Few bands enjoy the level of versatility hard-rock vets Staind do. “Roundness is helpful in all aspects of life, I think,” front man Aaron Lewis said. “We could definitely play a game of ‘you throw out the style, and we write a song to fit that.’”
Trouble brewed, however, as that game increasingly disregarded the heavy hooks that made the act famous. As the band whose cover art once offended none other than Limp Bizkit’s Fred Durst, Staind progressively strayed further from its nu-metal roots and into power-ballad territory with “It’s Been Awhile,” “So Far Away” and “Right Here.” It reached a head with their sixth album, 2008’s “The Illusion of Progress,” where hardly a single metal riff can be found among its 13 songs.
“I’m not saying that I’m not incredibly proud of that record, because it was the most outside-of-the-box thing we’d done up to that point, but it took us so far from where we began,” Lewis said. “I felt it was time to return to our roots. Bringing it back to heavy and aggressive.”
As a result, Staind’s latest, a self-titled effort that hit shelves in September, is its heaviest in more than a decade. Lewis taking a swing at solo country music — his first EP, “Town Line,” released this year to chart-topping sales — played a part in promoting that return as well. “It was my own stuff, over the years, that blurred the line of whether Staind was a heavy band or not,” he said. “With those songs having their own place to live now, we can go back to writing songs as a band and having them come out much heavier than anything I was bringing to the table.”
If the guys forgot what it was like to be angry, the recording process for “Staind” reminded them, likely fueling those monstrous rhythms and roaring guitars.
“Every possible thing got thrown in the way. From losing our drummer to my solo record, to me being on tour supporting that material and the deadline put upon us, everything went right down to the wire,” he said. “It was as jacked-up a situation as possible.”
But the band survived, and likely will, with priorities in line.
“We’re professionals,” Lewis said.
“If a personal level was where we were at in our decision-making, nothing would ever get done.”
Photo by P.R. Brown