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 self-titled CD 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 being one of the most popular performers on the 2006 season of “American Idol,” finished fourth.

Not only did his run on the show prime the pump for the release of his first CD fronting his band, Daughtry, 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 rock scene.

But in a recent interview, Daughtry 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 (help that much), 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 start to get a sense of that fame once you do that tour (the “American Idols Live” tour), because now all of a sudden all the fans are coming out and you’re doing meet-and-greets and (realizing), ‘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.”

Daughtry and his band members (drummer Joey Barnes, guitarists Brian Craddock and Josh Steely and bassist Josh Paul) will probably have to remain vigilant about keeping their egos in check. If the response to the second Daughtry CD, “Leave This Town,” is any indication, the group’s popularity isn’t going to fade anytime soon.

Like the first album, the second CD debuted at No. 1 on Billboard magazine’s album chart upon its mid-July 2009 release, selling 269,000 copies in its first week.

The band has been on the road ever since, and will be at the Cumberland County Civic Center tonight. “(It’s) 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.”

Daughtry 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 resident of Greensboro, N.C., noted he’s a big fan of country music as well as rock.

“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.”


Alan Sculley is a freelance writer.