Aaron Lewis Shares a ‘Whole Lot of Truth’ on ‘Sinner’

“This record is a few more than three chords, but a whole lot of truth," Lewis tells us. 

Written by Chuck Dauphin
Aaron Lewis Shares a ‘Whole Lot of Truth’ on ‘Sinner’
Image Courtesy Dot Records

You know you thought it when you saw the headline a few years ago that former Staind lead singer Aaron Lewis was going to venture into Country Music – he was likely going to bring his Rock and Roll swagger and attitude into the fray. Well, think again. Lewis recently released his second Country disc, Sinner, and there are no (to quote Robin Thicke) “blurred lines.” When Lewis is rocking, he turns the volume up, with Country, he goes straight for the heart. “When I decided to do the country thing six years ago, I was really adamant about not wanting to blend the two things in any way,” Lewis explains to Sounds Like Nashville. “I didn’t want it to sound like rock-influenced Country or anything like I was doing before. I didn’t want anyone being able to compare. I wanted it to be completely different, and I think so far, I have been successful in keeping that to be the case – where I’m not trying to bring one genre to the other. I feel very strongly about keeping them both pure on their own.”

Sinner is Lewis’s debut for Dot Records, which teams him up with another man who has own way of doing things – renegade Nashville executive Scott Borchetta. He says all has been perfect harmony between the two. “What can you say about being lucky enough to be on that roster? It’s kind of a funny thing between me and Scott. We’ve been talking for a long time. This is the third go-round of him being interested in picking me up and working with me. I know it took a long time for me to happen, and at this point, I’m just very glad that it did. It’s tangible in the difference in how it feels between what I’ve done on the last couple of records, where it was on a very small independent label. In the grand scheme of things, there was a little more control – not that I lost anything now. I feel very humbled and very blessed to have the opportunity to do what I was doing without having to change it in any way, shape and form, as well as to have someone like Scott Borchetta behind me, believing in me 100 percent.”

Regardless of what happens with the new music on the album, Lewis can point to one historic achievement. His first charted single, 2011’s “Country Boy,” features not one – but two members of the Country Music Hall of FameCharlie Daniels and George Jones. How does it feel to have his musical legacy intertwined with that of “The Possum?” Exactly as you can imagine. “That was a very proud moment for me. A lot of that went back to my grandfather and how much he loved that music. He was a big George Jones fan. Who didn’t love anything that came out of his mouth? He had the voice of an angel, all wrapped up in the body of a sinner, as well. I’m just lucky to be doing this, and to have it all fallen into place like it has.”

One thing that becomes very apparent about the lyrical content of Sinner is that Lewis isn’t cutting any emotional corners. In other words, the disc rings as quite a confessional piece of music. “This record is a few more than three chords, but a whole lot of truth. It was a painful one to make – to sing about what I was singing about. It was definitely not a subject that I had touched upon yet in the twenty years of my career. The way I write a record is very much a snapshot of my life at that time and what I’m going through. And, the last couple years have been very rough,” he admits of his personal life.

One track where this element comes into play is the dramatic “Mama,” of which he says “I was having a bad day. Just like with so many of the songs on this record, we were playing a chord progression during sound check, and entire songs came stumbling out of my mouth – melody and lyrics. I didn’t have any intention of it happening. Thankfully, my pedal steel player always has his cell phone, so he hit record. Pretty much the whole song was captured by accident because it came freaking vomiting out of my mouth in one take without ever having written anything on paper or even playing the chord progression before. The band started following me, and the vibe started happening, and all of that song came out.”

On the other end of the spectrum is the well-written “Sunday Every Saturday Night,” in which Lewis points out there’s maybe a little more similarities between the two than you might at first think. “I’ve known Ira Dean for about fifteen years, and he’s a funny guy and such a character. For all of those fifteen years, we’ve been talking about writing a song together, so I went over to his house. In ten minutes, we wrote the song line by line. It just happened. It was correlating the religious experience, if you will, of going to Church on Sunday after having gone to the bar on Saturday night, and how the bar can – kind of – give you that same kind of religious experience as Church the next day. We were laughing about it the next day – that we were definitely going to hell for writing a song that intermingled going to Church on Sunday and getting wasted on Saturday night,” he says with a laugh.

Sinner includes guest appearances from Willie Nelson and Vince Gill, but the collaboration that means the most to Lewis is one where he actually sings harmony – a stunning cover of “Travelin’ Soldier” performed by his daughter, Zoe. He said it was more than just a career moment, but a life one, as well. “Over the years, I’ve missed out on many opportunities to make memories with my kids. I’ve been out here making memories for other people. Remembering my own memories going through is such a blur. Here I am twenty years later, and everything behind me is such a blur. There’s so many stories that I’ve been told that I don’t remember that I was part of. So, all those opportunities I’ve had to go out and make memories with my kids, I’ve been out playing shows. So, knowing how talented my daughter is – she’s never took a vocal lesson or had never heard herself coming through a microphone or through a set of headphones before. She went into the studio, laid down three takes of that song, and one of them – from beginning to end – is the take that you hear on the record. I can’t think of a bigger memory to have made with my daughter – to have brought her to Nashville, and to Ocean Way, and in that big Church room, to have her sing a song I’ve heard her sing a million times around the house. This time, I won’t have been the only one to have heard it. That’s a big memory right there.”

Sinner is available for purchase HERE.