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For a guy who got his start singing rock music as the frontman of the group Staind, Aaron Lewis sure has some strong opinions on country music. He likes his country music with a lot of steel guitar and lyrics about real life.

As his new country project, “Sinner,” hits stores, Aaron has been raising a few eyebrows in how he gets that point across. During a recent concert appearance, Aaron introduced his song, “That Ain’t Country,” by slamming a few of today’s top country stars by name. You can read all about it in the story linked just below.

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When it comes to his own transition into the country format, Aaron tells Rare Country, “I was never dipping my toe in the water. I jumped in with both feet and cement shoes and chains around my arms.”

Aaron’s not alone in his quest to keep country music sounding like the country music he grew up loving. That’s evident from the number of high-profile friends he got to join him on “Sinner.” You’ll hear Willie Nelson, Vince Gill and Alison Krauss lending their talents to the project, along with a host of other top-shelf Nashville musicians.

On top of his duet with Willie, Aaron has been on tour with the Country Music Hall of Fame member for the past few weeks. Aaron actually compares Willie to a country music Jesus with a lot of great insight into modern country music.

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“He’s like the all-knowing, omniscient and all-wondrous, and I had a pretty amazing sit-down with him,” Aaron tells us. “We were just having a really good conversation about music and about country radio these days. He said, ‘You know, a long time ago, my grandmother said to me, she said, ‘Willie, music is supposed to be something that is pleasing to the ear.” And he looked at me and he was like, ‘I’m sorry, but what’s on the radio right now is not pleasing to the ears. It’s not music to me.'”

Of course, Willie wouldn’t say that kind of thing to Aaron if he didn’t like Aaron’s music.

Says Aaron, “For someone like Willie to say that to someone like me who is desperately clinging to any sanctity of country music and to hear him say that was very encouraging.”

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