Interview: Staind Guitarist Mike Mushok Discusses 'Live from Mohegan Sun,' Gear and More
By Amelia Waters
It was an action-packed summer for Massachusetts-based rockers Staind.
They released their first official live album, Live From Mohegan Sun (Buy on iTunes), which also is available on DVD and Blu-Ray, on July 10. That concert was recorded and filmed in high def on November 25, 2011, at the Mohegan Sun and Casino in Connecticut, not far from the band's home base.
The band also enjoyed a long, bruising summer on the road with the likes of Shinedown, Godsmack and In This Moment.
Suffice it to say, Staind — singer Aaron Lewis, guitarist Mike Mushok, bassist Johnny April and drummer Sal Giancarelli (who replaced original drummer Jon Wysocki) — are in the midst of a well-deserved break.
Which is why we were happy to track down Mushok to chat about his ever-evolving setup, the band's upcoming projects and the new live album.
REVOLVER: You guys toured all summer. How has the replacement drummer, Sal Giancarelli, been working out?
Sal’s been very good. He’s someone who’s been with us since 1999. He was actually our drummer’s drum tech, and he has actually sat in a couple of times when Jon was unable to play. So it was a pretty seamless transition, since we didn’t have to learn a new personality. He’s been with us a long time, and he’s a great drummer.
How have fans reacted to your new material and the new live album?
I think the new studio record [Staind], which we put out about a year ago, a lot of those songs really lead themselves to being played well live, and we try to get as many as we can in along with the songs that people want to hear. There’s definitely a good portion of new material on there, and it’s really fun to play. Reaction has been really good to it.
What made you decide the time was right for a live album?
We actually had an opportunity to do a DVD, and that’s what lead to the live album. And since we were recording – it was two for the price of one – really, so that’s really what lead to it.
When playing live, is there a particular guitar you like to stick with?
Yes, there is. When we recorded Staind, I kind of went back to soloing again. But now I play a baritone guitar, and I tune it down to F sharp. It’s real low on a baritone than a high E string, so that led me to having Paul Reed Smith make me a couple of 7-string guitars. I never wanted to play a 7-string, but now I am. So, pretty much, that’s what I’ve been playing — my baritone 7-string. It’s really not that difficult to make that change. The longer scale on the baritone — some of the stretches are a little bit trickier because they’re a little wider. But other than that, it’s kind of the same.
Should fans expect a slightly different guitar sounds or elements in the future?
No, hopefully it will be a continuation of where the last one left off — but hopefully growing and always trying to better yourself and trying to grow as an artist.
Sticking with guitars, is there one model you love the most or have been playing the longest?
I’ve had a couple of different signature models. I was with Ibanez for a bunch of years. Probably about five years ago or so I switched to Paul Reed Smith. That’s pretty much what I play — the baritone guitars, my model that we put out. I pretty much exclusively play that, except now they’ve been making me some 7-strings. I actually just heard from them that they're releasing a 7-string, but it's not a baritone; it’s just a standard scale, so I’m going to check that one out too.
What do you expect from that model?
I don’t know, really. WWhen I started doing the lower tunings, kind of when Staind started writing back in the mid-'90s, I had to take a standard guitar and put a heavier gauge string on it and tune it down. And I would always have kind of a problem because you would hit it harder and it would go out of tune. When we were doing our first demo, somebody showed me a baritone guitar, which I had never even heard of. So I’m kind of curious to see how that 7-string plays a tune.
What’s in store for the rest of 2012 and next year?
Aaron has a country record coming out. I have a few things going on but nothing in a spot that I really want to talk about. But right now I'm just trying to keep writing songs and working on a few other things. But yeah, there are definitely a couple of things I'd love to talk about, but in this business you just never how things are going to turn out. When something comes out, hopefully I can talk about it.
Again, Aaron is going to promote his country record. When he gets done with that, we’ll get back together and record another Staind record.