For years, Staind’s Aaron Lewis has performed solo acoustic shows in which he plays Staind hits, covers and whatever else he wants.
But the current Aaron Lewis shows aren’t like the old Aaron Lewis shows.
Lewis recently released his first full-length country album, “The Road.” Between that and his 2011 country EP, “Town Line,” he’s armed with a solid set of 15 country songs to play live. So you won’t hear “It’s Been Awhile,” “So Far Away” or “Outside” during Sunday’s show at the Val Air Ballroom.
“This is a full-on country band. I’m not mixing in all the covers and nonsense and Staind songs,” Lewis said during a phone interview. “My acoustic shows were just fun things, like you’re at a party and someone grabs a guitar and starts playing. That still will happen, but not now.”
Lewis grew up listening to country music with his grandfather — outlaw country by Hank Williams Sr., Merle Haggard, Charlie Daniels, Johnny Cash and the like. (And if you’re looking to shore up Lewis’s country cred a little more, it’s worth pointing out that he missed a scheduled phone interview because he was out buying hunting gear.)
When Lewis first recorded “Town Line,” his label didn’t know what to do with it. It was too country. The label sent him to Atlantic’s Nashville label, where he was told it wasn’t country enough. But Lewis has found his new songs have managed to turn Staind fans on to country, and get country fans listening to Staind. If they weren’t already.
“The biggest thing I’ve heard since I put the EP out is Staind fans saying “I never would have listened to country, but now I’m looking for other albums,’ ” Lewis said. “But I discovered the country fans knew who we were already. Little did I know during my whole Staind career that we were quietly and unnoticed crossing over to country listeners.”
“The Road” features the first song Lewis recorded that he didn’t write himself, “Grandaddy’s Gun.” The song was written by Rhett Akins, Dallas Davidson and Bobby Pinson. Appropriately enough, Lewis first heard the song on a hunting trip with Akins.
“I recorded that song because I just hadn’t gotten around to writing it yet,” Lewis said. “Rhett played it for me sitting around the campfire, passing the acoustic guitar back and forth. I might as well have written it, because I can tell the same damn story. So I recorded it as the ultimate compliment to a very good friend.”
Staind is on hiatus following the band’s 2011 self-titled album. Lewis said the band will work together again, but he’s not sure when — and he’s not really thinking about it.
Last year Lewis and Slipknot frontman Corey Taylor performed an acoustic duets show together. Lewis said he and Taylor have been friends since their respective bands rose through the rock music ranks together. They’ve talked about a full tour together, but any such plans are far from concrete.
“I don’t know when, but it will happen at some point,” Lewis said.
“Maybe me, him and Sully (Erna) from Godsmack. All three of us can be kind of like a modern day Crosby, Stills & Nash. You never know, crazier things have happened.”
When: 7 p.m. Sunday
Where: Val Air Ballroom, 301 Ashworth Road, West Des Moines
Cost: $25 in advance, $30 day of show.