3 DOORS DOWN
An interview with Brad Arnold, lead singer of 3 Doors Down.
By Melody Alderman
PS: It's been a couple of years since we've talked and in that time, you've just recently had your first real bit of time off. You guys have been recording and touring steadily since the success of "Kryptonite" in 2000. How did you spend your break?
BRAD: I pretty much just spent it chillin' on the river and piddlin' around. I was kind of being lazy and actually just living a little bit. We've been on tour so much these past few years and then last year, we came back and spent the whole year writing and recording the new record. I'll tell you what, it was so nice having that time off because everybody came back hungry and everybody came back ready to work. I didn't write for a whole year. I'll never go that long again without writing though because it took some time to get the cobwebs shook.
PS: Now that you're back out on the road, do you feel like the break helped the live shows as well, in terms of the hunger you feel as a band?
BRAD: It most definitely did. Everybody is good and rested and ready to get back up on stage and play. We've had some great shows and some great crowds. For the past month, we've been on a bit of a warm up tour and it's been so exciting to get back up there and play.
PS: The extra time the band had available to write and record and the work that was put into this new record is obvious. In my opinion, it's your best release yet.
BRAD: Thank you very much. I appreciate you saying that.
PS: As a writer myself, the song "Pages" really strikes a chord. There is a very intimate exchange that happens between a writer and their audience. Have you ever written anything that you felt was too personal or giving too much away, to put out there?
BRAD: You know, sometimes I have but actually, some of them are out there anyways. A lot of my songs are about my personal life and "Pages" is about pouring yourself onto a page and waiting for someone to come along and read it. Then they get to form their own opinion about it. I suppose I've definitely written songs that ended up being too personal.
PS: You were in your early twenties when 3 Doors Down experienced success. Is there anything that you wrote when you were younger, that you now look back on with more wisdom and experience, and think, "Why did I write that?"
BRAD: (Laughs) Oh yeah. Sometimes I listen back to the old music and think, "How did that ever sell a record?" That's so funny. We always try to grow with every album and one goal that we always have is to try to outdo the last record with the new record. I guess it's inevitable with touring and recording as much as we have, that you grow in some way or another.
PS: When you write a song such as "When It's Over," obviously a very angry song, do you revisit that place each time you perform it, or are you able to separate yourself from it?
BRAD: You do in some way revisit that place each time, for the good ones and the bad ones. That's kind of the strange thing about it. It's almost impossible to sing it without remembering at least a little bit, what it's about. Also, just as my life changes, so do the meanings of the songs. I get to where I don't find myself singing about what they might have originally been written for.
PS: The song "She Don't Want The World" is very different from anything you've written before. How did that song evolve?
BRAD: Matt was playing this guitar riff and it didn't really have a turnaround in it. There was no place for me to catch my breath or go in with a phrase. It was just kind of looped, because the guitar part of it never changes too much throughout it. So our sound engineer took this section of it and gave me some turnaround and extended it. We just worked on that song a section at a time. At the same time, I really wanted to work on a song that doesn't have a chorus. It's sort of like Hank Williams. A lot of his stuff just has a storyline with a repeated line at the end. You can really tell a story with a song like that. We built a story and I really love that song. I love that it's so different than anything we've ever done but then, once it gets to going, it's still identifiable as being 3 Doors Down. It's one of my favorite songs on the record. I really like that one a lot. I think people will get that song and if they don't, it's the last song. If the don't like it, the record's over anyway. (Laughs) It really did seem like a nice lead out on the record though.
PS: Since the last record, you've gone through everything from a divorce to being in a relationship again. Do you find more inspiration from happiness or heartbreak?
BRAD: I would say most definitely from happiness. It seems like in the past, I've had a lot of inspiration from pain, though I've always meant for positive to come out of a song. I guess that sometimes they come out in a dark way though, you know? I don't mean to write cheesy songs but there's a way to say something while being a little more positive too. I look forward to doing that more in the future.
He spills his heart on a page
He watches words flow away then
His feelings lie on the page
alone there waiting
For someone who cares
to read them
To open their eyes to see them
To see if they can make his
thoughts their own"
Song * Pages
Album * 3 Doors Down
for so long
I didn't have to let myself
get so far gone
I didn't have to make the ones I love
feel so alone
I didn't have to die to go to heaven
I just had to go home"
Song * Heaven
Album * Time of My Life
Watching the people as they pass
And all she wants is just
A little piece of this dream
Is that too much to ask
With a safe home, and a warm bed
On a quiet little street
All she wants is just that something to hold onto, that’s all she needs"
Song * Be Like That
Album * The Better Life