Mississippi rock outfit 3 Doors Down first broke out 16 years ago with “Kryptonite” — their catchy, debut single off The Better Life, which became an instant addition to early-aughts high-schoolers’ mixtapes. Their sophomore collection, Away From the Sun, sold over 4 million copies worldwide.
Over the next several years, they released two albums, each debuting at No.1. Their fifth, which came in 2011, bowed at No. 3. The price of their prolificacy may have been a rotating door of bandmembers coming and going over the past decade; frontman Brad Arnold and guitarist Chris Henderson are the sole remaining players from the group’s first tour.
But with a roster finally settled and a brand new album to discuss, Henderson chatted with EW about writing, touring, and what he’s most looking forward to fans hearing on the band’s sixth effort, Us and the Night.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: There’ve been a lot of lineup changes over the past couple years. Do you guys feel like you’ve finally settled into the new roster?
CHRIS HENDERSON: Between the last two acoustic tours, we realized it made more sense for us to let these [road] guys be a part of the album. It was like, lets make 3 Doors Down a band that writes again, instead of keeping it as a couple players and a couple songwriters.
What were those first writing sessions as a group like, then?
We’ve never been a band about big ideas. We don’t write thousands or hundreds of songs and then have to pick between them — we’ve always been a band that wrote 13 songs. And there was a learning curve with the new guys. You realize at some point that you’re sitting in a room with unproven songwriters. They haven’t written anything before, at least nothing that you’ve heard. So we had to get to the point where it was like, “It’s okay. It’s new. It’s fresh.” And eventually realize there’s no reason to be afraid. But that took a couple weeks.
“I Don’t Want To Know” is a brand new flavor for you guys.
That was one of the first songs that was written for the record. It came out of a guitar riff from one of the early sessions — it had kind of a Spanish or Latin flavor. We really liked it, but we were afraid of it because it didn’t sound like 3 Doors Down. But Brad, Justin, and I all looked at each other at the same time, and were like, “Let’s not be afraid of this, let’s embrace it.” After that, the ice was broken, and it was easy for the next song to come along.
Tell me about naming the album Us and the Night.
Brad always names the record. He’s done it every time, and every time it’s the perfect name. Away From The Sun was about us being past the first album and worried about the sophomore slump. Then because we broke through and had more hits, so we got to The Time Of My Life — things were great. And now we’re back in the dumps again, it seems. It’s like, “Hell, what are we supposed to do? What did we do wrong?” So that’s where we are, in the night.
It seems like there are a lot of songs about perserverance on this record, is that related to what you’re talking about there?
We had a lot of conversations about where we were at as people and as a band — not so we could write about it, but just to check in with each other. Those things kind of seep into your bones after a while. And when you’re writing and creating, what’s inside and what’s on your mind will come out. But it’s not a dark album, it about pushing from dark to light.
What are you most excited for listeners to hear?
I want people to hear that we recorded this as a whole project. The record has songs on it, but it’s an entire piece of work — not just a few songs put back to back, but an album.
Us and the Night is out now, via Republic Records.