3 Doors Down Manager Says Band Is Playing Inauguration Because They’re “Good Mississippi and Alabama Boys”

Very few musicians want to perform at Donald Trump’s inauguration festivities, but where KISS and R. Kelly fear to tread, 3 Doors Down rush in. The Southern rock band are playing tonight’s Make America Great Again! Welcome Celebration because—shocker—they’re conservatives. At least that’s what the band’s manager, Angus Vail, told Vice.

“They come from conservative families,” Vail explained. And their families don’t just lean right: “When Obama got elected, the singer [Brad Arnold] said please don’t talk to my father about Obama because he thinks the world has ended,” Vail said. “He was just as horrified and depressed about Obama as many are about Trump. They were like, ‘It’s going to be Armageddon, the whole world is going to communism and he’s going to give everything away to the welfare state.'”

Vail also had a refreshingly candid take on the continuing relevance of 3 Doors Down, whose last big hits date to the early ’00s:
The interesting thing is that they have songs, like “Loser” and “Kryptonite,” and those songs are played at every Walmart and in every elevator in America. But are they huge? Well, the very first album they put out sold 13 million copies and 3 Doors are a Bible-belt sort of band, and they can do very well in all those places. They can play until they’re 80 years old, and people will come and see them. They’re not the latest, hottest thing, but they will always attract a lot of people.
In the Trumpian Bizarro World, everything that should be an obvious loss for a band like 3 Doors Down is in fact a low-risk proposition with a lot of potential upside. As Vail put it: “The more liberals that get all hot under their collar about it, the more we’re appreciated by a whole bunch of conservatives.” The best we can hope for is the cold comfort that they deserve it.

CREDIT: Jeff Hahne/Getty Images

This Is Why 3 Doors Down Said Yes To The Inauguration

The list of performers at President-elect Donald Trump’s upcoming inauguration has changed many, many times.

Stars have bowed out, up-and-comers have dropped in, and 3 Doors Down has been the mainstay.

Since the band we knew and loved in the early aughts agreed to perform at the inauguration, there has been significant commentary about it.

Mainly because 3 Doors Down hasn’t, uh, been relevant for awhile.

Despite that, the band’s business manager, Angus Vail, talked to Vice about why the band agreed to perform at all.

“Well, 3 Doors actually played George W. Bush’s inauguration. They are good Mississippi and Alabama boys — they come from conservative families,” Vail told the publication. “You know, they’re really good guys, but they have very different political beliefs. Because they played both Bush’s inaugurations, they’ve obviously been on the conservative radar.”

So, this is all George W. Bush’s fault? No, not exactly.

Vail elaborated and said that the band’s choice to perform had a lot to do with their “God, guns, and country black-and-white sort of viewpoint” and that “they spend a lot of time going to Iraq, doing service, playing for the troops.”

Frontman Brad Arnold told TMZ just last night that he’s “proud” to do it and that he thinks it’ll be a “good experience.”

Regarding the criticism Vail himself received from the pushback about the upcoming performance, he told Vice: “A lot of people think like, how can you be associated with them? Whereas I just think they have a very different view of the world from me.”

For 3 Doors Down, there’s “no such thing as bad publicity.” Vail feels that “the more liberals that get all hot under their collar about it, the more we’re appreciated by a whole bunch of conservatives.”

3 Doors Down Is the Perfect Band to Play Trump’s Inauguration

With major black and mainstream pop musicians effectively boycotting Donald Trump’s inauguration, event planners have been compelled to rely on artists with a large popular following who hail from culturally marginal genres. Classical crossover, a schlocky genre predicated on slavish devotion to a mirage of European high culture, is well-represented by the 16-year old platinum-selling plaster angel Jackie Evancho and a Utah YouTube quartet (5.3 million followers) named the Piano Guys. Country, whose core audience is eager to see the genre's association with political conservatism reinforced, is even more prominent: Toby Keith and Big & Rich are the best known, but there are several other male country artists as well. There are various outgroup collectives whose bosses aim to curry favor with the incoming power: the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, the marching band from historically black Talladega College, and the white members of the Rockettes. There is DJ Ravi Drums, an Indian-American who has been seen on television and is 48 years old. There are, at least for now, the gospel singer Travis Greene and the R&B songstress Chrisette Michele. There’s Tony Orlando.

Donald Trump didn't get elected president by being subtle. It shouldn’t be a shock that the self-nominated cultural representatives of Donald Trump’s America have motives that are as obvious as the man himself. They believe in putting nationalism over politics: “I hope to just kind of make everyone forget about rivals and politics for a second and just think about America and the pretty song that I'm singing,” said Evancho when interviewed on CBS. It’s a senseless proposition: Nationalism is always already politicized, and this is never more the case than when Trump, who campaigned by naked appeals to national self-interest and a violently exclusive conception of the nation, is the president due to be sworn in.

