Courtesy of Jim Wright
Teetering on a nearly 20-year career with Staind, Aaron Lewis, the band’s founder and frontman, has opted out of rock music for something with more of a twang.
Lewis is slated to release his debut solo country album “The Road” Nov. 13 and is scheduled to perform 7 p.m. Thursday at The Bluestone. Fellow country artists Randy Montana, Cliff Cody and Matt Mason, last year’s winner of the CMT reality series “Next Superstar,” are slated to open the show.
“Playing in Ohio is always a good time,” Lewis said. “I’ve got a new country record coming out … this tour kind of brings that on, which I’m pretty excited about.”
Lewis, who became famous for songs such as “It’s Been Awhile” as the face of Staind, made his country music debut in March 2011 with his EP “Town Line.” He recorded “The Road” while touring with Staind toward the end of last year.
“Staind would play three or four shows in a row, and on the fifth day when I should have been resting, I was flying to Nashville and recording for the day, and then at the end of the day (I was) flying to wherever it was that I needed to play my next show at,” Lewis said.
“The Road” was originally scheduled for release on Sept. 11, but was pushed back two months because of record label changes. Lewis joined Blaster Records, based in Mentor, Ohio, after his former record label, R&J Records, ceased operations earlier this year.
Mike Dennison, president and CEO of Blaster Records, said the release date was pushed back for “all the right reasons.”
“There were a lot of things we needed to put in place (for the album),” Dennison said. “We really wanted to give Aaron exactly what he needed.”
Lewis said the record label change has come with a few benefits as well.
“For the first time in my career, I own the record,” Lewis said. “The record label deal that I have is merely a licensing deal.”
Lewis said he is proud of all 10 songs on “The Road.”
“I don’t believe in putting songs on the record that don’t belong on the record,” Lewis said. “If they weren’t good enough to be released as a single all by themselves, then they don’t make it on the record as far as I’m concerned.”
Calling the album “the capturing of a moment in time,” Lewis said. “It’s where I was at, at that time (of recording). … There’s a song called ‘State Lines’ that the opening lines are ‘I just left out of Corpus and I’m heading into Nashville for the day / So I can leave my mark on music row and now back out on the road, more shows to play.’ That is exactly verbatim what I had done in the process of recording that song.”
Although Lewis said going solo has led to a “temporary hiatus” for Staind, it’s what he’s inspired to do right now.
“If I went in right now to do another (Staind) record, it would just be a regurgitation, and this is new and fresh and I feel inspired by it,” Lewis said.
While some musicians, including Jay-Z, whose real name is Shawn Carter, Bruce Springsteen, Kid Rock and The Marshall Tucker Band, have been performing in Ohio in the days leading up to the election as a campaigning effort, Lewis said politics would be ousted from his set.
He said there will be no political motives in his show, which is slated to take place two days after Election Day.
“I wouldn’t want to endorse anyone like that,” Lewis said. “I feel like both sides are just as responsible for the mess that we’re in. I feel that both sides have completely thrown the Constitution (away).”
Dennison said Columbus was a nice fit for Lewis’ tour because of its fanbase.
“Columbus is a huge market,” Dennison said. “I think his music’s going to appeal to not only a younger crowd, but to an older crowd as well. Playing in front of the Ohio State fans or Columbus fans I think is a real opportunity.”
Lewis said his inspiration to make country music came from the music his grandfather listened to when he was growing up, including artists like Hank Williams Jr., Johnny Cash and George Jones. Among modern country artists, Lewis said he “can’t say enough good things” about Jamey Johnson.
Lewis said he thinks fans of those artists will take to his music well.
“If you like good old-fashioned country music, not necessarily everything that’s dominating the airwaves these days … come check it out,” Lewis said.
The Bluestone is located at 583 E. Broad St. Tickets cost $25 and can be purchased on The Bluestone’s website or through fla.vor.us.