Interview:3 Doors Down’s Matt Roberts
"Kryptonite" was just the killer beginning. For the guys in 3 Doors Down, who first scored big in 2000 with that Superman-inspired hit, and again in 2002 with Away From The Sun the real deal is their new disc, Seventeen Days. And even after six No. 1 singles and 12 million albums sold, the band is really excited about the new release. And they should be, it's rockin'.
Guitarists Matt Roberts and Chris Henderson have been criss-crossing the continent these past few years - the lesser mortals who are their bandmates in tow - laying down riffs for the masses. And if all you know about these Mississippi natives is that simple initial hit, you just don't know how these guys can play.
Guitar.com has spoken with Henderson a couple of times - even gave away an autographed guitar signed by the entire band (and the hoodie right off Henderson's back, also autographed) in 2003. This time around we decided Roberts deserved some props.
So please enjoy this exclusive Guitar.com interview with 3 Doors Down guitarist Matt Roberts, and be sure to look for Seventeen Days on your favorite download site (a legal, one please!) real soon.
Guitar.com: Hey Matt, how are you?
Matt Roberts: Good Adam, how are you bud?
Guitar.com: I'm doing well. Are you guys down in Florida today?
Roberts: I think so.
Guitar.com: Ah, the rock 'n' roll life!
Roberts: I'm in my bus somewhere in a parking lot.
Guitar.com: So you're doing the whole Superbowl party this weekend, that's got to be fun. And you've got the new album, Seventeen Days coming out.
Roberts: Yeah, we're real excited about it.
Guitar.com: It sounds good Matt. Tell me about the gear you're playin' through these days.
Roberts: I'm playin' through - I've got so much processing I could launch a space shuttle. I'm using all tc electronics for my processing. For my power amp, I'm using Triple XXX Peavey for my clean, and a Peavey 5150 for my heavy tone. And I'm still with Ibanez. So all that combined makes my guitar rig.
Guitar.com: So what are your favorite effects in that tc unit?
Roberts: I really like all effects, brother. I'm like the edge. I like the way the tc electronics stuff comes out. It used to be all floor units - the Boss type stuff. But finally I've found a rack mounted unit. Basically I'm pretty happy with everything that comes out of there: the delay, the flange. I never thought I'd be happy with a rack-mounted processing unit. But here I am.
Guitar.com: So do you have delay or reverb on all the time? Or compression? What's your basic, starting tone?
Roberts: There's are some songs that are just straight up 5150 tone, or straight up Triple XXX tone. There are some songs where I go from delay/reverb/chorus/flange - and all that stuff. So it depends on the song. Some songs are A and B, and some songs are A through G.
Guitar.com: And do you get in and customize the settings on that unit, or do you use the stock tc electronics settings?
Roberts: I spend a lot of time setting the parameters and getting things set the way I like. And we have a rehearsal for the tour. And for some reason, you can put your gear away for a day, or six months, and when you come back it always sounds different. So the last week I've been spending my time rehearsing and getting my rig back to sounding the way I want it to sound. It's kind of a trial and error process, so I think I'm there. I better be there, because I've got a gig this weekend.
Guitar.com: Do you have any new guitars you're taking on the road this year?
Roberts: Well, I'm just getting ready to launch the new Ibanez RG archtop.
Guitar.com: Cool. The RG line has some great guitars.
Roberts: That's gonna be one of my new axes that I'm really excited about. I should be getting that any day. I'm going to be really happy to bring that out for Ibanez. They're building me a custom guitar with a vintage look. So it'll be the Vintage Archtop RG, and I'll be using that a lot of this tour.
Guitar.com: Have you always liked archtop guitars?
Roberts: Yeah, actually that's all I've been playing. They've got their artist series and that's what I've been playing. What happened was I went from their traditional guitars, their flat cut guitars - which have no arch to them at all - to their AR series. Rob Nishida, my guy there, is really good at adapting to what I want. So I'd like to think that this RG Archtop concept is something he threw in there for me.
