For Chris Daughtry, the road to success may have started on American Idol, but the show is far off in the rearview mirror at this point. Three American Music Awards, four Grammy nominations and more than 3.3 million albums later, Daughtry has solidly proven himself in a band which won't be going away anytime soon.
"It's all been a surprise," Daughtry says by phone from New York. "We've certainly put our work in. I guess you can say we sowed the seed and hoped it would come to fruition, but it doesn't always pan out. We're very fortunate."
The band's debut album was released in November of 2006, but the whirlwind for Daughtry himself has been going on for nearly two years. "I did the show, then I did the Idol tour, then I did the record, then I did my tour," he says.
Thanks to that first tour last year, it also feels like his career had to take a step back before going forward. He started out performing in arenas and sleeping in hotel rooms on the Idol tour and then, with his band, he's focused on clubs and smaller venues and he sleeps on a bus. "You use a lot of sinks to clean yourself," he says with a laugh. "But it's been good bonding time for me and the guys." He feels that his current tour of theaters is a better fit -- small enough to be intimate, but large enough to be, well, cleaner than the grimy clubs he started out in.
Through it all, he's tried to surround himself with good people to stay grounded. He sometimes feels like he's living in a bubble -- unaware of the success he's had so far. "A lot of times, we're so removed from all of it and touring in a different city every day," Daughtry says. "You never really know the extent of your popularity. When they tell you how many records you sold, it doesn't really feel real. You don't know what it's supposed to feel like or what to compare it to."
After the holidays, he'll get some time off and his first chance to sit down and soak in all that's happened in the last year. "We've been touring since January," Daughtry says. "We've had the occasional week off here and there, but, you know, nothing like a real break."
Next up, he'll head back out on the road for three months, this time as the opening act for Bon Jovi. After that, he hopes to get into the studio to start work on his next album. He's already been writing for it and looks forward to the days when he has more to choose from when playing live.
"We're writing all the time, but we won't start working on it until some time after the Bon Jovi tour," Daughtry says. "I'm just writing the way I write and hoping it's what people want. That's about all I can say."
The band recently spent two weeks in Europe -- its second trip there -- and he says their popularity there differs from country to country. "We spent two weeks there a month or two back and then went back to sort of follow up on some things," he says. "It's great. Some areas are bigger than others. We're doing well in Germany right now, and Switzerland, Sweden. It's kinda cool. After being there, any state feels like home when you get back."
Known for being a family man, Daughtry says one of the toughest parts of being on the road is missing his wife and two children. While they spent time with him in the summer, it's more difficult now that they're in school. "I don't want my family to be cooped up on a bus with the band -- that's not exactly fun," he says, noting that the worst part of touring is "missing stuff."
"Missing stuff at home -- your kids doing something new or your kids had a bad day at school. I can talk to them on the phone, which is effective, but it's not as effective as being there." He says that while it's tough not to be able to give his wife help with the kids when she's had a rough day, the one thing he misses most is simply going to the grocery store.
During an interview last year, shortly before his debut album was released, Daughtry said his biggest dream was to tour and play music for a living. Does he still feel that way? "This is a gift," he says. "No matter how much you're away from home -- you love doing it so much that ... you want to get home so bad, but then you find yourself missing going and playing a show. It's definitely something you get addicted to."
Daughtry will play Ovens Auditorium on December 15. The show is sold out.