Kicking MASS for nearly thirty years

By JESSICA A. BOTELHO

When Louis St. August, lead singer of the Boston-based hard rock band, MASS, found out they will be receiving the Legend Award at the 2011 Limelight Magazine Award ceremony at Club Hell in Providence, R.I., on March 12, he was, “blown away.”

“It’s such an honor and we’re really proud,” he said. “We’ve stayed true to ourselves and our style. We never strayed away from our type of music and people appreciate that. The e-mails, letters, and orders for our CDs and autographed pictures keep coming everyday.”

One of his most memorable moments in his music career was performing a sold out show at the L.A. Amphitheater, a 15,000-seat venue, the night after The Who played there. Growing up a huge Roger Daltrey fan, the evening was very special for St. August.

“The thing that really made me feel great was that the night before, Roger Daltrey was singing on the same stage I was on the night after,” he said. “We played with Hurricane and Stryper and we were the second act. I felt like I had the crowd in my hand. They were all singing along.”

While he’s been in the music business for 30 years, St. August said he still feels like he’s 18 years old, the age he was when MASS formed. As he was graduating high school and most of his friends were going off to college, he was busy signing a record contract.

In fact, there was a bidding war for MASS, as labels like Atlantic, RCA, and A&M, showed deep interest, and the band ended up chose to make a deal with A&M Records.

“I feel like I had already achieved my accomplishment,” he said. “It was something I wanted to do since I was 10 and I was so excited. I was always daydreaming about it and I always loved music. It was always in my blood.”

In order to work on what was to be their first album, they flew down to Florida and laid down tracks at Criteria Studios in Miami. While there, they got the chance to rub shoulders with several celebrity musicians.

“There were all these great artists walking around and they were so friendly and cool to us,” St. August said. “Julio Eglesis was recording an album with Diana Ross at Criteria Studios. They were in Studio A and we were in Studio B. Aerosmith were down there so were The Bus Boys and Stephen Stills. We got to learn so much.”

But, after they finished recording, friction began.  The management company they originally signed with wasn’t getting along with the record label and the band suffered the consequences.

“We were naïve and we signed our lives away,” said St. August. “The album was finished but the record label wasn’t going to put it out and it got shelved. After working on it for two and a half months, that was a big disappointment. We returned to Boston and hired a lawyer and it took us over two years to be free from the contract and the album just sat in limbo. We recorded a four-track, self-titled EP under our own label, MASS Records.”

But, in 2010, a year St. August said has been one of their most productive, MASS got the last laugh. Titling the album, “Fighter,” they released it through Retroactive Records.

“Now, I’m getting royalties for recordings I did almost 30 years ago,” St. August said.

Also in 2010, they re-issued their EP with a bonus track, this time calling it, “84 Unchained,” put out their hit album, “Sea of Black,” as well as recorded a few Christmas songs to benefit Toys For Tots to wrap up the year.

“2010 was great,” said St. August. “‘Sea of Black,” got the approval of longtime fans and new fans, and I’m really proud we released ‘A Very Merry X-MASS.’ A good friend of mine, Scottie Dunbar of Dunbar Entertainment, came to me with the idea to do it for Toys for Tots. We had another song, ‘Jingle Bell Rock,’ and I also did a ballad.”

In less than two weeks, “A Very Merry X-MASS,” sold 600 copies. They ran out and had to print more.

“Kim Sholtz, wife of Tom Sholtz, the guitarist from (the band) BOSTON, ordered 40 CDs,” he said. “She sent me an email saying she’s always been a fan.”

In addition to raising over $3,000 for Toys For Tots, the band bought, “tons of toys.”  Ironically, in the same week, someone had broken into the Toys For Tots in Burlington, Mass.

“It was all over the news and I was like, ‘is this a sign from somebody?” St. August said.  “We drove down there and handed them all the toys. It was a great feeling to do that. We were happy to give to the kids.”

Through the course of their career, MASS released their first major label debut in 1985 with RCA, “New Birth”, produced by Tony Platt, which spawned the 45 single, “Do You Love Me.” The song reached the Billboard’s charts and the video was in rotation on MTV.

