Until Katrina, the biggest thing to hit Escatawpa, Miss., was 3 Doors Down. The Southern rockers burst on the scene in 2000 with the hit song "Kryptonite" and have gone on to sell more than 12 million albums.
The group, who will be in concert at the Toledo Sports Arena Wednesday, has had five more No. 1 singles: "Duck & Run," "Loser," "Be Like That," "When I'm Gone," and "Here Without You," and recently released its third studio album, "Seventeen Days," on Republic Records.
The new disc is named for the amount of time 3 Doors Down had to record it, according to guitarist Chris Henderson, who explained in a recent interview how the band painted itself into a corner when it came to recording deadlines.
"We committed to a release date before we even finished the tour from the last record," he said. "Originally we had six months, then the Nickelback tour came up and we figured that was something we should do, so we put the writing process on hold. That gave us five weeks to meet the deadline, which was no problem. We'd been on the road two years straight and went right into the studio.
"Then Hurricane Ivan came through [Mississippi] and we had to evacuate. We put everything in a U-Haul and drove to Nashville. The packing up and traveling took seven days, so that left four weeks. Then my father passed away, and out of respect the band took 12 days off. So then we had 17 days."
Still, 3 Doors Down was able to meet the deadline and give fans another dose of its driving, guitar-powered Southern rock. "Seventeen Days" sold a quarter-million copies the first week of release.
Band members have been friends since high school, said Henderson. Joining him are Brad Arnold on lead vocals, Matt Roberts on guitar, and Todd Harrell on bass.
"We're definitely not a contrived band. We are a band of brothers. We grew together, bled together, laughed and cried together," Henderson said. "We rode in a van and played in bars when Brad was not even old enough to drink and had to get a note from his mom. We've paid our dues, and now we're tasting some success."
For the last several months, Henderson and colleagues have been working hard to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina, playing benefit concerts, giving a portion of ticket sales to charities, and coming up with some creative ways to help the Gulf Coast region.
Digging out from the storm is something the Mississippi musicians had to deal with personally.
"I got four and a half feet of water in my house and lost all my guitars. We're starting to box them up and ship them back to the factory," Henderson said. "My whole collection went under."
His wife and children are living in a 32-foot travel trailer while they get ready to rebuild, he said, but at least they have electricity and water.
"I've been through many storms, I've lived there 34 years and seen a lot - Eleanor, George, Frederick. They've been category 3, category 4 hurricanes. But I've never seen anything like this such utter devastation," Henderson said. "Losing some property goes with the territory. You're used to losing a roof, a car, a shed. You clean up your yard and then get back into your house. But no one's ever lost their home, cars, jobs - everything. It's a wasteland."
The band has raised more than $300,000 by donating $1 from each concert ticket sold on its current tour, and its Web site, www.3doorsdown.com, opens with a list of relief agencies and a video about hurricane recovery efforts.
In addition to raising funds, the band donated a fire truck and three police cars to the town of Waveland, Miss., which was flattened by Katrina. A former fire fighter, Henderson drove the fire truck himself from Grand Bay, Ala., to Waveland.
3 Doors Down will be on the road at least until Nov. 14, after which the musicians are planning a much-needed break. "Brother, believe me, I need it," Henderson said. "In the meantime, we're bringing it. We're gonna have fun in Toledo."
Opening will be Shinedown, a Jacksonville, Fla., band whose sophomore disc, "Us and Them," opened this week at No. 23 on the Billboard charts.
3 Doors Down performs at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, with Shinedown opening, at the Toledo Sports Arena. Tickets are $36.50 from Ticketmaster or the Sports Arena box office, 419-698-4545.
Contact David Yonke at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6154.