- Staind, in an appropriately (and more accurately spelled) stained photo.
Chapter V, the latest album from Staind, became the group's third CD to debut atop the Billboard magazine album chart.
Guitarist Mike Mushok, not surprisingly, is pleased with the strong initial showing. But in talking to the guitarist, I sense that he wonders if Staind will have a good shot to stretch the streak to four with the next CD.
"I'm happy. I never expected to have one No. 1 record, much less three," Mushok says. "It's just difficult these days, it seems."
Many of Mushok's concerns center on changes that have hit the record industry, threatening both record sales and the ability of bands to sustain popularity.
For one thing, the ease of downloading music legally may be causing a fundamental shift in the nature of the relationship between fans and bands, Mushok says.
"They're fans of a song, but they don't make that connection sometimes or want to be a part of what that band is, and have the [full] record and go to the shows. They want to be a fan of that song," Mushok explains.
This trend may already be showing in CD sales, Mushok says, citing Green Day's American Idiot as an example.
"That record's at, like, 4 million [copies sold]," he says. "Three years ago, that record would be over 10 million copies. People don't sell records the way they did two, even three years ago. It's a different day."
Staind has also seen a drop-off in sales; though Chapter V debuted at No. 1, its first-week sales of 185,000 were lower than for their last album, 14 Shades of Grey. In their case, it's probably due more to a lack of a blockbuster single than to any general trend.
But rather than worrying about listeners' perceptions, Mushok and his bandmates singer/lyricist Aaron Lewis, bassist Johnny April and drummer Jon Wysocki set the same basic goals for Chapter V as they have for other albums: simply, to write the best songs possible.
The dozen songs on Chapter V find Staind striking a near-equal balance between rockers and ballads. In both settings, the band achieves solid results. The rockers boast strong melodies and plenty of grit, thanks to the muscular rhythm section of April and Wysocki, as well as Mushok's thick rhythm guitar parts. And Staind's talent for ballads continues to grow, too, with songs that feature some of the richest melodies the group has committed to CD.
Whether the efforts of Staind will pay off in a renewed surge in popularity remains to be seen. For now, they're doing their part to build sales by continuing a busy tour schedule that features a current run of headlining dates. About five songs from Chapter V are included in Staind's live set, Mushok says. The group, though, is rewarding longtime fans by bringing back some older songs that they've rarely if ever played on past tours.
"There are a couple of songs that we'd never played out before and some stuff off of our first record [1996's Tormented] that we've played, but not in a long, long time," Mushok says. "We're just trying to make the set a little bit more interesting and mix it up a little bit."
Staind with Three DaysGrace and Hurt
Colorado Springs World Arena, 3185 Venetucci Blvd.
Tuesday, May 16, 7 p.m.
Tickets: $33.50; call 866/464-2626 or visit worldarena.com for more.