Staind’s Aaron Lewis re-discovers his inner country boy
By Kevin Longrie
The musical history of Aaron Lewis is tied, unexpectedly, to the acoustic guitar. The frontman of rock giants Staind—a group known for its heavy distortion and open tunings—actually started out on acoustic, writing bare-bones songs in his Massachusetts home. And it is to this style that Lewis has returned with his new record Town Line. The seven-song EP, which hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Country Albums, shows another side of Lewis that fans may not be familiar with. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t there all along. Lewis says he used to play solo acoustic and that most of Staind’s songs started out that way too
“The acoustic thing is kind of full circle for me,” he says. “It was just me and the music.”
The songs on his new EP are “stripped down to their core.” Staind fans may remember this quieter, more contemplative side of Lewis’ music from the 2002 performance the band gave on MTV Unplugged.
Lewis considers the new EP—his first solo record—a natural extension of where his is now, both musically and personally. “Town Line is just a slice of where I am in my life,” he says. “That’s kind of how all the records have been over the years.”
But what sort of picture can we get of Lewis from his new material?
The answer seems to be in the single “Country Boy,” a song on which both George Jones and Charlie Daniels are featured. In it, Lewis brandishes his homegrown values, his dislike of big government and coveys stories about the temptations that come along with making it big. In one verse, the devil offers to help Lewis achieve success if he changes his style, gets rid of his wife and friends and drops a couple pounds. Lewis answers, “That’s not me.”
The devil, of course, is an amalgamation of record executives and industry insiders, and Lewis self-deprecatingly admits that “Country Boy” wasn’t the first time someone used the concept of selling your soul to the devil to portray the music industry. But “that’s called getting a record deal,” he says.
And though Lewis has been able to evade the more precarious aspects of fame, people are still asking him to change his work; and sometimes, unfortunately, they cannot be ignored. He performed on Jimmy Kimmel Live! recently and was asked to change a lyric by “the powers that be that decide what can and can’t be said on network television.” The line as it originally appears in “Country Boy” is sung as follows: “I rarely drink from the bottle, but I’ll smoke a little weed.” The network asked him to change the second half to “but I like the color green.”
The lyric change seems ridiculous and unnecessary.
“I found it incredibly hypocritical,” Lewis explains, “because every news channel on television has been following the Charlie Sheen thing and talking about coke and crack and crystal meth and him telling it like he’s been on an epic tear, but I can’t say ‘weed.’”
But Lewis has other things on his mind. He founded a charity organization in his home town called It Takes a Community. The school district in his town was going to close down the elementary school, forcing students to travel “an hour in each direction by bus.” Lewis and organizers raised money, bought the school and completely refurbished and reopened it in less than two months last summer.
“We created this foundation to help in situations where a smaller town that doesn’t have the tax revenue [can] deal with these kinds of problems.”
Listening to songs like “Country Boy” or “Massachusetts” that praise the values of a small community and loyalty to where you grew up, it’s nice to know that Lewis is willing to put his money—and his hard work—where his mouth is.
ALL FIRED UP
Aaron Lewis wasn’t the only musician to face what amounts to network television censorship. Back in 1967, psychedelic rock group The Doors was set to perform the song “Light My Fire” on The Ed Sullivan Show when the show’s producer asked the group to change the lyric “Girl, we couldn’t get much higher” because of its perceived drug reference. The band agreed to the change—but frontman Jim Morrison nevertheless sang the original lyric during the live performance. Sullivan was pissed . . . but Doors fans rejoiced.
Top Shelf | Washington
13724 Canyon Rd.
E., Puyallup, 98373
Phone: (541) 389-1043
Owners, Management and Staff
the story behind the name of your access point? The whole thing behind the name
is we just wanted to have a place that lives up to its name and reputation of “Top
Shelf.” With my conditions, I have to consume clean medicine. It has to be
grown properly, flushed properly . . . the whole nine yards. If it isn’t, I can
have extreme allergic reactions to the nutrients and/or pesticides still left
in the flower. It’s just one of those things where I wanted to provide
consistent, quality, proper flowers for both myself and our patients.
