by Dr Fever
- Break The Cycle
Open Your Eyes
It's Been Awhile
Outside (*STUDIO VERSION*)
I recall the first time I'd ever heard
about Staind. It was Early Spring/Late Winter of 99 and I read about them
in one of the 'trade journals' at the radio station I work at. I remember
thinking that these guys struck me as a potentially great band, then I
noticed who "discovered" them and "gave them their break"; Fred Durst-The
Antithesis of Good Music. So, my initial conception of Staind was shot
straight to s***. Flash forward a couple months; I was able to get my hands
on a copy of their "Dysfunction" release. My thought was: "Sure, they're
produced by Durst, but hell, I'll give damn near anything at least one
try." So I did, and I haven't looked back since, flat out: Staind is a
DAMN good band and their latest release just strengthens that notion.
"Break The Cycle" Is Staind’s third full
length release (but only SECOND major label release) and it's easily their
best. Taking the heavy parts of their first album and meshing them with
the melodic parts of their second, "Break The Cycle" finally pull the wealth
of obvious talent these guys have together into once cohesive and damn
tight album. Obviously, the highlight here is the unbelievable ability
of Aaron Lewis. Say what you will about the guy, but one thing remains
true; He can flat out sing his ass off. Want proof? Refer to the albums
first single: "It's Been Awhile". This song may seem a tad on the ballad
side for some heavy rock enthusiasts, but it still remains a damn fine
song. Just about all of the songs on "...Cycle" stray from the "scream
and puke on the mic" standard of so many of their contemporaries.
The highlight of the entire album is easily
"Epiphany". This song builds upon the success of the live version of "Outside"
(the studio version of which appears on this album) and features a stripped
down song that focuses on Lewis and a single guitar. You can almost feel
the pain in the man’s voice as he makes his way through this (again) ballady
masterpiece with the most minimal of accompaniment.
The summer of 2001 will be remembered for
a slew of great new albums from some damn good bands, but when the smoke
clears, "Break The Cycle" just might stand on the top of the heap as the
best of them all.
Since the release of their Flip/Elektra debut album Dysfunction in April
1999, STAIND have built a remarkable success story. The band have scored
three major rock radio/video hits with “Just Go,” “Mudshovel” and “Home”;
they’ve played for
hundreds of thousands of fans on tours with Kid Rock, Monster Magnet,
Sevendust and with their Family Values brethren Limp Bizkit and Korn; and
they’ve sold over a
million albums. They were voted Favorite New Band in Hit Parader’s
Reader’s Poll, and in Guitar World’s Reader’s Poll, guitarist MIKE MUSHOK
was voted Best New Talent. They received five 2000 Boston Music Award nominations.
landed the headline slot on MTV’s Return Of The Rock tour. Most recently,
STAIND had an unexpected bit of luck that couldn’t have happened in a better
way or come at a better time, as vocalist AARON LEWIS’ spur-of-the-moment
acoustic performance of the song “Outside,” from the Family Values Tour
’99 live album, has grown into a #1 radio smash on the eve of the release
of their new album BREAK THE CYCLE. And now, with virtually no break, they’re
going to do it all again.
“We feel like we won over a lot of people while we were on the road,”
“When we finished touring we only took about a week off before starting
this record.” With so little rest and more at stake, MIKE admits he did
feel some pressure at first. “It was this thing hanging over my head,”
he says. “I had a lot of
ideas, but as a band we hadn’t written or practiced in over a year
and a half. Even though we lived together the whole time, now we had to
create. On the road, you just have to play.” All four band members agree,
however, that the pressure lifted
after a couple of weeks as the new songs began to take shape.
In all directions—musically, lyrically, even in the choice of title—BREAK
THE CYCLE moves forward from what STAIND accomplished artistically on their
Produced by Josh Abraham and mixed by Andy Wallace, the new album has
heavy moments that out-thrash anything on Dysfunction, but the band isn’t
afraid to make some gentler sounds as well. The songs offer more of the
introspective intensity found on Dysfunction, but this time, along with
the anger and sadness is maturity, hope, understanding and even a love
song. Above all, BREAK THE CYCLE solidifies STAIND’s identity as a heavy
rock band like no other right now, a group that writes real songs and imbues
the most aggressive and dissonant sounds with a musicality and beauty that
would be equally as powerful even if performed
on an acoustic guitar.
“Over the last couple of years I’ve learned a lot about myself and about
life,” says singer and lyricist AARON. “There’s been definite growth from
Tormented to Dysfunction to BREAK THE CYCLE. It took me 28 years to figure
out what I’m
saying now. It’s like I’m finally seeing a little light at the end
of a 28-year-old tunnel.
I hope that what I’ve written will help the kids listening to it have
an easier time figuring out things in their own lives.”
