Aaron LewisAaron Lewis (photo from khitschicago.cbslocal.com)

As Aaron Lewis smokes the last of his cigarette, he tells CMT that Willie Nelson’s bus smells like “heaven.” Lewis and Nelson collaborated on the former’s new album, and the two toured together.

Lewis, frontman of Staind, has been in the news a lot, mainly for bashing Sam Hunt, Luke Bryan, and others in concordance with his song “That Ain’t Country.”

He said that after all, country music scene has drastically changed from what it used to be.

“You can see it in country music where in the early ‘80s, in that time frame Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton really pushing that envelope and crossing over into pop music,” he told CMT. “That was really pushing the genre far from what the core was at that time. And the next thing you know, you have Randy Travis. You had George Strait and you have these artists that were bringing it back to center. I just I feel like we’re at that point again where it needs to come back to center.”

“Sinner,” which ultimately reached nearly 40,000 in sales in its first week, recently became his first No. 1 on the Billboard Country Albums chart. The album, which he recorded in just 16 hours, showcased Nelson on the opening track.

Icons Alison Krauss and Dan Tyminski then showed up on the song, “Mama.” Furthermore, he even covers Chris Stapleton’s song “Whiskey and You” (which Tim McGraw has already recorded).

“It’s an amazing song,” Lewis said. “I know it sounds a little cliché but the first time I heard that song I definitely drank too much whiskey. And the song knocked me on my ass to the point I just started playing it as a cover.

“We were in the studio for a very short period of time. We got to the end of all the songs that I had prepared, and Buddy suggested that we record one more. So in the interest of time and efficiency, I had mentioned that I already knew the song because I had been covering it already. And so we called Chris and he was excited that I was going to cut it. Twenty minutes later, it was done.”

Willie NelsonWillie Nelson (photo from www.mysanantonio.com)

The guy works fast, that’s for sure. It’s something he should definitely be proud of.

But his proudest moment may have been when he recorded Bruce Robinson’s “Travelin’ Soldier” with his daughter Zoe. 

“I think that’s the proudest moment I’ve had yet in this industry,” he told CMT, “and I’ve had a lot of moments worthy of being proud of.”

“It’s a lot harder for me to write a happy song,” he said. “…On the last record, I wrote a song about taking my daughters to the beach for the weekend. And that was a lot harder for me to come up with than ripping my heart out on a piece of paper. For some strange reason and as crazy as it sounds, writing from a place of discontent is easier.”

And surely, part of that discontentment could be with himself — he’s definitely very self-aware of his imperfectness.

“I own the fact that I’m not perfect,” he said. “I own the fact that I’m a human being and that I’m flawed. And I’ve never tried to put forward anything other than that. I’ve found that going back to the Staind songs, it seemed the way they were written I was speaking to somebody else.

“It’s taken a while to go back and listen to the lyrics and realize, you really weren’t talking about anybody else. You were talking to yourself. I think they were conversations in the mirror. In fact, I’ve had lots of conversations in mirrors in songs.”



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