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For Staind, progress is no illusion

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When a popular band like Staind names its newest release The Illusion of Progress, it kind of makes you wonder. After hit singles like “It’s Been Awhile” and “Right Here,” it seems like the band has no trouble with progress. Singer Aaron Lewis has gone off on his own to perform popular solo tunes but still helps the band create new material and go on tours. Their latest tour will make a stop at Sunset Station where fans can hear all their favorites from the band’s 15 year career. The Weekly chatted with guitarist Mike Mushok about Staind’s new album and thoughts on their upcoming Las Vegas gig.

What is the significance of the title of your most recent album?

It basically came about during the time when we were recording the record. Sometimes you realize you can’t just be creative at the drop of a hat. You can’t just turn it on and say you’re going to write lyrics to a song today. So you kind of spend time doing other things. We said it was the illusion of progress because you’re there to work and you end up doing anything but work. That’s where it really kind of came from.

Calendar

Staind at Sunset Station
Friday, May 15, 6 p.m.

What prompted your change from the baritone guitar to the standard guitar on this album?

A baritone guitar is basically a guitar with a longer scale. It’s kind of a cross between a regular guitar and a bass. I actually use a bass string on the low end. Ninety five percent of our set is on that. We just wanted to change things up a bit and I wrote a lot of our newer songs on a regular guitar.

Can you tell me about your song “All I Want”? It sounds like a departure from your typical style.

It just happened; it was just an accident. I came up with the riff and I brought it down to Aaron and he changed a couple of chords, and a half hour later we were playing that song. There’s a lot of ideas to choose from, so it’s just about finding an idea you like and building on that. At the end of the day when we listened back to that, we thought, “Wow, this has a much different feel for us.”

How do fans feel about this new style, given it’s a departure from your usual style?

Honestly I try not to read what people write about us because it can wreck your day, and it has. Honestly you could make a joke about my mother and I’ll laugh about it but make a joke about the music that we write and I’ll get pretty defensive about it. Hopefully there’s something on the record for everybody. We do our best to try and make the best record we can.

Do you have a favorite song off of this new album?

There’s definitely some stuff that’s different and I really like the way those came out. I like the way “The Corner” came out. That, to me, is a really different song for us. And “Pardon Me” is a really bluesy type of tune we play- that’s fun to play. Honestly, I really do like the record. It is always a goal to try and make something where you don’t want to fast forward through anything.

What was it like working with a new producer?

Well, we’ve changed before. Johnny K was good. I really liked the way we made this one. We wrote everything and tracked drums up at Aaron’s place. Aaron has kind of a guest house/barn and pretty much everything but my guitars was tracked there. I did my guitars in our practice space. It was good because I could see my kids in the morning, make them breakfast, hang out and I wasn’t living in Los Angeles in a hotel room.

I’ve always been curious, is there any significance to the spelling of the band’s name?

Back in the day, ’94, ’95, back in Providence there was another band called Stain and we didn’t even know. It was very confusing to certain people and we found out about this so we added a D. We were Stain originally then we just added a D at the end of it so it wasn’t the same as the other band. They ended up becoming a band called Kilgore Smudge and we ended up playing a lot of shows with them and becoming good friends. Do you remember the band Lit? They used to be called Stain also. If fact, the singer has Stain tattooed across his stomach. Years ago when we came out, someone said the guy from Lit has your band’s name tattooed on his stomach; he must be a big fan. I said, “No, that used to be his band’s name.”

How do you feel when Aaron leaves to do solo work and tours? Does it ever cause a rift in the band?

No, he’s been doing it for a while. When we used to play in Springfield Massachusetts, Aaron would go play acoustic. It’s really nothing except now that this is our job, it gives me some time to go be with my family. It’s not really a bad thing.

Who would you love to share the stage with one day?

I would love to go out with Tool. We’ve never played with them. That would be cool. We played a show with Rage Against the Machine before they broke up- I always loved that band. We always talked about trying to do something with Pearl Jam or Foo Fighters.

Is there anything you are looking forward to doing while you are in Las Vegas?

We’ve played there a lot and I don’t gamble, so that takes that out. And I don’t really do the show thing either. I’m looking forward to our show and playing that. You guys have some really good restaurants there. You know what show I went to recently? Dora the Explorer! I have twins who are two and a half.

Well you just missed Elmo, he came to town last month.

Aw, I would have brought them!

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