Staind's Aaron Lewis Talks Tea Party, Goes Country on New EP
Staind's Aaron Lewis Talks Tea Party, Goes Country on New EP

With Staind in between album cycles, frontman Aaron Lewis begins a 19-date solo acoustic tour tonight (Oct. 7) at Boston's House of Blues, in support of a five-song EP due out in the spring. Lewis tells Billboard.com the country-based effort, which marks his debut into solo waters, is a natural step.

"When you look at the songs in the past that I have sat down and written on an acoustic guitar -- 'Outside,' 'It's Been a While,' 'So Far Away,' 'Everything Changes,' 'Epiphany' -- if I had a country band behind me to put down country accompaniments, that would have worked, too," Lewis tells Billboard.com. "It just seems like being where I am, what my history is, country was kind of the next step. It made the most sense.

"It wouldn't have made any sense for me to put out a record that was like John Mayer," Lewis adds. "That doesn't really follow suit with the last 13 years."

The EP includes tracks "Vicious Circles," "Massachusetts" and "Country Boy," the latter of which is the lead single and was cut in both country and rock versions. Lewis said they will be serviced to radio soon, with the Nashville-sounding track debuting at the end of November on CMT.

"The country version has George Jones and Chris Young singing on it, and Charlie Daniels plays the fiddle and gives us a piece of his mind at the end of his song." Lewis says.

So is "Country Boy" the most political song Lewis, who says he's not a Tea Party member as much as he's a Constitutionalist, has ever released?

"Well, I'm pretty outspoken as to my political views, and how far this country is from what it's supposed to be right now," Lewis says. "I very strongly believe in the Constitution and I believe in the limited powers it puts forth. I believe that every person in this country would be better off if we went back to having the federal government do what it's supposed to do, and stop sticking its nose in places that it has no authority or right to be sticking it."

As for Staind, Lewis said the hard rock act starts recording in December with an April deadline to turn in its seventh studio release due out summer 2011. The new year also marks the 10th anniversary of Staind's five-times platinum 2001 effort "Break the Cycle." When asked whether the band plans on any special release to commemorate its anniversary, the 38-year-old laughs. "No. The whole concept sounds funny to me. I'd rather move forward."