“That was our breakthrough album,” he said. “That record sold really well, selling more than 100,000 when it was initially released.”

While they were recording “New Birth” in New York, they were involved in a food fight with another band at an upscale Chinese restaurant. Although they were all asked to leave, St. August said it was worth it.

“We just laughed it off,” he said. “Joe Turner, the singer from Rainbow, was there with Thomas Baker, a producer. Someone from their table threw a piece of bread at us and we ended up throwing a piece back and a food fight ensued. You can just picture the faces of the people in this beautiful restaurant and as food was flying over their heads.”

Shortly after “New Birth,” came out, they left RCA and signed with California label, Enigma. Though Enigma, they released, “Take You Home,” in 1988 and then, “Voices of the Night,” in 1989.

As the nineties grunge scene took over the radio, MASS took a break from recording and used the time to write songs and perform. They released a “Best Ones” CD in 2000 with For Reel Records. As the years went on, labels overseas became interested in hearing some of the songs they had been working on.

“I sent some demos to various companies overseas and three or four were interested in releasing new MASS material,” St. August said. “We signed with the second biggest European record company, Escape, and in 2007, we came out with, ‘Crack of Dawn.’”

As to the future, MASS is currently looking to record a new album that they hope to release in 2012. In the meantime, they will be opening for Stryper at Showcase Live in Foxboro, Mass., on Saturday, March 26.

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Don’t pigeon hole these Byrds

By JESSICA A. BOTELHO

For the last two years, Rhode Island based band Jeff Byrd and Dirty Finch have been attracting flocks of fans throughout the Northeast. Last month, they celebrated the release of their new self-titled, twelve-track album at Bon Vue in Narragansett, R.I.

“We decided to do it at Bon Vue because it’s a fun place,” said Jeff Byrd, who plays guitar, harmonica, and sings. “We wanted it to be laid back and it was. We just played all night.”

Dana White, of Specialized Mastering in Boston, mastered the album. But, the band recorded and produced it themselves in Westwood Estates, a community center mobile home park in Coventry, Rhode Island.

“It was kind of a clubhouse and it had a pool table,” said Byrd. “There was no tension and no one was nervous. We just went in there with our equipment and took eight hours each day and recorded.”

Byrd said he enjoyed the recording process because they were completely in control. He felt as if they challenged themselves and were victorious.

“As much as it was work, there wasn’t anybody there to tell us what to do,” he said. “It was all on our shoulders and it really gelled us together as a band.”

Jeff Byrd and Dirty Finch is made up of bassist Shawn O’Brien, guitarist Dan Simpson, and drummer Steve DelTufo, all of whom sing backing vocals. DelTufo also said he is happy with the way the album turned out.

“We could still do it well while having fun,” he said. “My favorite song is ‘Waiting On the Sun.’ It’s laid back and it put the icing on the cake. I really love playing it live and seeing the reaction of the people. That’s what people really judge you on.”

Byrd said he likes all the songs for their own reasons, but is partial to “Waiting On the Sun,” and “Draggin’ Bones,” two songs he thought were “great to record.”

“‘Waiting on the Sun,’ came together quickly and naturally,” said Byrd. “I really like the tune of it.”

Both members said their music encompasses a lot of different styles and they don’t want to get too caught up in their sound. They fear that can limit them and they want the freedom to play whatever music they choose.

“I want to be able to do a metal song if I want to,” Byrd said. “But, I’ve also been a Beatles’ fan forever and they are in everything I do.”

DelTufo agreed, as he grew up on rock music and is heavily influenced by artists from Johnny Cash and Hank Williams to Motley Crue and Guns ‘N’ Roses. He said it’s important for them to be opened minded to many different types of music so they don’t marginalize themselves.

“I used to really love metal and I still do, but you have to take from everything to be original,” DelTufo said. “I try to find the good in all music.”

However, while they don’t care much for labels, they also know there are a few benefits of attaching a genre to their music. In fact, Byrd said they are noticing the positive repercussions of listing them as a country band online.

