“What scares me?” Chris Daughtry, from the band Daughtry, retorts back.
While others may give answers like spiders or the dark, Chris wrinkles his brow and quickly says, “Screwing up my kids.” Chris immediately becomes a relatable parent with this extremely “normal” response. He pauses for a moment. “Just in general, I am always afraid of saying or doing something that is going to screw up my kids.” While this is probably every person who spends any amount of time around children’s fear, you don’t really expect to hear of any “parenting issues” from someone like Chris. You catch yourself almost dehumanizing those we see on TV or those who make music, but after having a casual chat with Chris, we think you’ll come to realize that on the other end of the microphone is a man just trying to get by and “trying to make a dollar.”
The early years of Christopher Adam Daughtry’s life lead him to where he is today. When Chris was only 16 years old, he vowed to take singing seriously and learn all he could about being a musician. He took lessons and worked hard to master his trade. He made an album with his then band ‘Cadence’ called “All Eyes on You.” Eventually though, his hard work and determination would lead him to a show called American Idol. He stood in front of hundreds of people who quietly whispered about the young rocker standing in front of them. Did you think Chris would make it all the way up to fourth place? His fourth-place spot would land him the ability to sign with RCA Records and 19 Entertainment. Which in turn, would lead to the auditions that formed the man “Daughtry,” into the band “Daughtry.”
How Chris felt about all five albums making the top ten: “Did this one make the top 10?” Chris inquired, shocked. After enlightening Chris of his own success, everyone seems to realize just how humble and focused on the music Chris actually is. “Whew! Alright, I’ll take it!” Chris says as a huge grin sprawls over his face. Surprised, the interviewer replies, “You didn’t know?” Chris relaxes a bit and states, “I probably did. I probably got told (by) the staff.” Chris is definitely someone who holds himself down and focuses on the task at hand. It seems as though Chris really sat down and told the world he was ready for this record and he planned to tackle it head on. Chris continued to tell Contrast what his secret to making great music is, “I tend to block out information lately. Just because I feel like it’s a bit of a distraction from the art. When you’re focused on what number to hit and all this stuff. It’s easy to get yourself into like, a negative headspace and focusing on all the stats and all that.” If there was one word to describe how Chris handles just how big he truly is, it would be ‘oblivious.’ It seems as though Chris views himself as your everyday guy, just trying to make a way for himself and his family in this world. “That’s probably why I blocked it all out of my mind.” To take away from his ‘everyday guy’ image, all FIVE studio albums reached top 10 status in the US. Their self-titled debut album, “Daughtry,” sold 7 million copies world-wide as of 2009. Their second studio album, “Leave This Town,” sold 1.3 million copies in the US alone. Their third studio album seemed to start the bands slight hiccup, with only 513,000 copies sold in the US. Slightly down from that, their fourth album “Baptized,” sold 270,000 copies in the US. Since its release in July of 2018, “Cage to Rattle,” has sold 24,000 copies in the US.
Which album, out of the five, Chris is partial to: “I think they all are special in their own unique way, for different reasons.” Seemingly treating his albums like you would children, Chris doesn’t play favorites. “You know the first record was like super special. That was my first ever, you know, real record. That was an amazing first-time experience and getting to know that process.” It seems as though Chris is a proud Papa when it comes to his first studio album. Learning the ins and outs of recording seems to have put Chris on the right path, considering the second album didn’t disappoint. “And the second one was the first time with the band and ’Leave This Town’ was… there was a lot of pressure on that one because the first one did so well. Then the music changed and everything, you know, but…” With the first record doing so well, you can only imagine the pressure put on these guys to produce another winner. “I think this record really stands out because ‘Baptized’ wasn’t recorded with a band and that was a long story, but this one was kind of us getting back together in the studio… and we were working with a new producer, Jacquire King.” Jacquire King has worked with many stars in his time, such as Kings of Leon, Modest Mouse, You Me at Six, Norah Jones, Dawes, and many more. It’s no wonder Daughtry was excited to have him join their efforts in creating an album. Chris elaborated on why they were so excited to have King join them, “… we were really happy that he wanted to take us on and I think he added a little indie flare to the overall record and combined with what we already did… I think it challenged us as songwriters, as players, and it certainly challenged me as a vocalist. So, I think this, right now, really stands out as my most frustrating, yet most rewarding record.”