Whatdoes your access point offer patients that they can’t find anywhere else?
Here at Top Shelf, we provide a down home, easy feel to the place. Our patient interactions are never
rushed, and all of our patients comment on how comfortable and relaxed they
feel at our shop. We even have male patients that come in and say “Ok, I’m
going to bring my girlfriend/spouse here now, I always go in and check out
these places first to make sure it’s safe. She’ll like this place, I’m bringing
her in.” We hope to offer educational classes/seminars for those who want to
learn more about cultivation, cooking with cannabis and more.
Howhas the cannabis industry changed since you’ve been here? Where would you like
to see it go? I
would like to see us do more of something like Colorado where if you want to be
on the medical side you have to produce your own product. This would eliminate
a lot of the middle men out there, if you want to do this—and you need to know
what you’re doing (e.g. cultivation of cannabis). We would like to see mandatory
testing of all medicinal products on shelves, which is something we feel will
be mandatory soon anyway. We encourage all vendors to have their products
tested if they are going to be consumed by patients. We would also like to see
a fair market price on medical cannabis, and not see medical cannabis taxed out
of affordability for low income patients that need clean, safe and effective
Whatis the most important thing you hope to accomplish in the industry?
Helping people; hoping
to make a positive impact in the lives of the patients that come to our access
point. Also trying to get patients off a lot of these pharmaceuticals that are
so toxic and damaging to our bodies with long term use. Creating natural
remedies daily, offering a safe, alternative pathway to healing for our patients.
Sweet Leaf Illusions | Oregon
Collective Name: Sweet Leaf Illusions
Address: 8434 SE 82nd Ave., Portland, 97266
What’s the story behind the name of your dispensary?
trying to figure out a name that no one else had. We didn’t want to do the same
thing that every other company has done. And so we came up with Sweet Leaf
Illusions, me and Ian, one of our employee budtenders here. And the next thing
we know, after we got our license, four days later, there were a whole bunch of
Sweet Leaf companies. I guess they liked the name too.
How has the cannabis industry changed since you
have been in the business? Where would you like to see it go? I think the testing
companies should be held liable for their testing results. As it is now, if a
patient gets sick on a product that had been tested but still had contaminants,
it is the dispensary that is liable.
What are the biggest challenges you face in this
industry as a dispensary? . . . Biggest joys?
Trusting the testing companies results that are coming out. They are saying that the
product is clean when you know that they haven’t tested for, probably, about 15
other pesticides. I want them to be in compliance, like dispensaries have to be
with the state. And have the state going after them to see that they are doing
their job, so they keep putting it all on the dispensary owner to verify that
the products are clean. Our biggest joy is really just helping the sick people
that come in. I can’t leave the patients I’ve gotten to know.
What is the one thing you want patients to know
about your dispensary? I pretty much quiz all of our vendors to verify that their product is
clean. I only take the few vendors that test and I try to ensure that they are
the cleanest products you can get.
What is the most important thing you hope to
accomplish while in the MJ/MMJ community?
needs to start doing inspections of the testing companies. They should spray
flowers with poisons and send them through (like a control test), to at least
verify that they are in compliance with the state law that the state put in,
that they are supposed to test for all pesticides. They need to find out that
they are not testing for pesticides that we all know have been around for
Available at Point Loma Patients Consumer Cooperative in Point Loma.The Tokyo OG from PLPCC is a real stand out due to its darker green coloring and dark red hairs. The nose is slightly earthy, a
Available at Point Loma Patients Consumer Cooperative in Point Loma.
The Tokyo OG from PLPCC is a real stand out due to its darker green coloring and dark red hairs. The nose is slightly earthy, and very skunky and oily. Its flavor is really earthy and pungent, not at all sweet. Just a few hits provide an instant head change. The effects are not only cerebral though. The body effect provides complete, long lasting relaxation. Tokyo OG is ideal for muscle pain, sleep and appetite stimulation.
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