“We’re more alt-country, but after I listed us as country, we had four or five new requests in a few hours,” said Byrd. “One fan even congratulated us for being on Reverbnation’s number one Hot Country list. It was kind of funny. I was like, ‘What?’ It’s bizarre and it’s weird in my head, but it’s cool.”

Byrd is grateful he chose a category because more people are finding out about the band. It surprised him at first, but he is thrilled country lovers like their CD.

“I just want to be like, ‘here it is,’” Byrd said. “If you like it, you like it, if you don’t, you don’t. We were on iTunes and it’s funny because the classification of our band fits into Americana/alt-country. I had a conversation with the guys a few weeks ago and we realized we were a mix of country and rock. We’re somewhere in between.”

Right now, the band is in the middle of a mini-tour. They are gigging throughout Rhode Island, the Boston area, and New York City.

“We booked a bunch of shows,” Byrd said. “We’re going to be playing at National Underground in New York City. We played there before and we’re looking forward to it. Actually, the less we plan, the more stuff happens for us. It’s been a lot easier lately. We’re making a lot of contacts with musicians and radio stations.”

DelTufo agreed, saying he enjoys taking things one day at a time.

“We try not to predict the future,” said DelTufo. “It seems to be working out for us.”

Their current album is available on CD Baby, iTunes, and Amazon.com. Byrd said they have already started to write songs for another recording session, as their band is starting to take flight.

“It’s growing and it’s doing it’s own thing,” Byrd said. “There’s a lot more to come.”

                                      Photo by Kristen Pierson

YORK gears up for gig at Hard Rock Café

By JESSICA A. BOTELHO

Hailing from North Attleboro, Mass., pop-rock band YORK is gearing up for their show at the Hard Rock Café in Boston. They will be taking the stage at 8 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 14th, at the prestigious live music venue.

“It’s very exciting, especially hearing that a lot of local bands don’t get to play there,” said guitarist Mikey Taub. “To be presented with the opportunity is a feeling I can’t describe.”

Drummer Erick Cifuentes, who recently joined the band after a member departed, said he’s thrilled to be playing the Hard Rock Café. He said he’s pleased by how fast things are moving along for the band.

“When we first practiced, I told them that I wanted to make this my living because I live to play drums,” he said. “I am very fortunate on how fast things are moving and very excited to experience every step along the way with each member.”

Keyboard player Emily Rickard shares vocal duties with bassist Dan Pawlowski. She believes having two voices in the band, one female and the other male, creates a “good flow” in their music.

“A lot of our songs are based on love, friendship, and romance, so I think it helps tell a story better with a male and female vocalist,” she said. “Personally, hearing one person’s voice kind of gets annoying after a while. Switching it up gives people a break from one voice and it gives the other singer a chance to get their voice out there.”

Pawlowski agreed and said he has noticed a lot of bands are now breaking out on the music scene with multiple singers, often of the opposite sex. YORK works at balancing the vocal parts between the two of them.

“It’s kind of hard sometimes to both sing the same song equally, but it always works out,” Pawlowski said.

Guitarist John Shay said they “try to bring a nineties feel” to their songs. As is the case with most bands, they compose most of their music acoustically.

“One person usually writes the lyrics and starts us off,” Shay said. “Then, we’ll come up with a melody, verse, and chorus. We make sure the whole band is involved.”

Taub described them as a “band based on melodies.” He believes this helps draws crowds to their shows.

“When somebody hears a pretty melody that’s catchy, they stick around and they want to hear more,” said Taub. “Our originality is important to us.”

YORK often gets compared to Paramore, which they said they don’t agree with. Rickard thinks it’s only because Paramore vocalist, Hayley Williams, is one of the most popular female singers right now.

“When someone hears a female vocalist they automatically think of Paramore and I don’t think that’s okay,” she said. “It’s a totally different style of music than ours.”

YORK solely performs their own material as opposed to what other artists already have done.

