Sports are all in Creed singer's family

Before he formed the band Creed with guitarist Mark Tremonti in the 1990s, singer Scott Stapp was a jock, playing high school baseball in Florida against the likes of future major leaguer Johnny Damon.

The musical direction has worked out nicely without any regrets -- Creed has sold nearly 35 million albums and won the 2001 Best Rock Song Grammy Award for "Arms Wide Open" -- but Stapp still loves sports and he now shares his enjoyment through his 11-year-old son Jagger's athletic pursuits, and following Jagger's favorite teams and players, such as the New York Mets' Jose Reyes and Johan Santana.

The Boca Raton, Fla., resident befriended Marlins president David Samson, and earlier this year Stapp spun his solo song "You Will Soar" into a "Marlins Will Soar" team theme song that is played before every home game.

Creed, which also includes bassist Brian Marshall and drummer Scott Phillips, reunited last year and released its fourth album, "Full Circle" (iTunes | Amazon). Its summer tour concludes Friday in Houston, but Stapp will be back on the road with a solo tour beginning Sept. 30 before he works on a solo album and Creed begins work on its next album.

"Everything is just kinda ebb and flow, kinda what comes up. But definitely next year there will be a new Creed album or my second solo album. … Could be both," Stapp said.

The Life caught up with Stapp by phone last week before a show in Raleigh, N.C., to talk about family, music, baseball, Alabama Crimson Tide football and the Miami Heat.

The Life: So how has the tour been going for you guys so far?

Stapp: It's been great, man. It's been amazing. The fans have been just giving so much energy to the band. The band's really playing well and really having a good time.

The Life: With the tour winding down, what's the mood in the band, what's the feeling like when it's coming to a close like this?

Stapp: Well, you always want to do more. There's always a feeling like there's more that you can give them. We feel like we're in a great rhythm right now and we'd love to do more shows.

You know it's time. This record's been out now, I guess since last year, and now we're gonna branch off into some other projects. And I'm gonna go on my solo tour and we're gonna get back together and reconvene and do it again.

There's talk about us going to South America in February and also making a new record next year, so there's a lot on the table.

The Life: So, it's been good getting back together?

Stapp: Yeah, most definitely. You know, I'm gonna continue to tour and just present our catalog and "Full Circle" in a new and fresh way acoustically but with a full band, as well as my solo album and my new solo material and my other songs that I've been working on and trying to do it like a "VH1 Storytellers."

And fans have been asking for that, so in a way Creed is still going to be on tour. Eric [Friedman], our new guitar player, Erock is gonna be playing with me on this solo run, so a part of Creed is gonna continue on and play these songs and I think really deliver them in a way that I think the fans are gonna like. It's not just a guy and his guitar. It's a band with acoustics, some of the heavier tunes sound really cool acoustic. It's a whole new vibe to the song and to the music. I'm really, really excited about it. I think it's gonna be a lot of fun, man. And it's an opportunity to connect with Creed fans and just keep playing music.

The Life: You and your wife have a new baby boy almost 2 months old. Congratulations.

Stapp: Thank you very much, man. I was just talking to my wife this morning about how much I miss them. I'd just been home two days ago and it's just … I tell ya, it's my third child but it's amazing every time and it's different. And he's Mr. Mack, man. He's just cool. He only cries when he's hungry or when he wants his diaper changed. …

He's just chill, just a cool guy, very serious. He has a very serious look on his face. When I start going, "Go Daniel, go Daniel, go D.I., go D.I., then I start moving around and he cracks a smile at me, and it's all over then. But he's the most serious baby that I've ever seen. He looks like he's in deep thought.

The Life: It's amazing isn't it? You look at them and just wonder what must be going through their heads.

Stapp: And my daughter (Milan, 3), she's just happy, and she's like that little puppy you get that just runs around your coffee table all day long until it falls asleep. That's my daughter, she just wants to sing and be happy and have fun. And she's very motherly, it's crazy.

My oldest son, now, Jagger, he's started sixth grade. I just remember having conversations a couple days ago about where to get his locker, and the place for kids to hang out, so he was pretty nervous. So, it's awesome. We've been so blessed, you know. …

And I'm fortunate my family can just stay together. And if school hadn't just started they'd all be out here, they were out the whole tour. Jagger went back to start school, my daughter stayed and my baby stayed and of course my wife [Jaclyn Nesheiwat] stays with me, thank goodness. And Jagger comes out on the weekends until the tour is over. We really try to make it a family affair.

The Life: Now, what about your Florida Marlins? The postseason's not looking too good. They're [7½] games back in the wild-card race, but not officially out of it yet.

Stapp: I tell you man, anything can happen.

I love sports, I love baseball. I'm a fan of a lot of teams, man, players specifically. And pretty much have become a fan of teams that my son likes because it's a way for us to hang out now. And it seems that he liked the teams that I tried to brainwash him to like since he was little. But now he's got his own identity and I guess he stays awake at night watching ESPNews and all the other ESPN networks, and he's like "Dad, did you know about this guy from Texas Tech, he's a defensive back and no one knows about him …" He's telling me all this stuff and like, oh, goodness, he knows all the stuff like I used to. So when we get together my favorite team is the Mets because my son's favorite team is the Mets.

