the post-idol daughtry

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daughtry: josh paul, josh steely, chris daughtry, elvio fernandes and brian craddock. (not pictured: jamal moore).

When you introduce yourself to a prospective pop public by way of network television and then capitalize on your popularity by selling over eight million copies of your debut album, the prospect of altering your sound even a little probably isn’t part of the big career picture.

But when Chris Daughtry is calling the shots, shaking the stylistic tree is part of the fun of being a star.

A season five finalist on American Idol, the North Carolina native formed a band that bore his name with a sound full of pop friendly riffs, proudly anthemic lyrics and an extra large guitar charge – sort of like Nickelback, only nicer. And it hit. Big. The 2006 debut album Daughtry was an immediate smash that had six singles, led by It’s Not Over, scaling the charts over the following year. Three hit followup albums proved the Idol album’s popularity was no fluke.

Then Daughty embraced something all rock stars are taught to avoid: change. For 2013’s Baptized album, he fine-tuned his songwriting, scaled back the guitar amp-age and offered a streamlined version of his band’s familiar brand of pop crunch.

“I definitely went into this with the mindset of not doing anything we’ve done before,” said Daughtry, who will front his namesake band for a Monday concert at the EKU Center for the Arts in Richmond. “I didn’t know what that meant at the time. I just knew that if it sounded anything like what I’ve written before, then it wasn’t good enough for this record. I wanted this record to be a complete departure from what we’ve done in the past. That meant working with different people and different producers. It meant working with people that we’re going to force me out of my comfort zone, because as a writer, when you work with the same people or producers you tend to get into a system that’s comfortable for you.

“I don’t really have a set direction when we start these things. A lot of times you can start writing a bunch of songs and take them apart to see which ones feel fresh and new. Sometimes you pick one and feel that’s the general direction a record should go in. Or you just write and see where it takes you and deal with the direction when it comes time for production. But you still have to be cognizant of what is working on radio, as well. And heavy guitars right now are just not the favorite there. We had to be aware of that and know what we can get away with what we can’t.”

What Daughtry got away with were more melody driven singles like Waiting for Superman and Long Live Rock and Roll that helped retain Daughtry’s strong radio presence, making the band one of the most lasting success stories to emerge from American Idol ranks.

“Everybody’s paths are different,” Daughtry said. “There are certainly still bands out there that get signed the old fashioned way and then there is the avenue I took, which worked well for me. It doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to work well for everybody. I think you have to go through different doors to see which is going to be the right one.

American Idol is not a guaranteed system of success on anyone’s part. You have to put in the work. Luckily, I’ve always had a strong work ethic. I knew right off the show I had to hit the ground running and start writing and working. I didn’t let a day go by where I wasn’t working. I think the combination of people wanting to hear what I had to say and me doing the work to give them the best I could kind of played hand in hand.

“But a lot of times people come off these shows and think there is this built in success. They wait for it to fall in their lap. I think they’re quickly reminded that’s not the case.”

Daughtry performs at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 10 at the EKU Center for the Arts, 521 Lancaster Ave. in Richmond. Tickets: $39-$79. Call (859) 353-6382 or go to http://ekucenter.com.



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