×

Staind’s Aaron Lewis on His Solo Country Act, and Political Correctness

Coming of age during the post-grunge, nu-metal explosion of the mid-‘90s, Staind, fronted by Aaron Lewis, saw success across seven albums, particularly around its darkly emotive 2001 ballad, “It’s Been Awhile.” But Lewis the solo artist has gone country. It’s been nearly a decade since he kicked things off with the 2010 single “Country Boy,” featuring Charlie Daniels and George Jones. The aggro intensity that serves Lewis well in Staind translates powerfully into twangy, plainspoken country, as he sings in “God and Guns” from his third and latest solo album, “State I’m In.”

What was an early show you saw that really stood out for you and led you on your musical path?
Well, I hate to beat a dead horse, but first time I ever saw Limp Bizkit I was standing dead center stage about five rows back when they started playing “Stuck.” And it was their first song of the evening and it was during that time frame, I remember it clear as day, [guitarist] Wes [Borland] was wearing the “Clockwork Orange” nose and a corset. I just remember at the beginning of that song, my feet came up off the ground — I was at the front of the mosh pit — and when I landed back on the ground again I was completely behind the mosh pit, probably a hundred yards from the stage. And I didn’t do it!

As you’ve shifted to more of a singer/songwriter show, how have those influences changed?
It’s certainly a stripped-down situation and the polar opposite of the things I just mentioned; James Taylor has always been a longtime singer/songwriter hero. In high school I listened to Cat Stevens and Simon & Garfunkel and the singer/songwriter stuff like that. The only thing I really didn’t listen to as a kid growing up musically was country music.

When did you write the songs on the new album?
The songs I wrote on this record, they were some dark times. It’s interesting, this life that some of us are blessed to live. It’s kind of like an old saying where you sell your soul to the devil to get here. I don’t know if that’s really the deal. But I will say that along with living my dreams and having this crazy ride I’ve been on, while that was all going on, without cognitively realizing it, I’ve lost everything that’s meant anything to me in life.

So while I’ve been distracted by “living my dreams,” it’s cost me everything. So I think there’s more truth to that old adage of selling your soul to the devil to do this. It’s cost me friends, family, everything that really means anything at the end of the day. When everything is gone and everyone has gone to bed and now it’s just you and the ceiling you’re staring at, those things that, at that moment, matter the most, is everything that’s gone. I have a sneaking suspicion that would be probably a pretty common thread for those of us lucky enough to have taken this crazy ride. I don’t know why my ticket has been such an extended ride, but while I’ve been on that ride, life has been going by out the window.

When you look at the controversy that came from your calling Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren a liar and calling her “Pocahontas,” would you do anything differently if you could?
I’m from Massachusetts, I’ve seen what that woman has done since she got in office: She’s done nothing but preach a whole bunch of stuff and do everything different from the time she’s been in office in Massachusetts, I stand behind my statements. I probably could have said it without the profanity and softened the edges a little bit, but I’m not speaking out of ignorance.

How do you handle knowing what you say will be on YouTube and all over the Internet?
You just try to not have it affect the show. I really, really try to reinvent the whole show every night. I try so hard not to make the same jokes, not to tell the same stories or tell them the same way. I really put a lot of creative energy into the show. So that leaves me very vulnerable to saying things that I might not have thought hard enough about before they came flying out of my mouth. It doesn’t mean I don’t stand by them, it just means I didn’t have the time in the situation to be able to cognitively think to edit or filter myself.

My life does not consist [entirely] of walking out on stage and playing a 90-minute or two-hour show. I have 22 hours of life left in the day that has all sorts of things flying at me in all different directions and all sorts of people trying to pull me in different directions.  Again, I’m a regular guy just like everybody else that has serious issues. I just have this job. I’m a human being, I’m not a machine. I have a breaking point just like everybody else, but nobody else gets put on blast for it. I believe too strongly, I’m too passionate to soften up the edges. I feel like that takes away from the message a little bit. Sometimes the edges aren’t supposed to be soft. Sometimes people need to grow a skin and have a backbone and thicken their skin up a little bit. Political correctness is destroying this country from the inside out. Nobody can say anything anymore. It can be as true as the day is long. [But] you can’t say it.

 

More Music

  • Dimitri Vegas and Like Mike

    Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike Take No. 1 Spot on Top 100 DJs Poll

    The duo of Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike top DJ Mag’s 2019 Top 100 DJs poll, returning to the list since taking the No. 1 spot in 2015 and dethroning Martin Garrix after three years of dominance. The results of the Top 100 DJs were arrived at from 1.3 million votes cast in 179 countries. [...]

  • Bruce Springsteen arrives for the New

    Bruce Springsteen Returns to NJ Hometown for Surprise 'Western Stars' Introduction

    Bruce Springsteen returned to his hometown of Freehold, New Jersey to offer a surprise introduction to the first public multiplex viewing of his concert/documentary film, “Western Stars.” Dressed simply in a brown jacket, Springsteen took a moment to say a few words at the AMC Freehold 14 movie theater on Saturday night. “We knew we [...]

  • Marc Byers

    Execs from Motown, Live Nation, Recording Academy Set to Speak at Culture Creators' Inaugural C2 Summit

    Culture Creators, the organization which recognizes minorities in film, television, music and fashion, is holding its first-ever C2 Summit on Oct. 21 in Washington D.C. Its mission: to engage, mentor, and provide recruitment opportunities to students of color attending historically black colleges and universities. Students were selected from an application process and will participate in [...]

  • Rami Dawod SESAC

    SESAC Toasts Rami Dawod as Pop Songwriter of the Year

    Camila Cabello’s “Never Be The Same” and “Electricity” by Mark Ronson and Silk City featuring Dua Lipa are just a few of the co-writing credits celebrated during an October 16 dinner at Nobu Malibu hosted by SESAC in honor of Rami Dawod. Named Pop Songwriter of the Year by the performance rights organization, Dawod is [...]

  • Luis Fonsi Erika Ender Latin Grammys

    The Second Latin Explosion: How 'Despacito' Ushered in a New Generation of Stars

    Music is an ever-evolving art, and for the Latin Recording Academy, that’s meant riding multiple waves of attention. The most recent arrived with the stratospheric success of “Despacito,” which kicked off a second Latin Explosion with full force in 2017. The Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee hit, later featuring verses by Justin Bieber, made Latin [...]

  • Ricky Martin Celia Cruz Gloria Estefan

    From Idea to Legacy: Latin Grammy Awards Mark 20 Years of Global Recognition

    The idea of creating a separate organization to honor the diversity of Latin music was a discussion that took place for years before it actually happened, but an event driven by one of pop music’s most important crossover artists solidified it. During the 41st Grammy Awards ceremony, a young Ricky Martin was scheduled to perform [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content