Aaron Lewis was still hedging his bets last month. That’s when the singer-songwriter now more familiar as a New Nashville “Country Boy” playfully baited concertgoers by teasing the return of Staind, the expressive alt-metal rockers he led to mainstream visibility during nu-metal’s early-aughts reign with hits like “It’s Been Awhile” and “So Far Away.”

Bolstered this past weekend by a cryptic video from the band, the musician’s hint has come to fruition with Staind’s addition to the Louder Than Life Festival this fall. But while catching up with Loudwire this week, the Staind frontman claimed his comments in March were premature.

"I was drunk and obviously joking around,” Lewis affably explained ahead of Monday’s announcement, which was kept so secretive that even he was unsure of the specifics those weeks ago. “I was teasing the crowd and all of a sudden, the next day, we were [reported to be] coming back. Which, you know, might have been true. But that’s not what I said.”

Contrary to the ambiguous clue, the bandleader and solo artist — who suggested he “must look like a crazy person” when his actions are misinterpreted in the media, as he said they were that night — has a history of being blunt with his audience. To combat the headlines that inevitably follow such incidents, like when he called out some hecklers earlier this year, the artist bears a systematic response.

“The first thing I do is read it and see how much truth there is to it, and there usually isn’t very much,” Lewis laid out of his portrayal in the news. “There’s what actually happened, and then there’s the complete and total spin in the article. You put a little perspective and context into things, and it’s a completely different story that doesn’t demand the clickbait sensationalism that is out there today.”

Reports of the singer’s diatribes aside, Staind’s rebirth as a live act follows a similar 2014 restart. At that time, a handful of festivals were undertaken by the band, but the short-lived reunion was the last time the group performed publicly until a three-song set unfolded at a fundraiser held by Lewis two years ago.

This time around, the frontman, along with guitarist Mike Mushok, bassist Johnny April and drummer Sal Giancarelli, has elected the late September event anchored by Guns N’ Roses as the moment Staind takes the stage for a full concert again.

“It was just a matter of enough time having gone by,” Lewis observed of the band’s return to the festival circuit, the singer treading carefully regarding future activity. “We decided that we were gonna put a couple shows on the books and just start there. Just kinda dip our toes and see what happens, and look at this from a distance.”

Mushok, who also accounted for the possibility of performances beyond Louder Than Life, echoed those statements. The guitarist — who spent Staind’s downtime either backing ex-Metallica bassist Jason Newsted’s solo rock vehicle or starting one of his own, Saint Asonia, with former Three Days Grace singer Adam Gontier — hinted at other options the act could take in prolonging their upcoming reunion.

“The time was right for us to take these opportunities and start making music again,” Mushok said. “There’s some great festivals coming up that we’ve played before, and doing those again is something we’ve talked about for a long time. Aaron and I both felt it was a good time to get back together and start playing these songs again.”

After all, the songs are what listeners cherish most, and new music from Staind would certainly be a big win for fans. However, both musicians were noncommittal about the idea. Lewis only stated that “time will tell” before joking that the band will soon “spend a month rehearsing to play one show.” On the other hand, Mushok was hopeful a new Staind release will eventually surface, which would be the band’s first since their self-titled effort was released in 2011.

“That would be kind of the next step,” the guitarist put forward. “Right now, it’s just one step at a time. I’d love for that to happen, and I’m very proud of the stuff that we’ve done, and I love writing with Aaron. It’s just such a different day. I’m happy that we’re even able to go out and play.”

But Lewis may pick a whole new lane for his next road. He’s already put a bullet in rock’s charts and joined the big machine of modern country. (His third solo album, State I’m In, comes out this week, a coincidence he asserted “was not part of the thought process.”) Maybe his next album will be electronic music.

“A couple weeks ago, I sat down with a guy that does just all programmed beats and stuff, and I did a song with him,” the singer revealed. “I’m all over the place. When somebody tries to pigeonhole me, I usually revolt by doing something completely out of the ordinary.”

As usual with Lewis, and by extension Staind, all bets are off.

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