“I’m a regular guy that’s getting a great break. I think that’s all there is to it,” shrugs guitarist/singer Chris Daughtry about his unprecedented success: a debut record that raced to No. 1 on many international polls, an amazing stay of over 80 weeks on America’s Top 200, worldwide sales of 5.5 million and the ensuing plethora of ravenous fans.
Not bad for a guy who only hit the world of rock a meagre three years ago. Or for someone that came in fourth place during renowned televised hit-making program American Idol. Kick-starting his career by competing on the program during its 2006 run, Daughtry was a favourite due to his down-to-earth charm and soulful voice. Still, at the time he was bested by another. Taylor Hicks took that season’s crown.
Over the years though, Daughtry and his eponymous country-influenced rock band have gone on to become the greatest commercial success from that particular Idol year, a thread that continues with their sophomore album Leave This Town (RCA). Debuting at No. 2 in Canada — four slots above its predecessor, Leave This Town maintains the inertia Daughtry (rounded out by guitarists Josh Steely and Brian Craddock, bassist Josh “JP” Paul and drummer Joey Barnes) created with their debut.
Still, while such pomp and circumstance has turned many talented musicians into flash-in-the-pan freak shows, Daughtry keeps his leather-clad feet planted quite firmly on the soil, accrediting all of it to none other than his fans.
“I think there’s something about watching one of your own kind start to succeed that people cling to,” Daughtry reasons, explaining his expedient positioning amongst new rock’s elite. “They want to know that someone in their circle is doing well. People take it as an achievement of their own. I’ve always been a regular guy that’s trying to do something extraordinary, and I really believe that people can connect with that. They’re proud to see someone cut from their cloth excel.”
Excel he has. While still hammering away at garnering the numbers of his debut, Leave This Town is no slouch. In a mere month, a half-million copies of the affair have steamed off of store shelves, propelled by lead single You Don’t Belong. Thanks to that continuing support, Daughtry remains adamant about ensuring that his high profile and universal acclaim has not sullied the boy from McLeansville, N.C.
“I’ve been struggling for 10 years at this and I’m thankful for every second of every break I get,” he asserts. “I don’t see any of this as reward for hard work or payment of dues. I think it’s just dumb luck and I appreciate it all. I mean, having the opportunity to tour the world, have people know your music and work with other artists you admire? That’s a pretty sweet day job if you ask me. I’m not about to start thinking I deserve it. At any second, it could all disappear and I’m looking for a job digging ditches. No thanks. Instead, I think I’ll work even harder to ensure I get to keep this gig.”
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