Interview: 3 Doors Down
Tue, 08 Dec 2009 11:31:50
"Merry Christmas" has certainly been said before—many times and many ways…
However, it hasn't been said like 3 Doors Down says it on their brand new EP, Where My Christmas Lives [Available December 8, 2009].
Rather than retread familiar ground and cover Christmas staples that everyone's heard a billion times, 3 Doors Down wrote a modern holiday classic with the title track. They also recorded phenomenal acoustic renditions of seven tracks from their most recent offering, 3 Doors Down. Even when stripped down, the songs possess a palpable power. Plus, they've got enough heart and solo to be the perfect soundtrack for Christmas morning, anywhere.
Frontman Brad Arnold sat down with ARTISTdirect.com editor and Dolor author Rick Florino for this exclusive interview about Where My Christmas Lives, the best gift that he ever received, going it acoustic and so much more.
"Where My Christmas Lives" has a Christmas spirit without sounding Christmas-y.
I enjoyed writing and recording that song! It's something a little different. We wanted to put out an album with an acoustic take on the last record. We were already planning on it being released around Christmas, so we did want it to have a bit of a Christmas feel. I've never written a Christmas song before, and it sounded like an interesting challenge, honestly. I was glad because it gave me a chance to explore and think about what Christmas means to me—being around your family, being with your friends, being with the people that you love and being thankful for those things.
You convey that feeling in the song without just repeating "Jingle Bells." That makes it unique.
Thank you very much, man! I didn't want to sing about miseltoe or something like that—not that there's anything wrong with that [Laughs]. It's perfectly fine, but it seems like some of those songs can sometimes get a little bit overbearing around Christmas time. I wanted to try write a song that was a departure from that in some ways.
Was there anything that inspired the lyrics in particular? It's a very cinematic song.
When I started to write the song, I thought about what Christmas meant to me. There are so many memories that I can think back on. I'm the youngest of seven kids. I have a really big family and all of them are around at Christmas. I started thinking about the times from when I was a kid—not even the presents I got, but just being around my family and the cooking. I even started exploring the idea of how you miss people that are gone around Christmas time. You don't really miss them with sadness. You just think about the times that they were there. I tried to write something that talked about all of that.
You really capture the sights, sounds and smells of it too. There's a spirit to the song.
It talks about the snow on the windows, but there's always somebody by the end of the night—whether it's your brother-in-law or another relative—that's in the recliner sleeping by the fire [Laughs]. You're sitting there talking and there's children just running everywhere! I thought of a line about that. Somehow these children just never get tired! There are so many people around my house and the kids are running amok, but it's cool! That's the great thing about it. I think that's my favorite part of the song.
Do you have a favorite Christmas?
If there's one moment I look back on, it was when I was a kid. One year, man, I wanted a four-wheeler so bad. I'd wanted it for years! This was when they first started making four-wheelers and ATVs. I remember opening all of my presents, and I was happy with all of my presents, but I was like, "Dang, I didn't get a four-wheeler!" My family let it go for a couple of hours after we'd opened all of our presents and stuff. Then my daddy said, "Come out here, Bradley, I want to show you something." I thought, "It couldn't be [Laughs]". I walked outside, and there was a Honda 125 four-wheeler. I rode the wheels off of that thing! I think all of the tires were slick [Laughs].
How old were you at the time?
I was probably nine or ten-years-old. It was red too! I was so happy with that four-wheeler. I think I had it stuck in the mud like two hours later [Laughs].
How did the decision come about to do stripped down versions of the other songs? They have a new life acoustic.
I think it really did kind of give them a new life! "Your Arms Feel Like Home" is already a bit of broken down song, so doing it acoustic is a gimme. That's probably true for songs like "Let Me By Myself" too. What's interesting to me is when you hear a song like "Pages," you don't think it's going to sound good acoustic. However, that song transformed into something different and you get more of a chance to—and I'll say it because I'm the vocalist—hear the emotion in the vocals. I'm really pleased with how it came out.
Listeners can get closer to the lyrics too.
I really felt like that about "Pages." That song means a lot for me. It's strange because that song's about being a writer—how you pour your soul out and leave it laying there for everyone to explore and look at. Everyone's walking through your pain. To hear it come across acoustically and get to pay attention to those lyrics more is cool.
"Let Me By Myself" stands out too.
That's probably my favorite song that we've ever done. I look at our albums like chapters of my life. I'm happy to say that I'm in a happier and better chapter now than I was during Away from the Sun. Each album has had a song that was my favorite at the time. During Away from the Sun, that song was definitely "Away from the Sun." It was about being in the dark. On Seventeen Days, there's a song called "The Real Life" that's more about standing in the shadows but seeing the light and going to it. "Let Me By Myself" is simply about standing in the light and being yourself. It's so easy to get lost being what someone else wants you to be and forgetting about who you want to be. That song is about getting back to those things, being happy with yourself and who you are.
That ties into Christmas, because the spirit is to be in the moment and enjoy what you have and who you are.
Exactly, I agree with you 100 percent!
It's funny how releasing this EP at Christmas connected so well!
I love it when it works out like that! Two positive thoughts can only be so far apart.
Are you going to start recording again soon?
We just finished our Better Life Foundation show on the coast this past weekend. It's a yearly concert that we put on down there for the Better Life Foundation, which we started after our first record. Predominantly, it benefits children's charities along the coast. Now we're moving up into other parts of the Southeast and doing things with other hospitals for children. It's really growing. We just wrapped that event up for the year, and I'm sitting behind my drums right now. I just got a little Pro Tools rig, and I can run it at about a third grade level. You know what? A third grader could probably show me how to run it [Laughs]. I can at least lay down tracks. I think that's going to help us this time—we can all write from the privacy of our homes. Not that it's better to write away from each other, but we can concentrate on different ideas rather than only working on one thing at a time. Then when we get together, we can really be prepared to put these ideas down and turn them into something good. I think it's going to speed up our writing process this time. I'm looking forward to getting back into the studio and putting another record out soon.
Would you want to do any acoustic shows around Where My Christmas Lives?
I'd love to! We actually have a VH1 Best Cruise Ever coming up in April. It's a four-day cruise with us, Shinedown, Finger Eleven, Safetysuit and Lifehouse. One of the shows we're playing on that is an acoustic show. We've done acoustic things here and there. I thoroughly enjoy playing acoustic shows though! It's so much more intimate. You can tell people are really listening and they're enjoying it.
Check out Rick Florino's new novel Dolor available now for FREE here…