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Josh Steely played guitar for 13 years in Sandjacket, a Carlsbad trio. His last show with the band was in September at the 49-capacity Mas Fina Cantina. Now with a new band, Steely jokes that he's been rocking as long as his new front man has been alive.

"I got my first guitar at age 10," says Steely, 37. "That was the year Chris was born."

Steely refers to Chris Daughtry, the shaved-head country-rock singer whose success as an American Idol finalist landed him a contract with Sony/BMG. His debut CD, Daughtry, was released last week.

Last month Steely was selected as lead guitarist for Daughtry's band.

"I guarantee they weren't looking for a 37-year-old electrician," says Steely, referring to his youthful appearance and day job. He got the audition through his longtime friend, North County--bred guitarist Stevie Salas.

Steely didn't play on Daughtry's album.

"It was almost done when they got me." He says he and his other three new bandmates were hired as salaried musicians. Slash was one of the guitarists used in the studio. Steely rejects the idea that his new band has a prefab, N*Sync feel.

"It is so not that. Even bands like My Chemical Romance are put together. Their label tells you who makes the cut. It was the same thing with me before with Sandjacket. We had an investor who set us up with a production deal."

Chris Daughtry's tour will kick off in February.

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