Guitar.com: That's cool. And what does Chris have going on with his rig? Anything new?
Roberts: I really don't know. I know he's still a PRS guy, but between the two guitar racks, you can't keep up. I just can keep up with my own stuff. He's got his arsenal, I've got mine.
Guitar.com: So when you're off the road, what are you working on? Or what are you listening to that people might be surprised to know about?
Roberts: Well, when I'm off the road, and I'm not on tour or doing anything, I don't play a lot of guitar. I used to, but I find myself just kind of trying to break away from that. I need some time, man. I spend so many days and hours in the studio that I literally just want to break away. I don't really play a lot. And when I come home, I can't tell you anything that's playing on MTV, or VH-1, or current radio. I'm a big classic rock guy. That's the only thing I listen to. I'm not a very up to date kind of guy.
Guitar.com: Well, you'll be having a good time this weekend with the Lynyrd Skynyrd Superbowl bash tomorrow night.
Roberts: Yeah, that's gonna be fun.
Guitar.com: What are you guys doing about a drummer this year?
Roberts: Oh man, we've got a fabulous new drummer. I'm really excited about Greg Upchurch. For the first time since we've been a band I really feel like this is not a hired gun situation. I finally feel like we've got a guy who is part of the band now. I'm just sick of that shit, going through drummers. And Greg was the guy who I really became friends with on the last tour. Greg was just the guy. And we said, 'This is the guy' and called him up and said, 'Won't you come over here and join us.' I feel like he's going to be our drummer until the end of time.
Guitar.com: Was he in the studio with you on Seventeen Days?
Roberts: No, unfortunately, he wasn't. Unfortunately our ex-drummer was.
Guitar.com: So it's probably going to be a little bit more energetic out there on stage then, with the new blood.
Roberts: New blood baby! It is man. I'm excited, he's excited. He's the new member of the family.
Guitar.com: So do you still live in your hometown when you're off the road?
Roberts: No, I live in South Florida. And I have a home in South Alabama. I'm originally from Mississippi. I kind of like to go home and be in the peace and quiet, you know what I mean? And not have people - I don't mind the fame and all, it's just when I go home I just wanna be like a regular guy. And if I go back to my hometown, that can never happen.
Guitar.com: As Ronnie VanZant said: "Don't ask me 'bout my business, and I won't tell you no lies."
Roberts: Man, that is such the f'in song man! That song defines it right there brother.
Guitar.com: Yeah. So what's the one track on the new album that you're really just dying to get out there and play?
Roberts: Well, I'll tell you, all the bullshit interviews I've done in the past and said whatever about the past records - this record is the real deal man. Johnny K - I just can't say enough about the guy. He really came in there and was the hero for us. He helped us pull it together. And this record is just such a strong record. So to answer your question about my favorite track, I've got several. But there's one: "Right Where I Belong," that leads the record off, and it's a really fast, heavy track. But I just can't say enough about the record as a whole. I'm really excited. We've got Bob Seger singing one song. The record is just so massive, I just love it. I'm really proud of this record.
Guitar.com: And how is Seger's voice these days?
Roberts: Bobby! He sounded like Bob man. He's got a little more rasp than he used to - probably about 300,000 more packs of Marlboro Lights since you last heard him sing. Bobby has the thickness and the rasp. He and Brian's voice, they're really distinctive. The track that they're on is really cool.
Guitar.com: So you're gonna hit the road hard real soon, I'm sure.
Roberts: I'm gonna hit it hard and it's gonna hit me! It goes both ways, brother.
About the Author:
Adam St. James joined Guitar.com shortly after the website launched in the summer of 1999 and has been the site's Editor for several years. Adam has worked as a guitar tech for Sammy Hagar, and is the author of several guitar and music instructional books, including "101 Guitar Tips: Stuff All the Pros Know and Use" (published by Hal Leonard). He fronts blues and rock bands in the Chicago area. See www.adamstjames.com and www.BluesLessons.com for info on all Adam's books, bands, and barstool banter.
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