It’s been awhile. It’s been a decade since Staind released their seventh, self-titled album. Reuniting after a five-year hiatus in 2019, the band played the Foxwood’s Resort Casino in Mashantucket, Connecticut, which would kick off a 50-date tour that never happened once the pandemic hit. Circling back around, the band are celebrating the 20th anniversary of their third album Break the Cycle (2001) with a global livestream of the band playing the album in its entirety, Staind also released their first album in nearly a decade, Live: It’s Been Awhile (Yap’em/Alchemy Recordings), out May 7.
As a visual accompaniment to Live: It’s Been Awhile, The Return Of Staind: A Two Part Global Streaming Series, in partnership with Danny Wimmer Presents, launched with Staind’s Live: It’s Been Awhile performance from Foxwood’s and concludes on May 8 with the band performing their multi-platinum Break The Cycle in its entirety, exactly 20 years to the date of the original release, and streamed from Mill 1 in Open Square in Holyoke, Massachusetts, a venue two miles from where the band played their first show together in 1995 (at the now defunct Waterfront bar).
“Here we are, two miles down the road, 26 years later,” says Lewis, “celebrating the anniversary of the album that helped us break though 20 years ago and altered our lives forever.”
On Live: It’s Been Awhile, Lewis, along with guitarist Mike Mushok, bassist Johnny April, and drummer Sal Giancarelli pull out tracks from the band’s 25-year career. “It just so happened to be the set list that we put together for the live DVD,” says Lewis. “We didn’t cognitively put the set list together for the live DVD thinking in terms of a recording, it was just ‘we should play these songs.’ They just resonated more.”
Looking back on 20 years of Break the Cycle, Lewis says he rarely listens to band’s previous albums but still feels a connection to his lyrics.
“I don’t listen to my own music,” he says. “If I hear my hear a song come on the radio, I change it, and I don’t go back and listen to my records with fond ears. I had to go back and listen to Break the Cycle to kind of get a grasp on it again and I found myself just completely picking myself apart, so it’s an odd dichotomy.”
He adds, “I’m still connected to all of the songs. I’ve just done a pretty good job of compartmentalizing that entire part of my life as well, which coincides with most of the subject matter of those records, and of those songs. I was always trying to purge something. Every song that I ever wrote was always trying to purge something.”
Working through his more country-driven solo material, Lewis started tapping into more computer-generated music, experimenting with more dreamscape and minimalistic sounds, and crafted 30 songs in a friend’s makeshift studio in Nashville in 2020. “It’s just very programmed beats and lots of landscape stuff going on in the background,” says Lewis. “It doesn’t necessarily add to the music, but it’s like nothing I’ve ever done before.”
Throughout the last year, Lewis has also started working with other writers for the first time, for an upcoming acoustic album. “When you’ve always written by yourself, that’s a whole other dynamic altogether,” she says. “Sometimes it gets a little linear since it’s always me writing the songs. I only have the one life that I live, unless I just start writing songs in third person, which would be a little odd.”
Lewis adds, “Lyrics were always very sacred. For this acoustic record, it won’t be a full on country album, but it’s going to be acoustic and almost every song on the record, I wrote with a friend, and I learned a lot. I think that this record is going to be some of my best songs.”
For now, Staind’s live album is also giving the band a warm up to put out something new. “It gives us an opportunity to regroup, so that we don’t end up writing the same record over and over and over and over,” says Lewis. “We haven’t had enough time go by in life to throw it off like that.”
Live: It’s Been Awhile track listing:
- Eyes Wide Open
- Paper Jesus
- Not Again
- For You
- Right Here
- Paper Wings
- So Far Away
- It’s Been Awhile