AARON LEWIS: THE STAIND MIND SPEAKS!!!
Away-Team On Location With STAIND’s Aaron Lewis
(Reprinted From Our April 11th 2007 Interview On Location In Fort Myers, Florida)
Busting up on a tour bus with an interview opportunity from a person that you have a huge amount of respect for but have never met is never an easy task. Noting that STAIND’s Aaron Lewis was due for a Birthday only a couple of days after our April 11th meeting made for an easy excuse to use a Birthday Gift as an ice-breaker. So, Away-Team’s Craig “Bam-Bam” Stegall gingerly offered up a copy of The Bob Dylan Tour Diaries DVD, wrapped to perfection…thank-you very much…to the star before admitting, “We saw your acoustic tour a month ago and we figured, after that night, that you were the Bob Dylan of our generation, so we thought you’d enjoy watching this on the bus!”
Not only did he crack a very undeniable smile, but he stood up for a big bro hug and made room for me right at his table on the bus. The Away-Team shoots…and scores!!!
AWAY-TEAM: Aaron, I’ve got to ask you; Seeing you perform your acoustic solo show and then seeing you perform with STAIND, it’s obvious to me that you definitely love your ability to perform “by-the-seat-of-your-pants” without a net…
AARON LEWIS: (smiles) Yes, sir!!! Especially for the solo thing…but, for the band thing, it’s very structured and planned…I don’t even talk! We know what song is going to be played next and we do it. For the acoustic show…there is NO set list…
AWAY-TEAM: …however, if you don’t mind me mentioning, one of your fan favorites with STAIND is the acoustic version of “Outside” from the 1999 Family Values Tour CD that was recorded from that tour. That was a song that you actually did with LIMP BIZKIT’s Fred Durst singing with you. I remember hearing somewhere that the song was not fully…finished, if you will, at the time that you did it that night on tour, and you actually wrote it and performed it all… “off-the-fly”, and for the first time completely during that recording. Is that true?
AARON LEWIS: It is true! I had a chorus and a chord progression and I made up the verses as I went along…
AWAY-TEAM: Everything? That’s what ended up sticking?
Photo Courtesy Of: VegasNews.com
AARON LEWIS: That’s what stuck!!!
AWAY-TEAM: Is it also true that you guys used to be, in your early days…like 1996 and ’97…you guys were a pretty heavy band?
AARON LEWIS: A LOT HEAVIER!!! .
AWAY-TEAM: I remember even hearing that some of your earlier influences were PANTERA and SEPULTURA…How did the sound evolve into what we now know as STAIND?
AARON LEWIS: For many years we were trying to accomplish fitting into a Boston-based music scene which was like TREE and THE DROPKICK MURPHY’S and all these heavier bands…BIG BLOCK 454…heavy, heavy growl bands, and we were trying to emulate those bands so we could play shows with everybody and fit in there, so our music was getting heavier. It was a battle that I was basically losing to get the band to play stuff that I could sing melody over…and then Fred [Durst] came in and said, ‘Your singer can sing…let him sing!’. You know, before we actually recorded and put out a record we were covering RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE, PANTERA, PEARL JAM, STONE TEMPLE PILOTS…and basically everything that was hot and current and on the radio at that time!
AWAY-TEAM: Which is basically some of the stuff you cover in your acoustic set as well, amazingly!
AARON LEWIS: (laughs) Sure, Sure!!!
AWAY-TEAM: Now, I’ve never been present when this happened…but I am familiar with people telling me that you, as STAIND, have covered “This Love” by PANTERA as a tribute to Dimebag…is there ever any chance that those of us who haven’t seen it will be able to purchase a legit, studio version of this track?
AARON LEWIS: Ummm, I’m certain it’s gotta be on YouTube somewhere, but you know…probably not. It was one of those things that I actually had his Confederate Guitar out on tour with us…I played it for a song or two…and I mean…literally, it was HIS guitar! Rita…you know, his lifetime girlfriend and common-law wife…she let me take the Confederate Flag Guitar out on tour with us. I had to play it! It made the hair stand up on the back of my neck every night when I played it! And, during that time-frame we’d bust out into “This Love”, and Barry from THREE DAYS GRACE has come out and played it with us when we were on tour with them…I mean…I loved that guy, man! He was THE BEST! He was just…I think he loved doing this more than anyone else that you’ll ever see out here!
AWAY-TEAM: Would you ever do it in the solo, acoustic thing???
Photo Courtesy Of: Zimbio.com
AARON LEWIS: Well, when people come to see STAIND…they come to see what we have written. With the solo thing…it’s just so carefree and I don’t really care if I mess up, and I don’t care if in the middle of a song that I haven’t even tried to play in 20-years, I just, off the top of my head decide that, you know…for some strange reason I pick that song off the top of my head to try and play when I don’t even know if I can still play it…it doesn’t matter! Somebody will yell it out from the crowd, and I don’t expect to be able to pull it off perfectly, and I hope people aren’t expecting for me to pull it off perfectly…then again, I go on YouTube, and whatnot, and a lot of people don’t get it. They don’t understand that I’m doing it tongue and cheek. They just don’t get it! I certainly wouldn’t seriously try to bust out “Dead Or Alive” by BON JOVI, but I play a verse and a half of it…just for the laugh factor of it all, the fun of it…and then to go from that to “I Saw Red”, by….ummmm…..
