Country music is inarguably hotter than ever these days--in fact, some might say it's the hottest (or, at least fastest-spreading) musical genre out there right now. So it stands to reason that music fans might be a little skeptical about a frontman with a hard-rock pedigree deciding to make a 360-degree turn into the world of country.
But if you ask someone who's actually done this--namely, Staind frontman and country soloist Aaron Lewis--he simply doesn't care what anyone thinks. Although his career rocking out with the multiplatinum-selling Staind has been extraordinarily successful, he claims to be a lifelong country fan who doesn't believe in musical limitations.
So far, so good--Lewis's debut country/solo release, Town Line, hit number one on the country album charts upon release last year. And, he's further proved his mettle by earning a nomination for vocal event of the year at the 2012 Academy of Country Music Awards, for his tune "Country Boy" on which he collaborates with genre legends Charlie Daniels and George Jones.
When asked if he's surprised about the success he's had in the country realm, Lewis answers frankly: "I'm surprised about the success I've had throughout my whole career...I've been extremely lucky."
Lewis notes that he's had different reactions about his work from rock and country fans. Those who primarily appreciate his work with Staind have been fairly open-minded, he says. "People were all over the place a little bit," he admits. "Most people were cool with it. Some people said I opened their eyes to country--go figure on that one!"
It's been a little more difficult with the country fans. "There's definitely been mixed feelings. I've heard plenty that I'm 'not country,'" he says. "That how can I be country; I live in Massachusetts. That I should just stick to rock. I've heard it all. But it didn't change anything."
One thing fans can count on--Lewis isn't planning on giving up either side of his career. In fact, he's set to head out on tour with Staind this month.
Lewis overall has a blase, shrug-it-off attitude about his detractors which one has to admire--and, probably, is a factor that has contributed to his authenticity in a musical clique that he entered from a completely different world.
In fact, although Lewis may seem brusque, it's actually one of the most charming things about him. If he wins an ACM Award on Sunday--"I'll be the most surprised person in the world if I do," he admits, with raised eyebrows and a grin. With the luck he's had so far, nobody should be too surprised, not even Lewis himself.
- Country music