Having a sophomore album debut at No. 1 was a joy — and a relief — for Chris Daughtry and the band that bears his surname.
“I couldn’t be happier,” says Daughtry, the 2006 “American Idol” finalist whose “Leave This Town” bowed at the top spot last July on the Billboard 200, Digital Albums and Rock charts. Daughtry’s self-titled 2006 debut spent two weeks at No. 1 and sold more than 4 million copies, but he did not feel assured that its successor would be a similar success.
“You get ready to put that second album out and you don’t know what it’s going to do. You’re a little nervous, you’ve got the jitters, you’re not sure what’s going to happen, and then the first week just kind of puts your mind at ease.”
“Leave This Town” was also the first album by somebody other than Michael Jackson to top the charts after the singer’s death in June. But Daughtry doesn’t put a great deal of stock in that accomplishment.
“Y’know, if we outsold him back in 1983, that probably would’ve been a different story,” says the North Carolina native, who before his “Idol” turn was in the band Absent Element and also unsuccessfully auditioned for the “Rock Star: INXS” reality show. “To me, it’s not really a good comparison. We’re talking about someone who’s sold more records than anybody in the universe. So I don’t think that’s a really good angle.”
Daughtry and company weren’t exactly wanting for angles, anyway. The group faced more than the usual amount of sophomore album pressure thanks to the multi-platinum success of “Daughtry,” which included hit singles (“It’s Not Over,” “Home,” “What About Now”) as well as four American Music Awards, six Billboard Music Awards and World Music Awards for the World’s Best Selling Rock Group and Best-Selling Artist of 2007.
“Daughtry” was, in fact, deemed the fastest-selling debut album of all time.
Going into “Leave This Town,” however, Daughtry says that “the only goal was ... to write good songs,” and the group took its time doing that. At least three different recording sessions during 2008 and early 2009 with producer Howard Benson resulted in 19 songs, but most importantly, Daughtry and company didn’t rush to finish the album.
“It was an awesome process,” he explains, “because we were able to really relax in the moment and feel that we weren’t rushing the production or the arrangement of the songs. We were able to really live with it for awhile.
“I think that really paid off in the end. We were able to really listen to those songs. It was like, ‘OK, I love it, let’s put the record out.’ We were able to live with them for a while ... and pick and choose and really deliberate over the track listing and what songs should definitely be on the record.”
It also gave Daughtry time to add songs to the mix, even late in the game. A case in point: The first single, “No Surprise,” which Daughtry co-wrote with Nickelback’s Chad Kroeger in January 2009, just before the group was headed back into the studio for its final sessions.
“We’d been wanting to get together and write and just could never make it happen,” Daughtry recalls. “Finally, Chad was home and I had three days before I had to go out to L.A., so I went up to Vancouver, to his house, and we were able to get together.
“We just sat around with some guitars and shot the breeze and had a good time and cracked open a bottle of wine and wrote a song. We were pretty much set on what was going to go on (the album), but this was too good not to include — and the fact that it’s the first single proves it.”
The platinum “Leave This Town” has spawned another hit single, “Life After You,” another co-write with Kroeger. But Daughtry says he’s most pleased that with the new album, the music world is seeing that Daughtry is a band rather than just its titular frontman and some sidemen — an important distinction he’s been proclaiming since the “Daughtry” album came out.
“This was the next step of Daughtry,” he says. “I think you can hear the chemistry. It’s definitely got a little more grit to it, a little more character, I think. It’s not as slick and polished as the first record, which ... There’s nothing wrong with that. I love the first record. But it allowed a little more personality to shine through on (‘Leave This Town’).
“And I think the fans expected it because they’d seen these guys on tour for two-and-a-half years and it wasn’t just a bunch of hired guns. They wanted to hear what they had seen on the road, and we wanted to make sure they got that.”
Daughtry, Lifehouse and Cavo perform at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 10, at Joe Louis Arena, 600 Civic Center Drive, Detroit. Tickets are $29.50 and $39.50. Call 313-471-6606 or visit www.olympiaentertainment.com.
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