AARON LEWIS: Yeah, WARRANT…or even
AWAY-TEAM: (Jokingly interupting…) “Puff The Magic Dragon”
AARON LEWIS: Yeah, “Puff The Magic Dragon”, you know? Or even trying to play “Still Loving You” by the SCORPIONS. I’m not trying to do it seriously! You think I’m seriously trying to redo “What’s Going On” by FOUR NON-BLONDES? (laughs) C’mon!!! It’s all in fun! It’s more for the comedy as it is for anything else. I mean, I’ll do “Every Rose Has Its Thorne” by POISON and when everybody starts singing along with me, I’ll stop and bust on them for singing along!!! (laughter) They may call me gay for playing it…but I don’t know who’s gayer…me or them!!! (laughs)
AWAY-TEAM: That’s hilarious! Listen, the new album, The Illusion Of Progress, there are two singles that have videos; “Believe” and “All I Want”. These two are supposedly…a continuation of each other as far as the video side of it goes. Is this to insinuate that the album, itself, is somewhat of a concept album?
AARON LEWIS: You know…I never really thought about this…but I guess, with the title of the album, life is really an Illusion Of Progress, kind of. We really didn’t write the album with the intent of it being a concept, but I can see how it could be seen as one…but it wasn’t anything intentional at all. In some way, shape or form, The Illusion Of Progress pertains to really, every song on the record. You can apply it to any song on the record…you can apply it anything that’s going on in the world today…again, nothing we did on purpose and it’s nothing too deep or intentionally political…but you can apply it to the Presidency of The United States…
AWAY-TEAM: Okay, now you notice I didn’t bust up in here with any political questions because I didn’t want to set you off, man! (laughter)
AARON LEWIS: Smart move! (laughs) It’s so much better that you did that because I’m just going to dig myself a hole…get myself in trouble with the left-side. You know, I’m so upset with what’s going on in the world right now. I mean, mid-terms are coming up here soon, and we need to, as the free society which is the United States…which has been the envy of the entire world since its inception, that the government has succeeded in screwing up…that we need to go back and pay attention to those three, ingenious words that were written down on a document…called The Constitution. And the Constitution is there, to protect, us…WE THE PEOPLE…from what is going on right now, in our government. They’re taking way too much control of what’s going on! They’re not supposed to…by design, they’re not supposed to take control of this country. They’re not supposed to tax us, what they’re already taxing us! If you don’t think our taxes are going up, and everything that [Obama] campaigned on is going to become lies…if it’s not already, then you’re blinded by everything that’s blurring it all. Our grandkids are going to be paying for our stimulus package. And that wasn’t political…that was Patriotism!!! (laughter) You know…Goddamnit…I swore I wouldn’t go here, but do you know something? Let me tell you something! Can you believe that it costs me $2,000 a week to pay the 16 employees that I have on staff at my hair salon? I’m serious. (Editor’s Note: At this point, I am looking totally confused because I have no idea what Aaron is talking about…the guy is bald! I am so confused as to what he means by “hair salon”!!!) Just to cut them a paycheck!!! This is before I even pay a dime of Social Security, Wages, or any of that other shit! I pay $2,000 a week in payroll taxes…just to cut them a paycheck! Not to mention the corporate tax that gets put on me, everything else. I gotta pay unemployment, I gotta pay everything else, and I still I have to pay them over $2,000 a week, just to cut my employees a paycheck! That’s small business!!! I only have 16 employees!!!
AWAY-TEAM: Okay, so you’re saying you own a Hair Salon, right? What’s the name of your salon?
AARON LEWIS: It’s Salon-Karma!!!
AWAY-TEAM: Okay!!! (laughs) Moving onward…(laughter around)…As the predominately huge figure that you’ve become; I mean, Hit Parader Magazine voted you one of the TOP 100 HEAVY METAL SINGERS OF ALL-TIME…how long is it going to be before we can see Aaron Lewis…the actor???
AARON LEWIS: Uuuuuuum…I don’t know….I-I-I-I….in the beginnings of it…I had a part in Fred Durst’s last movie which, I keep blanking out on it, but Ice-Cube is in it and his daughter is the first female to ever play football…It was a Disney Movie…(Editor’s Note: Although all of us knew what Aaron was talking about, none of us could come up with the name of the flick… “The Longshots”, at the time!)…I mean, Fred directed that movie! And until my schedule became too much to deal with, I was supposed to be in that movie. I mean, inevitably it’s going to happen, as long as it’s a part that I can just be myself in. I mean, I’m not a character actor or anything! (laughs)
AWAY-TEAM: I’m with you, man. Hey, thanks so much for the interview, bro. Have a great show tonight, and we both with you a very Happy…Early Birthday, my friend!
AARON LEWIS: Hey, thanks so much. I hope you enjoy the show!!!
Photo Courtesy Of: Devian Tart
And with that, we left the bus, only to be joined once again by Aaron and the entire band for one of the most incredibly rocking shows we’ve ever seen the band perform. For anyone that thinks STAIND is just a sobbing band of depressed guys singing songs about sorrow and despair…let this be a warning…they kick at least four monster rockers out before ever slowing the pace in their set, so don’t be fooled by what radio has put in front of you. This band is the real deal and totally heavy-handed in their set-list!!!
Special thanks go out to the STAIND tour manager Matt, label representative Kelly McWilliam, and to everyone that joined us this night to stay until the very end of their set and experience one of the best live shows going!!!