Known for being the frontman of the chart-topping hard rock band Staind, Aaron Lewis is now showing his true colors as a country musician. Being named by Hit Parader as one of Heavy Metals Top 100 Vocalists, Lewis says, "country music is my childhood." 2011 proved to be a big year for the Massachusetts bad boy. He entered the Billboard Country Albums chart at #1 for his debut solo EP Town Line. His rebel song "Country Boy," on which he collaborated with country legends George Jones and Charlie Daniels, is nominated for an ACM Award this year for "Vocal Event Of The Year." The song was also nominated last year for two CMT Music Awards.
We sat down with the famed vocalist at Stagecoach this weekend.
Now 40 years old, he says, "I don't really feel like the pissed off, angry young man [I was during] my Staind Career." He admits he felt a part of him was drifting away with every album they released. Debuted at the Family Values Tour in 1999, "Outside" was the first time one of his own songs was released through Staind. In fact, Lewis was the mastermind behind other acoustic-based songs including hard rock's most listened to song to date, "It's Been Awhile" as well as "Tangled Up In You" and "Epiphany."
"Life takes many twists and turns and it leads you places ... I felt like it was the best fit for me."
With such a drastic crossover, Lewis isn't trying to change himself or reinvent the wheel. "I'm just using a different set of crayons to color everything in."
"I think it is so cool that I was invited to play here (Stagecoach) this year," he says. Even with his high profile band Staind and all its popularity, they have never been invited to play Coachella. "I guess we were a little bit too heavy for Coachella," he says.
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Country music has been a part of his life ever since his grandfather was his babysitter. Naturally, he is grateful to perform on the same stage as his childhood Idol, Roy Clark. Clark has a special place in his heart, because he remembers watching Hee Haw on his grandpa's lap as a young child. "To be invited to something like this is huge. I'm thankful and happy to be here."
Lewis doesn't usually have much to say during a Staind concert. But during his solo show this weekend, his onstage demeanor couldn't have been more different. He even says there are times he hears someone from the crowd shout, "Shut Up and Sing!" Not having his powerful band to back him, he feels that more of his personality comes through in a solo show.
"It's kinda nice to be in an environment where it is perfectly ok to go on a tangent for three or four minutes and not feel like I have to go right to the next song. That's kinda refreshing and kinda cool."
Lewis recently released a music video for his feel-good latest single "Endless Summer," the lead single for his album coming out later this year, The Road. "It's definitely proof that I can write a happy song," he says. He lives in Massachusetts and has a beach cottage in Rhode Island, where he shares his life with his daughter. "It was a straight forward and easy story to tell."
The rest of the album will be "outlaw country" inspired. Just because he did write a happy song, Lewis adds, "It wasn't like I was writing a song for today's country radio. I wasn't limiting myself." The whole album was written while bouncing from state to state with Staind. "If a song came out, it would come out and go on the record." Every song that will be on The Road is directly connected to what was going on while on tour.
Lewis is currently on tour with Staind till the end of the month. He will be going on a full band country tour starting at the end of June through July. He then will be on tour with Staind for the Uproar Tour sharing the stage with Papa Roach, Godsmack and Shinedown. In December, Lewis will be able to stop the "balancing act" and focus 100% on his solo act. But Staind fans don't worry, once he is done with his solo project, Staind will release another record in the coming future.