapp, glaringly shit-faced, sang the wrong words to various songs, fat-Elvis-style, and eventually could not finish the set. (The case was later dismissed.) Stapp's bandmates avoided contact with him for nearly six years. "Yeah, I was angry," says Tremonti, who went on to form the band Alter Bridge with Creed's Marshall and Phillips. "Creed is what I'd wanted my entire life, and it was a bittersweet thing. We had all the success in the world, but not all the happiness."

Finally, in late 2008, a sobered-up Stapp phoned Tremonti, told him he'd be coming to Orlando to sing the national anthem at the Champs Sports Bowl game, and suggested they meet. "I called when I got to town," says Stapp. "Mark came over to the Elvis suite at the Hard Rock. It was as simple as 'Hey, man, looking back, if I hurt you in any way, forgive me, brah, I apologize.' The same was said back. In half an hour, we were writing music."

Creed may have bro-hugged and made up, but fans have been slow to re-embrace them. Turnout for the first shows was sparse, with venues never more than two-thirds filled. Creed's manager, Paul Geary, blames the empty seats on a general lack of awareness of the band's reunion, because the comeback single, "Overcome," was late to market. "My cousin says that his friends are big fans, and they didn't even know about the tour," Tremonti laments. Perhaps Creed fans are just fickle, and Nickelback or even a country act like Rascal Flatts now scratch their itch. And a six-year absence isn't nearly long enough to spark the kind of campy revisionist nostalgia that has blessed the comebacks of once-critically-reviled acts like Journey and New Kids on the Block.