Evolution VS influence: “I think we had a little bit of an idea what record we wanted to make sonically, based on what I did when I first recorded a demo for ‘Backbone’ that kind of, to me, stood out as like, that’s the sound I feel like we wanna encapsulate overall.” ‘Backbone’ being one of the singles released from “Cage to Rattle,” is the anthem you need when you’re having a rough day and just need some encouragement. It gives you the sense that you aren’t alone in your everyday struggles and that there are people out there, just like you and I, going through it just like us. Further explaining the sound, Chris continues, “Just the root-sy kind of groove based, yet grippy rock. Which was not too farfetched from what we were about anyway. You know, we wanted to… we didn’t want it to just be this wall of sound. I think, Jacquire really challenged the guys to come up with interesting parts. I think overall it just brought us together as a band more.” After suffering a rocky road with the former band line-up, completing an album sans band, and gaining new members, this album is the tell all. All the emotion and life experience has definitely made Chris a great song writer. Furthering why this record was evolutionary gold, Chris continues, “So, yeah, it really stands out to me as something that… it was a joint effort. Like, we had an idea, but then Jacquire brought his artistry to it as well and the production kind of morphed over time, even; Because it took so long to make the record…”
How long the record took to complete plus touring with Nickelback: “We started last year and then we ended up getting offered a summer tour with Nickelback, which was gonna be great for us since we had gone away for so long. We wanted to get back out and tell the fans, ‘Hey we still exist.’” Touring with Nickelback definitely put ‘Daughtry’ back in the game. Chris was given the opportunity to sing “Savin’ Me” with Nickelback’s Chad Kroeger. Chris definitely reminds us every time he sings, that he deserves to be where he is today. Chris continues to explain the time gap between touring and recording, “So we had gotten halfway through the record and when we came back, there was a little bit of time or quite a bit of time actually, about four months in between sessions. So, we had kinda gotten out of the groove and kinda had to get back into it. I think over that time he, Jacquire, had been experimenting with some production elements. Post production elements on some of the songs. We were so happy with how ‘Backbone’ turned out that I think it kind of morphed into this… what it is now. So yeah, it was definitely a joint effort.” Chris pauses, smirks, and exclaims “That was a long-winded answer, I’m sorry.” No problem at all sir, we enjoy hearing you talk about the adventure you’ve been on lately.
The message behind the record and the ‘Cage to Rattle’: “Well that came from a lyric in a song called ‘Death of Me’ and it was one of the first songs written for this record, ironically. I didn’t know at the time it was gonna be the name of the record, but the lyric is ’another day, another battle, we all have a cage to rattle’ and I was really… That was early on in the writing process for this record and it was such a frustrating time for me as a writer. Had a lot of life going on at the time, we had moved to L.A. and everything just felt like, unsettled.” We can definitely relate to the feeling of being unsettled, Chris. Sometimes life just throws you a curveball that you didn’t see coming. “Getting back into the writing process, life felt really hard at the time. Just in general. You know where everything just feels hard. Nothing feels easy. Nothing feels like, enjoyable. Kids, school stuff, everything just felt like a lot. Then taking that pressure and going, ‘I don’t know what the fuck I’m even gonna write about. I don’t know what… and this feeling of defeatedness, if that’s a word, of being defeated…” It’s okay Chris, we make up words too sometimes. “and not sure if we’re even relevant again or at all. We had been gone for so long, I didn’t know if what I was writing at the time was good enough for the next level or as we aspire to go to. So, there was all this self-doubt and everything. I remember we were writing this song, me and Scott Stevens, and I was just spewing all of this out. ‘Everything sucks. Everything’s hard. The weather sucks, we’re in L.A.’ So, all of this started making it into the lyrics, like you know, ‘making it harder to breathe,’ ‘we’re all under pressure,’ ‘can’t stand the weather.’ I was just talking about how it felt, like this stress is gonna kill me and that’s where the song came from. I feel like everybody has a ‘Cage to Rattle.’ Everybody has a hot button. Everybody has something that bugs the shit out of them to the core.” Oh yes Chris, you are correct. There is always that one thing that sets you off with a quickness. Something that bypasses your ability to be calm and causes you to throw the closest thing to you. “I always love that lyric and I was so… Sometimes lyrics come out and I am like ‘Oh man, I’m really happy I came up with that.’ That was one of those lines that stood out to me. So, in the end of the record process, to make a long story short, after going through all the challenges, not just the songwriting, but the production and touring. It just felt like, very apropos for the title and it stood out to me as my favorite lyric in the record.”
