3 Doors Down 
by Mark Greenawalt

Originally published in Sonik Magazine, (February 2005)

Mississippi rockers 3 Doors Down burst onto the music scene in 2000 with their break-out hit Kryptonite, which shot to number one by October that year. Not content to be a one-hit-wonder, the band forged more of their mainstream songwriting into chart topping success including the number one songs When I’m Gone and Here Without You. Much of the initial fascination with the group can be attributed to the unique vocal stylings and lyrical visualizations of singer Brad Arnold, but their longevity has evolved from a signature sound that transcends all sub-genres in favor of the label “straight-up-rock-&-roll.” Joining Brad onstage are guitarists Matt Roberts and Chris Henderson, bassist Todd Harrell, and drummer Richard Liles…collectively known as one of the hardest working acts on the circuit. 3 Doors Down toured in support of their first CD, The Better Life, with Creed and Seven Dust before releasing their “sophomore” effort, Away From the Sun in November of 2002. Miles and miles of tour dates garnered countless new fans and the effort paid off with both CD’s achieving multi-platinum status. When last summer’s tour with Nickleback came to end, it was not time to rest on their laurels, it was back into the studio to record the new CD, Seventeen Days, which is scheduled for release on February 8th. Then on February 12th they are hitting the road again with a tour kicking off in Daytona and coming to the Celebrity Theater in Phoenix on February 20th. I took the opportunity to ask them a few questions before they embark on the next phase of their career and here is what they had to say.

After pouring your hearts and souls into compiling the songs for the first two studio albums, “The Better Life” and “Away From the Sun”, did it become easier or tougher to reach into the creative pool and write new material for the new CD, “Seventeen Days”?

“It never gets any easier-it’s always the same process. It gets easier in one respect- for us as people to connect but it’s always a challenge to write a record- you can’t force it."

“Away From the Sun” debuted at No. 8 on The Billboard 200 and has sold more than 3 million copies in the United States. Do you feel any pressure to live up to or surpass this milestone?

“We always out pressure one ourselves-we want to do better than the last record. I think that’s just natural for anyone.”

The first single, Let Me Go, stays true to the style and sound that has defined 3 Doors Down. Is it a conscious effort to remain true to that signature sound when producing new material or does it come naturally from the time-tested chemistry of the band?

“It comes naturally-we don’t focus on how a song will sound that’s just how we write.”

In an interview with Billboard Magazine, bassist Todd Harrell said “It looks like the record is going to be a little bit heavier than the last.” Tell us what fans can expect from the upcoming release.

It’s a little more extreme- with songs that range from heavy to light but it flows.

The new CD was recorded in Nashville which is also known as Music City USA. What were the determining factors that led you to record there?

“We had to relocate from our hometown because of the hurricanes and Nashville made sense. It’s close to home and we like it there.”

Long before “Kryptonite” infiltrated the airwaves, an undiscovered bar band was rising from the small town of Escatawpa, Mississippi. Looking back on those days, are there any club owners or music store employees that truly believed in you and stand out in your memory as someone who genuinely helped you find success?

No there’s not one particular person who stands out other than ourselves. We always believed in each other.

When a band gets inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, they are introduced by another band or artist that was inspired by their music. If you had the opportunity to introduce any band that inspired you (even if they are already inducted), who would that band be? Are there any up and coming bands that you would be honored to have introduce your band if when you are inducted?

We would have loved to have inducted Johnny Cash. He was always a big influence on us and unfortunately we never got the opportunity to meet him. If we were ever inducted and that would be one of the greatest honors-it would be cool to have someone like Shinedown introduce us.

The upcoming tour kicks off at the Daytona International Speedway for the 2005 Budweiser Shootout on February 12th. FOX is scheduled to nationally air the live performance of the new single, Let Me Go. After the race, fans will be treated to the first concert of the new tour. Which songs from the past can they expect to hear and how many new songs will be added to the list?

(laughs)- we haven’t even worked out our set list yet but I imagine it will be a mix of songs from the new album together with a few from our first two records.

Will there be any time to hang out with long time friend Dale Earnhardt Jr. while in Daytona? What is the story about how you came to be friends?

Unfortunately there won’t be much time for fun as we’ll all be working but we love hanging out with Dale when given the chance. He’s a great guy and we our relationship first started when he and Tony Stewart appeared in our video The Road I’m On. We all had mutual respect for each other prior to that meeting and once we met it seemed like we’d known each other for a while.

It’s reported that Brad will also be singing the National Anthem for the Shootout like he did at the 2005 Sugar Bowl in New Orleans. Are you tempted to add some flair to the melody line to give it your own style or do you safely stick to the original melody?

He sticks to the original melody.

After 22 months of touring, the band took 6 months off to complete the new CD. Was there any down time to relax and let the heads stop spinning or has it been a never ending quest to live out the rock star lifestyle and reach for the next plateau?

We had off about two weeks for the holidays and that was it. We’ve been working non stop. We didn’t even have 6 months off for the new album-we started working on songs while touring and then had a little over 2 weeks (Seventeen Days) to really focus and finalize what we wanted to record. We came off the road in August and headed into the studio until December.

Can you describe where you were and what you were doing the first time you heard “Kryptonite” on the radio?

We were home in Mississippi. I was in my house and it came on the local station. My Dad came in and told me.

Brad Arnold’s time behind the drums seems like a distant memory now, but 3 Doors Down was originally a trio. Guitarist Matt Roberts and bassist Todd Harrell rounded out the group. During that fateful trip to C.B.G.B.’s in New York, the producers influenced Brad to come up to front the band. Have you ever regretted changing the make-up of the band to conform to the record companies vision for the band?

The label had nothing to do with our line-up-we made that decision-Brad wanted to be out front and we took it from there. Chris joined the band shortly thereafter making us a quartet. And we’ve worked with different drummers through the years.

After recording six #1 singles, it has become very common to hear your music on the radio. Does that still bring a feeling of accomplishment when you turn on a radio many miles away from Mississippi and hear yourself?

It’s always nice to hear your songs on the radio. It gives you a level of accomplishment.

The tour will bring 3 Doors Down to the Celebrity Theater on February 20th. Having toured around the world, is there any specific memory of Phoenix that you look forward to revisiting while in town? In other words, is there something special about Phoenix that makes it a highlight in the list of tour dates?

We love Phoenix- they have great golf courses!

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Mark Greenawalt