GUEST ARTICLE: Extracts From ‘Sex And Genre Deconstruction In STAIND’

Posted on June 5, 2011 by

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Extracts from the non-award winning essay by Professor Montgommery Sloan Barnicoat-Fucknozzle III Phd. MA. OBE – esteemed fellow of the arts at London South Bank University.

…interesting piece written by fellow academics at the independent Canadian research institution Blatant Doom Trip entitled ‘Staind’ which offers a thorough introduction into the psyche of frontman Aaron Lewis through both qualitative and quantitative research methodology. A minstrel of sorts, Lewis is the main composer in the group, an intense youngster whose creativity appears to excel when backed by his blues-based ensemble. On a partially-related matter, the aforementioned BDT article forms much of the recommended reading material for the Autumn course I am running on what it means to be male in an American bluegrass combo in 2009. Students wishing to enrol should send a hand-written letter of interest with an enclosed holiday photo to my office in the cleaning cupboard at the…

… Lewis’ burgeoning unsatisfied sexuality being the driving force of early-to-mid career Staind. We are presented with not only the vision but also the inner turmoil of a sensual, all-American adult male unable to relenquish its seed in the traditional act of physical love with a willing suitor. This seemingly unending bout of involuntary celibasy becomes apparent with the song title of hit single ‘It’s Been A While‘ on the profoundly moving breakthrough album ‘Break The Cycle‘ of 2001. Whilst this record is essentially a post-modern grunge metal symphony, this particular song is a stipped-down exercise in lonliness; Lewis, entirely masculine in appearance (light on hair, heavy on bodyfat) cannot find a ‘home’ for the emotional and biological love he has to give. The singer uses a comparably sparse arrangement of ukulele and full backing combo, including percussion, to attempt to challenge the perception of…

… particularly resonates is the song ‘Pressure‘ which lurches from the psychological to the physical. Quite simply, it is the description of having a fully erect member within the constraints of a particularly unforgiving pair of camo shorts. It calls to Lewis, challenging him to use it for the purpose God created it for in a hostile world. Thus, physical pressure impregnates a psychological pressure. The irony is not lost on…

… disagree entirely as do many learned gentleman in our field; there can only be one interpretation of the metaphor-drenched ‘Safe Place‘. Quite simply, it is an ode to the female reproductive organ, or a worship if one was feeling particularly generous. Lewis exists in a cold, distant world. The vagina can offer a gateway to the emotional warmth, as well as the physical gratification, that the singer so desperately seeks. Readers wishing for further clarity on theories relating to the vagina’s impact on previously Confederate American states should be pointed towards the…

… penis. But if we pause to reflect on the surface of Staind’s later work, what presents itself is an attempt to deconstruct the very conventions of music that we are familiar with. Arguably the most significant piece in this later experimental stage is the wildly ambitious 2005 album ‘Chapter V‘. Note the use of the Roman numeral in the title itself; a confident yet subtle indicator that the listener is about to embark on a concept far removed from what is considered acceptable or enjoyable music on a purely superficial level in the present day. Lewis is looking into the past and asking us – what is music? What is a song? What are supposed to feel when…

… dirty vests. But it does essentially wipe the canvas clean. We are granted the ‘words’ of the language of music, but little else, as Lewis bestows the listener with a constant sense of the absolute. This is a series of compositions that communicates with its audience, reminding them repeatedly that this they are witnessing some form of music being created. We have musical instruments working cohesively to produce roughly the same rhythmic sounds in the same consonant keys and scales. This is underpinned by a percussion that is ordered to retain a 4/4 time signature at any cost. We have some starse vocals making little attempt to be melodic. What we have in essence are the very foundations of music itself. The memorable guitar riffs and accessible hit singles of early Staind are long gone, replaced with an advanced musical theology that sees Lewis apparently starting again, both as a composer and as a sexually potent…

… gender issues in NASCAR racing. Though some would argue ‘Chapter V’ exists as pure dichotomy. My own theory as discussed is that Lewis had reached a point where simply making music in the traditional sense could no longer satisfy his cerebral or artistic urges. He hoped to bring in a new wave of American rock and roll whereby the components of music language were present only. Some learned gentlemen, however, have attempted to advance an alternative theory, hypothesising that Lewis had simply reached a point of irreversible psychological trauma brought about by countless years of being ineffective as a sexually capable adult male. Did this turmoil manifest itself in the sadistic aim to simply torture listeners, to encourage them to experience the frustration and despair that had rooted themselves deep within Lewis’ psyche for endless years? For further listening, readers are advised to…

… archetypal of the ‘hoe down‘. But looking to the future, it is difficult for academics to not approach future Staind releases with unbridled anticipation. The work Lewis has been threatening for years will surely usher in an even newer new wave, likely to feature the composer sitting in the corner of a recording studio, improvising on a single-stringed banjo whilst intermittently sobbing into a brand new Stetson.

The professor can next be seen live in August at the Colchester branch of Costa Coffee, lecturing on the mythical depiction of South London present in the early work of So Solid Crew.

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