Aaron Lewis of Staind Shares 10 Acoustic Favorites
Mon, 10 Oct 2011 16:26:27
Staind frontman Aaron Lewis can wrench hearts or uplift spirits with nothing more than an acoustic guitar and his formidable voice.
At Lewis's solo acoustic shows, he has nothing more than a couple guitars, a stool, some water, and a pack of smokes, and he gives audiences an unforgettable gig that changes nightly. Lewis doesn't bother with a set list, but he's happy to indulge requests. Those requests have run the gamut from Pearl Jam to Cyndi Lauper, and Lewis pulls them all off with the same flawless delivery. Plus, he manages to pepper each set with some hilarious and clever anecdotes, engaging audiences on every level.
Given that there is no script, Lewis's versatility shines through immensely during the acoustic gigs. He spoke to ARTISTdirect.com editor and Dolor author Rick Florino about ten of his favorite songs to play acoustically, listen to, and his stories behind them.
Be sure to catch Aaron Lewis at a solo acoustic date near you! See his upcoming tour dates! Pick up his debut solo EP, Town Line as well... Also, visit the Facebook Page for Aaron Lewis's charity It Takes a Community!
Pearl Jam — "Black"
Aaron Lewis: "I can always throw Pearl Jam's "Black" in there. I like the melody structures. Eddie Vedder is very poetic in his lyrics, and they're not always extremely literal. It's almost like the songs are written as poetry, but I don't know how he actually writes. To me, it almost seems as if it's written as poetry first and then put to music."
Alice in Chains — "Rooster"
A.L.: "Back 17, 18, or 20 years ago, I was out basically doing what I do in the solo thing now. Only instead of having Ben Kitterman out with me, I had Chris Ballini sitting next to me. We were just a couple of local guys doing it in the local bars. Chris and I played pretty much the entire Dirt and Jar of Flies records. We could play every single song off them, harmonize, and do all of that stuff. That was also when we would play three sets. We'd start at 9:30 and finish at quarter two in the morning. We had to fill a lot of time. We played a lot of Alice in Chains. "Rooster" is fun to play."
Alice in Chains — "Nutshell"
A.L.: "I've always appreciated "Nutshell". It seems like those songs tend to go over pretty well when I play them. I must not be murdering them too badly [Laughs]. Layne's writing was much more self-inflicting. It was much more introspective and not necessarily observational poetry. Layne was baring his soul when he wrote words."
Ray LaMontagne — "Jolene"
A.L.: "I don't even attempt to do most of his songs [Laughs]. He's amazing! I'm really a big fan, and it has nothing to do with the fact that he lives two towns over from me [Laughs]. I like the drifter story of "Jolene"."
Ray LaMontagne — "New York City's Killing Me"
A.L.: "I hate the city [Laughs]. New York City kills me every time I'm there so I can totally relate to the song and its sentiment. I guess it's from being a traveling salesman myself."
Ray LaMontagne — "God Willin' & the Creek Don't Rise"
A.L.: "What a great song! It's got such a killer line. Ben plays that shit all the time. Every sound check, I'll hear that eerie line going through the venue at some point. It's great stuff, and I love how much it flirts with that old country."
Tool — "Sober"
A.L.: "I remember the first time I saw Tool at Lollapalooza at The Meadows, which is now The Dodge Center in Hartford, CT. That year, Rage Against the Machine played at like 12:30 in the afternoon. Tool played at 3:30, and Alice in Chains played at 5. I don't even remember who headlined. I think it was Red Hot Chili Peppers. Maynard James Keenan was on stage with nothing on but a pair of tighty whities that looked like he'd been wearing them for five years [Laughs]. His whole curled up Spina bifida-looking stage presence that he had going on—he was all rolled up in a ball. He was really skinny, and his spine was sticking out of his back. What he looked like up on stage is so visually burnt into my memory. I was a huge fan from that moment on. I think I might have heard "Sober" before that…maybe. I think I saw the band before I started hearing the song on the radio. It was amazing. The usual Lollapalooza stuff happened where people were ripping up the back fence and burning it. There were big bonfires everywhere too."
Blake Shelton — "Who Are You When I'm Not Looking"
A.L.: "I like Blake! We were hanging for a little bit the other night. I played with him in Big Flats, NY. I'd never been there in my 13-year career. There were probably close to 10,000 people there behind an old picket fence wrapped all the way around this big field with a stage stuck in the fence line [Laughs]. It was pretty interesting. When we were watching Blake play, you could see his breath when he was singing, if that gives you an idea as to how cold it was. I couldn't feel my fingers that I push down on the strings with from my first knuckle down to my fingertip. I was just praying and hoping my fingers went where they were supposed to go because I couldn't feel the strings underneath them. I couldn't feel my fingertips because it was so cold."
Kermit the Frog — "The Rainbow Connection"
A.L.: "Years and years ago, I used to do that when I was playing in the bars locally. In my age group, who doesn't hold Kermit very, very high on a pedestal? He was a true pimp—a true playa in the game [Laughs]. He'd gotten with so many frogs that he switched to a pig [Laughs]".
Pink Floyd — "Wish You Were Here"
A.L.: "It's one of those songs that if somebody yells it out, I can play if I feel like it. I've always wanted to figure out "Vera". I love that song. That would be a good one."
What's your favorite Aaron Lewis song? Tell us below!
More on Aaron Lewis and Staind:
Read our review of Aaron Lewis's debut solo EP, Town Line!
See Aaron Lewis perform "75" acoustically exclusively for ARTISTdirect.com here!
See Aaron Lewis perform "Country Boy" acoustically exclusively for ARTISTdirect.com!
Watch our exclusive interview with Aaron Lewis about Town Line
Watch another interview with Aaron Lewis!
Read our interview with Aaron Lewis in Nashville while recording the album here!
Check out our exclusive interview with Aaron Lewis of Staind and Corey Taylor of Stone Sour and Slipknot together!
Read our review of "Staind"!
Photo by Corey Soria. Check out more of Corey Soria's work at the official site for Bloodline Photography here!