Brad Arnold, singer for alt-rockers 3 Doors Down, said he likes to think of the band’s acoustic shows as intimate and personal, like “having a band practice in somebody’s basement.”
On Sunday, the band’s challenge will be creating that feeling outdoors, on the Maine State Pier.
“I like playing acoustic shows outdoors; the sound is more consistent, it’s not bouncing all over the place,” said Arnold, 35. “We’ll have some couches set up on stage for people to sit on. We’ll tell stories and mess around a little. We don’t want people to feel like they’re at a big rock show.”
3 Doors Down will bring its “Songs from the Basement” acoustic tour to the Maine State Pier in Portland Sunday. Singer-songwriter Amy LaVere will open.
Arnold said the band had done acoustic sets for years, but never a full acoustic show. Then they did one, in Nashville, and had so much fun they decided to do a whole acoustic tour.
The band’s acoustic shows feature “the songs everyone expects us to play,” said Arnold, like hits “Kryptonite” and “Here Without You.” But they also slip in some of their original songs that they don’t often play at live shows, as well as some unusual covers.
One of those is a ballad called “The Dance” by country star Garth Brooks. Arnold, who met his bandmates while growing up in the tiny town of Escatawpa, Mississippi, is a big country music fan, and specifically, a Garth Brooks fan.
“I’ve always been a huge fan of Garth Brooks, George Strait, Alan Jackson,” said Arnold. “But I listened to everything growing up, and it all influenced me.”
Arnold was the youngest of seven children, and his older siblings exposed him to their favorite kinds of music. One sister was a big fan of ’80s rockers like Bon Jovi and Def Leppard. Arnold said he recalls first dreaming about being a rock musician after seeing Def Leppard’s live video for “Pour Some Sugar On Me.”
Arnold was just 15 when the band started, and he played drums and sang. He said he had to have his parents sign notes giving him permission to play gigs in local bars in and around Escatawpa. The town, with a population of about 3,500, is located between Biloxi, Mississippi, and Mobile, Alabama.
“It was great for us, because our town was so small there was really nothing else to do. So we were drawing 200 people or more from our first show on,” said Arnold.
He says the band’s name came from a fruit stand in a small Alabama town. The band was driving to one of its first gigs and didn’t have a name yet. Somebody in the band saw a sign on the closed fruit stand stating that it had moved a certain number of “doors down” the street.
“At the time there were three of us in the band, and we had a gig that night, so we said ‘3 Doors Down, that works,’ ” said Arnold.
The band built a loyal fan base playing small towns, and by the late 1990s they were putting out independent records and getting radio airplay. The regional success of the song “Kryptonite” led to the band signing with Republic Records. The band’s first studio album, “The Better Life,” came out in 2000. The band has released a total of five studio albums, and is working on a sixth.
Arnold says the band has been playing a few of the new songs on this current tour.
In recent years, band members have had to deal with tragedy and turmoil connected to original bass player Todd Harrell.
Harrell was arrested and charged with vehicular homicide in 2013 in Nashville, after his car was involved in a high-speed crash resulting in the death of a 47-year-old man. His trial is set for December.
In February of this year Harrell was arrested on a drunken-driving charge. The arrest prompted band members to suspend him from the group indefinitely.
“He’s got a lot of things to deal with. I wish him the best but we had to move on. We try to be a very positive band,” said Arnold. “He’s still my brother. I’ll never turn my back on him.”
3 DOORS DOWN
Where: Maine State Pier, Commercial St. at Franklin Arterial, Portland
When: 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 3
How much: $31.75 to $61.75