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Published: Friday, 10/30/2009

Life is good for 'loser'

BY KIRK BAIRD
BLADE STAFF WRITER

It's not just first-place winners who reap rewards.

Good things happen to also-rans, too, such as Chris Daughtry, the fourth-place finisher on the fifth season of American Idol.

The 29-year-old rocker from North Carolina lost out to Efraym Yamin (third), Katharine McPhee (runner-up), and Taylor Hicks (winner).

More than three years later, which of those four Idol contestants is coming to town for a 7:30 p.m. Halloween show as the first concert at the new Lucas Country Arena? And which of those singers scored a multiplatinum, chart-topping debut release?

Fourth place or not, life is good for Daughtry these days, as he and his self-titled band recently launched their first headline arena tour in support of their follow-up record, "Leave This Town," which also reached No. 1 on Billboard.

The Blade recently chatted with Daughtry.

Q: So, your band has the honor of being the first group to perform at the new Lucas County Arena.

Oh, wow. I didn't know that. That's pretty awesome. I think we've done that maybe one time and that was with Bon Jovi.

Q: Does that make the performance special for you guys?

Certainly it's an honor to be the first band to grace the floor in there. Thanks for the extra pressure. (Laughs) I wasn't really thinking of it before, but now we've got something to prove.

Q: Now that Daughtry has established itself as a headline act, is there more pressure on you?

We were certainly comfortable and loving the fact that we were able to open for bands like Bon Jovi and Nickelback. And we've done headlining before, but it was state fairs and small clubs. This is the biggest thing we've done and it makes us a little nervous. There's expectations when you're at that level as far as your show and if you're able to carry it and you're able to entertain for an hour and 45 minutes and keep people interested. We've put a lot of pressure on ourselves to really try to develop the show and not just make it where we're playing the hits and playing the songs you know. We want to make it visually stimulating. Hopefully it pays off and the fans enjoy it.

Q: Did the gloomy economic situation factor much on the ticket prices to the band's shows?

Absolutely. It was very important for us to keep it around 40 bucks or under for the tickets. Anything over 40 bucks just feels like, I don't know, feels like you're taking advantage [of fans], so we didn't want to do that, we wanted to make sure they were affordable. Obviously, we have to be able to pay for our touring, we have to be able to pay for the show,

and make sure we're not going in the hole. We put all of that into consideration and that's how we came up with the ticket prices.

This is our job. This is our income. Obviously, we can't make it so we're breaking even. At the end of the tour, these buses and all the production and crew - we all have to get paid. At the same time, we don't want to take advantage of our status in the industry, either. Just because we've sold 5 million records, we don't want to be charging 50 to 100 bucks per ticket.

Q: Given the enormous success of your debut record last year, were you concerned about a sophomore slump for "Leave This Town"?

Certainly we always knew that in the back of our heads there was something to live up to, but at the same, luckily, we didn't have a deadline, so we were very fortunate that we are able to just focus on the process and not how long it was going to take to get there.

Q: If your career were to end tomorrow, what song would you want to be known for?

I wouldn't be known for it right now because it's never been played on the radio, [but] probably the song I'm most proud of on this record and just in general as a songwriter is "September." That to me is probably the most autobiographical song on the record. It's just about growing up in a small town in the south and the simplicity of childhood, and how growing up your summers are never how you remember them and life goes on, basically, and you always have those memories to hold onto.

Q: With Paula Abdul out on American Idol, what do you think of Ellen DeGeneres as her replacement judge on the show?

I love her. I love Paula, too. I think she's a sweetheart. I have a hard time seeing Ellen crushing someone's spirits, so I'm pretty sure she's going to fill that aspect of it very nicely. But I think at the same time, her perspective on the music itself is going to be more from a fan's standpoint than a music professional, and I think that's important for the show. Those are the people that buy records, the fans.

Daughtry with Theory Of A DeadMan and Cavo perform Saturday night at the Lucas County Arena, 500 Jefferson Ave. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $39.50 and $29.50. For more information, visit the Lucas County Arena box office, call TicketMaster at 800-745-3000, or go online to Ticketmaster.com.

Contact Kirk Baird at

kbaird@theblade.com

or 419-724-6734.



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