It's Who You Know:
In a business built on connections, Staind almost blew their's before it started. The New England group was opening a Hartford, CT, show for Limp Bizkit in '97. At the time Staind had a self-released CD. Bizkit's Fred Durst was given the CD but seeing what he thought were Satanic references in the cover art, he returned the disc without giving it the hoped for listen. Well, what are you gonna do? Staind hit the stage and delivered one of their trademark high intensity shows. After the set, Durst was back again. He'd seen the concert and decided to shelve any suspicions regarding Staind's religious beliefs. Staind and Durst exchanged phone numbers and promised to stay in touch.
Waiting on Durst:
Though Staind had Durst's phone number they weren't able to hook up. Limp Bizkit's intense tour schedule kept getting in the way. Finally, out of frustration, Staind drove to a Boston Bizkit show and personally dropped off a demo tape. Durst thought the tape was great and convinced Staind to record their new songs in Jacksonville, FL. They did, then continued to re-work the material. Durst then signed Staind to his Flip Records. Nice guy, that Durst.
Onward and upward:
In early '98, with a recording contact in hand, Staind joined Vans Warped Tour. Returning from the road Staind recorded their full-length debut "Dysfunction" then it was back out with Kid Rock and a summer tour with Limp Bizkit. In May of '01 Staind released "Break The Cycle" featuring the ballad "It's Been A While," the most-played Rock song of the decade, and "Outside."
Christmas is the time for getting together:
Staind's vocalist Aaron Lewis met guitarist Mike Mushok at a Christmas party in '93. Mushok persuaded drummer Jon Wysocki to join while Lewis enlisted a bass player who was later replaced by Johnny April.
I Gotta Kid. Things Are Different - I Think:
Married for five years and with a daughter, Zoe Jane, Lewis changed his lyrical direction. There's more to life than just black. "14 Shades of Grey," was released in '03. Changing course once again (or returning to angst Rock), Staind released their fifth album, the aptly titled "Chapter V," in '05. The album hit the top of the Billboard Album Chart a week after its debut.
By Any Other Name:
Staind recorded an acoustic show at New York's Hiro Ballroom for inclusion in a "Greatest Hits" album. During the set they played their own hits plus covers of Tool's "Sober," Alice In Chains "Nutshell" and Pink Floyd's "Comfortably Numb." The '06 album was named "The Singles" before finally being called "The Singles: 1996-2006."
It's All Just An Illusion:
Staind unfurled their sixth album "The Illusion Of Progress" in August, '08. "We went into the studio with the mind-set of making our heaviest record yet," explained Lewis, "but the record that came out has flavors of Pink Floyd (see above) and straight-up Blues."
The group marked the album's release with a performance at New York's Times Square as part of the Hard Rock Cafe's Ambassadors of Rock Tour. The show benefited VH1's Save the Music Foundation.
"The Illusion Of Progress" went to #3 on the Billboard 200, #1 on the Top Modern Rock/Alternative Albums Chart, #1 on the Top Digital Albums Chart, and #1 on the Top Internet Albums Chart, with first week sales of 91,800 units. The lead single, "Believe," topped Billboard's Top 10 Modern Rock Tracks. Another single, "This Is It", was included on the successful "Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen - The Album."
Headed For The Town Line:
Lewis undertook a solo project that began with some low-key solo performances that evolved into the '10 Country album, "Town Line."
"These songs are Country in the sense of classic Americana," said Lewis. "They're simple, understandable, and founded on quality songwriting."
Country might seem a big stretch, especially for a Metal band frontman born in Rutland, VT. But not really. "I always write and play the same way.," added Lewis. "The only difference here is the accompaniment."
Just three months after Lewis announced that the band was working on a new album Staind parted ways with Wysocki. Will Hunt filled in for select tour dates prior to the arrival of Sal Giancarelli. The group's seventh album, featuring the single "Not Again," was going to be called "Seven" but it was re-titled "Staind."
Within days of the album's release (9/13/11), Staind performed a 9/11 benefit concert. Proceeds went to families of 9/11 victims. "We wanted to . . . make the point that there is still much work for all of us to do," said Lewis. "We are deliberately making the ticket price $9.11 to underscore the point that if enough of us do just a little bit, together we can make a big difference in the lives of the families whose members made the supreme sacrifice for our country."
"Staind" sold 47,000 copies in its first week to land at #5 on the Billboard 200 albums chart. "The Illusion Of Progress" moved more than 90,000 copies in its debut week.
In the years since Staind's last album, Lewis made noises about expanding his horizons. He fulfilled that wish in '16 when he rolled out his debut Country album, "Sinner."
2001 Break The Cycle
2003 14 Shades Of Grey
2005 Chapter V
2008 The Illusion Of Progress
Staind's "Dysfunction," produced by Terry Date (Soundgarden and Pantera), is a good start. "Mudshovel," "Just Go" and "Home" got most of the attention but the churning "Suffocate" and Lewis' roar on "Spleen" are also in there. Riding on the strength of "It's Been A While" and "Outside" the follow-up CD "Break The Cycle" is a stronger, more cohesive effort. The songwriting is tighter and the hooks have more punch.
Arguably, one of the biggest differences between Nu Metal and old Metal is that the Nu guys figured out the power of the ballad much quicker. A ballad is more likely to become a pop hit. A pop hit is the entrée to a broader, if less faithful, audience. On "14 Shades of Grey," "So Far Way" (with strings even) and the fatherly "Zoe Jane" cover that ground admirably. But the good news is Staind has a Rocker of an album. The ballads are still there but they are less pronounced than on their previous effort. The potent opening track "Price To Play" and the bitter "Yesterday" give the album some bite. A little off the accelerator is the accessible "How About You" and the tribute to the late Alice In Chain's frontman "Layne." The song dwells on the connection between singer and fan (Lewis) and it even lifts AIC's sound.
Staind has a well developed melodic knack with catchy hooks. And Lewis is more than able to sell the drama. If it is a tad predictable, at least they can execute.
On "Chapter V," Lewis is back delivering angst driven lyrics - so much for the "14 Shades Of Grey" approach. With "Run Away," "Right Here" and "Paper Jesus," "Chapter V" is a collection of good songs but, as with previous efforts, Staind doesn't venture much beyond its comfort zone. Fans, and there are a lot of them, don't seem to care.
According to "Illusion Of Progress" it's a post-Grunge world - still. Late on the album there's "Raining Again" followed by "Rainy Day Parade." Did Staind move to Seattle? Both are typical Staind tracks, typically gloomy ("dark cloud over your head") with shout-sung vocals. Staind has the soft verse/loud chorus (though not that loud) template down.
"Tangled Up In You," an acoustic track with Country flourishes, breaks the mold. It's good and nowhere near as deadly as it could have been. "Believe" and "All I Want" are almost positive as Staind ventures into 'romantic Metal'. These songs sound a bit out of place given the context but they are certainly welcome.
When there was talk that Staind was thinking about incorporating some elements of Lewis' solo effort on their next album it caused concern. Would they drop Metal for acoustic guitar strumming? Not to worry. "Staind" is, well, Staind with all the power fans expect. The key tracks are "Eyes Wide Open," "Not Again," "Wanna Be," "Throw It All Away," "Take A Breath" and "Now." That's seven out of eleven songs - not bad.
Can't argue with the songs on "The Singles: 1996-2006." But the added acoustic tracks (including "It's Been Awhile") fall short with Lewis' reading of "Comfortably Numb" being the most intriguing.