“We want to be the band that people want to cover,” Pawlowski said. “It’s rewarding to show our songs to people and see them become part of it.”

Their first single, “Let Me In,” has been getting radio airplay on 94.1 WHJY’s Soundcheck, hosted by Jim Stearns. It’s also being played on 95.5 WBRU.

“It’s a big step for us,” Rickard said. “We’ve never been on a radio station before.”

While some members didn’t hear their song being played on either station, Taub was fortunate to tune into 95.5 at the right time. He said hearing “Let Me In” on air was “unbelievable.”

“I heard us for the first time on 95.5 last week and it was the most exciting feeling,” Taub said. “We were played at a regular time right after Nirvana. We hope people say, ‘hey, what’s this new music? I’ve never heard this before.’ I think it’s fantastic that we are reaching out to more people.”

This spring, YORK will be releasing their first full-length album since they have all been in the band. For the past year, they have been writing and recording new material.

“We have two new songs that we are going to bring to the studio in early February,” Pawlowski said. “They are a lot different from our other songs. There are going to be songs that me and (Rickard) will be singing on our own. These are the best of all of our songs because we really show our capabilities in them.”

For now, the band is excited about the opportunities coming their way, and they are confident their gig at the Hard Rock Café will be a success.

“We’re hoping for a big turn out,” Shay said. “We just want to have a good show.”

Other acts on the bill include 25 Pearl, Evey’s Late Night Dinner, and Project Blue Book.

Tickets for the show are $10 each. To purchase them, please contact any band member at thisisyorkmusic@gmail.com or Katie Botelho, of JKB Management and Booking, at jkbbooking@gmail.com. Tickets will also be available at the door.

Photo by Kristen Pierson

Ken Macy does it all

By JESSICA A. BOTELHO

Inspired by artists like Tom Petty and Creedence Clearwater Revival, Worcester musician Ken Macy recently released, “Goin’ California,” a nine-track album on which he plays every instrument excluding drums. He spent a few months writing the material and another four and a half months recording.

 “The whole idea of the record has to do with California based artists,” said Macy. “I was really intrigued with that sound. The song itself is about stardom and how somebody wasn’t very honest with themselves and everything sort of came back to bite him. I kind of ran with that idea for the rest of the record. It was kind of my ode to them.”

Macy, who is currently doing acoustic shows to promote the album, said he feels as if it’s his most complete to date. He handles vocals, guitars, bass, harmonica, some percussion, and tambourine. Kevin Haverty plays drums on the record.

 “He has a fantastic ear and he is also a songwriter, as well,” said Macy. “He helped produce a couple of tracks and is part of the overall sound. The songs range from all different styles, from rock, to country, to blues. I really like the title track a lot. ‘Season Girl’ has nice harmonies, and ‘Quiet Storm’ has a nice feel to it. Those are my three favorites.”

As he writes, Macy said he often comes up with a guitar line or a chord progression first. Other times, he focuses on lyrics.

“Sometimes I come up with both,” he said. “Then, the songs sort of develop themselves. I just play what I feel and what feels comfortable to me. That’s the stuff that comes out on the record. It’s all natural; there’s no auto tuning. What you hear is what you get. It’s very honest and true.”

Macy began playing guitar when he was thirteen. He started off teaching himself, and was trained musically for four years.

“Guitar was my primary instrument,” he said. “I did a lot of session work and side work with bands and eventually started doing his own songs.”

As time passed, he developed his voice. With each show he performed, the better he became.

“The more you do something the more you understand it,” Macy said.

Macy is a four-time Worcester Music Award winner. He said winning was great, but even just being nominated was “excellent.”

“It let’s me know I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing with music,” he said. “I really appreciate it.”

Right now, he is looking forward to putting a full band together to tour. He hopes to begin touring by spring or summer of next year to promote, “Goin’ California.”

“I appreciate the great responsces I’ve gotten from fans about the album,” Macy said.

“I’ve really been thankful for everything I’ve had thus far.”

In his spare time, Macy enjoys watching baseball and hockey. He also likes the beach and photography.

