STAIND Guitarist On Getting Heavy Again

Lou Di Monaco of the NY Rock Music Examiner recently conducted an interview with guitarist Mike Mushok of Massachusetts rockers STAIND. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.

NY Rock Music Examiner: The record [“Staind”] 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 [Lewis, vocals], on more than one occasion, say that for him that’s where some of the lyrical inspiration came from.

NY Rock Music 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 songwriting 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.

NY Rock Music 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 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.

NY Rock Music 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 [Wysocki, drums]?

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 [longtime drum tech] 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.

NY Rock Music 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 [late PANTERA/DAMAGEPLAN guitarist “Dimebag” Darrell Abbott] 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.

Read the entire interview from NY Rock Music Examiner.