Q&A with Aaron Lewis

Aaron Lewis may be best known for connecting with people through his angst-ridden lyrics in Staind, but the difference he makes in peoples' lives extends well beyond his music. He started It Takes a Community, a charity benefiting schools in rural New England that don't have the tax dollars to provide the most for local children. As the third annual golf tournament supporting It Takes A Community approaches, Aaron was kind enough to talk to us about his inspiration for the charity, his plans regarding his solo career and Staind, and a few things he likes to do in his spare time!

GGM: First off, I understand you have a charity golf tournament coming up on August 9th. Can you tell me a little bit about that?

AL: Yeah, it’s my 3rd charity golf tournament. All the proceeds go to It Takes A Community, which is the charity I created to help rural communities who don’t have the tax base to enrich the education of the children who live there.

GGM: What inspired you to start It Takes a Community? Why is this cause important to you?

AL: About five years ago, the school district my kids’ elementary school is a part of decided to consolidate all the elementary schools and have all of the outskirt towns bus the kids to the main elementary school, which meant kids had to get bussed for over an hour to and from the elementary school. That wasn’t okay with me. When they closed the school, I reopened the school. We’ve kept the school open for four years now and we’re in our final year of keeping it open before it becomes a public school and we are our own sovereign district.

GGM: What’s your handicap?

AL: Twelve.

GGM: Staind just wrapped up a tour, coming back after the band’s first, brief hiatus. Was there any rust on the wheels this tour or was it as simple as getting back on the horse?

AL: It was very much gettin’ back on the horse. We had to run the songs a couple times, but other than that it was pretty smooth!

GGM: You’re going on tour as a solo artist in the Fall. Is it safe to say you’ll be splitting time between solo gigs and Staind for the time being?

AL: Staind is back to bed for a while. My solo stuff is gonna be my focus for now.

GGM: What would you say is the biggest difference in your songwriting process between the songs you write as a solo artist and the songs you write for Staind?

AL: There really isn’t a difference in process; it’s more a difference in stories to tell.

GGM: What are the types of stories you can tell as a solo artist that you couldn’t really do with Staind?

AL: Things like taking my daughters to the beach for the weekend in the song “Endless Summer.” There’s just stuff that wouldn’t have worked in the Staind format really.

GGM: Favorite records growing up?

AL: All the Led Zeppelin records. Pink Floyd- Dark Side of the Moon. Motley Crue- Shout at the Devil. I was force fed country music till I was about 8. From there, we moved away from Vermont where all the country was coming from. At that point, none of my friends listened to country. My parents didn’t listen to country. I didn’t really hear it anymore, and I ended up drifting into the rock world.

GGM: So, you’ve always had country music in your blood. When you started writing more solo stuff, were there any country artists you referred to?

AL: I listen to old country music. I like the stuff in my blood, like you said. Waylon Jennings, Hank Williams Jr. and Sr., Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, George Jones, the classics.

GGM: What are you jamming nowadays?

AL: I dig Josh Thompson. Anybody who likes classic country is gonna love Jamey Johnson. And there’s a few songs I can’t help singing to on the radio.

GGM: Seen any good movies recently?

AL: I just watched Bad Grandpa last night. That was awesome.

GGM: TV shows?

AL: The Killing, the American one.

GGM: You guys have toured the world. What’s a particular spot, be it a shop, restaurant, some sort of place, that you have to hit up if you get the chance?

AL: Vintage guitar shops, usually, and bass pro shops, or Cabela’s. I’m good for at least 500 bucks there.

GGM: What’s your favorite road story?

AL: Last year, I went into Orlando for a show, and that morning I met up with a buddy, and I hunted down, caught with a fishing pole, and shot with a bow a twelve foot alligator. Average story, but still pretty cool.

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