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Staind returns with new live album, streams: Q&A
It's only been two years since Staind last played together, but fans have every reason to feel like it's, er, been awhile for the heavy rock troupe from Massachusetts.
With a multi-platinum pedigree and hits such as "Outside" and "It's Been Awhile," Staind went on hiatus -- but pointedly didn't break up -- in 2012. Since then the group has worked only intermittently; Its last clutch of live dates was in 2019, and its last studio album came out a decade ago. Frontman Aaron Lewis has gone on to a successful country solo career, while guitarist Mike Mushok co-founded the all-star group Saint Asonia and played in former Metallica bassist Jason Newsted's band.
Now, after a tour with Disturbed postponed last year and canceled altogether this year, the quartet is getting busy again.
On May 7 Staind releases "It's Been Awhile," a live set recorded during Oct. 2019 reunion shows at the Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mshantucket, Conn. The set is accompanied by "The Return of Staind: a Two Part Global Streaming Series" that will include "Live: It's Been Awhile (From Foxwoods)" on May 1 and the newly filmed 20th Anniversary of "Break the Cycle, Performed In Its Entirety" on May 8 -- exactly 20 years to the date of Staind's sophomore album's original release.
And, Lewis promises, new material is on the horizon -- a bit later than planned, but definitely in the works...
This is the busiest Staind has been in awhile. What accounts for that?
Lewis: Really, last year was supposed to be the busy year, but everything went away. So it carried over into this year, and that seems to have fallen through a little bit as far as the Disturbed thing we were gonna do. So this is what we have for now.
A live album and two streamcasts -- not a bad Plan B.
Lewis: Well, the Foxwood gig we had in the can already; That was just a matter of when it was gonna come out. We did two nights in a row so we'd have double the amount of material to choose from. So that was in the can already, and this live performance of "Break the Cycle" came out of everybody trying to think of ideas of how can we do something else, especially after we had told people we'd be around."
So is getting Staind together kind of like making hell freeze over?
Lewis: No. I guess the comment is more that people didn't think it was going to happen. It wasn't necessarily that it would be so impossible to put it back together. I've kind of gotten used to and I kind of like not having to answer to anybody creatively. With the whole solo thing I'm kind of the master of my own universe. So to go from that to sharing the universe with three other people in a creative situation is different, but it'll be great.
What should we expect from the "Break the Cycle" show?
Lewis: Well, we did it at Mill 1 (in Holyoke, Mass., where Staind played its first-ever show), so that was pretty cool. What you get is what you get in the sense it is live. We've never been a band to mess with anything. We're not gonna do that. But when you see it, you'll realize the production levels that we achieved could not be achieved in a regular live (show) where we walk out, start the set and when we're finished we're finished. It wouldn't have the same impact if we did it that way.
What was revisiting the album like for you?
Lewis: That was pretty cool, to be honest with you. There are songs we've never played live, like some of the B-sides. I don't think as highly (of the album) as everybody else, as fans might think of it. I found myself not wanting to listen to it. It wasn't a, "Wow man, I remember all of this!," that kind of experience at all. It was, "Oh God, why did I sing it like that?" I'm my own worst critic. It's never good enough.
Can you appreciate why it connected so well when it came out?
Lewis: Very much, yeah. I have been told over and over and over and over throughout my whole career, since that record came out, how important it is to people. That'll never get old. All I was really trying to do with that record and during that time was just get all of this stuff off my chest. I just trying to help myself. I might not have felt that way if I knew so many other people felt the same way I did, y'know?
Twenty years later, does "Break the Cycle" feel like the work of a different person?
Lewis: Oh, no -- I am a master of compartmentalization (chuckles) or else I wouldn't be here still. That stuff, I expressed it and I put it away. I have amazing survival skills. Survival skills don't always let you live life; It seems like you're always surviving something. But Iím smart enough to know they're not put away, entirely. I associate everything I'm doing with whatever it is I put away, and hopefully they don't get in the way.
What kind of perspective do you have on Staind as a whole, especially after being largely away from it for so long?
Lewis? Man...I've been very blessed with a career that was more than any of us ever could have dreamed of. I've been blessed with a fan base that allows me to branch off and do something that to them was completely out of character, even though it wasn't for me. And here I am, everything coming full circle and Staind to about to do another record. So, yeah, it's pretty blessed. I've been granted a lot of grace in my life.
When can we expect the new Staind music?
Lewis: "There are definitely some ideas that have been shared with me that I focused on for a little bit. We haven't really talked very much about producers and where and that type of stuff yet. We've all kind of got our thoughts and ideas, so we'll see.
What about new solo music from you?
Lewis: My next solo thing is actually an acoustic record; There's songs on there that are very obviously country songs, but...just vocal and acoustic instruments. Then we'll do the Staind record and then I have these, like 30 ideas I came up with during COVID that are really different. They don't fit with anything that's going on right now. Donít fit Staind. They don't fit with my country thing. It's somewhere between Pink Floyd, "Dark Side of the Moon," and Billie Eilish -- very dreamscapey, very ethereal. The musical landscape is quite simple and sparse; There's a lot of stuff going on without much stuff going on. It'll be much more focused around melody. I'm very much looking forward to getting back to that.
You've been out playing shows again. What's live life after lockdown been like?
Lewis: "Hindered' would be a proper word. I've played lots of shows, and none of them have turned into super spreaders. Nothing out of the ordinary has taken place. It's just bene very limited to how many people can attend. It's beyond odd. A few weeks ago I was in Texas and I played to about 3,000 people in an indoor venue and no one was wearing a mask, and it was just really nice to see everybody's face and play a show and feel like everythingís normal for two hours.
"The Return of Staind: a Two Part Global Streaming Series" takes place at 5 p.m. Saturday, May 1 ("Live: It's Been Awhile (From Foxwoods)" ) and May 8 ("Break the Cycle, Performed In Its Entirety"). Tickets via StaindLive.com.
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