3 Doors Down
Throughout Rock's history drummers have rarely fronted groups. Usually, they are in the back, pounding away holding the thing together. Of course, there are exceptions and Brad Arnold of 3 Doors Down is one of them.
Hailing from the nearly forgotten backwaters of Escatawpa, Mississippi, 3 Doors Down began life as a trio with guitarist Matt Roberts, bassist Todd Harrell and Arnold handling vocals along with drums. Their debut was at a friend's party doing Bush and Metallica covers plus a couple originals. While playing in Alabama they came across a building with some lettering that had fallen off. All that remained was "Doors Down." Since they were a trio, the name came and stuck.
A trio can be tough. Everyone has to work harder to fill things out. So they decided to add Chris Henderson on guitar. He had played with Harrell in a previous group. As any Rock drummer will admit, it's tough to play and sing and do a good job at either. So, 3 Doors Down added drummer Rich Liles to free up Arnold.
A Biloxi radio station began getting requests for "Kryptonite." They blew it off, figuring it was just the group's friends and family requesting the indie track. Funny thing though, the calls kept coming. Nobody could have that large a family. The song got airplay and the phones went wild. The airplay earned 3 Doors Down a showcase at NY's CBGBs. "The Better Life" including "Kryptonite" hit the streets in '00 while a muted follow up, "Away From The Sun," was released in '02. Next came the live EP "Another 700 Miles" with versions of the hits "Kryptonite" and "When I'm Gone." '04 saw the release of "Seventeen Days."
When Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana and Mississippi in '05, band members suffered property damage and financial loss. Even so, 3 Doors Down pitched in immediately. Their efforts ranged from helping on site to playing countless benefit shows. One wishes the government had been half as responsive.
3 Doors Down issued their self-titled album in May, '08. The set's first single, "It's Not My Time," cracked the Modern Rock Top 5 becoming the group's biggest hit since '03's "When I'm Gone." But another song, "Citizen/Soldier," also received a lot of attention. The track, which is about lending a helping hand to those in need, was used in a National Guard recruiting promo that was shown in movie theaters (often before the film I Am Legend).
In keeping with their extensive community service efforts, 3 Doors Down (and Hinder) appeared in '08 "teen service announcements" to promote Best Buy's @15 platform for social change. "My advice to any teenager would be . . . aim for your future and start it now," said Arnold.
Arnold wrote the '09 holiday song, "Where My Christmas Lives," which was released digitally along with acoustic versions of songs from their self-titled album. Also, promotions for the 2010 Winter Olympics featured "Shine," which 3 Doors Down also issued digitally.
Led by the singles "When You're Young" and "Every Time You Go," 3 Doors Down rolled out their 5th studio album, "Time Of My Life" in the summer of '11. "This record shows some growth on our part," said Arnold. "We've had success in the past and we're very thankful for that, but there's always room to… take it up to another level. And I feel like we did that."
The album debuted at #3 on the Billboard 200 with 59,800 copies sold in its first week.
Strangely, success can often lead to tragedy. Harrell was arrested in April,'13, on vehicular homicide and drug charges after being involved in a fatal crash in Nashville. He was allegedly speeding when his car hit a pickup truck, sending it down an embankment and killing the driver. Police suspected that Harrell, who had a DUI a year earlier, was under the influence and claimed that he showed signs of being impaired during field sobriety tests. As a result of the arrest, 3 Doors Down canceled their immediate tour plans.
2000 The Better Life
2002 Away From The Sun
2005 Seventeen Days
2008 3 Doors Down
2011 Time Of My Life
3 Doors Down produced a self-titled indie release in '98 that is out of print or otherwise unavailable. From "The Better Life," "Kryptonite" got the initial attention but "Not Enough," and "Better Life" are scorchers. Also, "Life Of My Own" kicks. Great guitar driven Rock.
Since there are several "successful" song formulas in Rock, it's surprising when a group limits themselves to one or two. With the exception of straight-ahead Rockers "Going Down In Flames" and "Running Out Of Days," and a stray ballad or two (and who really cares about those?), the songs on "Away From The Sun" follow one of the most thread bare formulas - a slow whining verse that gives way to a roaring full-throttle chorus. This song structure, which Nirvana perfected years ago, grows tired quickly. To top it off, 3 Doors Down fails to deliver a genuinely outstanding song though the title track, "Flames" and "The Road I'm On" are a cut above. It isn't that "Away From The Sun" is bad - it's merely OK. With 3 Doors Down there's reason to expect more. "Another 700 Miles" is a nice concert souvenir.
On "Seventeen Days" they target mainstream Rock. The bad news is, they come dangerously close. In fact, it's the first 3 Doors Down CD to top the Billboard album chart. "Right Where I Belong" starts off on the right foot. The third track, "Let Me Go" has a friendly, singalong hook to it. But after that, the energy drops off the table. A series of slow tunes, including "Landing In London" with Bob Seger, fail to register. "Live For Today" and "My World" pull things out of the morass but it's too little too late.
Thanks largely to better material, 3 Doors Down rebound on their self-titled album. "Train," "It's Not My Time," "Runaway" and the lean and punchy "When It's Over" score immediately. "It's Not My Time" has a powerful desperation - "living life like an ocean… current is pulling me down." But for emotional impact "Citizen/Soldier" is it. Starting with an acoustic arrangement the song explodes in the chorus. The lyrics praise the heroes who are the "boots on the ground" during a disaster - like Hurricane Katrina - even when the Feds completely blow it. "Citizen soldiers holding the life of the ones that we guide from the dark of despair."
Like "Seventeen Days" the middle part of the album contains a number of slower songs, the best being "Let Me Be Myself." There are also a couple power ballads - "It's The Only One You've Got" and the epic "Your Arms Feel Like Home." For a change-up check out the slow/fast "Pages" and the tough "Give It To Me."
Chart position is a shaky barometer of quality but it does illustrate popularity. "Time Of My Life," a blend of ballads and uptempo songs with lyrics that could be grafted on to a Country song (they are from the South after all), is exactly what's expected.
The title track gets the set off to a rousing start but the album balances the tempos until the final two tracks, "My Way" and "Believer," which take it up a notch.