3 Doors Down could possibly lay claim to being the dullest, most successful rock band in the world. The four hometown boys from Mississippi -- who you wouldn't recognise if you fell over them in the street -- made good in 2000 with the release of The Better Life (which sold an incredible six million copies) and the hit singles "Kryptonite" and "Loser", but nothing can convince me that they make for an entertaining live act, least of all their new EP, Another 700 Miles.
Recorded during the nationwide tour to support successful their second album, Away From the Sun (which went three times platinum), the EP is really nothing more than a collection for the die-hard fan only. I mean, who else would be interested in note-for-note renditions of album tracks and the obligatory cover thrown in for good measure? It's slick, safe, saccharine stuff, with even a dedication to the armed forces over in Iraq (prompting the inevitable 30-second chant of "USA! USA! USA!") included as an intro to "When I'm Gone". Of course, 3 Doors Down don't do the renegade rock star thing of dissing war and condemning the government that sent those soldiers to Iraq, no siree. They leave that kind of thing to the Dixie Chicks, but I really wish they wouldn't. From what Brad Arnold says, I get the impression the band are anti-war, but I wish they'd just stand up and express their opinion instead of pussyfooting around the issue. If they can't sing something interesting, they should have the balls to at least say something worthwhile.
Anyway, back to the music. The EP kicks off in rocking fashion with "Duck and Run", a fairly intense, yet strangely forgettable modern rock song about facing up to fears and not running away. After the aforementioned dedication "to the men and women in the military", vocalist Brad Arnold's heartfelt vocals lead into the Grammy-nominated song "When I'm Gone". The tune is a typically commercial and radio-friendly modern rock song, which the crowd lap up excitedly, although I can't figure out from where they are summoning the enthusiasm. "Kryptonite", the band's breakout song that launched them onto the national stage is next, and is a better, more original song and is, I suppose, what could be considered the high point of the EP. But the sheer tedium of the 3 Doors Down live experience is emphasised most on the bland ballad "Here Without You", a song that sounds like it was written by a pre-pubescent teenager: "I'm here without you / You're still with me in my dreams". Listening to such a formulaic, weak song, it's hard to believe the success the band has achieved. New song "It's Not Me" is another grunge-lite song with little appeal or redeeming features, while the band's uninspiring cover of Lynyrd Skynyrd's "That Smell" is introduced as "from a time when rock n' roll was really rock n'roll," by Arnold. What a shame the band's army of fans will never know what that time felt like if all they have to inspire them is this bunch of workmanlike, deadly-dull modern rockers, whose idea of a good time is probably a night in watching Friends.
Thank goodness Another 700 Miles is only an EP and that I didn't have to sit through a full show. Come back, Matchbox Twenty, all is forgiven.