One on One Interview with Chris Henderson – Guitarist with 3 Doors Down

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One word – “Kryptonite.”

That’s right, and now there is only one thing to do, sing with me – you know the words

“And if I go crazy then will you still call me Superman?
If I’m alive and well, will you be there holding my hand?
I’ll keep you by my side with my superhuman might

That felt good, didn’t it?  Pretty much explains why 3 Doors Down has sold a ton of music in their career – because they are good rock and roll.

So do you have your tickets yet?  3 Doors Down, along with Daughtry and Halestorm, are coming to town.  Performing in Bangor at Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion July 10th, 3DD, this is a rock show you don’t want to miss.

To get ready for the big show, Maine Music News talked with 3 Doors Down guitarist Chris Henderson on Tuesday, June 18th, about their upcoming tour, music, and life on the road.

MMN – Ok before we talk about the upcoming tour, I have to mention you just played the Download Festival at Castle Donington in the UK last week!  How friggin’ cool was that?

CH – It was really cool man, we had 50,000 people in front of us.

MMN – Wow, do you guys ever take a break?  It seems like you have been touring nonstop for the past 17 years.  You are just finishing a European Tour, how did that go?  How did things work out with Justin Biltonen on bass?  Will he be on the US Tour or will Todd be back?

CH – Actually, we are still on the European tour.  I am talking to you from Kessel, Germany, so this tour has not quite finished yet.  However, it has been an amazing tour.  We are very happy with how the tour has gone.  With that said, we are looking forward to getting back to the states as we like touring with Daughtry.  Right now we are out of our comfort zone over here.  We have been coming over here since 1999,  14 years of touring in Europe, and we are still out of our comfort zone.

In regards to Justin, it has been amazing.  Justin and I have been friends for a long time.  It was one of those things where we were looking for a new bass player, but we already had one, even though it had never come up in prior discussions.  However, when it did come up, we tried out two people, Justin and a Nashville guy, and Justin is just a better fit.  So much so that he will be on the US tour with us as well.

MMN – 3DD can certainly say that they have played rock music all over the world.  Do you notice a big difference in the crowds or in fans as you perform outside of the US?

CH – It depends. American crowds are good crowds, and European crowds are good crowds.  One thing I will say about European crowds is they will do things that American crowds will not do.  American crowds will work together if a singer goes “Everybody on this side put your hands up, or everybody over here put your hands up.”  However, in Europe it seems like one person can take control of what is going on in the crowd.  For instance, in Russia they sit down during the verse’s and stand up during the chorus.  It is neat to watch the whole crowd do that.  It does take a little bit to get them started, but there is always someone in the crowd that takes on the challenge and gets it going.  Then in Finland and Scandinavia, they do this thing where they put their hands in the air and shake their hands and hold this tone, which sounds like a monotone monk chant.  Stuff like that, you know different things that you do not see or experience in the US.
MMN – Speaking of the US, you are jumping right into your summer tour with Daughtry and Halestorm a few days after the European tour wraps up.  This is the second time around touring with Daughtry so something must be working right with the chemistry between the two bands.  Can you talk a bit about that?

CH – Number one, our fans cross over really well.  We are able to trade fans back and forth like no other bands can.  If you go to a rock show, let’s say you go to a Kiss show and there is another band on the lineup, you are not there to see them, you are there to see Kiss.  It’s one of those things where Kiss will just dominate because they are so big.  However, with 3DD and Daughtry we don’t do that to each other, we fit really well.

MMN – Are you rotating headlining duties each night?

CH – Yes and I like it better when they headline, just for the record.  When they headline, it means when we are done our set, I am done by 8 o’clock, and then I can go watch them play.  I get to enjoy it, the show, instead of having to wait to go to work.

MMN – Do you have any new surprises lined up for the US summer tour that you can share?

CH – We do, but it’s hard to say exactly what they will be as we have not rehearsed for that tour yet since we are still in Europe mode.  However, we will be doing some different things for sure.  We just need to figure it all out.

MMN – Several 3 Doors Down songs center on being on tour.  Can you talk about life on the road and keeping things balanced?

CH – It is tough man, it is hard to keep it balanced.  My marriage failed miserably because of the road, the lifestyle, and everything that goes along with it.  It is hard on my children as well.  It is one of those things where I never could find a balance between home and the road.  At first, I could not find a balance as the band was moving along so fast, and it was easy for me to be vague and move through things instead of taking the time to explain what the band was doing every day.  It was really tough. Me being young at the time and being on the road and doing all those egotistical things that people in bands do, it was impossible for me to make the connection that I should be a certain way and do things a certain way.  I didn’t know how to do those things, and my marriage suffered.

