Aaron Lewis returns to Paramount Theatre with "Sinner"
Country or rock, Aaron Lewis is his own man
Anytime an artist tries to make a crossover into another genre they’re generally met with backlash, whether it’s an actor, singer, visual artist or whomever. When Aaron Lewis, the front man for one of modern rock’s most successful bands, turned to country music, he was no different. But unlike many who have tried something new before him, it’s working.
Lewis is a singer, songwriter and founding member of the alternative metal band Staind, with whom he released seven albums. When the band’s song “Outside” came out in 2001 it was all over the radio and people were talking about it. The song stood on solid ground, but the lyrics made it stand out. And Lewis has said that his reality-based lyrics are the reason so many fans felt a strong connection to his music over the years. And it’s the thing he carried over into country with him.
In multiple interviews Lewis has said that music has always been his emotional outlet. His lyrics dealt honestly with his own personal struggles, which he said included periods of low self-esteem and often feeling “very alone.”
Fans who came to know Lewis through Staind balked at his turn to country, and he admits he’s been met with mixed reactions. But today he has successful careers with both.
Lewis will be at Rutland’s Paramount Theatre at 8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 6, in support of his second country album, “Sinner.”
How does someone known for alternative rock become a country star? It wasn’t so much a reinvention as it was getting back to something he loved a long time ago.
“I was raised on country music,” Lewis has said. “My grandfather listened to Merle Haggard, Hank Williams, Hank Jr., and all of the greats.”
Lewis said in a July 2011 interview that he was introduced to country music as a child growing up in rural Vermont when he spent summers with his WWII veteran grandfather hunting and fishing. His interest was rekindled when he toured with fellow rocker turned occasional country singer Kid Rock.
Lewis made his country debut in 2011 with certified gold single “Country Boy,” followed by the release of his first full-length solo album “The Road.”
Despite backlash from fans, “I think there is some Staind crossover,” Lewis told Rolling Stone.
“I have definitely dealt with some of the old guard questioning my commitment to the genre, questioning how much of this might be a toe dipping in the water to see what the temperature is,” Lewis has said. “I had, and still have, a very established career in the rock world, and as much as that has been a blessing in some ways, it has been a curse in others in trying to be looked at as somebody who is taking this seriously and isn’t just trying to go where the money is. There has been a pretty big misconception I’ve had to battle, but there has also been lots of support.”
“I’d like to think that ‘Sinner’ is a newer take on classic, traditional Outlaw Country, Waylon and Merle and Willie, and Hank Jr. and Johnny Cash and all that stuff,” he said. “That was the music I heard as a kid, and that’s the country music that permeated my soul and stuck with me my whole life.”
Singer-songwriter Aaron Lewis performs at 8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 6, at the Paramount Theatre, 30 Center St. in Rutland. Tickets are $65; call 802-775-0903, or go online to www.paramountvt.org.