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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Staind: Substance Over Illusion

Today marks the release date for Staind's new album, "The Illusion of Progress". I've heard some of the new tracks and it's a change from some of the band's previous works. Guitarist Mike Mushok has said that "The Illusion of Progress" marks a very different record for the band, "...better different." I agree.

This new sound not the only evidence this band continues to grow and evolve; they're branching into an interesting form of marketing. What spurred this idea behind the new CD campaign? The band has, over the past two years witnessed the benefits of interaction with the fans.

Lead singer, Aaron Lewis is a contrast to the likes of say, Eddie Veddar, with his long tangle of hair, model good looks. Lewis is this slightly bearish looking guy with round powerful looking shoulders and fierce 'Colin Ferrel' eyebrows. I mean, if you passed the guy on the street you might dismiss him as a local construction worker. That just lends to the guy's appeal. Aaron Lewis' beauty lies in his voice, the man possesses some of the best rock vocals in the market today. Lewis doesn't need rely on studio production or over instrumentation to sound great, he's absolutely dynamic when he performs acoustically.

Here's Lewis in a video from 2006, "Outside" (Love this song.)

In a positive form of self-promotion, Staind has become a real presence on their website. They take the reins regarding involving themselves in the communication with their fans, providing that reach out and touch us experience. Their fans have responded in kind which has motivated the band to continue to do even more. Mushok says Staind is looking forward to seeing how the new initiatives play with its fan base but likes the fact that everything that's planned "...gives a little bit more back to the fans. It gives them more options and ways of getting more from us." Yes, give and you receive. Mushok's a wise man.

Now what exactly is Mushok referring to in his statement? Not content to just put out a new album or offer the usual exclusive or special edition album to accompany the main offering, Staind is taking it a step further. On top of the exclusive album offering three bonus tracks, buyers also receive a free one-year membership to their fan club (Dysfunctional Fan Club). According to Dane Venable, the senior VP of pop/rock marketing with Atlantic, this offering encourages buyers to link to the group's Web site and expose them to Staind's online community. Involvement within the community has proven to build band loyalty as the fans are able to stay abreast of the real life happenings for the band and their music, tours. This also allows access to a special 30-minute documentary on the making of the album.

Although they have a paying portion to their website, unlike some artists, Staind's Official website's forum is open to view - you don't have to be a member to read the forum. This contrasts to what is seen in some artist's 'official websites', that webpage 'gate' that you can't pass until you pay up.

"Believe", is the first single released from the album, currently sitting at No. 9 on the Mainstream Rock chart after just four weeks. The benefits of having the backing of Flip/Atlantic will be felt as the marketing campaign unfolds. The label has planned an ambitious viral campaign for the launch and promotion of the album utilizing a broad range of Web sites and platforms. Outside of taking the single to radio, the new CD is for sale on iTunes, and back on July 24, released the video on AOL.

New tune, "Believe"

Aug. 28, Staind will appear on ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" Touring starts with two weeks of European dates with Nickelback in September, which is part of the band's first concerted campaign overseas. Staind returns to North America, touring October through December, more dates expected after the first of the year.

As the story has it, following this new tour, Aaron Lewis will be releasing a solo album with acoustic tunes. A cover of "Turn the Page" might be on it.

Staind has definitely turned their own page, regarding maturity, growth and artistry as "The Illusion of Progress" evidences.

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