Now, that I am older and have been divorced for a while, I am in a long-term relationship with another woman, and it is working.  I am able to have balance now.  I don’t really know exactly at what moment there was a burning bush connection and I was able to go “hey, I got this!”  One day I woke up, and I figured it out.  I figured out that in order to have balance, I had to include my significant other in the life that the band has and to not hide anything or hold anything back.  Make the phone calls even when you really don’t want to and treat everyone with respect, especially the people you have waiting back home.  It is her house when I am on the road, when I come home, I am going back into her house, it is not my house, it is not our house, it is her house.  When she comes out here, it is the same thing.  We have to make those adjustments and have to be sensitive to the other person.

MMN – As a musician, and as a band, have you accomplished what you dreamed you could do?  What is still on the bucket list?

CH – The elusive Grammy!  For us we have come so close more than once and it just didn’t happen.  We did get a Grammy for another recording that we did for a gospel record.  We have kind of done it, but kind of is not what I am looking for.

MMN – 3Doors Down has been right there as the music industry has been changed and influenced by technology.  – Social media, iTunes, fans cherry picking singles rather than buying albums.  How has your band transitioned through these changes?

CH – It has been very difficult, and I think what we did was let go.  We quit trying to fight it.  Many bands fought the downloading, and they basically fought the fans along with fighting the technology.  I don’t think we did that.  We pretty much let go, and we let what was going to happen, just happen.  We basically, just held on for the ride.

It is interesting where it is going.  Everyone can see that CD’s sooner or later are going to be gone.  Hard copies of music, albums, and things from the artists are going to be gone.  We need to figure out how this is going to play out.  Don’t people want to own a piece of the band?  I think we need to figure out what this is going to be.  As far as the music goes, it is not going to be the music – they are going to get that.  They are going to hear it, they are going to download it, and it is going to be electronic, it will be on their phones and their computers.  It is not going to be as it was when we were buying records.

Think back to when we were buying albums.  Think about the romance of going out to the record store to pick up your favorite album on the day it was being released.  You had this journey from the time you got out of bed, to getting in the car and going to the mall, going to the record store and trying to find that new album, wondering if it was going to be there, then finding it, checking out the album art, reading the back and the anticipation of getting it home for that first listen.  That is all gone with digital downloads.

MMN – In other interviews, you have been fantastic at expressing the impact of technology on the ability of musicians to make a living at what they love to do – create music.  What do you really wish that fans understood about the business end, the feeding your family end, of making music?

CH – I wish they looked at it like this – If you hired someone to come paint your house, and they showed up and painted your house and did a great job,  at the end of the job, they would ask to be paid.  If you refused and just walked away, well that is what downloading music for free is.  I wish people understood that part, and I wish they understood how much effort goes into making these recordings.  We go in, and we don’t take any chances – we do everything correct, all the way down to the smallest sound so things don’t get lost, so they can have the best listening experience.  Many people do a lot of hard work to create a three-minute song.  It takes weeks and months to create these things to just have them downloaded onto a phone and listened to through a little cable and ear buds, it kind of hurts my feelings a bit.  I wish they had that understanding.

MMN – Now, you are currently touring your “Greatest Hits” album that was released back in November of last year.  That album has 3 new songs on it.  Any plans for new music?

CH – I am not sure at this point.  Within the past year, we have had so many changes in this band.  We are looking to just walk out back and put our hands on our hips and go “What the fuck just happened?”  I don’t think we have done that yet.  It is just Me, Brad and Greg for the moment, the other guys are new.  We just need to walk outside and look around and see what happened.  I am not very sure about new music at the moment.  We need to go home and make a decision on what we are going to do.  There will be another 3 Doors Down record soon, I just don’t know how soon.

MMN – In today’s world of selling singles over full albums.  Has the thought process changed when it comes to writing an album to follow a concept or writing 11 potential singles?

CH – You have to think about it as 11 potential singles.  You can’t rely on two or three good songs to sell a full record any more.  People are going to cherry pick the songs.  You have to think of your music less as a package and more as individual pieces, making the band whole.  It is not about the record anymore it is about the band.  That puts a lot of pressure on many people.  There are people capable of writing one, two, three, or four good songs, but putting 11 solid songs out is hard to do.  I cannot express how hard that is to do.  And then to keep doing that over and over?  And the way the music industry wants new content?  Fans now, they don’t sit on records and love them like they used to because it is all about one or two songs.

MMN – Has the writing process changed over the years for 3DD?  What does hitting the studio look like?

CH – The writing process has not changed at all.  It is still the same.  The recording process has changed a bit.  Instead of going out and spending millions of dollars on houses and apartments and big studios.  We can record the music in our house.

MMN – Chris thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us.  3 Doors Down will be hitting the Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion in Bangor Maine on July 10th and I am really looking forward to seeing your show for the first time.

CH – Thank you and see you soon.

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