Q&A with DAUGHTRY – Talks New Single, “Battleships”, American Idol, And What A Wild Ride His Life Has Been So Far!
Posted On 24 Nov 2014
Tag: A&R Worldwide, All Access, All Access Music, All Access Music Group, American Idol, American Idol Season 5, Baptized, Battleships, Billboard, Billboard 200, Bob Seger, California Raisins, Chris Daughtry, Christina Perri, Daughtry, Elvis, Fell On Black Days, Hard Rock, Hard Rock Cafe, Hollywood, Hozier, I Heart It Through The Grapevine, Indiana, Johnny Cash, Long Live Rock & Roll, Los Angeles, Maroon 5, Never Gonna Give You Up, Old Time Rock n Roll, RIAA, Rick Astley, Robert Nesbit, Soundgarden, Soundscan, The Four Tops, The Hard Rock Cafe, Tove Lo, V, Wabash, Wild Heart, Witness, Worldwide Radio Summit
When the time arrived to make his fourth full-length studio album, Baptized, Chris Daughtry followed his instincts.
Motivated by intensely creative writing sessions with the likes of Martin Johnson [Boys Like Girls], Sam Hollander [Gym Class Heroes, Coheed and Cambria] and Claude Kelly [Bruno Mars, Whitney Houston], the singer, songwriter and musician quickly discovered the direction of his latest body of work.
“I needed a change. I started hearing these new sounds over my voice, and it was so inspiring. There wasn’t just one style either. It was a completely different vibe all around. I really wanted to pursue that to the fullest. This is probably one of the most inspiring records I’ve ever done.”
In early 2013, Chris began working on what would eventually become Baptized. Early on, he made a conscious decision to approach the album from a different angle. It would’ve been too easy for him to simply repeat himself considering he and the band have been on quite a hot streak since their 2006 self-titled became the fastest-selling rock debut in Soundscan history. 2009’s Leave This Town gave them their second consecutive No. 1 on the Billboard Top 200, while Break The Spell reached gold status in merely four weeks of release in 2011. Throughout, they achieved four No. 1 smashes at radio as well as four Grammy Award nominations and four American Music Awards wins. Meanwhile, sales exceeded 7.5 million albums and 17 million singles. Nevertheless, as an artist, band, they chose to evolve for both themselves and their fans.
The latest single, “Battleships,” sails into new territory. An immersive beat bounces along with the warm production as he delivers an irresistible anthem meant for arenas. In order to test this fresh flavor, he ran it by his toughest critics.The lyrics find him veering down an uncharted lane as well.
“It’s not a breakup song—which we’ve been the ambassadors for over the past six years,” Daughtry chuckles. “It’s about butting heads with the one you love. You don’t want to fight, but it happens. You’re both going to stand your ground, but you’re really fighting for each other.”
Perhaps the most shining example of Chris’ evolution is the rollicking and raucous “Long Live Rock & Roll“. Acoustic guitar and banjo charge forward at full steam as he name checks everyone from Elton John and Billy Joel to Mötley Crüe and Guns ‘N Roses.
He’s ready to proclaim that statement in front of packed venues around the world alongside longtime band mates Josh Paul [bass], Brian Craddock [guitar], Josh Steely [guitar], Jamal Moore [drums] and Elvio Fernandes [keyboards]. Outside of music, he continues to give back to various charities. He even holds an ambassadorship with DC Comics We Can Be Heroes campaign, fighting hunger in underdeveloped countries.
At the end of the day, Baptized certainly signals a rebirth for Chris and the band. “I want fans to keep an open mind about it,” he concludes. I always wanted to call the album Baptized, because it felt like a new chapter,” he declares. “It’s a bold statement.”
Read on as Chris chats with All Access Music writer, Nicole DeRosa between sound checks.
We are in Wabash, Indiana. The weather is about 10 degrees but we got here safe and sound. Nothing stoppin’ us!
You performed on the fifth season of American Idol. What was that whole experience like? How did you ease your nerves performing for the millions of people watching the show?
Well, I had been playing in bars and clubs up to that point for almost 10 years, so I was used to playing in front of an audience. On the show, it is very small, so comparatively when you’re talking viewership, and actually look how it looks on television, it’s not that big in the studio, so that wasn’t very intimidating.
But it’s hard to kind of bask in it when you have cameras. That was really new and awkward for me, where I had to keep my eyes open and focus on the cameras, which is something I had never done. I’m just one of those people that strum the guitar and close my eyes and just kind of blackout. It was a completely different thing, because I couldn’t play an instrument. This was right before they let the performers play an instrument. So it was a huge learning curve for me in the sense that I had to relearn how to perform.
