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Staind's Aaron Lewis: Proud 'Country Boy' and conservative
Jim Wright

Staind's Aaron Lewis: Proud 'Country Boy' and conservative

The singer talks to Align about his new album, sticking to his morals, and the power of a stripped-down song.

Garth Brooks switched music genres in 1999 via his alter ego, Chris Gaines, and quickly retreated from his country roots.

Aaron Lewis gained fame as the lead singer of the alternative metal band Staind. He tried country music on for size in 2010 with the song “Country Boy,” and the genre fit like the proverbial glove.

“I was around before cell phones and computers. I know what life was like before the deep state and the Democrats were given the ultimate power of the computer and power to brainwash everybody."

“Doubts keep you from doing big things in life,” Lewis tells Align. “I save my doubting stuff for times that don’t really matter that much. … Usually doubt will keep you from having great things happen.”

Lewis added a twist to his makeover, one that may trump them all. He came out as a conservative in an industry openly hostile to that ideology.

“As far as current events, I feel compelled to talk about them. They affect my life, your life, my childrens’ lives, my future grandchildren,” Lewis says.

Courtesy of The Valory Music Co.

That outspoken side gets a twist on his latest album, “The Hill,” out March 29.

The first track, “Let’s Go Fishing,” suggests the problems facing the country today but doesn’t offer solutions or specifics. Lewis serves up anger and solace, letting listeners connect the dots.

You got to work two jobs and rob a bank
To put food on the table and gas in your tank
And everybody knows who's to blame
But I ain't gonna worry about none of that s*** today

So let's go fishing, let's go wishing
On a star in the dark in the middle of the night
The world's gone crazy and the s*** ain't right
Let's go running a little backwoods-hiding
It's all so f***ed up I can't stand it
Let's go Karen, let's go Brandon
And let's go fishing

There’s a deeper meaning in the track, one that might get lost in that “Let's Go Brandon” energy.

“People are expecting things to be instantaneous, some sort of instant gratification accountability for everything that’s going on right now,” he says. “Let’s Go Fishing” asks us to “take a pause for a second. Let’s check out and be able to look at this from a 10,000-foot view for a bit.”

Another track, “Made in China,” drops more references you won’t find on most modern songs.

I ain't made by Uyghur kids
For pennies on the dollar
I'm made in the USA
It says so on my collar
Tried and true, red, white, and blue
My roots run way too thick
Yeah, I ain't made in China
'Cause I'm American as it gets

“The Hill” continues Lewis’ approach to country music: pure. Unfiltered. Raw when required.

“I’ve always believed in the concept that a song stripped down like that will stand true on its own,” he says, leaving just the “best, most honest and pure representation of a song acoustically.”

That honesty spills into his live act.

“I am myself up on stage. There is no show. I sit down on a stool, and I play songs and have conversations. … I feel it’s my responsibility to do something good with what God has been so gracious to bless me with,” he says. “I’m very fact-based. When it comes to the things I’ll say on stage, I can back them up with receipts.”

He’s closing in on his 52nd birthday and recalls a time far different from today’s America.

“I was around before cell phones and computers. I know what life was like before the deep state and the Democrats were given the ultimate power of the computer and power to brainwash everybody,” he says.

He knows artists fearful of saying the “wrong” thing and suspects his YouTube channel has been throttled for its pro-America sentiment.

Yet he still sees the positive side of our information age.

“As much as they’re using the internet to create chaos and division among us, we’re using the internet for just the opposite, to find out what’s really happening. It’s a double-edged sword,” he says. “The misinformation they keep talking about is the truth.”

Being honest with his opinions hasn’t slowed his professional roll.

His 2021 smash “Am I the Only One” became only the ninth song ever to debut in Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart at number one. His Staind reunion album, October’s “Confessions of the Fallen," debuted at no. 4 on the Billboard Top Album Sales chart after a 12-year hiatus.

His secret, beyond obvious talent? “Sticking to my morals and my values and my ability to speak my mind and have an opinion,” he says about his 25 years atop the music business.

Lewis’ reinventions are far from over. The unadulterated country heard on “The Hill” follows in the footsteps of “Confessions,” and he has another project in the works unlike anything in his existing canon.

He describes the sound as Portishead “from back in the day” or more akin to modern-day Billie Eilish. He created the rough outline for it during the pandemic but thinks the “ethereal” music has a promising future.

“I look forward to coming back around to it,” he says.

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Christian Toto

Christian Toto

Christian Toto is the founder of and the host of "The Hollywood in Toto Podcast.”