Of the many post-grunge acts that initially rose to prominence in the early ’00s, few have proven as long-lasting as 3 Doors Down. They are one of the biggest-selling bands since the turn of the century, right up there with Linkin Park and Nickelback. As with each one of their previous five full-lengths, the new Us and the Night is expected to rocket to the upper reaches of the Billboard 200.
If anything, 3 Doors Down’s sustained commercial success can be attributed to their unique ability to remain true to their core strengths (walloping guitars, big hooks, singer Brad Arnold’s rousing confessionals) while also making critical tweaks to their sound to remain current and fresh. The Mississippi-bred outfit might have started out as brooding grunge dudes, but through the years they’ve developed into melodic hitmakers capable of churning out Southern rock, folksy ballads, heartland country and synth-laced alt rock. Here are the steps tracing 3 Doors Down’s impressive evolution from post-grunge breakout act to rock royalty.
*1996-1998: *After cutting their teeth on Bush and Metallica covers while making the rounds on the Southern club circuit, 3 Doors Down journey to New York City to showcase their original material at legendary punk dive CBGB. Suits from Republic Records, a division of Universal Music Group, catch their set and sign them immediately.
December 1, 1999: 3 Doors Down release “Kryptonite,” the lead single from their debut, The Better Life. Selling in excess of 3 million copies, the seething jam becomes a crossover pop hit.
January 8, 2001: The group win the American Music Award for Favorite Pop/Rock New Artist.
October 21, 2002: The band unveil “When I’m Gone,” which climbs to No. 4 on Billboard’s Hot 100. The opener from their sophomore effort, Away From the Sun, finds the band shifting from post-grunge to more of a classic rock sound. In his review for AllMusic, critic Johnny Loftus describes the album as “the transition record 3 Doors Down needed to make, in order to separate themselves from the glut of sound-alikes and establish their future as a viable, album-oriented Southern rock act.”
February 23, 2003: “When I’m Gone” is nominated for two Grammys: Best Rock Song and Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocal. Although they win neither, the nominations speak to 3 Doors Down’s rapidly growing stature.
February 2, 2005: 3 Doors Down unleash Seventeen Days. Recorded in Nashville, the album finds the band fully embracing Southern rock and heartland twang. “Landing in London” features a cameo from none other than Bob Seger, while “Father’s Son” boasts plucked banjo.
July-October 2010: Upon their return to the studio, the band opt to enlist A-list producer Howard Benson rather than Johnny K (who worked on Seventeen Days and 2008’s 3 Doors Down). Benson brings a modern sheen to the heartland-inspired songs that will eventually comprise Time of My Life. For the first time in their career, the band employs keyboards and programming.
May-June 2012: The band joins ZZ Top’s Gang of Outlaws Tour. Also featuring Nashville hellraiser Gretchen Wilson, the six-week jaunt exposes 3 Doors Down to an older audience rooted in Southern rock and outlaw country.
November 19, 2012: 3 Doors Down release The Greatest Hits. The collection showcases a trio of exclusive cuts with new guitarist Chet Roberts. “Goodbyes,” a soaring piano ballad, is the most melodic song the band records up to that point.
January-February 2014: 3 Doors Down embark on the Songs from the Basement tour. An all-acoustic affair, the string of dates offers them an opportunity to explore their love of folk-flavored rock. They show off their range by covering Garth Brooks’ “The Dance” and Metallica’s “Nothing Else Matters.”
September 11, 2014: In an interview with Cryptic Rock, singer Brad Arnold touches on some of the diverse influences that have helped shape his band’s expansive sound. In addition to Megadeth and Metallica, he mentions country stars George Strait and Alan Jackson, as well as The Beatles.
March 11, 2016: 3 Doors Down unveil their sixth and latest album, Us and the Night. The sleek set featuring synthesizers and tight, danceable grooves is produced by Matt Wallace, who has previously worked with Maroon 5, O.A.R. and Train. Once again, the band proves to be one of the most adaptable outfits in rock music.