Three Doors Down...
Twenty Five million records in, Mississippi born and bred and sealed with platinum, 3DD (Three Doors Down) has been the best thing to come out of the magnolia state since Bo Diddley.
Formed in 1996, the band consisted of Brad Arnold (vocals/drums), Todd Harrell (bass) and Matt Roberts (guitar). Joined by guitarist Chris Henderson, and later by drummer Richard Liles, 3DD played 1,000's of shows across the world following the release of their hugely successful Away from the Sun album.
The band rose to international fame with their first single, "Kryptonite" with the album "Better Than Life" becoming the 11th-best-selling album of the year. Certified 6x platinum in the US, it sealed the band's fate as the group to watch and listen to. Breaking the one hit wonder curse, 3DD released Away from the Sun, (2002) continuing the band's skyrocketing success; it went multi-platinum in the United States like its predecessor, and spawned the anthems "When I'm Gone" and "Here Without You".
Personnel changes and struggles haven't slowed the band down --in 2012, original guitarist Matt Roberts departed due to health issues. Chet Roberts, Henderson's guitar tech, took his spot. Then in 2013, Harrell was ejected from the band after being charged with vehicular homicide and bassist Justin Biltonen replaced him.
Recently, 3 Doors Down has announced Summer plans that feature additional "3 Doors Down Acoustic - Songs From The Basement" dates fueled by public demand alongside select plugged in electric dates at festivals. Fans have embraced and celebrated the band's acoustic touring since they first began staging these performances in January featuring deep cuts and hits from their catalog of songs.
Over the last few months, they have been "in the basement" digging up more gems to perform on these upcoming shows. Singer Brad Arnold shares, "The acoustic shows are a blast, and we have an amazing connection with our fans during the performances. We are excited to get back out on the road and play these songs for the rest of America!"
Brad Arnold, Chris Henderson, and the members of 3 Doors Down have assembled in a Nashville studio to begin writing songs for their sixth studio album to be released in 2015.
We had the chance to sit down with Brad Arnold and get the scoop on the new tour, new album, and new future for 3DD.
MM: Hi Brad—How are you ?
Brad: I'm doin' alright….I'm fishin' in the pond in my yard..I'm really working hard at it, I tell you.." *laughing*
MM: I bet--! Well, you and the band are about to get really busy.
Brad: Yeah we're about to get super busy this summer—I'm looking forward to it..I've been barrel racing with my wife and traveling all over with her and her horses, but now I get to get busy with the band and I‘m looking forward to it.
MM: Let's talk about the main news outside of barrel racing..and that's the acoustic tour you are embarking on. Your fans are really clamoring for this…some bands find going acoustic a good thing, others not so much …3DD seems to have been able to enjoy the best of both worlds—plugged or unplugged..what makes it work for you?
Brad: Most of our songs, whether heavy or not started out being written on an acoustic. You know , we've always believed that's how it should be, maybe not every single song, but if you can't boil a song down to play it as an acoustic you've got too much stuff going on. I've always written songs as acoustic and then added the bells and whistles later. We've never done a tour like this before –we've played shows here and there and recently we played a show in Nashville last year, and we liked it, the crowd really liked it and we really liked it and we thought why not do an entire tour?
MM: Since you write on an acoustic initially do you have to prep differently for a tour like this or get into a different mindset? Are there different routines when you're shaking it up like this?
Brad: You don't need to get so hyped up…running around stage and acting crazy—it's a lot more chilled out but really enjoyable at the same time..I can imagine some acoustic shows might be perceived as boring but we get up there, tell jokes, and mess with each other and the crowd all through out it…we have drums through ½ of the show so there's rhythm going on..it gives the fans a chance to really listen to the songs and it gives us a chance to settle down and really play the songs..and enjoy the songs too.
MM: You're also getting ready to release a new album in 2015—whats going on with that project?
Brad: Yep—We're working on it right now and we have about 4 songs written but we've never been a band to write an album for the songs.. a lot of times if we have 12 songs on a record we might have only written 15 or 16…with that being said, we're about a quarter of the way there! *laughing*
Honestly, though, you can't really say how long it takes..because a lot of the time we don't sit down and try to write a song, it could be that we're jamming and someone will come up with a lick , we'll start going with it-or I might have a few lyrics and we'll go from there…you don't try to force it or rush it and sometimes you'll go into the studio and it just pours out—I'm hoping we'll have it done by this time next year.
MM: So what inspires you to write? For some its surprise or anger…is there a particular process for you?
Brad: Sometimes it will be something that just pops in my head and other times, like you described , it will be an emotion..like you say—if you get really upset or emotional about something, I can sit down and write about it…and sometimes the hardest part about writing a song is thinking about something you WANT to write about…when you get something really pressed on your mind it feels good to get it out and on paper and other times, it's hard to write –especially when you're happy. I told my wife a few years ago, when I was having writers block, that I couldn't write and she asked why and I told her it was because I was happy! *laughing*
MM: Yep, you have to be careful as a songwriter when you get too happy in your personal life!
