Interview with Staind’s Mike Mushok

Mike Mushok is the guitarist for the band Staind. The band is currently part of the Mass Chaos Tour which includes Godsmack and Halestorm. Media Mikes had a chance to be a part of a teleconference with Mike to discuss the tour.

Adam Lawton: In the last couple of years there have been a lot of bands teaming up for multi band headlining tours. Is this a reality of the music business today? And are these larger scale tours something that needs be done in order to survive?
Mike Mushok: In my opinion it’s something we’ve always tried to do. I know we always try to put together the best package we can. I think in this economy it’s tough for people to have extra money to be able to go to a show. It’s kind of a luxury. The more bang for the buck you can give them, I think the more likely chance you have of getting people there and, hopefully, give them the most value for the dollars. That was really the idea for us and we had this record and we were looking to who we could play with. Godsmack was like, “That would be fantastic if those guys wanted to do it.” So, we went and put it together.

AL: How do you think the Staind of 2012 compare with the Staind of 1995 or 1999?
MM: We have a different drummer now so that’s one big difference. I think what we did with this record was to kind of come back to what Staind of ’99 was. That was really the idea behind it, to kind of get a little more aggressive. The reason we started the band was to play more aggressive music. We kind of went on this journey and I think the last record we lost the progress. I enjoy the journey. I love some of the songs on the last record, but I think after completing that we said, “Let’s kind of go back to why we started the band,” and that’s really what the idea was behind the album. Aaron also has a solo thing going on now, so that kind of ties up his time.  It makes it a little more difficult to get all the time we need for STAIND. So, those are really the big differences.

AL: How did drum tech turned band member Sal Giancarelli end up being the new drummer for the band? and how have you seen him change both musically and personality since his promotion?
MM: Sal has been with the band since ’99 and previous to that he was in bands that we used to play with. We always knew he was a great drummer. Even during his career as a drum tech he had other bands that he tried to pursue a career in music with. Being able to be a drum tech was a way of getting out there and kind of getting some of his stuff out there. There were a couple shows where John was sick and Sal filled in. So this wasn’t the first time Sal played with us. Sal just seemed like the perfect fit to go from behind the drums to playing them. He knew all the material and we knew he could more than handle it. Personality-wise he’s the same guy. We had these web-isodes on our website where we made him seem like this big egotistical guy and wanted to name the band after him, it was all a joke. Sal’s the most quiet, down-to-earth guy you’ll ever meet, and he hasn’t changed one bit. Sometimes when you introduce someone else, it’s a whole other personality. We knew his personality. He’s been on the road with us for 12-13 years so he was already part of the family.

AL: Besides the new drummer did anything change on the last album? And are the same problems that were there before this hiatus still there?
MM: No. We made the record basically the same way we always make a record. I’ll come in with a bunch of ideas. We get together and figure out what Aaron likes and wants to sing over, and then pretty much finish them and start tracking. Making the record was pretty tough. I mean, losing John along the way wasn’t easy. We had a deadline to meet for the label. Aaron put up the solo record. As far as problems go, I mean, I don’t know. You play with somebody and you’re around somebody so much there’s always issues. Did they go away? I mean, look, we just deal with them. We’re all adults. We’ve been able to maintain this for a long time and I think that you have to pick your battles. I think between Johnny, Aaron, and I we can say pretty much what we want to each other and realize that the band is what’s important. And that’s why people ask me when we’re doing a record. They thought we were going to break up. No, we knew we had to finish the record and that’s what we wanted to do, but you kind of work through all of those things. It takes people making compromises and being able to admit sometimes when you’re wrong and being able to give in.

AL: “Not Again,” was released last summer. Do you have any plans to release additional singles and any videos from the new album?
MM: No, that’s it. We’re calling it quits. Yeah, there’s a single, “Eyes Wide Open,” is out now, and we’re trying to figure out what’s going to be next. There’s a live video that we did with “Eyes Wide Open” also. So, yeah, we’re on single number two now and I think its top ten or something.

AL: Was there any real thought process or purpose behind making this album self-titled?
MM: Yeah. We really wanted to kind of go back to where we started as far as a band, and I think that was kind of why we ultimately decided on having it self-titled. I mean, there was talk about it being called, “Seven,” because this is the seventh record and that’s what seven demons on the cover kind of represents is that. That’s kind of how we ended up incorporated that. But, no, it was really just about the fact that we kind of got back to playing with the music.

AL: Staind has been together for 15 years or more now. What would you say are the biggest reasons for the band lasting that long?
MM: I think all three of the bands on this tour know that if it wasn’t for the fans, we wouldn’t be here. They allow us to do this. Those are the ones that buy a ticket, come to the show, support the bands, and, I mean, that’s why we’re still around obviously. We do our best to write the best music we can. I know Lzzy and Sully do also and you try to put out the best product that you can and you hope that people like it and want to listen to it and be a part of it. So, we’ve been fortunate so far and, hopefully, we can continue.

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