Yet the ethos of Trump won't be best exemplified by the brazen jingoism of country as done by Toby Keith or Tony Orlando’s casino-grade crooning or the inorganic cleanliness of Jackie Evancho’s classical crossover, but by 3 Doors Down. Founded in 1996 in the Gulf Coast town of Escatawpa, Mississippi, 3 Doors Down is most easily classified by its lack of character. The band’s sound is not easily distinguishable from that of the multitude of rock bands that found radio and chart success around the turn of the millennium, Nickelback chief among them. These bands were retrospectively grouped together under the label of post-grunge rock, and for good reason: They labored in the shadow of Nirvana and benefited from its example. Kurt Cobain’s band had proven the possibility of fusing catchy, introspective lyrics with muddy guitars, and enormous popular success with the integrity of a marginal scene; though Cobain died in the process, his death hardly warned off potential imitators. Some things simply can’t be copied, though, and so a curious inversion took place in post-grunge. What the guitars gained in polish, the words lost in nuance; inner vision imploded into opaque self-pity, but the sound reduced itself to clarity. Their lyrical imprecision aside, post-grunge bands were precisely what Cobain feared he and his band was becoming: thoughtless chart-toppers with a knack for passing off sap as substance, narcissism as integrity.

Their chart success was no accident. Every culture has its own way of registering melancholia, the basic pain of existing: saudade, Weltschmerz, ennui, tizita, mono no aware. In this sense America, typically atypical, is no exception: For a culture that celebrates personal achievement above all else while shirking individual responsibility at any cost, self-pity is the primary mode of grasping suffering. Each one suffers from isolation, in isolation. When the world is reduced to the self, the self’s thrashings and failures take on global proportions, and whoever can describe this feeling in a plain and accessible language is bound to strike a chord — often literally, as was the case with 3 Doors Down & Co. They sold millions and millions of records by soundtracking a common sensation of self-centered sorriness: “I’m a loser, and sooner or later you know I’ll be dead.”

This wasn’t the only thing they shared in common with their audience, though, and here Cobain’s example is once more illustrative. His agonized performance of Leadbelly’s “Where Did You Sleep Last Night” marked the final vital point of contact (the White Stripes’ museum-tier replications notwithstanding) between contemporary rock, generated by white Americans for white Americans, and the blues (themselves the specifically black American rendition of melancholia) from which rock music originated. The '90s marked the extinction of the line of black rock icons running from Chuck Berry to Hendrix to Funkadelic to Rick James and Prince, and the shift in mainstream rock marked by the emergence of post-grunge was as much a cause of rock’s resegregation as it was a symptom: The portentous aspect of its self-absorption was a note few Americans of color could credibly reproduce or willingly listen to.

A similar retrenchment took place regarding gender, as the assertiveness, electric androgyny, and polymorphous libido prevalent in pre-'90s rock yielded to a sullen, unequivocally straight masculinity. As the video for Nickelback’s career-defining hit “How You Remind Me” painfully reiterates, women no longer arouse by their presence so much as they disappoint by vanishing. (And the notion of a woman lead singer in a post-grunge band was unthinkable — the genre was defined by the impossibility of Joan Jetts and Princes alike.) You can purify the world of alien influences and keep your woman from leaving if you feel bad enough for yourself. This isn’t how the purveyors of post-grunge viewed themselves, but it does correspond to how their music played out in the field of culture.

The compatibility between the social and spiritual perspectives amplified by post-grunge and the revanchist right-wing politics of Trumpism seems fairly obvious, but it’s never more explicit than in the music video for 3 Doors Down’s own career-defining hit “Kryptonite.” As in the film Birdman, to which the video serves as an unwitting precursor, the protagonist is a repellent white man. Old, with disheveled hair, dressed in his underwear, his food infested with insects, he was once a superhero (or a superhero on television, it’s unclear). He watches reruns of his former self on TV. The old man is prepared to die in the city apartment he inhabits alone: You can tell because he releases a bird, representing his soul, from the window. Then he witnesses a scene in the hallway: A slickly dressed young man with stereotypically Latin features is manhandling a blonde-haired woman. The old white man decides to dress up in his old costume and save the white woman. But on his way he’s accosted by five young white people — you can tell by their punkish clothes and dyed hair that they’re cultural liberals. They shove him over. He perseveres, though, and his plotline eventually intersects with the shots of 3 Doors Down, backed by American flags, playing a concert in a club when he crashes through the concert venue skylight and flattens the swarthy man beneath him. In some ways, nothing has changed. The old man is still going to die soon. But the question the final scene, centered on his defiant thumbs-up, asks us to consider is a new one, or at least newly relevant in the light of the inauguration. This old man is preposterous and awful and doomed, but how many can he take down with him?

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