Chris Henderson , Jan 29, 2003

 

Written and photos by: Jason Perlman

 

How’s the tour treating ya?
Really good. Really good.

 

Man, once the single “Kryptonite” hit the radio airwaves, 3 Doors Down just took over all formats of radio. Did it surprise the band at how quickly success came?
Yea, man, it was really fast. I am not going to say it was overnight, but it was like a week. You know what I am saying? It was rally fast.

 

And how does that change the band?
Really man? We didn’t change that much. I mean, it is hard not to change somewhat when your lives are changed as drastically as that, but as far as our writing style, what we listen to or our outlook on life, that has really stayed on an even keel. The one thing that has changed is our lifestyle and whatever goes along with that. But basically, we are still just the same guys.

The band just gives the aura that if I were to see you walking down the street, there would be no way I could tell you sold like 5 million records.
Yea, you know, if selling platinum records was a crime punishable by jail time, I would still be a free man. It’s like, we couldn’t get arrested. They don’t know what we look like. Nothing.

That just says something about the band. Is it something the band consciously shies away from, or is that just your personality?
That’s just us and the way it worked out. We are very anonymous guys who like to do what we do just kick back and relax. We are not rebel rousing, party going, beating people up, throwing stuff out of hotel window kind of guys. We don’t get a lot of press around that. We are not feuding with Eminem.

Well, not yet, but sell a few more record and who know?
Yea, who knows? He may write about us in one of his songs. I hope not. I actually like him. He is one of my favorite artists.

When you guys came on the scene, you obviously were opening for a lot of bands. Now, you get to headline your own shows. How different is it for 3 Doors to open a show or headline one? Are you more comfortable one way or the other?
I am more comfortable headlining, personally. I think opening for other bands, at this point; it would have to be a big band for us to feel comfortable. It would have to be a Creed or an Aerosmith or a Metallica. Someone like that. I think if it were anyone would else, we would have to question it, you know what I mean? It’s better for us as a band to headline; unless we are on one of those radio shows where it is based on the fans and the genre of music they want. Like Coldplay going on after Disturbed, because no one is going to want to hear them after being pumped up from Disturbed. It’s that kind of thing. Unless it’s that kind of situation, then we are fine with it.

Just listening to you there, you mentioned three very different genres of music of bands you would open for. And I don’t think that was a mistake. You feel that your music fits in all those categories.
Yea! We can go either way, because a lot of our stuff is kind of heavy and it’s kind of aggressive. I mean, we are not slitting wrists and hailing Satan, but we definitely have some aggressive overtones.

And because of that aggressiveness, how surprised were you to find 3 Doors on Top 40 radio. If someone would just hear your music without any preconceptions, I would say most would categorize the band as power-alternative.
Right. And definitely was surprising to us. There were stations I never thought I would hear our music on. Like back home, there is a Top 40 station that would platy Britney Spears and next thing you know; there would be one of our songs. And I was like, “whoa, this is kind of weird.” I have kinda gotten used to the idea, but at first it was kind of hard to swallow. A Top 40-radio station was something I never thought I would be on.

As a band, how did you feel about that? Because, at least here in Columbus, Ohio, there are stations that pretty much shelve a band that is played on the Top 40 station.
You know, I think that it is a relationship issue and if you treat your radio stations right and with respect, they will treat you right and with respect. It’s like that with any relationship. And we are a rock band first. And if it decided that we are a Top 40 band, then fine. But we never made that decision. We are a rock band. That is where our roots are at and that is what is responsible for our success. Rock music. And rock radio gets it first. Top 40 doesn’t get it until the rock stations, because the rock stations is who is responsible for our success anyway.

And how does 3 Doors Down write? Is it something where Brad (Arnold) comes with a lyric or do you come with a riff?
Either way. Each song happens differently and I can give ya some examples. “Be Like That” was vocals first. The lyrics were first and the music was written around it. “When I An Gone” came music first, as did “The Road I’m On.” So it happens either way. Like “The Road I’m On” just started with a riff and it went from there.

You guys took some time off between finishing the firs tour supporting The Better Life and the beginning of the second record, Away From The Sun. But you guys just seem like a band that even when you are “off” you are still thinking about your music.
Oh, absolutely. This is what I do for a living and this is our way of life. And it is such an incredible passion since I was a kid, you wouldn’t believe it. I used to risk getting my ass kicked by my mom, well, step mom, because she was kind of religious and she didn’t really care for the fact that I listened to the kind of music that I listened to. So when it was bedtime, it was bedtime. There was no more listening to music, say after 8 o’clock. So I would hide my headphones in my room and listen to the music every single night easily until I was in my twenties. I went to be every single night with headphones on dreaming about the day when I could get my shot.