Pizza toppings? Can I get that vegan…: When Contrast was setting up some snacks for Chris, we inadvertently found out that Chris is vegan! While this sounds like and extremely hard lifestyle change, Chris seemed to transition without a hitch! “I went vegan back in December. You know I got into… Overall, I think I would have to say I got into it for the health benefits. This trainer friend of mine Fraser Bayley who has an amazing online training thing called @EvolvingAlpha. He’s this vegan body builder. He’s just freaking ripped and he’s huge. Which, you know, he used to be a butcher and all this. This guy is not some skinny twig, and you know, he’s obviously getting protein without meat and all this stuff. So, you know, he had already been kinda planting the seed a little bit. I’m like dude, I’m not giving up my cheeseburgers. It’s not gonna happen. He was like when you get a chance, watch this documentary. I kept putting it off and putting it off, cause I was scared. I knew the second that I watched something, I would be like, ‘Oh that’s it. I’m doing it.’ So, I watched this documentary called ‘What the Health.’ I’m like ‘Ohhh, I’m done. I’m done.’ So yeah, I did it for health. I have some things that run in my family. If I can prevent (them) by eating more plant-based stuff, then cheers to that.” Definitely cheers to that Chris! We want to see many more interviews from you in the future!
Are you raising mini vegans? : Unlike some parents these days, Chris lets his kids choose their food lifestyle. “No, my kids will eat anything you put in front of them. I don’t try to impose my views on them. Though we do try to make things around the house as plant-based as possible. Just to make sure, you know, that they’re getting as many fruits and vegetables as possible.” Sound parenting tip from this lead singer. Time to start stocking up on fruits and veggies! “Of course, they’ll have the occasional junk, but I stand back and try to avoid it.” Sounds like Chris has amazing self-control! We envy his savvy!
Does being vegan make you feel differently: “Absolutely. I feel more self-aware. More uhm… I had no idea we were going to talk about this, but I have no problem talking about it.” Since this was a quirky fact that we found out accidentally, we decided to throw Chris a curveball. “I actually do, I feel like it’s made me, in some way, more conscious of what I’m doing in life. That sounds so ridiculous, just by changing what you eat, but I do. I feel like now that you ask, I wasn’t really thinking about it, but over the course of the last, however many months it’s been, I feel like there’s been a lot of changes in how I view things and how I approach things and how I approach people and how I treat people and everything. So yeah, that’s interesting that you asked me that and I didn’t really think of it. I have to say it did.”
8 million albums sold. 16 million singles. 5 albums and tours. 4 Grammy nominations. Here’s what’s next: “Uh, wow, uhm… We’re gonna be headed to the UK and South Africa, next week. We’re looking forward to that. It’s been a fun year. We’ve been spending it on the road and touring and we’re probably going to tour until Christmas. Then try to get back out there next year, until people get sick of us again. Then we’ll go back and make another record.”
Five word post-it notes to the past: “Don’t be an asshole.” Alright Chris, I think everyone can send this exact post-it note back into the past and benefit from it. Wait a minute… Isn’t that four words? “That’s if you separate asshole as two words.” Oh, okay Chris. We totally get it now. “Yeah, here we go, five words… Be good to peo-ple.” Is he serious? Now people is two words. Oh, he’s smiling, he’s only half serious. “Hold on… Yeah… Let’s be good to one another.” We’ll give him that one, even if it is SIX words.
Inspiration: “My Kids.”
Going down in the memory books for: “As a good human being. As someone who tried to bring people together. Through his art form of… martial arts… no, no martial arts.” What a funny guy. His art form is a little less physical and there’s slightly less plank breaking. “I feel like we were talking about this the other day on the bus. When we go through our catalogue, and think about what our main goal is. What are we really trying to do at the end of the day? I think it is, it’s to bring people together and not divide.”
Innie or outie? “I feel like I can be both, but I think at my core, I’m very much an extrovert. There is a breaking point for every extrovert, where you kind of have to recoil and have your ’me’ time. Recharge the battery. Yeah, I do, more than not, like being around people. Sometimes I get energized by it.”
Others description of you: “Perfect. Handsome. Just… the best human being. No, no. Honestly, my friends and family, I would like to think that they would view me as caring, fun, funny person to be around, yeah… I think I’m a good hang.”
What makes you strikingly different: “Wow. That’s an interesting question. That uh… Contrast. I think people think I’m this hard-ass. I think people think that I’m this, like, brooding, takes himself too seriously, self-centered, egotistical jackass. For good reason. You know I feel like those earlier years kinda portrayed a little bit of that. I feel like people find that I’m a much more open, vulnerable person. I think maybe standoffish or self-centered. No, I feel like after meeting me, people have a much different perspective.”
Finishing words from Chris: “Thank you to everyone who is listening to the music and telling all your friends how fucking cool we are.”