By JESSICA A. BOTELHO
NEW BEDFORD – Aaron Lewis, lead singer and rhythm guitarist of the alternative rock band Staind, will be performing a live solo acoustic set this Sunday, Oct. 10, at the Zeiterion Performing Arts Center in New Bedford. Born in Vermont, Lewis said he grew up in Massachusetts and is looking forward to coming to New Bedford for a show.
“I love the fact that I can come to New Bedford and fans can see me play,” he said. “It’s always nice to come home. I lived in Vermont until I was eight, in New Hampshire until I was 12, and then from there on, I lived in Massachusetts, so it’s always great to play in New England.”
In addition to being raised in New England, Lewis, who has been nominated for three Grammy’s in the past, said he grew up around music and was heavily inspired by his father.
“First and foremost, my dad is my biggest influence,” he said. “When I was growing up, he played out a couple nights a week as a solo artist in Vermont and had band practice at our house all the time.”
Lewis also cited James Taylor, Eddie Vedder (of Pearl Jam), The Doors, and Simon and Garfunkel as some of his favorite artists.
“I’ve always been influenced by people who say something in their songs instead of things that are nonsensical,” he said.
Like his father, Lewis began his music career as a one-man band. He said he was elated when the opportunity again presented itself to him about eight years ago.
“I was asked to play a few solo shows in casinos and I did,” Lewis said. “Since then, it has snowballed into three or four months worth of acoustic shows. It’s kind of coming around full-circle now.”
At upcoming gigs, he said his fans should expect to hear acoustic versions of Staind favorites, as well as some new material Lewis composed on his own.
“I’ll play a mix of songs I’ve written over the years that never got brought to the table,” he said. “I’ll also be playing some new songs I’ve written that will be part of what I will be releasing within the next few months as a solo project.”
Although Lewis said the album he is working on is yet to be titled, it is mostly recorded. He hopes to release it within the next few months.
“It’s been an ever-changing process in trying to get it out,” said Lewis. “It went from two songs, to four songs, and now I’m at six.”
He said one of the best things about writing and performing his own material is the change of pace they offer him.
“The cool thing about it is they are both a breath of fresh air from each other,” he said. “It’s nice to go out and play solo shows when I’m at the end of a tour with Staind because it’s completely opposite. It works out good.”
When he’s not busy being a rock star, Lewis is a very busy father of three daughters. In fact, he and his wife started, “It Takes A Community Foundation” to keep RH Conwell Elementary School in Worthington, Mass., the school their children attend, open.
“The school was closed on June 23rd and we had to open it on September 1st,” Lewis said. “All summer long, we refurnished the school, restocked it, re-staffed it, and re-wrote the curriculum. We did everything we needed to do to re-open the school. With the help of the entire community we live in, we did it.”
They also planned a benefit show to raise funds for the school in which Staind and members of 3 Doors Down and Seether performed.
“I try to do it as much as I can because I’ve been so lucky to do this in my lifetime,” Lewis said. “I’m going to the Middle East very shortly and I’m going to play a week’s worth of shows for the USO’s.”
He said he wants to go overseas and perform for soldiers who are stationed in the Persian Gulf because he respects them immensely for risking their lives for others every single day.
“What motivates them to do something like that for us?,” Lewis said. “I think my desire to go over there and play comes from the same place. I want to go over there and do for them what they do for me. It’s the only way I can show them undoubtedly how I feel.”
Lewis said he loves and values the United States of America and he truly appreciates the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Declaration on Independence. As he has gotten married and has children, he has become increasingly interested in the government.
“I’ve never really been political, but I’m 38 years old with a wife and kids and all the bills that go along with it,” he said. “There are some really broken things in this country. I can’t keep my mouth shut anymore. My wife will be the first to say it, I know how to clear a room. It just bothers me so much.”
In order to relax, he said he relies on music and hobbies.
“I need this outlet in my life in order to be able to function as a human being,” he said. “I love old, vintage Gibson guitars. I could go on for days if we’re talking about guitars. I’m also big into hunting and fishing and I play golf.”
But, more than anything, having children makes him happy.
“The best thing about being a dad is everything,” Lewis said. “It gives me a reason to get up in the morning.”
As far as Staind is concerned, Lewis said being in a successful band also gives him a reason to smile.
“We’re just very blessed and lucky to have a very solid fan-base that has been on board with what we’ve had to offer,” Lewis said. “We’re going to start working on a new album in December.”
The Zeiterion Performing Arts Center’s box office is located at 684 Purchase Street, New Bedford, MA 02740. Tickets are priced at $48.50, $45.50, $42, and $35. Box Office Hours: M-F 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sat 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and one hour before each performance. For more information, visit http://www.zeiterion.org.