For some, writing a hit song requires a team of professional lyricists, hours in a studio and the latest technological breakthroughs to cover up thin talent. All it took for Aaron Lewis, Staind”s front man, was an acoustic guitar, the company of friend Fred Durst, and thousands of screaming fans. The live/only version of “Outside” has spent 21 weeks on Billboard”s Modern Rock chart and sits comfortably at No. 2. “Outside” may sound as if Lewis spent hours with a notebook in a dark room, writing in blood by candlelight in order to produce such a haunting song, but nothing could be farther from the truth. “The version that you hear all the time was mostly written while I was recording it on stage in front of all those people. I had choruses to the song and the chords. The verses I was completely making up” Lewis said recently in an interview with The Michigan Daily.
While Durst”s contributions to “Outside” may be small, his role in Staind”s rise to success was a major one. “Early on he was completely influential. He found us, took a chance on us and invited us down to his house.” Durst even gave Staind a chance to play on the bill with Limp Bizkit back in 1997. Things almost went sour before Staind ever made it on stage. Upon seeing Staind”s cover for their album Tormented, which pictured a bloody dagger punched through a bible while a Barbie hung upside down on a crucifix with nails protruding from her plastic frame, Durst became irate and concluded that Staind was a group of Satanists and tried to throw them off the bill. Eventually Durst calmed down and allowed Staind to play. That night Durst stood side stage watching Staind”s set, waiting for them to show their “dark side” as Lewis put it, waiting for the moment to say, “I told you so!” Durst never saw anything to further affirm his suspicions of devil worship, but what he did see impressed him enough to get Staind signed to Flip records.
Signing to Flip records was just the first of what is becoming an increasingly long string of positives for Staind. Their major label debut Dysfunction went platinum. The song “It”s Been Awhile” a song from the soon to be released Break the Cycle has joined “Outside” in the modern rock top ten. Record stores being sucked clean of their Staind stock puts money in Lewis”s pocket, but the live shows are what puts a smile on his face. “There have been quite a few really amazing moments for me, doing “Outside.” The place wouldn”t stop going crazy afterwards and I had to interrupt to start the next song.” “Outside,” has now become a giant sing-a-long in concert but Lewis doesn”t mind the help. To have thousands sing your own words back to you is, to Lewis, “The most rewarding feeling you could ever possibly feel. I want to smile. I want to cry. I want to go out, I don”t want to sound corny, but sometimes I want to go out and give everybody a hug.”
Whether Staind will continue to stylishly discolor the face of metal is unknown and not all that important to Lewis. In reference to musical goals Lewis remarked, “I”ve already surpassed them all. Even if the bottom fell out tomorrow. I”ve accomplished more than I ever thought I would.” Not to worry Mr. Lewis, until some ultra strength bleach of a musical revolution comes along it appears as if nothing is going to get this Staind out.