Aaron Lewis expressed surprise in an interview with The Shotgun Seat today that his remarks about the authenticity of country had taken such flight. The former Staind singer, whose sophomore solo country album hits shelves this Friday, became a hot topic over the past 24 hours following Rolling Stone’s reporting of comments Lewis had made while introducing his single “That Ain’t Country” at a recent show, in which he said Sam Hunt, Luke Bryan, Dan + Shay, and Cole Swindell were “choking all the life out of country music.”
“I just think it’s a little bit disconnected from it’s roots,” Lewis says of the genre. “It is really hard to even find any of the roots in it. Who is to say that it’s unacceptable? That is not what I am saying. I am just making an observation in questioning where the connection is.”
“As far as actually name calling out a few different people,” Lewis continues, “you have to put it into context. I was playing a motorcycle rally and everybody was on their way to Sturgis, and so I was playing to a bunch of leather clad bikers that I was really just playing to the crowd. I said what I said, but there is no denying the crowd reaction that comes afterwards, so I was just doing what a good live entertainer would do which would be play to the crowd that I was playing to. In no way, shape, or form is it an attack on any of those people in particular. I am sure they are great people and I’m not even saying that the songs aren’t good, I’m not saying they aren’t catchy, that’s not what I’m saying. I’m just simply questioning where the connection is to the music that defined the genre and what is on the radio today.”
Lewis’ new album Sinner, out this Friday, is a new twist on traditional outlaw country – Lewis described it in June as “country as shit.” The album includes a duet with Willie Nelson, who Lewis has been touring with this summer, and even a cover of Chris Stapleton’s “Whiskey and You.” Check back later in the week for an album review as well as the full interview where Lewis also discusses his songwriting process and his daughter who is featured on the album.