BEVERLY HILLS, California — People have been saying for years that Scott Stapp likes to write songs for Jesus, and they’re right. The Creed singer has put together four songs for Mel Gibson’s controversial new movie “The Passion of the Christ.”
Walking the red carpet at music mogul Clive Davis’ Grammy party on Saturday, Stapp said he’s in talks with his label for permission to hand at least one of the tracks over to the actor/director. “Hopefully that goes through. He wants to do it real bad, and I do too,” Stapp said.
They’d better hurry — the movie hits theaters February 25. “The Passion of the Christ,” co-written and directed by Gibson, has become something of a hot-button topic with theologians for its interpretation of biblical events and has landed its star, Jim Caviezel (“The Thin Red Line,” “Frequency”), on the cover of Newsweek.
“It’s a controversial film, but you’ve got to look at it like any other book, like the ’Lord of the Rings,’ ” Stapp said. “It was made after three books, right? ’The Passion’ is just another interpretation of a book.”
The thing about Gibson’s interpretation that has sparked the most controversy is what some are calling anti-Semitism with regards to its depiction of the Jewish role in the crucifixion. Stapp, who screened it last week, doesn’t share those concerns.
“The way that they cut the film and the way that Mel is a brilliant director and a brilliant guy, I think he just told a story and there was no blame on any specific group. It was just the Romans, the Galileans, even his own people. It went all the way around.
“It has moments that make you want to cry,” he added. “But, having the spiritual background I came from, the very last shot of the movie empowered me. And that’s all I can tease you with.”
“The Passion of the Christ” isn’t the only reason Stapp’s been writing music lately. He’s making a solo album with help from hip-hop producer 7 Aurelius (Ja Rule, Tupac). “It’s a combination of probably Creed, of course, meets Led Zeppelin, the Doors with a ’Uhh, kick your [speakers],’ ” he said of the material. “But I sing, I don’t rap.”
There is no release date set for the record, and Stapp wouldn’t reveal who’ll be backing him, though he did admit to one possibility. “Lenny Kravitz might play bass on my record. He lives down the street from me, so we’ll see.”
He said he’s thinking about calling the record Ego Machine (a “playful” title “about the rock business”), and he was insistent that it would not spell the end of Creed.
“I dedicated 10 years of my life to Creed, and we’re still together,” he said. “Scott [Phillips] is a plus-two handicap. He’s working on his golf game. And Mark [Tremonti] is producing and writing and doing kind of a heavy, guitar player’s dream band, and we’re all good friends. We love each other and we’re just enjoying life right now.”
Part of that enjoyment for him, Stapp hopes, will include taking a crack at acting. “I’ve been reading scripts for about eight years. You name the big directors and I’d kill to work with them. I’m just waiting for the right role. I’m being really selective. I don’t want to look back later in my life and be like, ’Ah, I shouldn’t have done that.’ ”
—Ryan J. Downey, with additional reporting by Gideon Yago