Chris Daughtry's rise to success may not have been typical for a rocker dude, having scored a record deal after finishing fourth on a reality TV singing competition. But with three records from his band Daughtry under his belt, all of which have been certified gold or platinum, the North Carolinian has proved he's no flavor of the month, remaining a top concert draw in addition to being a rock radio hit-maker. Daughtry's most recent album is called Break the Spell, which was written at a happy period in his life, and its sound reflects that. We chatted with the bald-headed singer recently, and he told us more about the process of making the record, about where all those platinum records are hanging, and where he and his band like to grab sushi when they're in town. Daughtry plays the Paramount Theater on June 3rd.
Are happy things harder to write about? Yeah, I think so. It's easier to write about a bad day or something that affected you negatively because you want to get out that frustration or that sadness. When you're happy, you don't want to be writing, you want to be enjoying the moment. It just gave us some parameters to work around.
Is it nice to have those parameters or is it an added challenge? It's good to have that challenge. It's something to take us out of our comfort zone and get in a different mindset. It's easy to write about a relationship ending but let's think about when a relationship was at its best or when everything was new. Songs like "Losing My Mind" and "Outta My Head" were kind of exaggerated moments of when I met my wife, and those kinds of over the-top feelings were easy to put into a song.
I don't mean this as an insult, but is there a formula for your songwriting process? It seems like you follow a template for radio hits that bands like Bon Jovi and Aerosmith have had lots of success using. I don't think that's an insult at all. I think if you listen to our songs, you can certainly map out your verse, your chorus, your bridge and your chorus out. But there are certainly times when songs flow out and it doesn't work that way. And those are the rare moments that make the record great, songs like "Gone Too Soon." "September" was kind of like that as well. I think certainly there's this radio format that sometimes can prohibit spontaneity and real dynamics there -- and even though there is the "radio song," we try to still keep it from losing that dynamic and that emotion that you get from a raw song.
Do you have a favorite song on the album? I think one of my favorite ones to perform live has been "Break the Spell." It doesn't sound like everything we've ever done. It has more of a groove to it that I really enjoy and it's been a lot of fun to sing it.
How about a favorite lyric? "Rescue me in the middle of my darkest hour." I feel like everybody has been there at some point in their life, the absolute bottom. We just started recently playing that song and I never realized the impact it was going to have on the audience. We look and see people with tears and that's when we look at each other and go, "I think we've got a good song here."
Can you tell me about the cover art? It's not super conceptual, but can you talk about settling on that photo? We just do a photo shoot and we pick one that makes a statement. In that picture, we look like a band, a gang of friends. There was really no concept behind it other than, "Man, that's a cool picture." We have yet to do the cover that we've really wanted to do with absolutely no pictures of us on the record. That's kind of where we want to go and what we always talk about -- just doing a very artistic cover that has nothing to do with our faces. But record labels want face recognition. They want people to see what they're buying. There's this fear that if you're not on the cover that nobody's going to know what record it is, which I think is so crap, but at some point we'll get there.
Are your platinum albums displayed somewhere? I've got what I call my little man cave. I have a studio that I put in my house and right outside the studio is a little lounge that's got all my plaques on the wall. Oddly enough, I've got six different Batman masks on the shelf. It's all-man all the time down there.
Is there anything else besides the platinum records and the Batman memorabilia on display? The liquor cabinet and the beer fridge and the video games too. If my brother or one of the guys comes over, we go down there and play Mortal Kombat until we get bored.
Have you spent much time in Seattle? Is there anything you guys do when you come here? We absolutely love Seattle. Oddly enough, every single time we've been there, it's been super sunny, perfect weather. We always hear its rainy all the time and every time we go there it's just perfect. We all go down and get some sushi. Japonessa's like our favorite spot.
Can you offer any head-shaving tips? Do you require a mirror? I actually do not use a mirror to shave my head. It's all feel!
In the shower or out of the shower? Always in the shower.