Brad Arnold is the frontman for 3 Doors Down and still the same “ol’ redneck” as the one I meet five years ago. With their new release Seventeen Days I had a chance to chat with him again, but it started in a peculiar way– talking about sinus since I was suffering from a really bad bought of it. Brad had the same issue a week before an offered a few tips.
What’s it like when you have an issue like sinus that messes up your voice—that is your instrument.
It sucks. You try to sing around it but it’s rough.
You know what I like about talking with you is that you are the same kind of down to earth guy that you were the first time I talked to you before you had the first record out. You always sound like you’re having a good time.
We’re just having fun man. (Laughs) To change is to change what made you successful. I’m happy right where I am. I don’t want to be anybody else.
Do you just stop and go “I can’t believe this is my life”?
I do it all the time. I’m like “what the hell am I doing here?”
You have success after success but does that add up to more pressure?
I felt more pressure in the beginning because you have to do it. You only get one shot. I hope that we’ve done enough now and worked really hard at creating a brand. It’s no so important that every single does the greatest because after you’ve created a brand you have more leeway with what you do. Not that you can ride on the last record, because our goal is to bury the last record with the next record. We just know what we are doing a lot more now… I think. (Laughs) We just go out there and do it now. I have more fun with it now.
I saw that you had a duet with Bob Seger. For a long time I’ve wondered where he’s been. How did that all come about?
We were in Nashville recording and he was working across the hall on a project and we got to talking to him. He was a super cool guy and a freaking legend. I love Bob Seger. I was to chicken to ask him to sing on the record so I had our manager go and ask him. So he took it over to him and he came back two days later and said he’d sing on it. I’m probably more proud of that then meeting the president. I like the president, but you know what I mean?
And it’s unbelievable that some fourteen year old kid might listen to your record and wonder who the hell Bob Seger is.
You know? And his voice is like three foot thick. I couldn’t believe it. Speaking of the fourteen year old kids, Chris has a studio in his house and he works with local and regional bands. The other day Chris had some kids in there and one was like nineteen and he was instructing him on how to play and told him to put a little Hendrix in there and the kid said “who?” Chris couldn’t believe it.
I wonder if one of the biggest issues with new music today is that a lot of the younger artists don’t know the history of music and don’t seem to care. They want to be Green Day but don’t know who Green Day wanted to be—the Clash.
I love that about the South because there are so many classic rock stations; there are probably more classic rock stations than modern rock stations.
I’m the same. I love classic rock and oldies.
I don’t want to dog it, but a lot of new stuff is just shit.
It’s unreal that some punk band doesn’t know who the Sex Pistols or the Police are.
Ohhhhhhh, dude. You know what I heard the other day? I heard that Sting is fixin’ to go out on tour with a four piece doing Police songs.
That is cool. The Police are classic. I would have like to meet them back in the day.
You know who I’d like to have met? Skynyrd. I think I’d rather meet them than the Beatles.
Not me. I’m a Beatles fan above all else. Bob Seger would rank high when I was a kid though.
When I met him I didn’t recognize him at first. I was like “holy shit, that’s Bob Seger!” You know who I really wanted to meet and met him recently? Willie Nelson.
I’d want to hang with him for a week and listen to some stories.
You know what is funny about this discussion? Some of your fans are think how bad they’d like to meet you and here you are talking about these other artists the same way.
People ask me what it’s like being famous but I’m not famous. It’s all about perception. People make you famous but I’m still the same ol’ redneck I’ve always been. I have a job that I love to do and the fame is something they create. It’s kid of strange. I don’t know how to answer the question because I don’t feel famous. When I’m home I have to pick up my clothes and put my dishes in the dishwasher like anyone else or my wife will kick my ass. (We both laugh)
I’m living that every day so I know what you are saying. I guess we should talk about the new record. When I listen to “Right Where I Belong” the first thing that came to mind was classic southern rock. It went back to the roots.
I like to think of that song as a song Skynyrd would have wrote if they had stayed together. I like to think that Ronnie Van Zant would have been proud of that one. It’s definitely an old school southern rock song.
That’s definitely a single. Did you know it would be when you wrote it?
Not at all.
Can you ever tell?
I remember when I was sixteen years old when the first time we practiced “Kryptonite” and we were like “that could be a single.” I wrote that in algebra. I felt that song immediately. “Right Where I Belong” might be the next single. I think you are right; it should be the new single. It has a bigger bat you know what I mean?
Well people say you don’t get anything out of algebra and I guess you got a lot.
(Laughs) Exactly. I don’t know how to do no math but I can use a calculator.
You said it perfectly that it has a bigger bat.
It makes you want to go fast.
That’s the next single. I want to put that one out. When we first were writing Seventeen Days I was on the way to practice and I wrote it in like five minutes. We started out jamming on it and it had a half speed and I didn’t really like it, I was practicing on the drums and I sped it up and it worked out good.
Does your wife go on the road at all?
We have a rule that we don’t go more than two weeks without seeing each other. Sometimes you get too used to it because when I’m home sometimes I drive her crazy and she’ll say “I wish you’d go somewhere.” We both laugh.
It has to be hard to be away from your comfort zone at home.
It is, but I’ve about decided that the bus is my home.
When you are going between cities what keeps you occupied?
On past tours I pretty much stuff found other things to keep me occupied and it was the wrong thing—not girls, but drinking. I had to lay off the vodka because it was killing me. I got to weighing 192 from drinking and eating pizza. So for this tour I started working out, quit eating fast food, and drinking coke and I lost thirty pounds in three months. It was without even trying. I quit eating so many French fries. I had high blood pressure for what would be a fifty year old so the doctor told me I was killing myself. So I had to do something. I went to the doctor the other day and my blood pressure was perfect. I still have a drink but only once in a while. I’m still trying to stop smoking, but it’s hard to stop.
+ Charlie Craine