With football, I bleed Dallas Cowboy blue, I'm sorry, and Alabama crimson and I have since I was 8 years old because my father [Steven Stapp] and grandfather [Charlie Stapp] played football there and basketball and baseball. My grandfather coached at Alabama with The Bear, so it's in our family. And that's the one team that he loved them when he was little but he switched on me and he likes USC. So I got to rub it in his face last year.

And then he likes the Giants, go figure. So we get a little rivalry going on there in football season. It's a great way for me and my son to just stay connected. And he's been to so many baseball camps, and really baseball is the game he loves the most. And he's doing that year-round and he's going out for the JV team at his high school and he's been in camps all summer. … He's been doing this for a long time, he's a pretty talented little athlete. And he played a bunch of different sports and finally he just kind of started migrating towards baseball. And being in Florida, we have it year-round and he just went to what he was good at. And he's just a natural at it and he works really hard, and he sleeps with his bat and his glove.

He's just a well-rounded kid, he plays drums, plays guitar, he's got his own little band. And he's a heck of a little drummer, which is kind of an athletic position and he's just a great kid.

The Life: Some of that talent can be attributed to genetics, can't it? I understand you were a pretty good baseball player in high school.

Stapp: Uhh, I guess so. Yeah, I did all right. I had some scholarship offers and thought that it was what I was going to do but just went in a different direction.

Yeah, my dad pitched for the University of Alabama and got drafted by the Pirates, so I guess you could say baseball is in our blood.

The Life: Having lived the rock 'n' roll lifestyle and knowing some players and people in pro sports, which direction, music or athletics, would you prefer that your son take?

Stapp: Academics, man, a college education. One thing that brings a smile to my face as a proud papa is when I catch my son reading books on his own in the house.

I tell ya, there's nothing better than being out in that grass on a sunny day. I'd like him to be a pro ballplayer [laughs]. I'd like to be the dad sitting in the front row. That would be awesome.

The Life: And he can set a good example of hard work for his younger siblings.

Stapp: Most definitely. Milan is the one who's probably gonna be the rock 'n' roller. She sings every song when I'm on stage, she mimics me on stage and acts like she's singing into the microphone, copies me and I'm like, "Oh goodness."

I tell ya, we're just happy to have healthy kids and we believe in keeping them active and involved and to find out what they're good at in life and what they love and what their passions are.

The Life: You must've gotten to know a few ballplayers since Creed broke big.

Stapp: I sure have, man. I tell ya, David Wells was a great pitching coach for Jagger when he was like 6 and he really helped him out a lot. I met a lot of great guys over the years and it's just been a dream come true for me because when I was my son's age I thought all I wanted to be was a pro athlete. My dream was to be on the cover of Sports Illustrated and be on an ESPN highlight and 10 years ago you guys came out and filmed me dunking on an 8-foot goal and let me be on (and fulfill) a childhood dream and I'll never forget that.

The Life: How did it come about with you putting together the Marlins theme song spun off your own song ["You Will Soar"]?

Stapp: We ran into the Samson family in the airport on a Christmas vacation in Vail, Colo., and just exchanged information …

Originally [we were] just talking about going to see games and give him and his family tickets to concerts, then I guess about a year later they gave me a call and asked me if I was interested in doing a Marlins song and playing one of their Saturday night concerts. I said I'd give it a shot. And I had a little trepidation in the beginning, like how's this going to come out.

But it's for fun, then I asked Mr. Sampson, all right I'll do this, but you gotta promise me something. He said, "What?" It was two things: No. 1, promise me you'll let my son and my nephew John Paul be bat boys. Make that happen, and No. 2, Haiti relief, help some of the organizations in Haiti that need it. And he was like, "Done."

And it was for a good cause, so I went with it, man.

The Life: How about the Heat, were they your team even before they signed LeBron?

Stapp: Yeah, oh, yeah. Ever since we've lived in Miami. We've been so blessed. We've met LeBron before back in the locker room years ago during his rookie season. He signed a couple rookie cards for me and my son. So we're interactive, our relationship with sports and our teams in the cities that we live in and when we travel, so it's been great.

The Life: Do you have season tickets? That will be a tougher ticket now or do you use your connections?

Stapp: We're fortunate we have some connections and … [Heat president Pat Riley] is a big Creed fan and they've been really good to us, so whenever there's something available like that they reach out to my wife and I.

The Life: So was it tough to grow up in Florida as an Alabama fan?

Stapp: For me, growing up, that was all I knew. I'd go over to my grandparents' house and sit with my granddad and my dad in their lounge chairs each and there's Alabama pictures of my grandfather at the Rose Bowl in '34 when Alabama won, picture of my granddad coaching … coaching the track team and coaching football with The Bear, he was Bear Bryant's roommate in college. It was like a virtual museum of Alabama stuff.

And then my dad's just getting everything Alabama you could imagine. From toilet seats to curtains to my clothes, and so Alabama was the only team. Every other team stunk. I was brainwashed.

The Life: Are you expecting a repeat as national champions this year?

Stapp: I don't expect it, but I sure would like it. As long as Auburn and one of those other schools don't start turning each other in for violations, we'll be all right.

Jim Wilkie is the editor of The Life and can be reached at espnpucks@comcast.net.