It’s not a very relaxing moment to say the least. It’s certainly very hectic and scary and crazy. It’s not something you can sit there and say, “I’m having a good time!” (laughs) I think it’s geared to find out who will cave and who is gonna fight through it and show they have experience.
Your self titled, debut album reached number one on the Billboard 200, went on to sell more than four million plus copies in the United States, and has been certified quadruple platinum by the RIAA. Daughtry was also named the best selling album of 2007 by Billboard, becoming the fastest-selling debut rock album in Soundscan history. THAT is pretty awesome! Did you always know you wanted to be a singer without question?
No. But, I was always around music and my Dad played guitar and my grandfather played lap steel guitar. It was always music that I wasn’t necessarily into so it didn’t really inspire me to want to pick up the instrument.
But, I do remember, very vividly, back in high school, a buddy of mine named Robert Nesbit brought his guitar to class and he was just messing around at the end of class and he was playing, “Fell On Black Days,” by Soundgarden. That was what I was really into at the time and I was like, “Dude, you gotta show me some chords.” He didn’t know I could sing and one thing lead to another and he heard me sing and he was like, “Dude, why aren’t you doing THIS.”
And I didn’t think anything of it at the time. He kinda’ twisted my arm and I started singing for a band that he was on the side he was teaching me guitar chords. It was a complete change of trajectory for me, because I was always determined to either be a comic artist or an actor and no thought whatsoever that I would be a musician and it was just sort of overnight like, “I’m gonna be a rock star!” (laughs)
What was the inspiration for your latest single, “Battleships”? What does that song mean to you?
We are still working Battleships right now and eventually “Love Live Rock & Roll” as the next single but I’m not sure when the label is going to release that one.
“Battleships” was probably one of the songs that I actually wasn’t too stoked about in the beginning. I think when Martin and Sam had the idea to do the, (makes sound) “Boom, ba, boom, boom, booms” I was like, “Meh, meh, meh, meh, meh…no I dunno about that” (laughs) until I got in the vocal booth, I was like, “This is kinda fun!” You can’t really sing it without smiling! (laughs) So, maybe that’s what this record needed, some lightheartedness, which we hadn’t really dabbled in before. It just became infectious and I fell in love with it.
What’s your favorite song that you have written and can you share with our readers the story behind it?
Well, I think it changes from record to record. I think certainly, it is one of my favorites, if not my favorite song on Baptized would be “Wild Heart.” That song is certainly about my wife, so that one if pretty near and dear to me.
“Witness,” has probably been my new favorite to perform live. We perform it very different from the record which is piano and vocals. It’s such an inspiring song and it gets such a huge response. I think it’s a song that a lot of people need to hear and can relate to. That one is a favorite for sure.
If you had the opportunity to work with any act/artist from the past, present or future, who would it be and why? If you could spend the day with them, where would you go…and what would you do?
If we’re talking living or dead…I mean, Johnny Cash or Elvis would have been amazing to sit in the room and just watch them work. Not necessarily work with them, but be a fly on the wall.
You did an awesome job performing at the Worldwide Radio Summit this past year at The Hard Rock Café in Hollywood. Do you have any upcoming radio station appearances that you would like our readers to know about so they can tune in?
That was an interesting show. It was A LOT of people that night. Christina Perri was there. She was great!
What was the first song you fell in love with growing up?
There are three songs that really come to mind…
1) “I Hear It Through The Grapevine” by The Four Tops – I think it was because I was a little kid and the California Raisins were like huge and all over the place and I actually thought the California Raisins sang that song.” (laughs)
2) “Old Time Rock n Roll” by Bob Seger – I think I was around the same age as a friend of my Aunts had it on vinyl and I ended up borrowing it from him and I think I ended up playing it everyday for like a month.
3) “Never Gonna Give You Up” by Rick Astley
Those were defining moments for me, musically for me that I remember being hooked to a song for weather it be the melody or just the way it drew me in…and at that time I wasn’t interested in music, I was just a fan of music. I loved singing along to it but it wasn’t anything that special.
Who are some of the new artists who inspire you? Who is in your current playlist?
I’m really digging Tove Lo, Hozier and I’m loving the new Maroon 5 record, V.
What’s on tap next for you? What are you most excited about for the new year?
A break! (laughs)
We are reallllllly looking forward to that! (laughs) We’ve been touring on this album for awhile now, so we’re gonna take a little break after the end of the year to recharge the batteries before we do a new record. Hopefully a nice break will get us all re-inspired and get the creative juices flowing again.
Stay up with the latest music and tour info by visiting DAUGHTRY’s website here .