Staind Frontman: 'I Don't Need Outlet For Things That Make Me Feel Good'

Staind vocalist/guitarist Aaron Lewis speaks from the band's current Fall Brawl tour's stop about "Chapter V," touring, his guitars and much more.

Ultimate Guitar

Vocalist/guitarist Aaron Lewis from Massachusetts band Staind, which is backing its August album "Chapter V" by heading up the Fall Brawl tour with P.O.D. and Taproot, have spoken with from Spokane, WA. Read few excerpts from the interview, conducted by Don Zulaica, below:

  • liveDaily: You toured with P.O.D. back in 2000 on the MTV "Return of Rock" tour. Any particular memories?

    Aaron Lewis: I just remember it being a good tour. I don't really have any bad tour memories. Everybody has been pretty cool to tour with.

  • I read where Mike mentioned that the lyrics usually come last in the songwriting process.

    It'll usually start with a riff that Mike has, or if I bring it to the table, usually it's pretty much a whole song. Because I've figured it out on the acoustic already and usually have words for it.

  • Where does your songwriting inspiration come from?

    What I talk about in the songs, I have a really hard time expressing that otherwise. I tend to stuff things down and internalize it until it's causing me harm. So, instead, I allow it to come out in my lyrics. I've never really needed an outlet for things that make me feel good, or happy thoughts. I don't need to get those off my chest. The stuff that I tend to get out in the songs that I write, it's necessary to do so.

  • Who influenced your writing and musical style growing up?

    Growing up I went through phases of Led Zeppelin, The Doors, The Who, and older stuff like that, to Black Sabbath, and early Van Halen. Then I kind of skipped out on the whole '80s thing, although there were a couple of bands that I thought were pretty good. I always liked Motley Crue and Skid Row, but there was some stuff that was really bad, which really caused me to not pay attention to some music. When the '90s grunge thing happened, the biggest thing for me was that they were singing in a voice that I possessed. I mean, I can sing like the '80s guys now, but I couldn't back then. So when the '90s came along, it was a movement of music that was being sung in a register that I could sing.

    I've got to give a lot of credit to Jonathan [Davis] from Korn. That first record that they did [self-titled, 1994], I think I wore two copies of that record out, just listening to it so much. The strength that he had to put forth what he was saying lyrically on those songs, to have the balls to say what he was saying, it was really significant. He definitely helped me to feel that it was okay to dig as deep into myself as I was.

  • How do you and Mike construct your guitar parts when you're arranging songs?

    Over the years, we've learned to work more efficiently with each other. He knows what I'm looking for. We've figured out what we need to do for each other, in the writing.

  • How much guitar do you play on tour?

    A lot more now. I think there's only three or four songs now that I don't play on. There's always been a lot of overdubbed and layered stuff. We've just never attempted to recreate it live. On 11 of the 12 songs on the new record, I'm playing guitar. And then on the older songs, I'm just figuring out stuff that was there already, that wasn't being recreated live.

  • Who is your guitar tech?

    My tech's name is Grady Champion. His claim to fame is that he was Dimebag [Darrell]'s guitar tech from day one up until the separation of Pantera. Then he did a little bit of stuff for [Pantera bassist] Rex [Brown], for some side project he was doing, and then came and worked for me. He actually started with us as our bass tech, but right before this tour, once we decided that I was going to need a guitar tech, we gave him the opportunity to choose what he wanted to continue doing for us, and he chose to be my guitar tech. Lucky for me.

  • Has he had any opportunities on the tour so far to save your butt?

    He clicked the mute on a guitar that was in full distortion mode -- he strummed it [accidentally] while I was finishing an acoustic song, where there was nothing but me and my acoustic guitar going on. All of a sudden, there was this heavy guitar chord coming from right behind me and my cabinets -- he had just finished tuning it. [laughs]

  • How many guitars do you have in your rack?

    I have a couple acoustics and eight Les Pauls. I've got a thing for Les Pauls. They're all older. I have three or four Heritage Standards and a few Heritage Standard Elites. Basically, if they came through stock with Tim Shaw humbuckers in them, I'm interested in what you've got. I just left my '55 Les Paul at home. I normally bring that on tour. And I have a couple '68s.

  • Why eight guitars?

    I use four different tunings that I play in, and have a backup for each one.

  • How do you get some of those lower, growly sounds live?

    Mike has a very blended thing; he uses a Marshall 9200, for one thing, and a Diezel DH4 for the distortion. I use Genz Benz El Diablo, a 100-watt boutique amp. I'm very lucky that I'm one of a few guys that endorse those--they're very good to me.

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  • 22 comments sorted by best / new / date

      i used to like staind, but i dislike them greatly now. theyre just not very interesting to me
      that's a good interview. nice and in depth. way better then that stupid deftones one... deftones are a better band though.
      i saw aaron on a late night show a couple nights ago and it sucked and the song sounded like another outside remake AARON EXPAND THEY ALL SOUND THE SAME
      Didn't know he had 8 guitars on tour with him, that must be a pain after a while. I saw them a couple weeks ago in Winnipeg, they put on a great show. Though there were several times when I couldn't hear Aaron at all (basically when the distorted guitars were on). For those that are wondering, it's basically just songs from Dysfunction that Lewis doesn't do guitar on live. That's what I noticed.
      malakian...break the cycle was good, but chapter V is also amazing...each song is awsome if u just listent to the whole thing instead of just like the first 30 seconds
      anyone else realise that most of the headlines have very little to do with the interview or taken out of text badly? Staind is and always has been one of my top 10 favorite bands of all time.
      Anyone else realise that the headline had very little to do with the interview? Stain'd used to be good and break the cycle was crazy, but now they are pretty crap!
      Staind's a great band...every single one of them have alotta talent...more then most people know...I've seen Mike shred away like crazy AND in the middle of a convo...they're very amazing and have a great thing goin...ROCK ON STAIND \m/!
      Not a comment on StainD cos I haven't heard anything by them, I only read this article cos I misread the title and thought it said "Stupid frontman". Really must learn to read someday...
      its weird seeing aaron playing electric used to it only being acoustic
      TheNthDimension wrote: Not a comment on StainD cos I haven't heard anything by them, I only read this article cos I misread the title and thought it said "Stupid frontman". Really must learn to read someday...
      LOL! That is good! I like Staind; they're one of my favourite bands. The bit about the 8 guitars is cool.
      Yes, most headlines have little relevance. Usually ones about interviews. Staind is pretty good and Lewis can sing pretty well.
      Yeah, using 8 or so guitars is crazy... it's the only reason I'm looking to get a Variax... granted, it probably doesn't sound as perfect as those Les Paul's, but at least you'd only need one or two electrics..