3 Doors Down frontman Brad Arnold plans to let his inner country boy loose on his first-ever solo album, which he hopes to release in 2014.
Arnold tells Billboard that he's already started work on the set, which he hopes will be out early next summer. "I know it sounds crazy, but I grew up in south Mississippi loving country music," Arnold notes. "It's always been something I've wanted to do, 'cause that's what I grew up on, about as much on country as on rock 'n' roll. Everybody's cool with me doing it, so I want to just go back and have fun with it for a minute and see what happens and then come back and make another 3 Doors Down record."
Arnold has been writing with 3 Doors Down collaborators Marti Frederiksen and Zac Malloy, as well as other Nashville country hitmakers. "I've got like two or three (songs) that are for sure now," he says. "I just want it to be a good, honest record, kind of timeless songs you can listen to in 20 years and still enjoy. In a way some of our 3 Doors Down stuff isn't a real far shot from country. I don't really want to reach too far away from this kind of stuff I already do. Country and rock are about as close as they've ever been. So I just have to write and see what we come up with."
Arnold plans to work in earnest on the album after 3 Doors Down wraps up its summer tour -- including co-headlining dates with Daughtry -- on Sept. 1 in Huron, S.D. He hasn't chosen a producer yet but is confident things will go smoothly -- and quickly -- once he gets locked into a recording situation. "With all the players in Nashville, you can do a record in a couple weeks, without rushing or anything, and be done with it," he says.
As for how the country audience will greet him, Arnold acknowledges that he's "a little anxious about it. My view on it is it all starts with a song; if you have a song to go over there with and it's an undeniably good song, it'll work. I think if you just get in front of people and you're honest and try your best for them, I think they'll be receptive to it."
Until then, Arnold is locked into 3 Doors Down, which begins its run with Daughtry on July 3. The tour will introduce North American audiences to Justin Biltonen, who's filling in for bassist and co-founder Todd Harrell while he faces charges of Vehicular Homicide in Tennessee. from an April 20 accident that killed Paul Howard Shoulders, Jr. Harrell is currently free on $100,000 bail and is going through rehab, with a trial date set for July 23. Arnold says Biltonen is "doing great," while Harrell's future with the band is "a day by day thing" until the legalities are worked out.
"He's just in my prayers, y'know?," Arnold says. "That's my brother, and he always will be. There's never been a time in my life that I don't remember knowing him, and he actually sent me a text a couple days ago and it had been awhile since I talk to him. And he said he was doing really good and he wished he was here, obviously. It's just, there's nothing really good I can say about it. It's very unfortunate, and my heart goes out to everybody involved...All I can do is just say a prayer for him, man. Beyond that it's out of my hands, and I wish him the best."