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Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome.
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3 Doors Down Is Proving Unplugging Is Not Their Kryptonite
Thursday, May 29, 2014

Having been around for nearly two decades, and with over 20 million albums sold, many would say there’s no reason for 3 Doors Down to change what they’ve been doing. There are five people who’d disagree with that sentiment however, and they’re 3 Doors Down.

The band, led by frontman Brad Arnold, has stripped down, musically, for a full acoustic tour that starts May 30th, and runs through mid-September. The tour will also include a handful of plugged in shows, most notably a July 4th date at Pearl Harbor.

With the band getting ready to hit the road, I caught up with Arnold to find out more about the band’s acoustic venture, as well as some of the musical ideas they’ve played with that never saw the light of day. Arnold also told a few tour stories, including one involving a German pro wrestler putting him in quite the awkward position.

Adam Bernard: 3 Doors Down has gone acoustic. I read this stems from a stripped down show you did in Nashville that really made you fall in love with the idea. Other than the intimacy, what about the acoustic experience excites you as a performer?

Brad Arnold: Man, I tell ya, it gives you a chance to sing the songs, kind of absorb them, and listen to them, and it gives the crowd, I think, the same chance. It’s just fun, and I know it’s still kind of kicking back to the intimacy of it, but it feels more like you’re in a room with a bunch of your friends rather than being up on a stage.

Adam Bernard: What’s this I hear about having a couch on stage?

Brad Arnold: We actually have four of them. It’s part of some of the VIP packages people can buy for the show. They can sit up there on the couches if they want to. Some nights it’s not as many people. I think we can put 12 up there, and some nights there’s 12 people up there with is. It’s fun. They get up there and have a good time.

Adam Bernard: Has anything “happened” on those couches, so to speak?

Brad Arnold: No. Our crew sleeps on them during the day. That’s about it. Some of the venues that we’re playing are theaters, and a lot of those old theaters, they don’t have as many dressing rooms as more modern day venues do, and so a lot of times the crew, they don’t really have a crew room to go chill in, so the stage, with all the couches, kind of doubles as our crew’s dressing room during the day.

Adam Bernard: Is there a coin flip, or a rock, paper, scissors, type of thing, if there isn’t enough room on the couches for the entire crew?

Brad Arnold: {laughs} No, I guess it’s whoever’s the biggest gets a seat.

Adam Bernard: That’s good inspiration for someone to go to the gym if they’re going on tour with you.

Brad Arnold: I guess so, or just go eat a lot of catering.

Adam Bernard: Since we’re talking about tours, and you have a long history of being road warriors, let’s get into some tour stories. Which band did you tour with that was way crazier than you could have ever imagined?

Brad Arnold: You know a lot of bands are actually not as crazy as you would imagine they would be. Those Hinder guys were always pretty wild. They toured with us for a while and the table on their bus was just completely consumed by Jagermeister. (They had) one of those refrigerators you stick like four bottles in, and on a bus, that’s valuable space on your table, and their entire table was taken up with a Jagermeister machine. It’s like alright guys, y’all take it easy.

Adam Bernard: Were they at least sponsored by Jagermeister?

Brad Arnold: They probably got that machine for free, I would imagine.

Adam Bernard: Is there anything from your early touring years that you look back on and say, “I was young, I was dumb, and I’m glad I didn’t know any better because if I did I wouldn’t have these specific awesome memories?”

Brad Arnold: Yeah, you know what, a lot of things. You might make different decisions, but I’ve never done anything just horrible that I look back on like, “God, that was so bad.” The only thing I’ve ever done on tour too much is maybe drink a little too much.

Adam Bernard: But that hasn’t gotten you, personally, into any trouble.

Brad Arnold: No. The guys take care of us pretty good out on tour. Our tour manager, and all our crew guys, they make sure we don’t get in too much trouble. They slap us around, kick us in the butt.

Adam Bernard: Those are the big guys who take the sofas.

Brad Arnold: That’s right. Thankfully, a lot of the years when I was younger and touring we had a humongous security guard, a big German guy. His name was Ulf, but we called him Herman, Herman the German, and if I got outta line he could put me wherever he wanted to and I couldn’t do much about it. Dude was the size of a refrigerator. He could straighten me out if I needed it, but he didn’t have to do that too much.

Adam Bernard: I know it might be tough to remember, because these aren’t necessarily moments where the memories are completely there, but give me a moment where Ulf, where Herman the German, put you in your place on a tour.

Brad Arnold: The first time, he wasn’t really putting me in my place, but the first time that I ever met him, I met him in Europe. It was when we first started. It was maybe the first or second record, and we were on like a German MTV. He was a wrestler in Germany, so he’s kind of famous over there, so he was on the TV show with us, and they were like, “Do something crazy.” At the time I weighed probably 190 pounds, and he just picks me up by the neck and the nuts, and just picks me up over his head, and he’s just sitting over there bench pressing me on TV. I’d known him for like 15 minutes, and I was like alright, you can put me down, I’m good, that hurts.

Adam Bernard: Wow, you had to be thinking, “Thank God I’m paying this guy to protect me, cuz that means he will not drop me.”

Brad Arnold: Yeah, for real.

Adam Bernard: That was in Germany. Moving back to the homeland, you were part of the last era of rock bands to have terrestrial rock radio available as a form of support. Was the disappearance of rock radio a gradual thing you saw happening, or did you one day want to promote a single and were like, “Where’d all the stations go?”

Brad Arnold: You know, they’ve lost a lot of rock radio stations in the last few years, and that’s a bummer, that’s hard on rock bands, and on everybody. It was just kind of a gradual thing, and then all of a sudden most of them are gone.

Adam Bernard: Is there any fix for this that you can think of?

