Since 2001, Springfield, Massachusetts, rock outfit Staind have released three full-length studio efforts, and all three have entered the Billboard top 200 at #1. Three records, three consecutive chart-topping debuts: 2001's Break the Cycle, which sold 716,000 copies its first week in stores; 2003's 14 Shades of Grey; and 2005's Chapter V. With Staind's sixth record, The Illusion of Progress, dropping this week, how confident are they that they can make it four in a row?
"It falls short of being four #1 records in a row, I think, with the Jonas Brothers' second week," guitarist Mike Mushok told MTV News on Tuesday, just hours before the New Jersey-based boy band's LP A Little Bit Longer opened at #1 on the album sales chart, with 525,000 copies gone. "Half of that is more than what we'll sell, and it's good for those guys. All I can say is, we've been here for 10 years, and this is our sixth record. I feel proud to be able to say that. If it's not #1, it's not #1 — what are you going to do?"
Well, there's really nothing Staind can do to stop the Disney-backed juggernaut from blocking their attempts at making it four straight trips to the top. They've accepted the fact that they'll probably end up finishing second to the Brothers when next week's chart numbers are revealed. With the album's first single, "Believe," slowly working its way up the singles chart and getting more spins on rock radio, Staind could pull off a miracle upset. But it's doubtful.
"It would be amazing if it happened," frontman Aaron Lewis said. "But it's just a different version of the boy-band thing all over again ... where it's not hip-hop- or R&B-based; they're playing Gibson guitars. It's Hanson 2008, with Disney behind them. ... How do you compete with that? Can we plead to the parents? 'Just one week — just hold off one week. You can buy it for your kids, just wait a week.' "
"Let them have that huge third week, not second," Mushok joked, just before the band performed at New York's Hard Rock Cafe, as part of the restaurant chain's "Ambassadors of Rock" tour.
Ultimately, Staind aren't all that concerned with sales. At the end of the day, they're just glad they've produced a record they can stand behind and be proud of. When the guys first began work on The Illusion of Progress, they went into the process with the expressed goal of coming away with their heaviest offering. But, Lewis said, it didn't quite work out that way.
"We went in and started writing, and the songs that were coming out weren't the heaviest songs, but they were really good songs," he explained. "We wrote 14 songs, and there are 13 on the album. There was only one song that didn't make it, and it wasn't because it didn't stand up — I just couldn't come up with anything to sing over it. Musically, it was one of my favorite songs on the record — I just couldn't come up with anything that was worthy of it, in a melody and lyrical sense. The songs we were writing were great songs. We couldn't cast them aside and say, 'No, those aren't heavy enough.' If we had, we'd probably still be there, writing."
Mushok — who said the band will headline a U.S. trek that begins in October, with Papa Roach and Seether as direct support — hopes fans can appreciate the tracks for what they are. "I hope they're 'happy' surprised, and that they can just realize that we wrote the best songs we could," he said. "We work very hard to grow as a band, and I think we made a pretty good step this time."
Mushok and Lewis said that being dads (Mushok of twin boys and Lewis of three girls) has affected the writing and recording process for them in extremely positive — but not always productive — ways.
"The only thing I know that really changed for me was, when I should have been upstairs in my room working on songs, I was playing with the kids," Mushok confessed. "Or, if I was upstairs working on songs, it was just like, 'OK, now I want to go play with the kids.' "
"If anything, it made it more right there," Lewis chimed in. "You're doing it, on the spot, and not really going home and working on stuff, rehearsing parts. You're figuring it out and doing it right there [in the studio]."