Most people hear the name Aaron Lewis and automatically know that he has been the soulful lyricist for the band Staind that has given us such hits as “It’s Been Awhile”, “Fade”, “So Far Away” and “Right Here”. What many people do not know is that Aaron has been performing and writing country music for just as long as he has been writing and performing rock/metal music. In fact, he has been doing country longer being introduced to the genre by his grandfather. It was on tour with Kid Rock that his interests led him to finally decide to record and release an album and we were finally introduced to his country music officially in early 2011 when his seven- song EP “Town Line” was released on Stroudavarious Records. The song “Country Boy” was an instant hit and features legends George Jones, Charlie Daniels, and Chris Young.
After a morning goose hunting adventure with his daughter, Aaron took some time to speak with me about his vast repertoire and his move into the country circuit.
Hi! I am excited to talk to you being a Staind fan and now with your move into country and I feel like there is a Southern thing that is kind of taking over. I am just now really learning about it. I have some good friends, The Cadillac Three who are doing huge things right now, I really like their stuff, and that has helped me to learn more about the genre.
I LOVE those guys! In fact, we used one of their songs for our theme song for the first half of our TV show.
Really? That is awesome! They are great guys and extremely talented!
Yes they are
You have quite the repertoire of music from metal to country. Is there a genre that you identify with more?
I guess I would identify in a personal level and with my hobbies and everything that I do and my political views I would say that country is where I belong.
It seems to be more like storytelling with country music.
Well I certainly couldn’t see myself going the John Mayer route or Jason Mraz or any of those guitar based singer/songwriter artists of today. Maybe if it was 30 years ago I could have fallen into the James Taylor category being an acoustic based set but these days I don’t fit into that category at all. You know country music was the first music I listened to in life.
So you grew up listening to country?
Yeah…not necessarily by choice (laughing)
Who have been some of your greatest influences?
There was always lots of music in my house. George Jones, Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings, Hank Sr & Jr. I was eight or nine before I started listening to music for myself.
You have collaborated with many great people/artists from Corey Taylor to Sevendust to Linkin Park. Who was your most memorable?
I would have to say it is a toss up between Corey Taylor and George Jones
Two completely opposite ends of the spectrum!
I think so! You cannot pigeonhole me!
Who have you been listening to lately?
The only time I listen to music is when I am driving in my truck. That is the only time I listen to the radio period and it seems to be more often than not right-wing conservative talk radio. I can’t listen to rock anymore. I don’t even know what it is that the rock stations are playing these days and country radio I have a hard time because I don’t know what it is so I like to gravitate towards educational radio.
When you were writing The Road, what was your inspiration?
I was on tour with Staind. On my days off instead of having a day off, I would get up and take the first flight out to Nashville and do a four-hour session and then get back on a plane and fly to wherever Staind was playing that night.
You worked with James Stroud in Nashville. How was that seeing as he has worked with some major people?
He certainly has and is quite the presence in the room. He is like a long lost uncle and we have quite a bond.
Will Staind be doing another album or are you going to stick with this for a while?
I have to assume that eventually that will happen. You know Staind just needed a break. We have been at it hard for a long time.
You sold out The Machine Shop in Flint last time you were here. What are some other places in Detroit you have played? Have you played the Motor City Soundboard before?
Yes ma’am. I have played the State Theatre (now known as The Fillmore); you know I think I have played all of the theatres. I played the Downtown Hoedown, which was spectacular. I have done a lot of shows in Detroit over the years.
Do you have a favorite?
In Detroit? You know what? I will have to give that to the State Theatre. It is where I played my first show in Detroit.
Have you had any negative responses to your changing genre from your fans?
Of course! You can’t make everybody happy. You kind of have to start with yourself and let it trickle down from there. If writing and recording, an entire album of country music in a matter of 30 hours isn’t a sign of inspiration than I don’t know what is. I was just following where my inspiration was taking me.
You know I don’t understand that reaction that fans have when this happens, you know when they may say that you are fake or that you sold out. Music is music and whether or not you identify with that particular genre doesn’t mean that it’s bad it just means that it’s different.
Right! And if you don’t like the country music but like listening to Staind then don’t listen to the country music and continue listening to Staind. It’s all good; it won’t hurt my feelings (laughing)
How do you manage to find a balance between tour life and family life?
It can definitely be difficult. I purposely thinned out my schedule this year to create some more family time and to really kind of put my family before my career for a change after all of these years. I have always done the best that I could to balance it and I have been doing it long enough that they don’t deserve the balance anymore, they deserve to hold first place.
Do you bring them out with you?
Yeah, they are here now. Zoe just sat in the blind with me all morning.
How did you get into goose hunting?
It’s just one of those things that has a season going on. It takes a certain sort. If I wasn’t goose hunting, I would be ice fishing. Where I live its cold for half the year so you have to make the best of it. When you are covered in snow and ice for half the year, it would probably behoove you to find something fun to do (laughing)
Well thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me. As I mentioned I am a big Staind fan so I am excited to see you in a different take.
I am glad you are coming. I certainly hope you enjoy it if it’s your first taste.
Absolutely! See you soon!
Aaron Lewis will be playing the Motor City Soundboard inside the Motor City Casino in Detroit 2/6/2014. For tickets go to http://www.soundboarddetroit.com/eventdetail.aspx?contentid=7267&title=A...