Reality Rocks

An Interview With Chris Daughtry, Rock ‘n’ Roll Family Man

Lyndsey Parker
Reality Rocks

In 2006, Chris Daughtry was a humble auto mechanic, just a regular guy who since age 20 had been slaving away to support his wife Deanna, a woman six years his senior, and her children from a previous marriage. Then Chris auditioned for "American Idol"...and everything changed.

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Deanna and Chris Daughtry in 2011 [photo: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images]

Well, maybe not everything. Seven years, two more children, millions in record sales, and four Daughtry albums later, Chris and Deanna are still going strong (they celebrated their 13th wedding anniversary this month). And much of his band Daughtry's new album, Baptized, is a sentimental celebration of Chris's family and the simpler things in life, as evidenced by his track-by-track interview for Yahoo Music.

"I think there's a lot of nostalgia on this record, absolutely," Chris, who turns 34 this December, tells Yahoo. "I don't think I knew it at the time; I think it just kind of kept showing up in different songs…I certainly miss some of that some of the simplistic lifestyle that me and my family had, way before any of this. I'm not that guy to go, 'I wish people didn't know who I was!' — nothing like that. But [sometimes I miss life] before all the worries, even when we were younger, when we didn't have all the serious stuff to worry about."

One of Chris's favorite Baptized cuts is "18 Years," a song about his teenhood best friend and their days working at a sawmill and tossing TV sets off railroad overpasses for fun. ("No one was hurt!" Chris assures.) But many more Baptized cuts are open odes to Deanna Daughtry, like "Wild Heart," which he says is "100 percent about my wife. The first time I played it for her, she cried, and I'll never forget that. I got the reaction I wanted!"

"High Above the Ground" was also inspired by Chris's marriage, specifically by a "vacation with my wife in Italy. It was like the first time we had a vacation in like six or seven years, and we had no kids around, and it was probably the most stress-free two weeks I've had in seven years. So it's basically about not wanting to come down from that."

Other tracks, like "I'll Fight" and the album's lead single "Waiting For Superman," were inspired by Chris's children. "I think every dad probably feels this way about their kids: No matter how old they get or how young they are, you're always going to be there to fight for them, and you're always going to be there to pick them up when they fall down...'Waiting For Superman' is not necessarily about a superhero, but it's definitely using that archetype as a metaphor for waiting for that person to be what you need them to be — you know, to step up and be that strength. My wife and my daughter were certainly my muses for the lyrical content of that song."

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photo: Krisren Shaffer

Speaking of muses, another nostalgic tune on Baptized, "Long Live Rock and Roll," is sort of a modern-day, tongue-in-cheek update on Bryan Adams's "Summer of '69" that amusingly begins with Chris declaring, "I was born the day that disco died" and then launches into healthy music-geek debates about the Beatles vs. the Stones, Elton John vs. Billy Joel, and Van Halen vs. and "Van Hagar."

"It is my life: I was born in 1979, when they burned all the disco records, and we just thought that was a really cool way to open the song. The fact that we got to reference disco dying and introducing rock 'n' roll was kind of a cool thing. Being able to tell my story as a teenager and include all these historical references was a lot of fun." Chris says the Hagar reference is his "absolute favorite line" on Baptized, but when asked for his thoughts on Van Halen's Gary Cherone years, he merely answers, "Um, I don't think we need to talk about that. I loved [Extreme's] 'More Than Words,' and we'll leave it at that!"

On the subject of rock 'n' roll — and nostalgia — it should be noted that Baptized enters a music marketplace largely devoid of successful hard rock acts; much has changed since Chris wowed on "Idol" with his covers of Fuel, Creed, and Shinedown songs and Daughtry became the fastest-selling debut rock album in Soundscan history. Will rock 'n' roll really live on, as Daughtry's sentimental song claims? "I think yes, absolutely," asserts Chris. "It's never gonna die. Everything is cyclical, everything is going to have its moments. I don't see how it could die — there’s too much rock in every one of us for it to ever be obsolete."

Apparently some things really do never change.

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