TODD HARRELL HAS DRIVEN THE
3 Doors Down hit machine for the past 15
years, anchoring scores of hits and setting
some of rock’s most memorable hooks.
Harrell has always prided himself as a meatand-
potatoes player, favoring straightforward
bass playing to bells and whistles. With his
band’s fifth studio release, Time of My Life,
he gets to rock melodically while riffing and
refining at all the right moments. Harrell
became a student of his instrument through
the recording process, embracing different
feels and utilizing vast tones.
How do you view your role in 3 Doors Down?
Lay down the groove and keep the flow. I
love playing and performing, and my groove
reflects that. Anybody who plays for a living
is bound to get better, and from the first
record to this one, I’ve found my playing
has become more cohesive.
How did you approach the studio with
Our producer, Howard Benson, challenged
me to add more complexity to my
bass parts. The beauty was just trying things;
if they worked, they were typically genius
on his part.
Plus, there was so much gear that I felt
like a kid in a candy store. I was able to try
different tones, basses, and effects as well.
All of our prior records were completely
straightforward; on this recording I felt like
I really spread my wings.
“Round & Round” has a great feel.
Brad [Arnold, lead vocalist] and I were
in the studio and I started playing that cool
bass line and he felt a drum beat immediately
so he started riffing with me. [Arnold also
plays drums.] Both of those elements helped
him come up with the lyrics on the spot.
The bass is driving the song and it came
“Time of My Life” evokes early 3 Doors
I channeled my inner rock star for that
one. It has so many great pulls and pushes
that it was exciting to play the bass. I felt
like I went back to my roots laying that
Who is one of your personal bass heroes?
Harrell (left) and Matt Roberts.
I’ve always loved Sting; his tone has
always inspired me. When we played the
American Music Awards, he was sitting
right in front of me. In my mind, he was
the only person in the arena. It was a little
intimidating at the time—I felt like he was
staring right at me.
How would you describe your playing
People have always told me that I’m a
laid-back person. My feel on the bass has
always been that way, as well. Playing the
bass has always felt right to me; I just seem
suited to be the bass player. 3 Doors Down
writes songs that everyone can relate to,
and I’ve always felt like I’ve played the
bass in the same way—not many frills, but
playing exactly what the song needs every
HEAR HIM ON
3 Doors Down, Time of My
Life [Republic, 2011]
Bass 1962 Fender Precision with a modified Fender Jazz neck
Rig Ampeg SVT-CL
heads with 4x10 cabinets