If you were alive and even semi-conscious in the year 2000, you undoubtedly heard "Kryptonite" by 3 Doors Down. It was inescapable. The song and the debut album from which it leapt, The Better Life, defied the laws of gravity. Both clung to the top of any given chart--album, singles, multi-format radio--for most of that year and beyond. "Kryptonite," in more ways than one, was like the dude Brad Arnold was singing about: Superman. The song struck a huge literal and figurative chord with the populace, a full year before America truly needed a superhero. But who knew that then? Two years, four #1 singles, a couple of world tours, unprecedented radio success, multiple big award nominations, and a bazillion album sales later (alright, it shifted 6 million, but who's counting except the RIAA?), 3 Doors Down were back in the real-life Smallville that spawned the band back in 1996--Escatawpa, Mississippi, a mere hellhound's leap from the crossroads where Robert Johnson sold his soul.
It's safe to say the members of 3 Doors Down-Brad Arnold, guitarist Matt Roberts, bassist Todd Harrell and guitarist Chris Henderson (with new drummer Greg Upchurch)--could afford to move anywhere in the world following their debut's rampant success. But the childhood friends remained down-to-earth and returned to their old hometown for a well-earned breather before recording the follow-up, Away From The Sun. "I came home (from touring) and didn't listen to any music at all," says Brad. "I had to let my head stop spinning. It was like I had been going 90 miles per hour for so long, and then it all came to an instant stop."
The break didn't last long, however. After four months of relaxation, the band members "got the hunger to make music again." They rented a house and spent four hours a day crafting songs and jamming--just to play. "We worked just long enough that we weren't trying to force anything," says the singer. The success of that approach is evident on Away From the Sun. With the disc's twelve tracks, 3 Doors Down return to take their rightful place in the forefront of a musical resurgence they helped create. Mighty guitars, swaggering bass, meaty drums support big vocal melodies and even bigger lyrical sentiments. The band humbly calls it "good ol' American rock 'n' roll." Now, however, their sound has been road-honed.
Produced by Rick Parashar (Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam, Blind Melon), Away From the Sun finds 3 Doors Down back with a vengeance and ready to rock. Most bands feel pressure to sidestep the dreaded sophomore slump, the expectations of the millions of listeners who'd purchased the debut, but Brad didn't have any worries. He had compelling subject matter: All that time spent on the road. "A lot of the lyrics on Away From The Sun are about loneliness," admits Brad. "On tour, you really have nothing but time on your hands. I was feeding off those feelings of isolation. With these songs, I wanted to convey to the listener that he or she is not alone--there are a lot of people who feel the same way." "The band has grown a lot on the road," he adds. "Our sound is different now," says Matt. " The music has grown. In one word, it's better." One listen to the first single, "When I'm Gone" and you'll agree.
Brad wrote the lyrics to "When I'm Gone" one night in Puerto Rico, alone in his hotel room. "I was feeling like all these people thought they knew me when they really didn't," he says. "I want people to just to accept me as I am." You can practically feel Brad's frustration when listening to the heartfelt lyrics. Radio is 'feeling it' in the US, making the single #1 Most Added at Mainstream, Modern and Active Rock formats with over 200 adds its first week out.
The album's title track, which Chris calls "our masterpiece" mixes one of the best air guitar chords in recent memory with dead-on lyrics about longing and how "Now and then [you] find yourself so far down away from the sun." On "Running out of Days" and "Ticket to Heaven" the guitars and bass surround questions of fame and its price on family and friends. And "Here Without You" is the best road weary travel tune to come down the pike in a long while.
Away From the Sun continues 3 Doors Down's evolution to rock band supreme. "Dynamically, our sound is bigger," says Chris. They've come a long way from where they began but never strayed from their original goal which was to "make rock n' roll and good ol' American music."