Brad Arnold: Yeah, we need a lot of good rock bands. It’s time for a new movement in rock. People have moved away from it a little bit lately, but you know, no matter how music changes away from rock, it might go pop for a while, but people are always hungry for rock n roll. Rock n roll will never die.

Adam Bernard: 3 Doors Down has a number of gigantic hits, but I know sometimes bands get sick of playing their hit songs. Was there ever a time when you were like, “I never want to play ‘Kryptonite’ ever again!”

Brad Arnold: {laughs} No. You know, I’ve played that song so many times I think I’m immune to being bored of it, if anything. You know what keeps that song new, and fun, is the crowd. I sing it in front of the crowd, and seeing them sing it back to you every night, and seeing parents down there singing it with their kids, and knowing that song is older than their kids, and they’re down there jamming to it, I love it. I don’t sit there and sing it to myself in the car, or anything, but I don’t get tired of singing it on stage.

Adam Bernard: Do you kinda wish the new Superman movies had come along ten years earlier so you could have thrown “Kryptonite” in there?

Brad Arnold: Yes. {laughs} We actually approached them about maybe doing a really industrial mix on that, kind of make it ... not like Skrillex, but since that was such a driving song it just seemed like it would be cool in an action movie like that if you’d done it (in an industrial) way. It was fun to mess with. We heard some early demos of it. It’s pretty cool.

Adam Bernard: So there IS an industrial version of “Kryptonite” somewhere hidden away on your hard drive?

Brad Arnold: Yeah, God knows where, but it’s around there somewhere.

Adam Bernard: What other interesting mixes are hidden on your hard drive? What else did you dive into that you eventually didn’t do for one reason or another?

Brad Arnold: Oh my Lord, there are so many versions of songs on those things. Sometimes things turn into other things, and ideas get kinda melded together. Oh Lord, ain’t no tellin.

Adam Bernard: Is there anything that would really surprise fans, like a version of “Here Without You” with 50 Cent?

Brad Arnold: {laughs} No, somebody in Europe, it’s on the internet somewhere, I think it’s on YouTube, I forgot what song it even is, but someone put it together with a Jay Z song. It sounds pretty cool.

Adam Bernard: Digging into your musical past, is there a song, a video, or a look, that, when you think about it, kinda makes you cringe?

Brad Arnold: Yeah, pretty much how we looked in the “Kryptonite” video, and stuff like that. I was only like 21, and had never been in a video (before).

Adam Bernard: Have you burned those clothes?

Brad Arnold: No, you know what, I actually still have them. I’ve got pretty much almost every outfit I’ve ever worn in a video. I’ve just always saved them.

Adam Bernard: You could do a roving tour of Hard Rock Cafes and drop them off at various locations.

Brad Arnold: You know that’s really why we saved them, because Hard Rock has a lot of our stuff throughout the world, and the guy, it used to be one man that got all the memorabilia for Hard Rock, one man collected it. We were friends with him, but he died about six or seven years ago, and it’s why they don’t have as much stuff as they (once) had, because he went around and got every bit of that stuff. He was a really cool guy.

Adam Bernard: That’s a pretty big loss. It’s not really the Hard Rock without all the memorabilia. Speaking of the visual element, I was checking out your social networking sites, and you are all over Instagram. Have you always been this interested in documenting life through pictures?

Brad Arnold: I like Instagram. I like it a lot better than Facebook, because I don’t want to read everybody’s drama, but I do like to look at people’s pictures, and it’s fun to take ‘em. I like a social network like that because you can be right there with your fans. People hashtag #3DoorsDown in their pictures, and we go through and like all of them. People get a kick out of it, and we get a kick out of it, too. I (also) love listening to a bunch of videos of people covering one of our songs, or something like that. It’s fun, and especially when it’s in like frickin Thailand, or something, or somebody in India is sitting there singing “Here Without You,” I’m like, man, it shows you how far music reaches, and how technology connects people.

Adam Bernard: This next question isn’t comfortable, but I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t ask it. The situation with your former bassist, Todd Harrell, I know with a pending court date (for vehicular homicide charges) there isn’t much you can say about what happened, but what kind of contact have you had with him since his arrest, and how has your relationship with him been affected by it?

Brad Arnold: Well, you know I’ve known Todd forever. I’ve known him since I was a child. He used to date my sister when he was in junior high. He’s six or seven years older than me, and man, you know, he’s made some mistakes, and he’s gotta deal with them, and he’s not with us, but he’s still my brother. You can’t turn your back on your brother, and he wouldn’t have turned his back on me, but I hope he gets all of his things straightened out, and I hope he gets it dealt with sooner rather than later.

Adam Bernard: Finally, because I want to end this on a much lighter note, when you’re driving in your car, or you’re at the gym, what’s the most embarrassing thing someone might catch you singing along to?

Brad Arnold: {laughs} You know what, I am very conscious not to sing along with my headset, because that is the funniest thing to me in the gym, when somebody’s in there and they’re half assed singing something because they’re just hearing the tones through their headphones and they think they’re doing it. I don’t really sing too much at the gym, or in the car. If I’m singing in the car, I guess (it will be) something country. I grew up in South Mississippi, so you might hear me singing an old country song, or something.

Adam Bernard: Like REALLY old, like 40s or 50s?

Brad Arnold: No, not that old, just from when I was a kid, maybe (something from the) 80s.

Adam Bernard: So 80s country, with the windows rolled up, at a stoplight, that’s what you’re singing along to.

Brad Arnold: And I’d be jammin!

Adam Bernard: That’s the only way to do it! You’re in your car. You’re in your own private paradise.

Brad Arnold: Honestly, it’s kind of funny, I always think to myself, there might be somebody who sees me and laughs, or something, and I’m like you know what, I make a living doing this, so shut up. {laughs}


Interview originally ran on Arena.com.

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