3 Doors Down
Justin Biltonen is the latest addition to 3 Doors Down, a band that has ensured their legendary status never waivers with constant production of album after unbelievable album. Justin gave us a chance to learn some more about the band, himself, and their latest album.
"Us & the Night" is the band's 6th full-length album, but the first with you as a member. What have the reactions been for this release for yourself compared to your band-mates?
For me it's been overwhelmingly positive, which I think has been the response for the rest of the guys as well. We put a lot of time blood sweat and tears in these songs and for me it felt like " This is my chance to prove myself". It's so incredible to be involved in a band with such a huge legacy of music. Having parts that I wrote or contributed to on a record that is adding to that legacy and that people are really loving and my family is very proud of is an incredible feeling.
You played in a band called The Campaign1984 for nearly a decade, what was that experience like compared to playing with 3 Doors Down now?
In The Campaign1984 it was all DIY punk rock mentality. We started at a time where we could self book a tour through MySpace and other social media, print out directions on MapQuest jump in a van and go play bars and youth halls across the country. I was 18 when we started and It's really where I cut my teeth, fell in love with the road and learned the business. I learned so much about band relationships, business relationships personal relationships and a lot of other
hard lessons. I've met some really close friends and played with incredible musicians and I honestly wouldn't trade it for the world. It gave me the foundation I needed to tackle the opportunity with 3 Doors Down and start the learning process all over again on a different level.
You play guitar and bass clearly, but what other instruments do you play, if any? What instrument is the most fun for you to play?
I just play guitar and bass and then bang around on everything else haha. My Dad always says " the only thing he can play is a jukebox" so I guess I can play that pretty well too. Honestly it's hard to decide between guitar or bass. There's an amazing feeling I get back home in Nashville sitting at a writing session with my acoustic guitar. And I get an amazing feeling for bass, when you really feel that low rumble and Chris Chet Brad Greg and I are locked together on a song that the crowd is really into. I think I'm just happy as long as I'm playing.
Tell us about the instrument(s) that you use on tour.
I've always loved Gibson guitars and Basses. My main bass is a sunburst Gibson Thunderbird and I play it every show. I got it when I first joined the band. It sounds exactly how I want and it stays in tune better than anything I've ever had. I also play a Black Gibson Thunderbird which I love for the same reasons. I use a Gibson Money bass for Citizen Soldier. I use a non-reverse pelum blue Gibson Thunderbird on anything in drop D and for encores and usually "When I'm Gone" I use my Custom Harper bass. It's an American Made company out of Louisville Kentucky and they custom built this awesome sunburst semi hollow double cutaway bass for me. It even has skull inlays on the fret board and it's just badass. I also have a PRS a D Angelico and a Boulder Creek acoustic bass I use in the studio and they all sound awesome.
You started playing guitar at 12 years-old, what made you pick it up to begin with? How did it feel the first time you played it? Do you remember what kind of guitar it was?
I don't remember the brand but it was a blue tele style guitar with pineapples on the pick guard that my parents got at a pawn shop hahaha. And my Mom had an old ovation acoustic I would mess around with too. My family always loved music and always had Elvis on, either radio or His movies and I just knew it's what I wanted to do. Make music and entertain people. I think when I was 14 I started playing at church and in highschool started putting together bands, I was really into a lot of the punk and metal that was coming out then and I just really wanted to be a part of it. Touring playing writing. I never had a back up or plan B I just kept climbing the steps and working toward a career in music. I really believe it's a lifelong calling too. We're constantly working toward that career every single day. Not just maintaining but striving toward that next step always trying to improve what we do.
What else do you want fans to know about you?
Well, I really love history. I love working with my hands. I do wood and leather working. I've done some carvings on guitars for our charity foundation and I also make leather goods like wallets. Also I love country music and write a lot at home in Nashville when we're not out on the road. Love Hockey (GoPredators) and Football (Go Panthers) Love shooting and fishing and I could probably eat BBQ ribs every single meal.