“I love taking pictures of people and landscapes,” he said. “I was born on Valentine’s Day, too Even if I’m single, I still get presents. It’s great.”

To find out more about Macy, check him out on kenmacymusic.com. His music is available on iTunes and cdbaby.com. Friend him on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/profile.php?id=722617130 and on MySpace at http://www.myspace.com/kenmacy.

TSO tribute band tours for charity

By JESSICA A. BOTELHO

With a nine-show holiday tour that kicks off tonight at 8 p.m. at Stadium Theater in Woonsocket, R.I., the 11 members of Ornament, Southern New England’s premiere rock orchestra, are ready to get their fans in the spirit of the season. Performing the music of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, the band is touring in order to support several local organizations.

“This is our fifth tour and we’re hoping to make it the best and biggest one,” said Chris Nunes, who plays bass, sings, and produces for Ornament. “We hope everyone can come see us to help raise money for good causes. We use a small portion of the money to cover our expenses, but everything else goes to the charity.”

Nunes, who also works as Band Director at Westport Middle School and helps out with various musicals within the district, said Ornament will also be performing at Twin River Casio in Lincoln, R.I., at the Lighthouse Bar on Saturday, Nov. 27th at 8:30 p.m. Their third gig is at Westport High School on Friday, December 3rd at 7 p.m.

“It is to benefit the Westport Music Boosters Association,” he said. “We want to help raise money for music programs in local schools.”

The next night, Saturday, Dec. 4th at 7:30 p.m., they will take the stage at the Seaport Inn and Marina in Fairhaven, Mass.

“The Seaport Inn show will feature a toy drive with the Salvation Army,” Nunes said. “We’ll be at Keith Junior High School in New Bedford on December 10th at 7 p.m. to support the Veterans Transition House. On December 12th, our show is at Mansfield High School at 4 p.m. The money will go towards the Mansfield High School Youth Hockey league.”

While their Dec. 17th performance at the Whites of Westport in Westport, Mass., at 6:30 p.m. is a regular gig, The Plymouth Memorial Hall show on Dec. 18th at 7 p.m. will feature choral members from both Plymouth North and Plymouth South High Schools. Thirty to forty members will be in attendance.

“They will do a few numbers with us,” said Nunes. “Part of the proceeds will help restore the piano they use. We are going to be finishing up the tour at LaSalete Shrine Auditorium in Attleboro, Mass. on January 2nd at two in the afternoon.”

Since they toured last year, Nunes said Ornament has had a few line up changes. One of the new members includes violinist, A.J. Salvatore.

“For me, playing in this band is an opportunity to work with some really talented musicians,” said Nunes. “Not only are they very skilled, they are just dedicated to perfecting our craft. I don’t play out with any other bands because we rehearse year-round.”

Nunes said they each work hard to be authentic to the music. They are getting to the point where they are starting to be recognized in the area.

“People have told us that if they close their eyes, we sound just like the Trans-Siberian Orchestra,” he said. “That’s what we’re going for and I think that’s the biggest compliment we can get. People are getting to know what we do and we are finding a lot of new fans, as well.”

Every year, Ornament changes up the set list to keep their show both interesting for their faithful followers and exciting for people who are seeing them play for the first time. Nunes said the light show is completely different, too.

“We are up to 56 lights now,” said Nunes. “It’s fun to play this music. It’s the best of both worlds for me. I get beauty of the classical music with the power and energy of rock and roll and it just combines together to give the music something special.”

To find out more about Ornament and their upcoming tour, visit their website at www.ornamentband.com. Friend them on MySpace at www.myspace.com/ornamenttso and find them on Facebook by searching for Ornament Fan Club.

Structure Fails hopes to be “a force to be reckoned with”

By JESSICA A. BOTELHO

Last month, the four members of Structure Fails, a hardcore heavy metal band based out of Quincy, Mass., released their seven-track EP, “As the Burning Skies Come Crashing.”

“I really like the song, ‘Kraken’ because it’s the most chaotic song we play,” said the band’s drummer Eric DiPietro. “Everyone goes crazy when we play it.”

