Last week was a HUGE one for Staind. Not only did the band celebrate the release of their 7th studio album (a review of which can be read here), they also headlined a SOLD-OUT show at the Best Buy Theater in Times Square. The show, which featured $9.11 tickets was a benefit for the 9/11 Police & Firefighter’s Widow’s and Children’s Fund, raised over $40,000 for the foundation. NY Rock Music Examiner was on hand for the fundraiser and a review of the event can be read here. Staind guitarist Mike Mushok sat down for a few minutes to chat about the new album, some of his influences and the upcoming tour schedule in an interview, which can be read below:
Rock Examiner: I had the chance to listen to the new record, and I was very impressed with it. What’s the band’s mentality about the record as it is about to come out?
Mike Mushok: I’m just excited that after all the hard work and drama that went into making the record, that people can finally hear it. They can also experience what it was like to make it by watching the documentary that goes along with it on YouTube. It’s painful for me to watch, but it really does show just how difficult this record was to make.
Rock Examiner: The record definitely is HEAVY. What exactly got you guys so angry?
Mike Mushok: Nothing really got me angry. I just knew that we had discussed getting back to where the band started and why we started, which was to write aggressive music. I do know that a lot of the inspiration for the lyrics came from the turmoil of trying to make this record. I’ve heard Aaron, on more than one occasion, say that for him that’s where some of the lyrical inspiration came from.
Rock Examiner: There have been a lot of allusions to this Dysfunction when talking about the new record. In what ways are they similar/different to you?
Mike Mushok: Dysfunction was written before we had a record deal and were still rehearsing in my basement. When you write that record you have no idea that a lot of people are going to go on and like it. Again, I know for Aaron that when he wrote those lyrics he had no idea what they were going to mean to a lot of people. I’d like to think that this record is more modern sounding. I’d like to think that the song writing has matured and is a bit better. What I really like on this record is how it can go from a really beautiful melody to all out screaming.
Rock Examiner: I can definitely appreciate that, too. How is the writing process different for you guys 12 years after Dysfunction debuted?
Mike Mushok: You know, the process isn’t all that different. At least it wasn’t when we started. Usually a song will come from from a riff or arrangement that I bring down that everyone likes and we jam on it as a band and get an arrangement going. I guess where on this record that it differed is that the jamming on it part really wasn’t working that well. That’s what led to me putting the ideas down and us separating as a band and doing things on our own with Johnny K., the producer.
Rock Examiner: It’s rare these days to see a band keep the same members for the duration of their career, and you guys had a pretty solid run there of 16 years. How are things different for you guys moving forward without Jon?
Mike Mushok: Well losing Jon wasn’t an easy decision or one that was made quickly. He’s the only drummer I played with for 16 years! So, in that sense it is pretty different with someone else playing drums. I do have to say though that we have a good replacement in Sal Giancarelli. Also, playing shows with Will Hunt. Both guys were able to step in and make a pretty easy transition, which is testament to what good players they are.
Rock Examiner: Who are some of your more heavy influences?
Mike Mushok: I’d have to say Pantera, and Rage Against The Machine…I was definitely into metal growing up, like Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden. I gotta say though, that playing the benefit for Dime a few years back and playing “Cowboys From Hell”, “Walk” and “This Love” really got me excited about making a heavy record again. It was so much fun to play those songs.
Rock Examiner: I see that you guys have some festival dates scheduled and some stuff overseas, what plans are there for a US headlining tour?
Mike Mushok: We’re doing a few weeks after Thanksgiving up ’til the holidays and then next year there will be a proper U.S. headlining tour.
Rock Examiner: I know there’s a lot of politics that go into it, but if it were up to you who would you be interested in taking out on tour with you in support of the new record?
Mike Mushok: I don’t know. We’ve been really fortunate to tour with a lot of great bands over the years. When that time comes (which will be soon), we’ll see who is available and try and put the best package together that we can.
Rock Examiner: What’s a hometown Staind show like and how is it different from any other show?
Mike Mushok: First off, the guest list usually crazy! Everyone and their brother comes out of the woodwork for tickets and passes. Backstage usually has a lot of family – which is great!! I love when my family’s around! So, it’s usually pretty hectic running around trying to say hi to everyone and spend some time. Then you realize that you have to play a show. They are a lot of fun though.
Rock Examiner: The track “Wannabe” is a really interesting one. After listening to it, I distinctly thought I heard Fred Durst’s voice for a minute there, but after some research nothing but information about Snoop Dogg being featured on the track! If that’s not Durst, it sure sounds like him, and not Snoop Dogg. What can you tell me about all of this?!?
Mike Mushok: It’s Aaron doing the rap on the record! He’s defintely not mocking Fred, just doing a rap. There is a version of this song with Snoop doing the verses and they are different lyrics, lyrics that Snoop wrote. It’s actually a really cool version – Snoop’s super aggressive on it and layered vocals, definitely different. Unfortunately, that version didn’t get done before we had to turn the record in, so I’m sure it will surface at some point.
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