“I don’t know if there was ever a right time or a wrong time,” says Staind frontman Aaron Lewis of bringing the band back to active duty with a new album. “It just felt like it was finally time to do it.”
The heavy rock quartet from Massachusetts just released “Lowest in Me,” its first new single since 2012 and the lead track from Confessions of the Fallen, Staind’s first new studio album in 12 years. The 10-track set, produced by Erik Ron (Godsmack, Panic! at the Disco, Black Veil Brides) is expected out this fall on Alchemy Recordings/BMG, following Staind’s summer tour with Godsmack.
“I always hoped we would be able to do this,” guitarist Mike Mushok tells Billboard in a separate interview. “I’m really happy that we’re playing again and making music. We started back in ’94. It was so consuming of my life, up until it stopped. We were always writing or on the road or working, and I loved it. So it’s nice to have that back.”
During its initial run, Staind scored four platinum-or-better albums and notched 13 top 10 Mainstream Rock Airplay hits — including the No. 1s “It’s Been Awhile,” “So Far Away,” “Right Here” and “Not Again.” The band went on hiatus during the summer of 2012 but promised that it was not breaking up. Lewis began a successful solo career in country music, while Mushok formed another group, the still-active Saint Asonia, and played in former Metallica bassist Jason Newsted’s group.
After some occasional reunions, Staind went on tour again during 2019, which spawned the 2021 release Live: It’s Been Awhile, which it followed with another tour last year. “It’s taken me a long time to be ready to do another Staind record,” says Lewis, acknowledging that the personal angst that populated the band’s music took a toll on him. “I got really burnt out on digging into the dark corners of my psyche every night to deliver those very deep, dark songs in a manner that was believable and authentic. I needed to step away from it for awhile and do something different. It just came back together naturally.”
The hard-rocking “Lowest in Me” is hardly sweetness and light, of course. Though he contends that “I never know what the f–k the songs are about unless it’s blatantly obvious to me,” Lewis says the single has both personal and universal meanings. “Everybody has got people in their lives that don’t bring out the good in somebody,” he explains. “Just with what’s going on in the world right now, there’s so many things, so many people that are like, ‘You bring out the lowest in me.’ There’s a lot of factors out there that could fall under the ‘you’ category.”
Mushok says he came up with the riff for “Lowest in Me” during the 2019 tour. “Every day I would set up a little ProTools rig on the bus,” he recalls. “I had a laptop and an interface, and I’d just sit there and play and find something I liked. And that was one I came up with.” Lewis adds that when Staind decided to move forward on another album, Mushok presented him with “an entire work tape full of ideas, there must’ve been 30 ideas there. I found stuff I liked and chopped ’em up and put ’em back together and made songs out of them.” “Lowest in Me” and Confessions of the Fallen was created with the members working mostly apart from each other during the pandemic lockdown, and the band made greater use of electronic sonic textures and enhancements than it ever had before.
“I guess it inspired me a little bit to be doing something different than what Staind would normally have done,” Lewis acknowledges. “To work with programmed beats and ethereal, spacey sections…. It just was a very different approach than how it would’ve been before.”
And that was fine by Mushok. “There were many surprises,” the guitarist notes. “That was part of the conversation. That was something Aaron wanted to bring into the band. He’d listen, I think, to a lot of the more modern rock bands and embraced what they were doing with (electronics) and stuff like that. Some of the parts are the same parts that we wrote, they just might not be played on an instrument we normally would have played them on, which gives it a little bit of a different feel. And that’s fine. I’m always cool with whatever changes are made.”
Staind will find out what fans think of those new directions as more songs from Confessions of the Fallen roll out. In the meantime, the band — which also includes bassist Johnny April and drummer Sal Giancarelli — is gearing up for the road, starting the co-headlining dates with Godsmack on July 18 in St. Louis and playing 25 dates through Aug. 31 in Austin, Texas.
“I think it’ll be a great tour,” Lewis predicts. “I’m looking forward to touring with some of my friends that I haven’t seen in a long time. My paths don’t really cross with them anymore ’cause I’m playing shows in a completely different genre, so I don’t see them like I would in the past. I think everybody will be happy.”