Staind's Mike Mushok: My 5 Favorite Songs to Play Live | Revolver

Staind's Mike Mushok: My 5 Favorite Songs to Play Live

Guitarist forgoes big hits for deeper cuts
staind MIKE mushok GETTY 2019, Miikka Skaffari/FilmMagic
photograph by Miikka Skaffari/FilmMagic

We're still a little ways off from the full return of live music, but Staind aren't leaving their fans high and dry. The Massachusets group are gearing up to release a live album of their 2019 comeback show titled, Live: It's Been Awhile, which will be accompanied by "The Return of Staind: A Two Part Global Streaming Series." 

The first of the two cyber gigs goes down May 1st and it's called, Live: It's Been Awhile (From Foxwoods), a never-before-seen video of the same performance that Staind are releasing in album form on May 7th via Yap'em/Alchemy Recordings. The other half of the series will be a full play-through of their multi-platinum 2001 album, Break the Cycle, that will take place on May 8th, exactly 20 years after the album's release. Fans can snag tickets for those at StaindLive.com and pre-order Live: It's Been Awhile through their official merch site.

With all of this in store, the band's guitarist Mike Mushok has had the thrill of the stage fresh on his mind, so we asked him to choose his top five songs to play to a room of screaming Staind fans. Eschewing some of the obvious hits, Mushok highlighted tracks from throughout the band's 25-year history and even shared some stories about the writing sessions that led to their visceral impact outside the studio setting. 

5. "Paper Wings"

I always love playing this song live, and it was really interesting how it came about as well. When we tracked this, the music [that was originally] over the drums was a completely different song. Aaron [Lewis, Staind frontman] was having a hard time writing to it, so one day in the studio I said, "let's just re-write the music." At this point, the drums had been broken down so we had to re-write it to the drums that were there. Thank goodness for Pro Tools, as there was definitely a lot of manipulating to the existing drum track to make it work. So, one afternoon, Johnny K [producer] and I put this version together, and  what is now the verse was the bridge and vice versa. Aaron wanted to switch them and it led to a bit of a disagreement, but we worked through it and it's just a very fun, aggressive song to play live. 

4. "Blow Away"

This one is a little obscure, but I'm trying to not state the obvious ones like "It's Been a While" or "So Far Away," which are great to play live, but this one is a lot of fun. It's a pretty simple song, but it really builds and I think Aaron did a great job doing that with the melody. I also just really like the simplistic, delayed guitar line throughout that builds to this very powerful chorus. It's lot of fun to play live, and I think it might actually be one of our longest songs, as well, at 6:15.

3. "Right Here"

This one is a bit tricky because there are actually two different turnings I use in one song. The acoustic intro and the breakdown are tuned one way, and the rest of the song is in a different tuning. That's really easy to do in a studio, but live it's a little tougher so I use a stand for the acoustic part. It's also a song that always seems to get a great reaction from the crowd. I remember writing for Chapter V and listening back to ideas that I had, and I came across the verse riff for this and really liked it. I worked it up a bit and took it to the band and they were into it as well. It's always nice when that happens.

2. "Fade"

This is another song that we've played live a lot and I just always loved the melody to this song and the lift into the last chorus. I remember very early on before we were signed, we played the verse for this at a practice just screwing around and I saved it on that tape because of the melody Aaron sang. When it was time to write Break the Cycle I went back and worked on it and that's what eventually turned into this song.

1. "Mudshovel"

We've been playing this song since 1996 and I don't think there's been a gig we've done where we haven't played it. It seems to be one of the songs that people have come to expect, and no matter where we're playing, people call out for it. Aaron and I actually did the first acoustic version of it last winter on one of the livestreams he was doing, so I guess it's now in the acoustic set, as well.