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Staind's Aaron Lewis 

We caught up with Staind frontman Aaron Lewis in Vienna, where his band was playing a show to support its 2008 album, The Illusion of Progress. Interesting title for a town like Vienna...

Upon his return to the United States, Lewis embarks on a solo jaunt, which will bring him to Durham Performing Arts Center tonight. The one-man set features acoustic versions of Staind songs and covers of Pearl Jam, Bob Marley and Tool, among others. He'll also be premiering a few songs that he expects will make his forthcoming and long-awaited solo album. While he hasn't started recording, he says he's got a batch of songs and plans to enlist DJ Lethal (of House of Pain/ Limp Bizkit fame/ infamy) in some capacity.

"It will be the next thing that comes out, in between this Staind record and the next one," says Lewis, noting it will likely be self-produced. "It could be [out] the end of this year, but most likely the first quarter of next year."

We threw some words Lewis' way, and he threw back comparisons between the rise of the Third Reich and Barack Obama's 2008 propaganda campaign, reflections on the solitude of growing up, and thoughts on making connections with his fans.

GROWING UP

Emotional detachment. Growing up way too fast. I remember going fishing with my grandfather. I remember tagging behind him, trying to keep up with him in the woods deer hunting.

FAMILY

Dysfunctional. Definitely dysfunctional. Half of my family I haven't spoken to for 15 years, and the other half, I talk to once in a while. What I've ended up doing is replacing what I had as a family life with what my wife has as a family life. [My family life] definitely makes me aware of things not to do.

PAIN OR FRUSTRATION

High school. My teenage years. Dealing with what had happened to me in my life earlier, and how that affected me in my life and how it still affects me. Just the feelings of uncomfortable-ness, and feeling like I was the only one walking through life feeling this way. I don't know. It was a hard time. I think teenage years for most people are hard. I really didn't fit into anything. I played sports, but I wasn't a jock. I smoked weed and did drugs, but I wasn't in the druggie crew either. I never really had a place.

SUCCESS

Basically my whole life was [a failure] until this happened. I'm way more used to failing than succeeding. I guess it kind of keeps me grounded and keeps me from allowing this craziness to take over in any way. I think not being comfortable in my own skin has probably helped keep me from becoming your stereotypical rock star. Going out on that stage for an hour and a half and making that connection with the fans [is my favorite part of what I do.]

PROGRESS

Pretty much everything else around you in life is a big illusion. [As for Barack Obama's use of "Change"], I think that there's only one time in history where propaganda was used in such an extreme manner. It was in Germany in the late '30s. I'm very interested to see what he's actually going to do because the propaganda campaign was absolutely unbelievable.

Aaron Lewis plays Durham Performing Arts Center Wednesday, Feb. 18, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $24-$75.

  • Obama and Hitler, dysfunctional families and The Illusion of Progress: Getting light with the frontman of Staind

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