Aaron Lewis, frontman for the hard rock group Staind, acknowledges that his success as a country solo artist "hasn't been dauntingly and terrifyingly difficult." But he hastens to add that he "wasn't given a free pass for selling 17 or 18 million records" with Staind.
"I guess I knew it was going to be a fight because I was starting over. I just didn't think that people would be as close-minded as they were about things they had issues with," explains the Massachusetts-based Lewis, 40, who, after last years chart-topping EP "Town Line" will release his first full-length country album, "The Road," on Sept. 11.
"There was a lot of am I country enough? Am I dipping my toes? Am I really committed to the format? Am I just testing the waters to see what I can do? If it was garbage that I was offering, I could understand that, but it wasn't and isn't and it hasn't been."
"Town Line" spawned the single "Country Boy," which went gold and help Lewis snare multiple nominations for CMT Music Awards and the Academy of Country Music Awards. That put some momentum behind "The Road," which he recorded during days off from touring with Staid, with a first single, "Endless Summer," that's already climbing the country charts.
"I've always been kind of, I guess, schizophrenic in my creativity," says Lewis, who will mix promoting "The Road" with Staind's run on the Rockstar Energy Drink Uproar Festival later this summer. "I have a hard time focusing on one thing for any amount of time.
"And the big issues was if I'd done this solo thing and not changed genres, it would've constantly been compared to Staind...and I did not want that. So it really made perfect sense for me to end up going country, and here we are. It's working out great."
Aaron Lewis performs Sunday, July 22, at the Royal Oak Music Theatre, 318 W. Fourth St. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $55 and $39.50. Call 248-399-2980 or visit www.royaloakmusictheater.com.
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