Aaron Lewis on Staind Jokes: "My Diehard Fans Can Be Awesome and Heartless"

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To get the skinny on his upcoming gig at Davie's finest, Cowboy Saloon, I spoke with country artist Aaron Lewis. If you can't quite figure out why this name sounds vaguely familiar, it's because this musician was the former frontman of the angsty, postgrunge band Staind. Yes, you read that right: The New England singer who was crooning about "being ugly like me" has switched to a more boot-stompin' genre.

Lewis, who addressed us with genteel Southern terms, like "ma'am" and "darling," talked about Fred Durst, what his former band's members are up to now, and how he really feels about Staind jokes.

New Times: What made you decide to go to country over any other genre?

Aaron Lewis: It's the first music I ever heard in my life. There's really no other place I would fit in better. Sometimes I feel like I fit into country more than rock.

How has playing rock in the past helped with your present sound?

No, I don't tend to be one of those artists that try to turn country into something else.

Do people make any Staind jokes?

All the time!

Like what?

"Are you done yet? Go back to what you're good at." My diehard fans can be awesome and heartless.

Will you perform any Staind songs at any of your performances, country style?

I have. When I perform country, the country band leaves, and I do a couple of acoustic songs.

What are your other band members up to now? Do you still talk to them?

Yeah, Johnny [bass player] is enjoying time off and having a long-awaited vacation. Mike is the guitarist for the band Newsted.

You collaborated with George Jones, Charlie Daniels, and Chris Young, big names in country today. What was that like?

Chirs is a friend of mine [knows hims through a producer], so that wasn't out of the ordinary. The fact that George and Charlie were on there was pretty crazy. Pretty crazy. Friendship aside, it was an honor having Chris on the record.

Do you still talk to Fred Durst?

Once in a great while. I don't tend to find myself in L.A. too often or him in the middle of nowhere in Massachusetts.

Who do you want to tour with and why?

Jamey Johnson. It's the closest thing to the music I'm making, and I'm a huge fan.

Is there anyone you want to collaborate with?

Jamey Johnson, and I'm pretty open to anything that makes sense. "Anything that makes sense" is the key point of the sentence. I am approached regularly for collaborations and sometimes it doesn't make sense... I switched genres because I wanted to reinspire myself and country makes sense.

What do country and rock music mean to you?

Music is just a way to express myself in ways I can't do in everyday life. This can apply to both.

Will you ever perform at the Chili Cookoff or Tortuga Fest?

I'll play anywhere where people show up to see me play.

You had your first solo album, The Road, released in November 2012. Any talks of a new album?

I'm going to the studio soon! It's all written, just not recorded.

Can you give a hint?

Nope! Its more traditionally inspired country.

Aaron Lewis, October 19, at Cowboy Saloon, 1805 S. University Drive, Davie. Call 954-476-0063, or visit cowboysdavie.com.

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