It’s tough to pick out highlights on BREAK THE CYCLE—the album is deep
with standout tracks—but band favorites include the first single, “It’s
Been Awhile,” a song that had been part of AARON’s acoustic repertoire
and that has now been newly arranged for the band. “It’s pretty self-explanatory,”
he says. “It’s about all the things that you don’t do often enough, like
say you’re sorry, make a phone call, let yourself feel proud about something.”
“Can’t Believe,” perhaps the band’s heaviest
song ever, features, in AARON’s words, “a few seconds of singing, then
all-out Anselmo screaming” (an appropriate reference to Pantera frontman
Phil Anselmo). “Waste” is an intense track about a fan that committed suicide.
“The kid’s mother came to a show in Detroit and stood outside our bus crying.
She wanted to talk to me as if I could give her answers,” AARON relates.
“The song is me questioning how everything could have been so bad, being
angry at the
reasons for this kid’s misery, and also being hurt and angry that he
didn’t have the strength to pull through.”
And then there’s “Outside,” the song AARON performed solo, acoustically,
exactly once on the Family Values tour. The track, which appears on the
Family Values Tour ’99 live album, found its way onto the radio and MTV,
and quietly became one
of the biggest rock records of late 2000 and early 2001. “It’s really
an accidental phenomenon,” AARON explains. “I’ve been playing it for quite
some time. In the early days of the band, any money we made went back into
the band, so two or
three times a week I played acoustically to make money to live off.
‘Outside’ was one of the songs I played, but it wasn’t really finished,
so I made up different words every time. We almost put it on Dysfunction.
Then, one night on the Family Values tour, ten minutes before going onstage,
we decided to do it. There was never any thought of releasing it this way.”
However unintentional this turn of events may be, the strength of the song
and the performance earned some well-deserved
success, and STAIND decided to record the chilling, powerful full-band
version that appears on BREAK THE CYCLE.
STAIND’s roots go back to a Christmas party in their hometown of Springfield,
MA, where guitarist MIKE and singer AARON met. Their conversation ended
as MIKE reminisces, “when the drunken host smashed his head through
a wall and kicked everyone out of the house.” With the addition of drummer
JON WYSOCKI and a bassist (who would soon be replaced with current member
JOHNNY APRIL), they played their first gig in February of 1995.
After a year and a half of steady playing in New England, STAIND self-released
their debut album Tormented in October 1996. Nearly a thousand rabid fans
attended the release party, and over the next two years Tormented sold
over 4000 copies.
Of the band and album, Boston’s Lollipop fanzine said, “Unlike many
a band, especially heavy bands that rely more on strength than dexterity,
STAIND has songs. Songs you get to know. Songs you move with, go the distance
with.” [Tormented is currently available on the band’s website.] They also
drew plenty of attention for their fierce live show. Northeast Performer
said, “STAIND’s musicianship is striking, and their live performance takes
their recorded material one step further: pushing the envelope, ripping
up the envelope, then jumping up and down all over the envelope til there
ain’t a damn thing left.” But by the fall of 1997 they were ready for bigger
things. “So when our friends in Sugarmilk invited us to play with them
and Limp Bizkit in Hartford, we jumped at the chance,” MIKE says.
In a meeting that since has been well-publicized, their first big break
didn’t go so smoothly. “Fred [Durst] is a spiritual guy,” explains MIKE.
“The artwork on our first album was a bit, uh, graphic. [a bloody Bible
impaled on a knife, with a Barbie hanging upside down from a cross] He
threw the CD across the room and tried to get us kicked off the bill. They
hated us before we played a note.” Thankfully, Fred was persuaded to let
the band perform. “When we came offstage, he told us we were the best band
he’d seen in a long time and that he wanted to produce us for his new company,”
MIKE reports. STAIND eventually got a demo to Fred, who invited the band
to his home and rehearsal space in Jacksonville, Florida. After Durst played
some of their music over the phone for Jordan Schur, president of Flip
Records, they became the newest signing to the label’s roster. Fred also
gave STAIND their formal introduction to the heavy rock world when he invited
them to perform at Limp Bizkit’s gold record bash for 3 Dollar Bill Y’All
As before, the members of STAIND seem both humbled and thrilled by their
success and all the things that come with it. “We love this record, and
we can’t wait to get out and play it for people,” MIKE says.
“I’ve already gone farther than I ever imagined,” AARON adds. “I’m just
enjoying the ride. We’re all about making music. That’s why we chose to
do this, because we love music, not for the chicks and to live the life
of a rock star. It’s not as f***ing glamorous as everybody thinks. You’re
always on the go, always tired, always rushing to do nothing. The thing
that makes it all worthwhile is the time we get to spend on stage. And
I’m looking forward to it all.”
to samples from the CD and Purchase Staind music online
the Official Website for all kinds of stuff
Pictures and album art "borrowed"
from the Elektra Records website. Dr Fever is the Feature writer for antiMUSIC.com