Following his onstage comments about modern country stars such as Luke Bryan, Sam Hunt, Dan + Shay and Cole Swindell “choking all the life out of country music," Aaron Lewis wants to make something clear: He has no animosity toward those guys as people -- only toward their music.

In an interview with The Bobby Bones Show, the singer-songwriter and former Staind frontman says that he "was just trying to play to the crowd I was playing in front of."

"Maybe I didn't need to call out anybody's names," Lewis adds, "but I stand by my statement."

Lewis goes on to say that he doesn't hate the guys he called out -- "I've actually sat and gotten quite drunk with Dan + Shay," he notes -- nor was he attacking their character "in any way, shape or form."

"You have to put it into context: This was a motorcycle rally in Colorado where everybody was on their way to Sturgis. This was a bunch of black leather-clad wearing older folks," Lewis explains. "I was playing to the crowd.”

Lewis' remarks on Sept. 4 in Loveland, Colo., preceded a performance of his latest single, “That Ain’t Country.” The song is a forceful jab at how modern country music has, in Lewis’ opinion, lost touch with its roots -- “So tell me, whatever happened to the country songs / Full of truth and consequences, all the things gone wrong? / Someone came and changed it up, made it all a lie,” he sings -- and comes from Lewis’ second studio album Sinner, out now.

“I’d like to think that Sinner is a newer take on classic, traditional outlaw country — Waylon [Jennings] and Merle [Haggard] and Willie [Nelson] and Hank [Williams] Jr. and Johnny Cash and all that stuff,” Lewis says. “That was the music I heard a kid, and that’s the country music that permeated my soul and stuck with me my whole life.”

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