3 Doors Down Frontman Brad Arnold on ‘Wicked Man’ + ‘The Better Life’ 20th Anniversary

2020-09-17

Brad Arnold of 3 Doors Down – Story by Anne Erickson, courtesy photo

3 Doors Down frontman Brad Arnold joins Anne Erickson to discuss his debut solo song, “Wicked Man,” and the 20th anniversary of the band’s album, “The Better Life,” which features the band’s hit, “Kryptonite”

Brad Arnold has used his time on lockdown wisely. The 3 Doors Down frontman recently released his debut solo song, “Wicked Man,” which features his smooth, powerful vocals over a melodic acoustic backing, along with a message of unity during this very divisive time.

Arnold spoke with Anne Erickson of Audio Ink about the inspiration behind “Wicked Man,” as well as the 20th anniversary of 3 Doors Down’s seminal debut record, “The Better Life.” Read the interview below, and listen to the full chat via the Audio Ink podcast on Apple Podcasts here and Spotify here.

Anne Erickson: Brad, it’s great to talk with you. How are thing going for you this crazy year?

Brad Arnold: It’s my pleasure. I’m glad to be here with you! I’ve been doing good this year. It’s been a crazy year, but I guess it is how you make it, and I’ve been making the best of it.

You have this new solo track out, “Wicked Man,” which sounds awesome. How long have you wanted to do something solo?

I haven’t been like digging at it or anything like that, but I’ve always said I had an interest in doing it. This song, I didn’t even really set out to do it solo. The opportunity just presented itself, and it seemed like it was just different enough to be in its own vain a little bit. So, I just took the opportunity to step out and put something out that is a little bit different and allows me to kind of go in a little bit different direction.

Do you plan to do a full record of solo material?

I don’t have any plans…maybe something comes along, and we have another song or two that kind of comes to mind. Maybe I put those out, or if I came up with enough songs, I’d be down with it. Somebody I was talking to you the other day, I was saying, I just kind of write random songs, and I don’t know that I’d ever write 11 or 12 that were enough of the same genre to that belong on one record together.

It could be an eclectic record! (Laughs) Tell me about the message and meaning behind “Wicked Man.”

I mean, looking at the world right now that we’re in. I was just talking to some guys out here working at my house today. I said, you know, when you look around at what’s going on in the news, and you see people– what’s going on in the streets in some of these cities, there’s no way that all these people are from those cities that are out there doing that stuff. Just what’s going on, in general. It just points so hard to it being someone behind the scenes, pulling the strings and at the very least poking it with a stick and just keeping it going, because there are forces in this world that benefit from chaos and from people being divided. I think that those forces are thriving right now. I’ve met enough people over the years that you see that no matter where you are in the world, people are generally good and have good hearts, and people are just being deceived and led away from that right now, and that’s really what this song is talking about.

You released “Wicked Man” on your own record label. Do you plan to sign other artists on there or release more music?

The label was more of a necessity. To put this stuff out and up on the different platforms, it had to be on a record label. I already had my publishing company, which was already called Wild and Heart, just from doing rights with different people around Nashville and things like that. That’s kind of necessary, to have a publishing company.

What do you hope people take away from “Wicked Man?”

I hope that it raises awareness. Awareness is important, because awareness within a situation brings out– if you can sometimes just turn on one light and see things from a different angle, it illuminates things in a totally different way and maybe allows somebody to see something from a different angle that they didn’t see it before. I want people to be aware that’s not necessarily their friend’s belief out there. Maybe someone is egging your friend on, a bit. It’s up to us to be unified in this world. I think the first step of being unified is realizing that there is, indeed, an enemy or a villain at least.

It’s hard to believe, but 3 Doors Down celebrates the 20th anniversary of “The Better Life” this year. What do you remember most about that era?

Oh, my goodness. So much. It’s just so much that we’ve done. I can so easily let it just be a blur that it seems to be a blur, but if I think about one thing about touring and all the things that we’ve done– I can see myself riding down the road and so many memories of riding so many miles with these guys experience so many things. But, if there’s one like steel frame image that pops up in my head, when I think about my entire career, it’s just looking off the stage at all those faces and all those smiles and all those people that are so happy to be at a concert and getting up there and jamming with them. I’m ready to see those smiles again. I’m ready for concerts to get back going and to get back out there and see these people’s faces.

Absolutely. Everyone wants to see guys, too. Do you have any idea when traditional shows might be back?

In a perfect world, which I know we don’t live in a perfect world, but in a world that maybe we can get a spare tire on and get rolling down the road again…we had all of June to October planned out for this year, so hopefully we’ll just get to pick that all up and it a calendar year. Because, we’re not going to skip our 20-year anniversary. We’re going to celebrate it next year and go out and do everything that we can to move those shows around it and try to make it to all the shows that we were going to play.

That’s great to hear. So, “The Better Life,” what do you think it is about that record that made it such a hit with fans? When I look at that record, it’s like one big single! All the tracks on there did so well.

I think that the door was wide open for them, in a way. There was a lot of rock music around, but– there were a lot of different genres of rock music around, but I think the door was wide open for just some straight-ahead rock ‘n’ roll to come up through. But, at the same time, (there was) enough attention on rock ‘n’ roll for rock ‘n’ roll bands to be successful. It’s kind of hard for rock bands right now, because rock is a very small market. I’m really thankful that we came around when we did that day, in 2000. It was a lot of perfect timing.

But, I’ll tell you what, also, it was a lot of getting out there and working our butts off. We toured so much on that record, and I can’t tell you how many mornings we were up at 6:30 or 7 a.m. to go play acoustic at a radio station in whatever town we were in. Then you go and do press all day, and then you go and do sound check, and then you go do a meet-and-greet, and you put us on a stage and play a show, and you do that five, six days a week. It was a lot of work, and I think that’s another reason it was so blurry. It was a lot of working, but I don’t say that griping. I say that like, it was such an adventure. We’ve done so much stuff. Ultimately, there’s no other way to say the reason it was successful other than fans liked it, and they made us successful, and I was so thankful for them.

I’ve actually heard “Kryptonite” on classic rock stations, which I find so hard to believe!

My wife picks on me about it! (Laughs) She’s like, “Ah, you’re on classic rock!” I said, “At least I’ve been around long enough to be on classic rock!”

Classic rock is newer, I think, than it was back in the day.

It has to be! I’m the the youngest of seven kids, so I always grew up listening to whatever my brothers or sisters grew up listening to, but seemed like the classic rock stations from back then, comparatively speaking, they played older stuff then than they do now.

Definitely! I think that the timestamp has moved up to 15 years or something like that.

Exactly. We’ll pretend like it did, at least! (Laughs)

So, are we going to get any new 3 Doors Down music this year or next year?

We were talking about before all this stuff, doing the 20th year anniversary tour and starting to make another record or something. We don’t have anything in the works, but we’re definitely down with it. I guess, it’s kind of however the ball rolls and wherever it takes us is where we’ll go. But, we’ll absolutely, eventually, make a 3 Doors Down record. We just have to get off our butts!

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