During a tour stop in Colorado last week, Aaron Lewis introduced his current single “That Ain’t Country” by listing, by name, the artists he believes are diluting country music.
“Sometimes the things I say get me in trouble, and I don’t really give a fuck,” said Lewis onstage at the Thunder Mountain Amphitheatre in Loveland, Colorado, on September 4th, where he was performing as part of the Thunder in the Rockies Bike Rally. “That being said, I want to thank a few people for inspiring me to write this next song.”
The singer for the chart-topping 2000s hard-rock group Staind, who will release his second country solo album Sinner on September 16th, went on to “thank” country-radio stars from Luke Bryan to Sam Hunt for spurring on his anti-pop-country song “That Ain’t Country.” “Whatever happened to the country songs / full of truth and consequences, all the things gone wrong,” he sings in the pre-chorus, “someone came and changed it up, made it all a lie.”
“I’d like to thank Sam Hunt – oh, I know, he’s so pretty to look at,” said Lewis onstage. “I’d like to thank Luke Bryan, for most of his stuff – he surprises me every once in a while. I would like to thank Dan + Shay. I’d like to thank Cole Swindell. And every other motherfucker that is just choking all the life out of country music.”
Lewis’s comments come on the heels of Sturgill Simpson’s August 29th Facebook screed, which took the Academy of Country Music and the Nashville establishment to task for co-opting the name of Merle Haggard while, he believed, doing little to further traditional country music.
Lewis’s new album Sinner leans heavily on outlaw-country themes and steel guitar and includes songs like “Northern Redneck” (Lewis hails from New England), “Whiskey and You” (a Chris Stapleton cover) and the title track, which features a guest vocal by Willie Nelson. Alison Krauss, Dan Tyminski and Vince Gill also appear on the album, which will be released on Dot Records, an imprint of the Big Machine Label Group. Big Machine is home to such progressive country artists as Florida Georgia Line and Thomas Rhett.
Country radio DJ Bobby Bones fired back at Lewis on Twitter, writing in part, “Anytime another artist attacks another artist just shows weakness.”