They don't plan on preaching (much) from the stage, but politics and the current economic climate helped inspire this summer's Stimulate This! Tour, a hard rock package featuring Staind, Shinedown, Chevelle and Halestorm that kicks off Wednesday in Peoria, Ill.
Staind frontman Aaron Lewis told Billboard.com during a conference call with reporters that, "I kind of came up with the idea for this tour by seeing what was going on in this country," including corporate bailouts that he feels "really didn't do anything for the average American that really needed the help. So in frustration, I was like, 'What can we do for our summer tour to at least try...to make it affordable to come see a good show? The first step was to find a bunch of bands that were willing to be part of it and make a little less than they might have bade going out and headlining a tour. It made it so that we could offer a very affordable show with a whole bunch of bands."
Shinedown's Brent Smith laughingly countered: "we just want an excuse to hang out with each other and play rock music" but quickly saluted Lewis' "great idea" and added that he and his band are "really proud" to be part of the tour.
Tickets for the 30-date "Simulate This!" trek are generally $40 and under, with amphitheater lawn seats priced in the $10 range. Tour organizers and local promoters have also lined up a variety of discounts and perks for ticket holders, ranging from food discounts at the individual venues to off-site specials at restaurants and other retailers.
"I think all of us think the public in general deserves a break," Shinedown's Smith said. "The people that work very hard for their paycheck every week deserve to have some rock 'n' roll, and I don't think you have to make tickets an astronomical price. We're able to do what we do because of our fans...and they deserve to have a good time, so I think (entertainers) should stop being selfish and give back to the people who have put them in the position they're in."
Lewis also predicted -- but would not promise -- that collaborations could well be part of the Stimulate This! tour.
"I'm one for just letting things happen," said Lewis, who's planning to record a solo album after Staind finishes touring in support of its 2008 album "The Illusion of Progress." "I'm not a big fan of 'Let's plan this and make sure we force this moment of creativity.' I think we're all friendly enough with each other and nobody's really that band that hides on their tour bus or hides in their dressing room or doesn't socialize. I'd have a hard time thinking nothing's going to come of it."