MM: With you coming out with massive hits like Kryptonite or "When I'm Gone"..it can be hard for bands to replicate that—so in essence that early success can be a curse, but 3DD has been at it since 1996 and 20 million records sold later you are proving how to maintain success. What do you attribute that to?
Brad: You know what, God has really taken care of us—he's seen us through times when we could have given up but he's seen us through that, and I just have to thank God for that. I think musically, we've written songs that people can identify with…I write songs that are about things that are emotional for me but I also want people to take them and identify with them and apply them to their own lives. I think when you do that , your fans will get something out of it—they may not all be hits but your fans will be able to identify with them. I think those tend to be more timeless songs that stick around for awhile. We've always tried to leave ourselves a little bit of a left turn…some of our songs are similar but some are really different from others. It's about keeping it different and leaving yourself some room. We also have some of the best fans in the world.
MM: That brings me to the challenges you have faced as a band…the issues with Todd which I wrote a blog about and commended the band for how you addressed it—still it had to have been difficult—there have been other lineup changes-how has that affected the band overall? Has it made it tougher to keep things congruous or has it rejuvenated you?
Brad: I really want to thank you for what you wrote—I read it when there was a lot of negative stuff out there so I really appreciated what you said—it was a lot to go through. Having two guys change out like that, and them being original members and the people I started the band with in 1995 –I love Chet and Justin-they are great musicians but it does change the dynamic- you have to kind of… I've always said everyone speaks their own language in music, the more you play with that person, and the more you jam together, the more you get to understand their language…and it's taken us a little while to do that. Writing is different—they are unique but I love where it's going. It's changed us musically but in a good way—it's been one of those left turns I spoke about. There's a couple of songs that we've written that are straight up 3DD songs and there are a couple we have written that when people have heard them have said "whoa that's really different for you" But its cool, I'm really enjoying it and these guys are great players but it's definitely been an adjustment.
MM: That's a credit to 3DD to have things happen back to back and still keep going—so it's a tribute to you guys to acknowledge "this" has happened-- now how do we take the next step?
Brad- Yeah it really couldn't have happened any other way… Justin was already a friend of the band…he's worked with our foundation before...and he played guitar and if you can play guitar you can play bass *laughing* But then I can't play anything on a guitar..
MM: Ok --coming from the random weird question category—you worked with Alex Lifeson and I have to admit that really surprised me—I wouldn't ever put Rush and 3DD together so tell us about that experience?
Brad: I tell you what that dude is a great, great guy- he recorded some b sides for us and I can't remember the exact songs because it was about 10 years ago but I tell you as great as a guitar player that he is, he is an even better guy—he knows so much about music, he's been there done that, he's so incredibly talented with anything that he does, it was a great experience. We worked with him on and off for 2 or 3 months , he gave us lots of advice on what to do and how to be, and it was an honor and he's a great cook too…that dude can cook!
MM: On second thought maybe you guys do have more in common—RUSH has dealt with a few issues but they have done so without drama—I call it the Miley Cyrus syndrome—and the same could be said about 3DD—you've had your internal issues but you've dealt with them with class and I think the best part is it hasn't taken the attention away from the music or the band's talents.
Brad: I honestly feel that some performers bring that stuff on themselves, they invite the press, I feel sorry for them—they always have a camera in their face-it's gotta be hard. I've been happy that for so long, we were always just a big radio band, but no one really knew what we looked like, which was awesome—I could go on tour, and then I could come home and go to Target. *laughing*
MM: It's always been for 3DD-- that its about the music- You hear the name and you think of a song or a tour- not the latest headline.
Brad: I really appreciate that.
MM: To wrap up, can you give us an update on the Better Life Foundation—people know about it—it's somewhat quietly done, yet it's made a big impact.
Brad: It's been 11 years now…since we started it and what began as a support for need in Mississippi has grown, so that if we see a need anywhere we try to help. After Hurricane Sandy and Hurricane Katrina we really started focusing even harder—we're getting ready to help Hometown Heroes, and it's simple –it's a dollar in and a dollar out- we focus on that the money raised really does good—I couldn't be more proud to be apart of it and it has been great, we've raised probably over 3 million dollars so far and a lot of bands have helped us—Shinedown, Daughtry, Black Stone Cherry, and Lynyrd Skynyrd—we have a big motorcycle ride—last year we had hundreds participate- it's given me more blessings than I could have ever hoped for..
MM: My last question Brad is for that kid in Mississippi who wants to follow in your footsteps what would you tell them?
Brad: I would say write from your heart..do your best—don't measure your success by how far you go in the music business , if you play in bars , and you like doing it and it brings you joy- that's awesome—if it makes you happy keep doing it. Don't stop.
MM: Well Brad same to you and 3DD , don't stop! I'll see you in August during the tour.
Brad: Thanks Kim! See you then.
For more info on 3DD go to: 3doorsdown.com