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The next stage for Daughtry

As arena tour progresses, band fronted by a former 'Idol' contestant seeing the crowds grow

Samantha Stiles

An hour and 45 minutes of lights, explosions, stage props and No. 1 singles you and your mom have heard of.

This ain't no TV show.

The first national headlining arena tour for Daughtry, former 'American Idol' finalist Chris Daughtry's self-titled band, stops Sunday night in Austin.

Despite his rise from service adviser at a car dealership to one of People magazine's 2009 'Sexiest Man Alive' winners, the smooth-headed frontman says the alterna-rock band does not stoke the hype. (Daughtry the band is singer Chris, bassist Josh Paul, drummer Joey Barnes and guitarists Brian Craddock and Josh Steely. )

'A lot of times, we don't realize how big something is because we're sheltered by it on a bus,' he says. 'We're not Google-ing ourselves, we're not trying to get on TMZ and we're not out to make headlines either.'

But the headlines keep rolling in — Daughtry, 29, is quoted on everything from marriage advice to his opinion of Ellen DeGeneres as the newest 'American Idol' judge (he totally digs her).

The band released its second studio album, 'Leave This Town' in July, and the CD debuted at No. 1 on Billboard 200 and sold more than a half million copies in five weeks . Catchy radio-ready singles like 'September' were an instant fan favorite live, Daughtry says, because it's 'relatable' and 'evokes reflection' on one's childhood.

We spoke with Daughtry as he completed a grueling day of back-to-back interviews. At the time, Daughtry the band hadn't begun rehearsing for this tour.

The frontman could only speculate about what the shows would be like (he guessed 'mythical creatures').

'If people have seen us before, they haven't seen us like this,' he said by phone from Los Angeles. 'It's going to be huge.'

That guess has come true, says guitarist Craddock, who we tracked down last week , before the band headed to Austin.

'The fans are eating it up,' Craddock says. 'We have the best fans, too. Since the word has gotten out we're doing this tour, each show just gets more and more packed.'

Along with original songs, the band is throwing in a few covers in each night such as Phil Collins' 'In the Air Tonight' and the Toadies' 'Possum Kingdom.'

A headlining arena tour is a dream realized for Daughtry; many of the band's members were plucked from obscurity before joining the band.

'For me, it really was a boyhood dream come true,' says Craddock, who met Daughtry when he was working at a music store in Charlottesville, Va.

Even while it looks forward, the band still pays homage to what made it famous.

'Chris has nothing but respect for ("American Idol"). Because without that show he'd be nothing, and those are his words,' Craddock says. 'It's part of the band's history. "American Idol" was awesome and now we're trying to take it up a notch from there. I think the show was only a help. I owe my career to it.'

Daughtry

With openers Theory of a Deadman and Cavo

Where: Frank Erwin Center, 1701 Red River.

When: Sunday, Dec. 13 at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets: $29.50 and $39.50. Available through Texas Box Office Outlets, texasboxoffice.com, 512-477-6060 or 1-800-982-2386.