Their Own Prisons: 25 Marketing Ideas for Scott Stapp and Aaron Lewis, 2016 | Music Essay | Indy Week
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Their Own Prisons: 25 Marketing Ideas for Scott Stapp and Aaron Lewis, 2016 

OK, fellow interns: This is it, why we got in the biz. You know what they say about power and responsibility, don't you? This is a powerful unpaid responsibility we've been given.

As the volunteer in-house publicity team for Not The End Records, our task is to assist the label in rebranding two of its premier artists, Scott Stapp and Aaron Lewis, for simultaneously released solo albums. Some of you may have been conceived to the sounds of their previous bands, Creed or Staind, in the back of a pre-owned car, but the last few years have been worse for them than for you. Big-time rock critics like to say that Stapp and Lewis have written some of the worst songs of the last 50 years. But so have a lot of people, you know? And Stapp and Lewis also raised more than a million dollars in charity between them, which a lot of people haven't. I know I haven't, for instance. Have you?

On one hand, our work is cut out for us. On the other, these are amiable, good Americans of limited curiosity but with strong chins and perpetually mournful gazes. They shouldn't be that hard to sell.

There are no bad ideas, so I've included all the suggestions from our meetings of the last week below. Let's run some of them up the flagpole and see who salutes.

Scott Stapp & Aaron Lewis: Boy Detectives? A series where the two fight crime—crimes of passion.

Scott Stapp & Aaron Lewis: Literal Sons of God. Not unlike the sure-to-be-a-hit Fox show Lucifer, but they're both Jesus.

Long poem in the vein of "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner," but from the point of view of one of the mermen in Creed's "My Sacrifice" video. Maybe pitch it to The New Yorker? Does anyone in the Stapp camp know Paul Muldoon?

"The Pearl Jam We Deserve" as a tagline for their upcoming releases. I know Lewis is a country artist now (God, do I know), but his voice remains pure Vedder. Or at least Seven Mary Three. Grunge is popular again, right? My sources at Condé Nast say yes.

A thinkpiece (or series of them?) titled "Tribal Tattoos, Power Chords and Blouses: A Contrarian Defense of Scott Stapp and Aaron Lewis." Sponsored content at VICE? What's good is bad and vice versa. Millennials love that shit.

Netflix original: Power Man and Iron Fist but, you know, Scott Stapp & Aaron Lewis.

An Apology/No Apology Tour 2016: Stapp apologizes for a bunch of stuff he really doesn't have to apologize for, and Lewis declines to apologize for a bunch of stuff he does. Each night ends with them both getting the national anthem exactly right.

A quiz show called Prejudice of Small Differences, where music writers must explain why Stapp and Lewis are bad while contemporary rip-offs of Smashing Pumpkins and Soundgarden are good. Stapp and Lewis will judge, and winners—should there be any—get to own SPIN.

Movie idea! Bohunks at Calvary: Stapp and Lewis are the two thieves beside Jesus. How much baggage does Mel Gibson still have? How does he feel about post-grunge? Really, it's the least Jewish of all musical genres.

Something with "Been a While" in the title?

Movie Idea! Henry & Glenn Forever but straight. Who do we know at Marvel?

Aaron Lewis, naked, straddling a gun. Pretty sure he'd go for it. Yes, it can be a girl gun.

Fred Durst has reinvented himself as an indie filmmaker auteur, and people have forigiven every shitty thing that dude said. Let's send Stapp and Lewis a few Hal Hartley movies for inspiration and see what they come up with. (Don't let them know about my Martin Donovan slash-fiction blog, though. I don't think they'd understand.)

John Cena is going to be out for a while?

Let's set up a tour with Daughn Gibson.

"The Real American Values Festival"? Like Gathering of the Juggalos but with a strong(er) moral center and maybe only a touch of eyeliner ... for the cameras, of course. Let's see what Seether and Live are doing.

James Franco.

Lewis comes from the hardscrabble backwoods of western Massachusetts. Maybe have him give a tour of its dirt roads, from Tanglewood to the Berkshire Mall Target to the dust bowl wilds of the Lanesboro mini-putt. Afterward, we can go to King Cone in Pittsfield and get some authentic country-boy soft-serve.

Let's for sure get a lot of pictures of them leaning against walls, looking up with furrowed brows. Maybe they endorse a handmade line of small hoop earrings? Artisanal is in.

Can we patent a pained expression?

Do you think we could talk them into a duet album, maybe of standards à la Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett? Imagine those two growling "Baby, It's Cold Outside" or even the Evan Dando songbook? Maybe just 12 versions of "Jesus Christ Pose." I get handsome chills thinking about it.

Facial hair.

Seriously, facial hair is very big right now. Let's look into it.

Let's get them on Jimmy Fallon. Rumor has it, he sacrificed his sense of discernment to the devil to get his show, and our boys can get him right with the Lord.

What are the chances of getting Stapp and Lewis on the Republican ballot? Potential slogan: "Objectively speaking, not as embarrassing as the other Republican candidates." I'm pretty sure that a Stapp/Lewis (or vice versa) ticket could work at a brokered convention, and we'd be sure of a Kid Rock endorsement.

Zachary Lipez lives in New York. Twitter: @ZacharyLipez

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