Maybe all that music subconsciously embedded itself into your brain.
I don’t know. I just know I raised myself on rock and roll and branched out to jazz and country. I didn’t discriminate. Rap, whatever it was I could get my hands on. Good music is good music no matter what. That’s the way I look at it. There are so many people who only listen to rap or only listen to underground and they judge you by what you listen to. I don’t think that’s a smart idea.

The one thing about coming from the South is about until five or six years ago, the south was for country music and it wasn’t until recently that rock bands have been emerging from the South. Or at least, labels looking for rock bands in the South. What was it like being a rock band from the South and tying to make it?
Well, I think that our music definitely comes from Southern rock. I played country music for years and wrote country music. I was in a really good country band, me and Todd (Harrell) both, our bass player, were in a really popular country band back home for a long time. You grow up listening to Lynard Skynard. Where we are from, Lynard Skynard is the law. You don’t listen to Lynard Skynard; you can do serious jail time. You know what I am saying? And I am going to be honest with you. Growing up where we did and when you were in high school, 15-16 years old, you weren’t allowed to listen to anything else around your friends. It was one of those things where everyone was just close-minded and that was what you listened to. Lynard Skynard, .38 Special, Molly Hatchet and Blackfoot. Those were the bands. And you could throw in some old classic 70s stuff like Frampton, Black Sabbath and the Outlaws. Then you could throw in some country stuff like Merle Haggard and Charlie Daniels and the list goes on and on. We could talk for hours and never get out of the county-rock genre.

The one thing about today’s country music is you can definitely tell the 70s rock influence. And it seems band has a lot of that 70s rock influence, which keeps it grounded in pure rock.
Yea, for me it is, But then we have Brad being a bit younger and coming out of the 80s is where is songwriting comes from. Honestly, I see a little Rob Thomas (matchbox 20) in him. They are both very, very gifted lyricists.

Your right, and they both right personally but open enough for interpretation.
Exactly! That’s what is all about. A song shouldn’t be what a song is. A song should be what it is to you. You are the one making it yours. That is the beautiful thing about Brad and the one thing that I have always liked about his lyrics. I mean, you listen to “Kryptonite” and that song can go into so many directions and no one knows what that song is really about. They all have their own ideas and we don’t argue with them. Whatever you think it’s about, that’s what it is about.

I was on-line doing some research and came across a photo of you with Bono of U2 and it struck a chord, because like U2, it seems this band concentrates on good writing, not just good music.
We definitely pay real close attention to what we write about and about how we write the music and about how it sounds together. We don’t crank songs out. We put a lot of heart and soul into each song. When we wrote this last record, we recorded 18 songs and have 12 on the record. So we have sic other songs floating around out there that could very well have been on the record. They were all good songs. But instead of writing 50 songs, we wrote 18 and paid attention to what we were doing and took our time. We didn’t want to write a record, we wanted to write an album. Like back in the day, when you bought a Kansas record, you would play that fucker until it wore out. And you had to go get another one. You had that record that opened and closed and it would get fucking trashed. You would end up getting another piece of cardboard because you wore out the original cover. That’s the kind of record that this band wanted to make. We wanted people to wear the fucker out like they did the first one.

It reminds me of talking with Josey Scott from Saliva, where he says making a song list is the hardest part about touring because they put so much into their songs, that it is like putting your kids to bed early while others get to stay up late.
It’s very personal. Our set list is very personal. There are songs that are not on our set list that I really wish were on it, and vice versa for every member in this band. And even for the fans. Even that fans take that shit personal. We have fans that think a particular song was written fort them. That was their song and by gosh you better play that fucker. You know what I am saying? And if you don’t, they will definitely let you know about it. Every night, after the show, there is always that one guy while we are signing autographs that says, “Why didn’t you play that song? Come on, what were you thinking?” And we always have to tell the, “Look, we only have a certain amount of time to play. We can only play what we play. We are very sorry and we will try to play it next time.”

Well, cool. I know you have more interviews coming up and there is no rest for the wicked.
It’s what I do man.