3 Doors Down create earnest rock songs that are accessible and melodic, turning the dark guitars and energy of 1990s alt-rock into a more radio-friendly commodity. In the 2000s, this Southern band proved to be one of America's most popular post-grunge
acts, never wowing critics but remaining a consistent presence on the charts.
3 Doors Down formed in Mississippi, with the core lineup consisting of lead singer Brad Arnold (who also played drums), guitarists Matt Roberts and Chris Henderson, and bassist Todd Harrell. The quartet worked on a few songs, including a track called "Kryptonite" that immediately got them attention on local radio, even though they weren't signed to a label. "Kryptonite" changed that, though, and soon 3 Doors Down were working on their major-label debut.
Finding 'The Better Life':
The group's first effort, The Better Life
, was filled with likeable, tuneful songs, with "Kryptonite" becoming one of 2000's biggest hits on the pop charts. Just as importantly, 3 Doors Down's debut came at a crucial moment in which the popularity of rap-rock
was starting to create a bit of a backlash, hence the success of more conventional rock groups such as Creed
. 3 Doors Down, like those two bands, borrowed the emotional sincerity of grunge but polished the sound, and fans responded, making The Better Life
sextuple-platinum within three years.
No Sophomore Slump:
3 Doors Down didn't have any problem following up the success of The Better Life
. 2002's Away From the Sun
boasted two "Kryptonite"-level smashes, the mid-tempo "When I'm Gone" and the power ballad "Here Without You." Arnold relinquished his role as the band's studio drummer, letting ace session player Josh Freese take over, but he remained the group's plaintive, sensitive singer, investing the material with everyman spirit. Going quadruple-platinum and produced by Rick Parashar (who had previously worked with Pearl Jam
and Alice in Chains
), Away From the Sun
was dismissed by critics because of its generic alt-rock aesthetic. But that watered-down quality, along with the big hooks, made it irresistible to fans.
A Rushed Third Effort:
With new drummer Daniel Adair taking over behind the kit (and becoming a permanent member), 3 Doors Down released their third disc, Seventeen Days
, in February 2005. Named after the short break between their previous tour and their return to the studio, Seventeen Days
was the band's first to hit No. 1 on the Billboard
album chart, quickly going platinum. But beyond the hit "Let Me Go," the album failed to yield the litany of radio smashes that were the hallmark of 3 Doors Down's previous discs. A few years later, Henderson said in an interview
that he felt that the record was rushed. "Seventeen Days
happened so fast," he recalled. "Like, literally, some of those songs were written in 15 minutes. ... If we had had more time to spend on Seventeen Days
, it would have been a different record."
Recharging the Batteries:
After recording and touring on a rigorous schedule for years, 3 Doors Down decided to take a long break after finishing on the road to promote Seventeen Days
. The band members took a year off and then reconvened for their fourth full-length album, 2008's 3 Doors Down
. Spurred on by the hit "Citizen/Soldier," which was used prominently in television ads for the National Guard, 3 Doors Down
was the band's second No. 1 album and first to feature new drummer Greg Upchurch. (Adair had left 3 Doors Down to join Nickelback.)
'Time of My Life':
In 2011, 3 Doors Down released Time of My Life, the band very much wearing the mantle of elder statesmen of post-grunge. Unfortunately, singles like "When You're Young" lacked the undeniable pop hooks of the band's early years, resulting in their most lumbering effort to date. In May 2012, longtime guitarist Matt Roberts left the band because of health reasons, replaced by Chet Roberts (no relation to Matt). Then, in late 2012, the band released The Greatest Hits, a fine summation of a decade of radio hits.
On April 19, 2013, bassist Todd Harrell was arrested
and charged with vehicular homicide. Police charged that he was behind the wheel during an accident that left another driver, Paul Shoulders Jr., dead. Harrell soon after entered rehab
while he awaited his court case.
Brad Arnold - vocals
Todd Harrell - bass
Chris Henderson - guitar
Chet Roberts - guitar
Greg Upchurch - drums