Chris Daughtry sounded a bit bleary the day after the recent American Music Awards, and for good reason.

"Oh, yeah, we all celebrated," he said, still basking in the glow of three AMA wins for his namesake band. This year, they all had plenty to rejoice about.

Following the singer's fourth-place finish on the fifth season of "American Idol," Daughtry's self-titled RCA debut became the fastest-selling rock debut album in Nielsen SoundScan history - and its 2.287 million copies made it the top-selling album by an artist in 2007.

"Daughtry" topped the Billboard 200 for two weeks and the Top Rock Albums chart for 14. It's spawned six singles so far and is up for four Grammy Awards, including rock album and best rock song for "It's Not Over."

All of this has made the 13 months since the album's release the proverbial whirlwind, and the title of the hit "It's Not Over" certainly rings true as Daughtry prepares to hit the road in 2008 with Bon Jovi.

Suffice to say he's had no second thoughts about turning down that offer to join Fuel.

Q: What's your take on the success Daughtry had in 2007?

A: It's a little bit of a shock. We're still a very new band to the industry, so every time we go to these events we kind of feel like the freshmen in high school, not really affiliated with the big, successful artists. And now we feel like we've graduated a little bit. We were certainly new to the industry, but getting recognized for your hard work is a pretty big deal.

Q: Starting to think about February at all?

A: Well, we'll see how it goes at the Grammys. Hopefully [the AMAs] were something of a . . .

Q: Harbinger?

A: Yeah, yeah. Maybe. That would be a really cool thing. But we're still on a high from [the AMAs], so we're going to just kind of hold onto that for a while.

Q: Any thoughts about why everything took off for you?

A: I'm really not sure, to be honest with you. The only thing I can really attribute it to is the fan base. They're certainly very diehard and loyal to us, and they've continued to buy our record. They've continued to come to our shows.

It doesn't matter how good you are as a band or how good your music may be; if the fans aren't supporting it and buying your music, it's hard to make it. So they're the ones that are making it for us.

Q: What is it about you they like so much?

A: I guess they see us as regular dudes. We're just normal guys who are doing what we've always wanted to do and what we love to do. These are five guys who worked hard to get where they are. And they're not letting it to go their heads.

Q: Does the world know Daughtry is a band as opposed to Chris Daughtry's band?

A: I think the majority of the people get it. Obviously our fans totally get it and know it's not a one-man show, and I think everybody else is catching on. We've tried to make sure that it's known that it's not just me. I've never been a solo artist. When the band doesn't get the credit that they deserve, it kind of bums me out a little bit. They're working just as hard as I am, if not more, up there.

Q: Do you feel at this point that everything - you, the band, the album - has graduated from the "American Idol" world and taken on a life of its own?

A: Absolutely, 100 percent. On ["American Idol"], I wasn't able to do fully what I'm capable of; that was just, to me, a way of showing my voice off. This is a totally different thing. This is who we are - we're musicians, we write our music, and it's a totally different ball game.

Q: What's your perspective on "American Idol" at this point?

A: It changes from year to year. I don't have a solid opinion on it. I think it's a great tool for people to use. I mean, it's all about taking the opportunities that are in front of you and making the best of them and using them to your advantage.

I don't think it's cheesy one bit. I think it's cheesy if you're going to go on there and use gimmicks and not be yourself. But if you're going to go on there and you're going to be yourself and you think you have what it takes, I think it's a great opportunity to show that to the world. So I think the people that go on there have to take it seriously.

People see right through that stuff; the public aren't idiots. They're going to recognize something real when they see it. I think that's part of what happened with us.

Q: What's the plan for the next Daughtry album?

A: I can't really say at this point. It's a little early to tell. We're doing some writing when we have the opportunity, and we're going to be working on getting it out some time hopefully next year - when we get it right. *