American Idol season-five alum Chris Daughtry will release his group’s fourth album, Baptized, on Nov. 19, and although the North Carolina native admits the sound is “poppier” than previous offerings, he also promises plenty for the hardcore fans to enjoy.
“I love a big guitar as much as the next guy and I did three records that were very much in that realm,” Daughtry tells The Hollywood Reporter. “I just felt like it was time to shake it up a little bit — throw some rims on this car.”
Daughtry did shake things up, recording the album sans his bandmates or his longtime producer, Howard Benson. Instead, Daughtry chose to work with Martin Johnson (Boys Like Girls, Hot Chelle Rae), Sam Hollander (Train, Neon Trees) and Claude Kelly (Britney Spears, Whitney Houston). He even used a banjo on the satirical “anthem,” “Long Live Rock and Roll,” which takes a humorous look at music with the lyrics, “We used to wonder about who’s better, Elton John or Billy Joel / And we still wonder if Kurt really wrote the songs she sang in Hole.”
Much of Baptized pulls from Daughtry’s personal experiences, including a long overdue vacation with his wife, Deanna. The couple recently celebrated their 13th anniversary.
“It’s never without conflict, just like any household,” says the 33-year old father. “You have kids, you have teenagers, there’s drama all the time. Our life, it’s real. There’s no fairy tale there. We work very hard to make it all work and it’s a daily effort on both parties and a daily effort to try to be a good dad. It’s a conscious effort.”
For more insight into Baptized, read on for a track-by-track breakdown of each song in Daughtry’s own words.
“It was one of the first songs written for the record and it’s probably my favorite song on the album. I know it’s going to raise questions and make people wonder if it’s a Christian album or if it’s a gospel album, and it’s not. I hope people don’t think it’s sacrilegious because it’s not used in the Christian sense of the word. The song is about being baptized and it has more of a sensual aspect and the record just felt like a fresh start. We just got our bass player [Josh Paul] back, he left for a while and we didn’t know if he was coming back. And with the new member of the band, our keyboard player, it just feels like a new version of us.”
“Waiting for Superman”
“I remember walking into that session with Martin and Sam and he had this line, ‘Waiting for Superman to pick her up in his arms.’ I had just gotten back from the Man of Steel premiere and I thought, of course the fans are going to be, like, he wrote a song about [the movie]. It was really fun to write that because it was coming from the third person, as opposed to me writing about myself or something where I’m in the story and it’s all about what’s happening between me and whoever’s in it.”
“This was one of the songs that made me kind of raise my eyebrows in a way of, ‘Are the fans going to get this from me? Are they going to believe this? Is this too weird? Is it too out-there? Too pop?’ And then, when I got in the vocal booth, I absolutely fell in love with singing it. I remember playing it for my dad, who is a hardcore country guy. He loves what we do, but he’s a Merle Haggard guy. So, I was expecting him to hear these songs and go, ‘Oh my gosh, that’s different.’ And he heard that one and he was like, ‘Wow, that sounds like a hit.’ “
“I wrote it with Busbee. We wrote a couple songs on the last record together. Lyrically, this song is kind of like a letter to my kids, all of them. No matter where you are, I’m always going to be Dad. I’m always going to fight for you.”
“My second favorite song on the record. ‘Wild Heart’ is absolutely about my wife — 100 percent. I remember the first time I played it for her, she cried. That’s the absolute best feeling.”
“Long Live Rock and Roll”
“I would have never picked up a guitar and wrote this song. I never would have gone the folk route. I just thought the irony of it was hilarious. Long live rock and roll and big guitars, and it doesn’t have any loud guitars. It’s all like this folky, country vibe, and very rootsy. I loved that.”
“The World We Knew”
“For a minute there, I didn’t know if that song was going to make it on the record. It felt like the sequel to ‘September’ in a way, in that kind of summertime nostalgia vibe.”
“High Above the Ground”
“I was inspired to write the lyrics after my wife and I got back from Italy. It was the first time we had gone on a real vacation since we got married. It was the first time ever we went anywhere that it was just me and her, no kids, and it was Italy. She had always wanted to go there and we finally made it happen. It was one of those highs you never wanted to come down from. That was essentially our honeymoon.”
“The song went through many different phases, as far as production. We ended up stripping everything away and cutting a live piano. I did the final vocals in a hotel room on my laptop with my mic at about three in the morning. I’m surprised I didn’t get security called on me. I did all those vocals and editing right there and that’s what’s on the record.”
“[Keyboardist] Elvio [Fernandes] had this track that he kept telling me about. At that point, I’d written “Broken Arrows” and “Baptized” with Claude and both songs had this kind of gospel feel. So when he said, ‘Witness,’ it’s gotta be, like, ‘Can I get a witness?’ We both teamed up and had the chorus in 15 minutes and wrote the whole thing in a few hours.”
“That’s the angsty song on the record. I can’t really talk about what it’s about but the fans will probably know very clearly what it’s about. You have people in your life that you think you know — they look you in the face one minute, and the next, you’ve got a knife in your back.”
“I can’t wait for one of my longtime best friends to hear this song because it’s directly inspired by him. He doesn’t even know it exists. He’s a guy I grew up with, went to school with, lived with for a couple years. We were in my first band and he was the bass player. We kind of learned our instruments together. All the stuff that it talks about…we both worked at the saw mill with my dad. We did in fact throw a TV over the overpass. It was a tube television, just to see it explode on the railroad tracks. I don’t endorse that behavior and no one was hurt in the process, but we did do it and I had to incorporate it. We had our first car wreck together. It was definitely the one that had to be the end of the record.”