Staind frontman Aaron Lewis has been busy as of late focusing on his original country music. With his focus away from Staind, another member of the band, guitarist Mike Mushokjoined forces with Jason Newsted's metal outfit earlier this year. Since that announcement, Lewis hasn't said much about Mushok playing with Newsted, until now. In an exclusive chat, Lewis openly shares his feelings about the entire situation, even admitting that he has held Mushok's talents back in Staind.

"I think it's awesome," he tells us while promoting his country music during CMA Week in Nashville. "It takes pressure off of me having to abandon what I'm really focused on right now. I think it's great."

As far as the actual Newsted music goes, Lewis is impressed. "It's metal. I'm so psyched for it," the frontman explains. "I've always kept Mike on such a hard leash for what I felt was needed for the Staind songs. I always felt that we didn't have any lead guitar stuff for a long time. It slowly kind of filtered back in, and on this last Staind record we did, I was like, Mike, just shred it. Show everybody what you've always been able to do that I've kept you from doing."

Lewis continues to open up about Mushok: "With this Newsted thing, he's able to do what he's always wanted to do. When I met that kid, he was like Yngwie Malmsteen. He was literally the most prolific shredder of a guitar player. I've done nothing throughout our entire career except hold him back from doing that; we always simplified everything. I'm so happy for him that he's finally getting to show everybody how unbelievable of a guitar player he is."

While there hasn't been a new record from Staind since 2011's self-titled studio album, Lewis is keeping fans' interests piqued by putting country spins on some of his metal tunes. As fans wait for the new material from Staind, enjoy Lewis singing his latest version of 'Mudshovel' below.

Aaron Lewis Sings 'Country Shovel'