By Brian Ives
Staind frontman turned country singer Aaron Lewis is not one to hold back his opinions on any matter. Including on country music. Where most artists who come from rock or pop and try to make it Nashville do so with their hat in their hand, Lewis wants to let his music do the talking. And it’s generally not on speaking terms with many of today’s country stars: he infamously ripped on several hit makers from the stage recently. It’s sort of the theme of his new single, “That Ain’t Country,” off of his new album, Sinner.
Which made it somewhat surprising that he signed to Big Machine Records’ Dot imprint; Big Machine, after all, is home to Taylor Swift and Rascal Flatts, among others. But he tells Radio.com that he he full creative freedom to make the record that he wanted to. And in fact, he recorded the album in one day.
“It’s as unmolested of a piece of creativity as it could be,” he says. “And that’s very important to me. It was why it took as long as it did for me to end up underneath the Big Machine umbrella on Dot Records. It wasn’t the first time I’d been approached. My creative autonomy is very important to me. And I was finally led to believe, and [was] convinced, that that wouldn’t be messed with, in any way, shape or form by signing to the label.”
He continues: “No one has tried to change my direction or stop me from what I was doing. I mean, I turned in a record that it took us sixteen hours to record, because we did the whole thing once or twice, live. Like they used to do it. And it was accepted. It wasn’t that classic, ‘Record Label Executive 101’ response that I’ve gotten my whole career. I didn’t even get that. So I feel very comfortable in the situation that I’m in now, because everybody’s letting me be me. That’s the most important thing for me, it always has been, even with Staind.”
He’s also an unabashed conservative and patriot. And he has some opinions about Colin Kaepernick, and his decision not to stand during the National Anthem.
“It absolutely infuriates me!” he growls. “And it makes me even more angry that the NFL, that is so intertwined into this nation, is allowing it to take place. That they’re not benching him, they’re not financially penalizing him every time he doesn’t stand. That is a direct slap against the country that makes the NFL as great as it is. The rest of the world, for the most part, doesn’t even care about football. Their ‘football’ is soccer. And for the NFL to just sit back and allow him to do that without any sort of penalty or repercussion, I don’t understand that.”
“He’s invoking his right to do what he believes,” he says of the 49ers QB. “But this is where freedom and liberty get a little bit skewed. Your freedom and your liberty to do that, on the reverse side, is my freedom and liberty to not have to deal with it. And not have it effect my life. And that’s the give and take of freedom. Yeah, you’re free to do whatever you want to do, but I’m also free from the consequences of your actions. And that’s kind of been lost in the definition of freedom. the consequences are the key thing, everything gets a little skewed there.”
Lewis’s Sinner is out now.