Chris Daughtry had the kind of chart-busting immediate success that rarely happens in music these days, selling more than a million copies of his 2006 CD "Daughtry," which is also the name of his band, in the first five weeks of its release and going on to rack up nearly 4.5 million copies sold overall.
It was quite a statement for Daughtry, who, despite appearing to be one of the most popular performers on the 2006 season of "American Idol," was voted off earlier than some expected, and finished fourth that season.
Not only did his run on "American Idol" prime the pump for the release of his first CD fronting his band, it seemingly would have given him a taste of the life he was about to experience as one of the most popular artists on the entire rock scene.
But in a recent interview, Daughtry - who brings his band to Nassau Coliseum Friday - said "American Idol" wasn't as helpful as one might expect in preparing him for the fame and recognition that has come his way.
"I don't quite think it did , and let me explain why," Daughtry said. "Because when you're on that show, you have no clue what's going on outside of that. You're kind of in a bubble. You're not really out in the public eye. You're not out getting swarmed by fans or anything. You're kind of locked in a glass case.
"You start to get a sense of that fame once you do that tour, because now, all of a sudden, all the fans are coming out, and you're doing meet-and-greets, and , 'Whoa, this is new.' It's kind of like getting thrown out to the wolves and just the strong survive, really. You have to be very strong mentally to handle it yourself and not get caught up in believing your own hype."
In conversation, Daughtry doesn't come off as someone who's toting around a rock-star attitude. He certainly is aware of his popularity and understands the star-making mechanics of the music industry, as well as the musical and lyrical ingredients songs need to have mass appeal. But he seems down-to-earth and honest when he talks about the steps he's taken to keep his head on straight as his popularity has grown.
"I have very strong people around me, family, friends, that keep me in check," Daughtry said. "You kind of have to. You know, in this industry, you get a lot of 'yes men' around, a lot of people that won't really tell you how it is or won't, I guess, be honest with you. I don't surround myself with those people. My crew and my family and my band, we're all very honest with each other. We keep each other grounded."
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He also said it helps that his band members aren't overly interested in the glitz and indulgences of the rock-star life. With the exception of drummer Joey Barnes, the other four musicians (Daughtry, guitarists Brian Craddock and Josh Steely and bassist Josh Paul) are married.
"We just stay out of the party scene," Daughtry said. "That's not really appealing to us. We would much rather hang out together in our hotel room and have a beer together than to be out, to be seen."
Daughtry and his band members probably will have to remain vigilant about keeping their egos in check. If the initial response to last year's second Daughtry album, "Leave This Town," is any indication, the group's popularity isn't going to fade any time soon.
Like the first album, the second CD debuted at No. 1 on Billboard's album chart upon its mid-July release, making Daughtry only the third group this decade to begin a career with two straight CDs that each debuted at No. 1. (D12 and Danity Kane are the others.)
The band has been on the road since shortly after the release of "Leave This Town" and is on a spring run of arenas. The shows will come with some visual bells and whistles for fans.
"A lot of fun," Daughtry said. "I think it's going to be a surprise to everybody once they see it. It's going to be a big rock show."
What might continue to evolve during the course of the tour is the song set.
"I don't think we've figured out our perfect set list with this record yet because there are favorites from the first record, and we certainly have favorites from this one," Daughtry said. "So we've got to make sure we're not playing material that's going to put them to sleep."
Like that debut album, "Leave This Town" finds Daughtry's music fitting in comfortably alongside other popular mainstream rock acts, such as Nickelback or 3 Doors Down. It offers a mix of hard-hitting but hook-filled rockers ("Every Time You Turn Around," "What I Meant to Say," "Supernatural"), as well as the occasional power ballad ("No Surprise," "Life After You").
Daughtry himself doesn't see huge differences in the music on the two CDs, with the exception of a song or two, most notably the country-ish acoustic track "Tennessee Line," which features a guest appearance from Vince Gill. The 30-year-old from Greensboro, N.C., is a big fan of country music.
"I don't think it's much different because that first record was me as well," he said. "That is the way I write. That is the sound I was going for. I think it's certainly got a little more personality to it this time. I think it varies a little more. But, overall, I think that is the Daughtry sound. I think it's a little less polished and sounds more like a live band."
WHO Daughtry, with Lifehouse
WHEN | WHERE 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nassau Coliseum
INFO $29-$39 through Ticketmaster, 800-745-3000, ticketmaster.com