The former Idol rocker picks up the pace on his latest set 

When the band’s namesake and frontman Chris Daughtry set out to write his fourth album, Baptized, he wasn’t expecting it to come together so quickly. “I started in January with the idea of writing these songs, doing the demos, and maybe getting the record out by the end of 2014,” says Daughtry, 33. “Which would have meant we’d be in the studio right now, still recording.”

But the work was sped along by an unorthodox recording process. “Essentially, I would record as I went,” he explains. “I’d record songs that were going to be demos, but we were capturing the energy right then and there, and they were sounding so incredible. The label was freaking out over them, and I felt these songs were too good. I felt they needed to be heard now.”

Seven years—and three albums—after Daughtry first burst onto the scene as a competitor on American Idol, the change of pace was especially welcome. From the earliest planning stages, Daughtry wanted to approach Baptized differently. “There’s a comfort level that takes place that almost allows you to keep recycling or repeating yourself—and I didn’t want that,” he says. “I wanted to shake it up. After writing three records, you tend to sit and go, ‘I don’t even know what the hell I want to write about.’”

Daughtry brought in a new team of co-songwriters, including megahit-makers Claude Kelly, Martin Johnson and former Idol judge Kara DioGuardi. The new partnerships offered a fresh perspective as well as a confidence boost. In particular, his initial writing sessions with Kelly were a springboard that determined the course of the album. “Claude was actually one of the first people I worked with for this record,” he says. “We wrote ‘Broken Arrows’ first, and then we wrote ‘Baptized,’ and I remember thinking at the time it was the best song I’d ever written. I walked out of that session feeling like I’d just written the best thing ever. And at the end of the writing for this record, they still stood out as some of my favorite songs. I always felt after writing ‘Baptized’ that it should be the name of the album.”

With renewed energy, Daughtry also embraced a new approach to writing lyrics. “We wanted this record to be more picturesque,” he says. “I wanted it to be less about ‘I’m feeling this’ or ‘I’m feeling that,’ but rather I wanted the stories to really be visual. Certain songs have a bit of humor to them, and I’ve never really done that before. I’m actually not a doom-and-gloom guy. People don’t know that about me because everything has been so serious.”

–Amanda Farah


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