Interview: Chris Daughtry on twins, Aerosmith and new album, 'Break The Spell'
Think making an album is hard? It’s nothing compared to trying to raise twins, just ask Daughtry’s Chris Daughtry who began cutting his band’s new album, “Break the Spell” when his twins were only a few months old.
“Between raising twins and recording a record, recording a record is a vacation,” he tells HitFix with a laugh.
He and his bandmates, guitarist Josh Steely, drummer Robin Diaz, guitarist Brian Craddock and bassist Josh Paul, as well as assorted outside songwriters, gathered at Daughtry’s newly-minted home studio in Greensboro, N.C. to write for the project.
The plan was to record in N.C. and L.A. with producer Howard Benson, who helmed the first two Daughtry albums. But the team soon hightailed it to L.A. and “just a small fraction” of what was created in N.C. made the album as Daughtry realized that recording at home, and bringing in all the required extra equipment, “would have been a nightmare with the twins and my wife trying to home school the teenagers.”
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For “Break the Spell,” the members of Daughtry wanted to unshackle themselves from any preconceived notions that they brought in to the studio. The one thing they all agreed on was that they wanted the new album to rock.
“Break the Spell” came out Nov. 21, exactly five years to the day after the self-titled debut from the season five “American Idol” contestant. That effort sold more than 4 million album in the U.S. alone. Between the first album and 2009’s “Leave This Town,” Daughtry has landed four Grammy nominations and scored several chart hits, including “It’s Not Over,” “Home,” “Feels Like Tonight” and “No Surprise.” “Crawling Back To You,” the first single from “Spell,” is bulleted at No. 11 on Billboard’s Adult Pop Songs chart.
As the band wrapped up its international tour for “Leave This Town,” they felt they had a gap in their repertoire of rockers that would elevate the audience. They needed more “four-on-the-floor” tunes. “I was listening to a lot of old Aerosmith and Def Leppard and I wanted some of that [feel] to make itself onto the record,” Daughtry says. “At the end of the tour, we were listening and that was what we [were] missing.”
Plus, as with many acts, by the time they reached the end of the touring road, they were very eager for new tunes to play. “A lot of it comes from putting a record out and, for lack of a better word, getting bored and playing stuff the same over and over,” he says. “We really wanted to branch out.”
So instead of rushing to follow up “Leave This Town,” the band really took its time to think about what they wanted to say and didn’t let any pressures, from the record label or from Benson or themselves, affect that process. “Having the time at [my house] allowed us to write as a band with no clock running, which we’d never done,” Daughtry says. The result was a surfeit of songs, some of which spilled over to the deluxe edition of “Break the Spell.”
Among Daughtry’s favorites on the new set are the stomping “Renegade,” which drowns in guitars, and “Outta My Head,” which Daughtry wrote with Marti Frederiksen, best known for his work with Aerosmith. “He started playing the riff for ‘Outta My Head’ and it kind of had a ‘Ragdoll’ riff. Melodically, it’s not my style to do what Steven Tyler does, it’s more what David Coverdale would do, so the verses have this Whitesnake feel. Lyrically, I wanted to go someplace sexier than Daughtry has gone before.”
He also wanted the vocals to sound a little less polished, so he stripped away many of the high harmonies that dominated “Leave This Town.” “At the end of the day, I think I sounded like a chipmunk on that record,” he says with a laugh.
Though the band has yet to announce it 2012 tour plans, it has a number of radio station holiday concerts coming up, including Star 94‘s Dec. 13 show in Duluth, Ga. and the Star 101.3 Jingle Ball in San Francisco.