Interview: Brad Arnold of 3 Doors Down

Small-town Mississippi rockers 3 Doors Down have gone on to become one of the most successful and popular rock backs of the last 20 years. Forming in 1995, they’ve sold more than 16 million albums, earned three Grammy nominations, won two American Music Awards, and five BMI Pop Awards for songwriting.

Their debut album, The Better Life in 2000, had three songs hit the Top 10 including “Loser,” “Be Like That” and “Kryptonite.” 3DD became the first debut act to ever have a No. 1 single (“Kryptonite”) at four different radio formats simultaneously. They followed that record up with Away From the Sun that featured the hits “Here Without You” and “When I’m Gone.”

The band’s next two albums — Seventeen Days and 3 Doors Down — debuted at No. 1 and gave the fans such hits like “Let Me Go,” “Citizen/Solider,” “It’s Not My Time,” “Let Me Be Myself,” “Landing in London,” “Live for Today” and “Behind Those Eyes,” which was used by the WWE for Wrestlemania 21.

In 2003, the band started The Better Life Foundation, whose mission is to make a positive change in the lives of children in need of food, shelter and medical assistance, and to enhance the lives of children and young adults with special needs. The band also heavily supports veterans and the U.S. military.

The Grand Event Center inside the Golden Nugget in Lake Charles will host 3DD on Friday, June 30, at 8:30 p.m. Tickets for this 21-and-older show are $55-$75 and can be purchased online at

Was there an initial game plan when the band first formed?

No, not really. We started playing music because we like to do it. Everyone was in a band before we started 3 Doors Down, but we just loved to play. In a small town like Escatawpa, Mississippi, there just wasn’t a whole lot to do. We learned how to play a few cover songs, then wrote a few of our own. There’s a little bar connected to one of the hotels next to the interstate in our hometown, and we would play there in front of a full house. It was supposed to hold 200 people, but we would pack about 300 or 400 people in there every weekend to see us play. We never tried to get a record deal. Our local radio station began playing “Kryptonite” for a year or so before we had a deal. That song blew up on that particular radio station, and that’s how we got signed.

While writing and recording the first album The Better Life, did you have a feeling it was going to be so successful?

Well, a local recording we made probably had half the songs that went on The Better Life album. We were getting good reaction from the local recording with the songs like “Kryptonite” and “Life of My Own.” When “Kryptonite” became the most requested song on our local radio station, I think we knew we had something good. When Universal Records came down to talk to us, we had to pinch ourselves and ask if this was really happening. They flew us to New York to play some showcases, and we were all in disbelief. It took me a year or two to even wrap my head around to what we were doing. It was a lot to take in as a 20-year-old.

Music from that album, which is 17 years old, as well as the rest of the band’s catalog continues to be very popular.

We’ve always written songs about life. Though the medium of music might change, whether it’s on a tape, CD or download, the basic principles of feelings like struggles and everyday life don’t change so much. Trends of music will change, but the basis and the feeling in the song that are relatable to people don’t change. A good song is timeless. My favorites songs now are those I listened to as a kid. I’m really thankful to be able to find a connection somewhere in there to help make some of those songs that stuck around for so long.

Is it more fun when you get to play concerts in the southern party of the country?

Absolutely. I love playing anywhere in the South, especially Louisiana and Texas. You get a special feeling when you hear other bands we cross paths with talk about the good southern hospitality. It really feels like you are coming home.

The band has been very vocal about the support of the armed forces and the veterans of our country. When did that become important to you guys?

We all come from military backgrounds. My dad was in the Air Force and my brother Matthew is currently in the Air Force. Our guitar player Chris (Henderson) served in the Navy for 11 years, so we’ve always been connected to the military. This is something we have been proud to do because they deserve all of our support. We always will be. More people need to be more open about supporting our troops.

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