Staind’s Mike Mushok talks self-titled record, new drummer, 2012
by Reggie Edwards
Let me set the stage for you. Saturday, May 21 2011- Rock on the Range; Staind guitarist Mike Mushok is about to take the stage…and he’s a little nervous. Normally this doesn’t happen with Mushok, but the circumstances surrounding this show were a little different.
See, this was the first time Staind had taken the stage in almost two years and they were about to play their first show without longtime drummer Jon Wysocki and with new drummer, but longtime friend Sal Giancarelli.
“I was actually a little nervous, which doesn’t happen that often,” Mushok recalls, “but it was good to get up there, especially with Rock on the Range. There’s all these other bands, I mean, you look over and there’s the guys from KoRn are standing there and it’s like…we haven’t done this in years so there’s definitely gonna be a little bit of rust on this one and it was our first gig without Jon. All-in-all I was pretty happy with that show and it came off alright, at least it felt that way and you kind of take it and go from there.
2011 saw the return of the legendary Massachusetts rock band to the rock scene, releasing their first record since 2008’s The Illusion of Progress, simply titled Staind.
Guitarist Mike Mushok talked about what went into the record as well as what 2012 has in store for Staind.
“It was a tough one to make, that’s for sure,” Mushok says. “We started about a year ago, in December (2010) and it was the first time we ever had a deadline to meet for a label and it was actually our last record for Atlantic Records.
“In the process we ended up losing our drummer along the way and Aaron put out a solo record and was out promoting that and we had this deadline and all those things put together kind of made for a difficult process.”
The record has a much heavier sound to it than its 2008 predecessor, a sound which is very reminiscent to their earlier albums. This, Mushok says, was the goal from the get-go.
“When we got together we had one intention- that was to go back to where we started,” Mushok says. “Concentrating on making a more aggressive record than we’ve done in the past few and I think we achieved it. So in the end, after coming out the other side we’re pretty happy with the results and how things turned out.
“[The Illusion of Progress] was probably our furthest departure from where we started, that record. I mean it was pretty experimental, it was different instruments and trying some different things, different styles, and look, I’m glad we made it but I think when we finally finished it I think we knew it was time to kind of go back to where we started from.”
Staind starts out with an attitude the band had become known for, an attitude that resonates with their fans. The first two singles, “Not Again” and “Eyes Wide Open,” are the epitome of attitude.
“Not Again” was one of the first songs we worked on,” Mushok recalls of the writing process. “I remember I had that song pretty much put together when we came in and I think it came together pretty quickly. I remember it was one of the earlier songs that Aaron sang on. I remember just being pleased, it’s more aggressive-type singing for him than we’ve heard in awhile and I was real happy with how that one came together.
“When we got together in December and wrote a bunch of songs, we took a little break for the holidays and I wrote that riff during that break. And when we got back together and started sorting through the 17 or 18 different ideas we had put together in December, in sorting through them I played that riff, and Johnny K, the producer heard it he really liked it. So we just sat there and put the parts together and finished out the song.”
Even though Sal Giancarelli is the new drummer, he’s not new to the band. In fact, he’s been there since the beginning and was the logical choice to fill the vacancy left by Jon Wysocki’s departure.
“Sal’s been with us since ’99 so it’s not like he’s a new personality, he has a new role (he was Jon’s tech),” Mushok says. “Sal was in bands that we used to play with back in the day in Springfield before we were signed. I’ve always known him as a great drummer and it always just happened that the band he was in, things weren’t working out, he needed a job, we needed a drum tech. We said “hey, we know you’re a great drummer but we can give you a job if you want it” and he said sure. He was with us for a lot of years and in that time he left a couple of times to pursue music and we were always like “go do it dude, I hope it works out for you.” And you know, coming back and this opportunity came up and he was able to step right in and did not really miss a beat and he’s been doing a great job.
“We got some calls from some really good drummers who wanted the gig but we just knew what we were getting in Sal, he’s been with us forever and it’s not like we don’t want to play with some of these other guys, but he just came in and there’s really no reason for him not to have it. He can do the job, he does it great and we all get along.”
This year will be full of touring, Mushok says, with a full-packaged tour coming.
“In February we go over to Australia and do some shows over there and then we come back and have a headlining tour starting in April,” Mushok says, “a proper packaged tour. Right now we’re out playing just some radio shows, you know, pick up some bands here and there and playing shows with them, and it’s great, but this will be more like a proper package headlining-type of tour and then hopefully looking to do some festivals in Europe and looking to take it from there.”