Aaron Lewis encountered his share of naysayers when he first dipped his toes into country music with his 2011 EP, “Town Line.” As the lead singer of Staind, Lewis was a star on the metal scene, and plenty of people dismissed his foray into country as a vanity project.
With the arrival in fall 2016 of Lewis’ second full-length album, “Sinner,” (as well as a recently released stand-alone single, “Folded Flag”) Lewis said people are taking his intentions to have a solo career in country far more seriously.
“I think that everyone is finally starting to figure out that I’m not going anywhere,” Lewis said in a recent phone interview.
Indeed, Lewis has not gone away. Aside from a Staind tour in summer 2014, that band has been inactive. And since releasing his first full-length album, “The Road,” in 2012, Lewis has been one of the hardest touring artists in country music. He’s now a reliable headlining draw for theaters and large clubs.
He figures to stay focused on country for at least the next several months or so and said Staind fans should not expect that band to reunite any time soon.
“I definitely see it staying on hold for a while,” he said of Staind. “I’ve got to stay focused on this (country career). I’ve got to take this to where it needs to get to before I can start risking things with the good ol’ boy network reception and throwing in a handful of Staind shows in the summertime along with all of my country shows. But that’s down the road. I can’t even think about that right now.”
Growing up in Massachusetts, Lewis was immersed in traditional country through his grandfather. In his later teens, he began getting interested in heavy metal and hard rock. So when he emerged on the music scene, it was with Staind. The hard rock band had a string of chart-topping albums — “Break the Cycle,” “14 Shades of Grey” and “Chapter V” — and also enjoyed success with later albums like “The Illusion of Progress” and “Staind.” The band, however, experienced its share of internal turmoil and went on hiatus after the 2011 self-titled album.
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With the chance to step out as a solo artist, Lewis reembraced his country roots and released “Town Line” and “The Road,” earning praise for his earthy brand of traditional country music. His album “Sinner” features guest appearances from country stars Willie Nelson, Vince Gill and Alison Krauss.
WHAT: Aaron Lewis, opening for Brantley Gilbert
WHERE: U.S. Cellular Center, 370 First Ave. NE, Cedar Rapids
WHEN: 7 p.m. May 10
TICKETS: $34.75 to $59.75, plus VIP packages
ARTIST’S WEBSITE: Aaronlewismusic.com