Before they formed Structure Fails over a year ago, DiPietro originally began playing in a different band with guitarist, Chris Couture. Couture said his personal favorite song to play live with Structure Fails is “Let Them Be Nameless.”

“We actually just recorded a video for it about a month ago,” said Couture. “We are just waiting for it to be edited and mastered.”

Bassist Michael Correia agreed that “Nameless,” as the band also calls it, is a great song to play live and thinks they ultimately chose to make this particular track a video because it’s their “most user friendly song.”

“It reveals all the elements of the band,” Correia said. “It showcases our abilities as musicians, too.”

But, vocalist, Joseph “8 Ball” Izayea, said the title track really shows off their skill and talent.

“I think my favorite song on the new record is, ‘As the Burning Skies Come Crashing,’” said Izayea. “There are a lot of really cool melodic harmonies and different time signatures on that song. It was probably my least favorite song to have to write and record, though.”

They said Rob Gil at Human Machine Audio in Providence, R.I., mixed the self-produced the album and their friend, Christopher Robinson, designed the layout of the CD.

“Gil helped us out a lot,” said Izayea. “He really nurtured and supported us.”

When they originally wrote and recorded the album, they had a second guitarist, Derek Sampson, in the band. Currently, they are on the prowl for a new second guitarist.

“We are looking for someone who can help us create what we are trying to portray to our fans,” said Couture. “We need someone to help us paint this picture and who wants it just as bad as we do.”

“We’re looking for someone who is just going to get up there and kill it the way we do,” agreed Izayea. “We want to find someone to complete our roster.”

The band said they meet twice a week for practice and they are pretty persistent about it.

“We are a group of solid musicians and finding dedicated musicians is kind of hard to do these days,” Couture said.

They also said they enjoy the time they have to rehearse because they get the chance to talk about some of their biggest influences as musicians.

“We all bring our respective tastes to the table,” said Izayea. “We all come from different walks of life in terms of what we listen to. We try to put something in there that will please everyone who listens. I draw from a lot of different cookie jars, but I like a lot of deathcore bands.”

“I didn’t listen to hardcore before I played with these guys,” said Couture. “I mostly listened to Metallica, Testament, and Pantera.”

For DiPietro, he said he just tries to stay up to date with new bands.

“I’m sort of like a revolving door when it comes to music,” said DiPietro. “I have my favorite bands, but I pretty much keep up with current stuff.”

DiPietro also said they have performed covers such as ‘No One Like You’ by the Scorpions in the past, but they don’t plan on doing covers unless they are at a special event.

“We don’t really have any cover songs we keep in rotation,” DiPietro said. “But, for Halloween, we have dressed up and played the song from Ghostbusters.”

In fact, Structure Fails will be playing on Halloween night at Tammany Hall in Worcester.

“We’re playing with Scarlitt and it’s going to be their last show ever so it’s going to be huge,” Couture said. “We will have cash prizes for both male and female costumes. I think we are all dressing up that night.”

But, they wouldn’t reveal what they plan on being this year.

“It’s a secret,” said Correia. “We don’t want to ruin the surprise. You’ll have to wait and see.”

A few months later on December 4th, they have another gig lined up at the Beach House in Portsmouth with Thy Will Be Done and Scarecrow Hill.

“We are doing support for Scarecrow Hill,” said Izayea. “We think it’s going to be a show to remember.”

Until then, they are going to be writing and searching for a second guitarist.

“We are going to be working on new music and getting a lot of new stuff out there,” Couture said. “It’s all good stuff from here. We’re all looking at the same goal and we are I feel like we are all looking at the same target.”

Izayea said he isn’t sure what the future holds, but he is optimistic about it.

“We’re just going to keep writing music and doing our thing,” he said. “We will do our best to stay heavy and fresh and keep up with the times. We want to do everything in our power to make sure we are a force to be reckoned with, at least in the Northeast.”

Staind front man brings solo acoustic show to the Z

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.

Music and entertainment coverage since October 2006!