Staind Frontman Aaron Lewis Reveals He’s a ‘Country Boy’
What's a rocker to do after they've sold 13 million albums worldwide, had four consecutive Top 3 debuts on the Billboard 200 and released multiple cross-format radio hits? Go back to their roots and release one kick-butt country album, of course. Staind frontman Aaron Lewis is doing just that, with the help of some Nashville friends.
George Jones, Charlie Daniels and Chris Young may all be heard on Aaron's debut single 'Country Boy.' "George Jones and Charlie Daniels are two of the genre's legends, and Chris Young represents the new regime," Aaron says. "It's definitely a personal, autobiographical song, and I'm very thankful that they all participated."
While he had a hand in the most-played rock song of the decade, 'It's Been a While,' as part of Staind, as well as their other hits such as 'Outside' and 'So Far Away,' the rural Vermont native as never strayed from his roots. "Country was the background music to my childhood," Aaron recalls. "My grandfather listened to Merle Haggard, Hank Williams, Hank Williams, Jr. and all of the greats. When Staind did our first tour with Kid Rock in 1999, I rode the bus with him on a couple occasions and we bonded over this music. I haven't been able to let go of it since then."
The country trio are also featured prominently in the songs video, in addition to Aaron's own family archives, illustrating his childhood, home and interests. "The video really is me," Aaron explains. "This is probably the most I've ever participated in any video that I've been involved with. I added a lot to the mix to tell the story."
When it came time to release his own country project, Aaron enlisted Grammy-winning producer James Stroud. "A lifetime friendship was formed between James and I while we were doing these songs," Aaron explains. "As the head of the label and producer, he possessed an incredible amount of faith and belief in this project. It just made sense on so many levels."
'Country Boy,' will be released to iTunes and other digital retailers December 7, while the five-song EP 'Town Line' is scheduled for a February 2011 release.
It may seem difficult to transition from rock to country, but Aaron didn't have any problems with it. "The country accompaniment naturally complements my acoustic guitar playing," he says. "These songs are country in the sense of classic Americana. They're simple, understated, and founded on quality songwriting. If you put a country accompaniment to any of the songs that I've written over the years on my acoustic, all of them would work as country tunes. I always write and play the same way. The only difference here is the accompaniment."
While country songs are frequently written for the Southern states, Aaron's EP includes an homage to his Northeast Home. "I live in the sticks of Massachusetts," Aaron says with a smile. "I wrote ['Massachusetts'] sitting on the front steps of my house. In the spring, the peepers get so loud outside. When they come out, they bring on the night. It's chilling and familiar, and I've heard that sound my whole life. That's how I know I'm home."
Heartache and love are two other common themes in country music, which the singer-songwriter touches on in 'Vicious Circles.' "It's a little more on the personal side of things, and it discusses the ups and downs of a relationship," he reveals. "I started messing around with something during a sound check, and the next thing I knew, it turned into this song. That tends to happen a lot."
Although, the rocker hasn't abandoned his first success, re-recording Staind's 'Tangled Up in You.' "The song was already a little bit country in term of its flavor with the slide guitar and the pedal steel," he says. "We brought it further down that road."
At the end of the day, country music is about values. "I've always stayed true to how I feel in my songs," Aaron assures. "I love this country, and I feel like I've gotten to live the American dream. I'm genuinely blessed to have this opportunity, and I'm glad to celebrate that classic country spirit with this new music."
Aaron hits the road after the first of the year on an acoustic tour. Details here.
Aaron Lewis Tour Dates
January 15 - Uncasville, Conn. - Mohegan Sun
January 28 - Las Vegas, Nev. - Aliante Casino
January 29 - Temecula, Calif. - Pechanga Casino
February 18, 19 - Atlantic City, N.J. - The Borgata
February 20 - Westbury, N.Y. - Westbury Music Fair
March 3 - Detroit, Mich. - Motor City Casino
March 4, 5 - Verona, N.Y. - Turning Stone Casino
March 17 - Snoqualmie, Wash. - Snoqualmie Casino Ballroom
March 18 - Reno, Nev. - Silver Legacy Resort & Casino
March 19 - Las Vegas, Nev. - The Joint – Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
March 26 - Walker, Minn. - Northern Lights
April 14 - Elizabeth, Ind. - Horseshoe Southern Indiana
April 15 - Robinsonville, Miss. - Horseshoe Tunica – Bluesville
April 16 - Biloxi, Miss. - Hard Rock Biloxi
April 21 - Council Bluffs, Iowa - Harrah's Council Bluffs
April 22 - Kansas City, Mo. - Harrah's North Kansas City