Staind frontman Aaron Lewis built a career on heavy hits such as “Far Away” and “Outside,” but the Vermont native says he’s always been a country boy at heart.
“Just because I was a singer in a rock band for the last 13 years doesn’t mean that I can’t be country,” Lewis says. “All of my childhood memories have country music in the background.”
After reconnecting with his country roots a few years ago, Lewis finally released a five-song country record, Town Line, in December. The disc’s first single, “Country Boy,” features George Jones and Charlie Daniels, while “Tangled Up in You” is a countrified version of a song that first appeared on Staind’s sixth album, The Illusion of Progress.
“The song was already creeping towards country, anyway,” Lewis says of the re-worked track. “There’s harmony all through it now; it was finished in more the way that it was intended to be finished.”
So what do fans think of this new, down-home version of Staind’s lead singer? The reaction has been “colorfully mixed,” according to the singer.
“The majority like it,” he says. “Then, there are others who are mortified by it.”
Still, he’s not too worried. “Anybody who’s mortified by what I’m putting out solo is going to be very happy with what’s coming out with the band,” he says.
Staind will continue to tour and record as usual, leaving Lewis to focus on his country side project during what would’ve been his off-time.
He’s been trying to release a country record for a while now, but says “the record label that the band is on didn’t know what to do with it.” Apparently the suits at Atlantic Records thought the new material was too country for rock, and too rock for country. Ultimately, they agreed to let Lewis release the EP on a different label, Nashville-based Stroudavarious Records.
Now, at 38, the rock veteran says it feels just like the first time.
“This is so cool for me,” he says. “It’s kind of like starting over.”
8 p.m. (doors 7:15 p.m.) March 19-20 at the Ovation Lounge at Green Valley Ranch, $39-$59, all-ages, 547-5300.