ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, MAY 11, 2000
By Steve Newton
At my third annual 40th-birthday bash a few weeks back, a little mickey of Fireball whiskey talked me into taking an extended turn behind the borrowed drum kit set up in our garage. In my altered state I thought I sounded just peachy on an extended jam that mutilated Devo’s “Whip It”, but what really blows me away is the people who can play drums and sing lead at the same time. Back in the ’70s I used to marvel at how the drummer for Triumph could pull it off; nowadays a guy like Cowboy Mouth’s Fred LeBlanc makes it look easy.
In the credits to The Better Life, the debut CD by Mississippi guitar-rockers 3 Doors Down, Brad Arnold is also credited as drummer-vocalist. When he calls from a tour stop in Springfield, Missouri—where the band is opening for Run-D.M.C.—I ask him how tricky he finds the singing-and-slamming routine
“Well, we actually hired a drummer at the beginning of this tour to play for us,” he says. “But I used to play before that when we were a local band, and it really wasn’t that hard.”
Though he’s only 21, Arnold has been making 3 Doors Down his priority for five years now. The band is mostly comprised of buddies he’s known since elementary school in Escatawpa, Mississippi (population 8,000). Lately the group’s been creating a buzz on mod-rock stations with its first single, “Kryptonite”, a tune about forgiveness that first appeared on an indie CD in ’97.
“A lotta people liked it locally and stuff,” drawls Arnold, “and the way we got our deal was that a radio station in Biloxi picked the song up after we played for them a couple of times. ‘Kryptonite’ actually went on to be the number one most-requested song ever on our local station.”
Although 3 Doors Down may be somewhat indebted to the legend of Superman for its current hit, the band members—who make their Vancouver debut at Richard’s on Richards on Tuesday (May 16)—are more indebted to Hairy Thunder for their recent success. Every one of them thanks God in the CD’s liner notes.
“I know exactly who put me where I’m at,” states Arnold, whose habit of praying before gigs seems a little at odds with the band’s raging, Black Sabbath–influenced sound. “It’s just like God gives you a gift, you know what I’m sayin’, and just says ‘Here, do what you want with it.’”