116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Whether you side with conservative country singer-songwriter Aaron Lewis or not, the veteran vocalist, who still fronts the hard rock band Staind, stands out since he’s not afraid of offending anyone.
This is an age when recording artists are reluctant to rock the boat with a song or a post that might contain controversial material since it might come back to bite them on social media.
But Lewis, who will perform Sunday at the McGrath Amphitheatre in Cedar Rapids, lays out his pointed opinions with his latest hit, “Am I the Only One,” a right-wing anthem which assails The Boss: “Am I the only one who quits singing along/Every time they play a Springsteen song?”
There's an audience for such material. “Am I the Only One” hit the top of the Billboard Country charts not long after it was released in 2021.
The single is from Lewis’ latest album, “Frayed at Both Ends,” which bears a conservative tone back to front.
“I have the opportunity to express myself through song and I do just that,” Lewis said in a recent email interview. “I can write about whatever I want. I can write a country song or a rock song.”
Much like Hootie and the Blowfish frontman Darius Rucker, Lewis made the jump to country a decade ago with his first solo album, “The Road,” and has enjoyed considerable success.
“I loved how well it went over since some people are narrow-minded about what you can do as a singer-songwriter,” Lewis said. “I know people said that I'm not country, but I come from an area (Massachusetts) that’s more country than people know. I come from a really rural area.
“When I was growing up, I spent a lot of time with my grandfather, who was a big country fan. I listened to a lot of Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, and to me, music is music. People get weird about it and that’s sad. It doesn't matter whether it’s country or rock with me. I love them both.”
Staind, which is alive and well, recorded such hits as “It's Been Awhile,” “Right Here,” and “Tangled Up in You.” The group was one of the most successful post-grunge bands of the late ’90s, and has sold more than 15 million albums.
“I have no complaints,” Lewis said. “I've had an amazing career and it’s still going on.”
Due to his nearly 30-year career, Lewis has much to draw from in concert, since he also performs Staind songs as well as some surprising covers from pop and rock bands.
“I like all kinds of music, and I think that's reflected in what I’ve recorded and what I play live,” Lewis said. “It’s not about one style of song. There’s so much out there to play with.”
Lewis, 50, delivers some bang for the buck. During a recent show in Reading, Pa., he rendered 25 songs and engaged the audience.
“I don't see the reason to rush through a show,” he said. “People pay their hard-earned money and they should get something worthwhile in return. I also love performing. I'm in no rush once I start to play.”
Lewis is always writing, so it won't take him long to come up with enough material for a new album.
“I love to write,” he said. “The songs I write are honest and direct. I don't know how to be another way.”