Chris Henderson has been the guitar player for 3 Doors Down for over twenty years. The band burst on to the scene back in 1996 and achieved worldwide success with their 2000 debut album, “The Better Life.” The band is currently playing on the Rock n’ Roll Express tour with Collective Soul and Soul Asylum this summer. A couple days after 3 Doors Down played a memorable set at The Rose Music Center in Huber Heights, OH, I had the chance to talk with Henderson about a wide range of topics from how the band has maintained their success over two decades, to how they pass the time on the road. One thing is for sure, 3 Doors Down remain one of the best bands out there today. Enjoy our talk with Chris and then make plans to catch the Rock n’ Roll Express tour!!!
The Music Room: First off, you guys had an absolutely killer show the other night in Huber Heights, OH. How do you guys manage to stay so tight and put on such a great show after all of this time?
Chris Henderson: One of the things that we always focus on is really performing it the way it is on the record. When you hear a lot of bands, especially in rock n’ roll, the singer really can’t pull it off a lot. Sometimes the band plays it a little bit different. The solos aren’t the same. We really pay attention to details. We make it as close to the original as possible, and not many people do that. I guess over the years it just gives you a really good blueprint and structure to play the songs over and over again. After 20 years of doing it, you just get better. We take great pride in that. And to be out with other bands that sound good live…because not every band sounds as good live as they do on the cd.
TMR: And that package of Collective Soul, 3 Doors Down, and Soul Asylum…we didn’t get to see them the other night, but when they are on the bill. That’s just a great package. How did that come about? Is that something that you guys have a hand in, or is it something that’s done behind the scenes?
CH: It’s been kind of happening for a couple of years. We played a show with Collective Soul a couple of years ago and we talked about it then. We get management involved, and booking agents to make things happen. It’s not as easy as it sounds. It’s not as easy as going hey, do you guys want to go out for a tour? It’s never that easy. It takes a lot of effort. Behind the scenes, there are a lot of people that represent both bands. They really do all of the work. It finally happened. It took a long time, but it finally happened. We played a few shows leading up to this to see if they worked, and they all did.
TMR: You can tell that the timing is perfect for this tour. I mean, a sold-out show on a Tuesday night. People were singing along to every song from both bands. It was so well received. Like you said, you guys have been around for a while. But to get a sold-out show during the summer with all of the competition going on…that just speaks highly of the product you guys are putting out there.
CH: I appreciate that. It’s really difficult. I mean touring in itself is a weird thing. You never know what you’re going to get from day to day. You just go out and do the best you can. You try to put on the best show you can and hope everybody has a good time.
TMR: You guys are definitely covering some ground. Tuesday night you guys are in Ohio and tonight (Friday) you are in New Hampshire. It sounds like that has to be so cool to see the world and all that, but how much do you get to go out and explore? Or is it pretty much from the bus to the venue to soundcheck to the show?
CH: It depends. You can make it about the bus and the venue if you want to. We’ve been touring for a long time. It used to be about the bus and the party. But now everyone in the band is sober. When you’ve been touring for 22 years, now it’s about going out and seeing stuff. Today in New Hampshire, we’re right near a great arcade which is called The Funspot. We’re going to go down to the Funstop and play some old ’80’s video games from when we were kids. I’m looking forward to that. And Chet (Roberts) and I get up every day and go Crossfit. A couple of guys, myself included, are in recovery. We may go to a meeting. We stay busy.
TMR: It sounds like you guys are a good unit. You have some bands that don’t ever see each other until they hit the stage. So it’s cool to hear you guys function as a unit. One of the cool things that I have noticed is what you are offering to your fans. You can really tell you care about your fans with your VIP package. Some of the things that are included in that are giving the fans an in-ear mix. They can actually hear what you guys hear out there on stage. I thought was really cool. Does the band have a hand in putting that together?
CH: In a way, yeah. But to be completely honest, the ideas are presented to us mainly by management. We’ve got some really good people on the team that come up with a lot of really cool ideas. Some things work and some things don’t. That’s one of the things that really works. We think that adds value. And honestly, it’s something I probably would have never thought of. Logistically, you have to have equipment provided. Somone has to pay for it to make that kind of happen. But they figured it out. They figured it out and made it accessible. It’s really awesome. The fans are on the side, standing where we stand pretty much. And they see what we see, and hear what we hear. If I could have done that when I was a kid, that would have been a cool deal.
TMR: You’re not kidding. That is a step above what a lot of bands are doing out there right now. There are a lot of VIP packages out there. Some are good. Some are bad. It just seems like there was a lot of care and thought that went into this one. As good as the band is, it sounds like you have a team to match.
CH: Yeah, we are excited about it.
TMR: Through the course of 3 Doors Down…your first record was back during the day and age of the big record companies. Things have obviously changed quite a bit. A lot of bands have said they don’t see the point of making full-length albums anymore and are going to focus on singles. Has 3 Doors Down given any thought to the future, as far as to what you’re going to put out, and how you’re going to put it out?
CH: We’re going to let the market tell us what to do. We’re open to everything. Putting out a full-length record, honestly…doesn’t sound like something that needs to happen at this point. You know? Noone is going to buy it, not like they would buy it 15 years ago. They’re going to go get the singles anyway. I think that the market of streaming services are going to dictate how we deliver music in the future. We have to do what we have to do, whether you and I like it. We need to figure that out and do it that way. We need to do what makes the most sense for the band and what makes the most sense for the fans.
TMR: One other thing about the show the other night that I really appreciated, and that I think stands out about the band was having the American flag out there on stage and representing the colors. You guys are obviously very patriotic. In this day and age…it seems weird to say, but that is not always appreciated. What is it that makes the band want to wave the flag and keep it out there with you to support the red, white, and blue right now?
CH: It seems to me, in order to be patriotic you have to feel sorry for yourself. That’s just not true. That’s not the way that this country was founded. That’s not the way that I believe this country ever should be. If I get to go out at night and put a flag on stage for an hour and a half to show my support for a country that has been so good to me, and a country that I served and that people I know served and didn’t make it back, I’m going to do that. I’m going to do that without apologizing. I’m going to do it because I can and because it’s my right. That’s the way it’s going to be. We are patriotic and we’re not going to apologize for it. We don’t care what anybody thinks.
TMR: That’s appreciated. It was great to see. It shouldn’t even be a big deal…but it was great to see this day and age.
CH: Thank you very much. We do it because it’s important to us. There are so many people that are afraid. People think they have to apologize for being patriotic. It’s just not true.
TMR: This tour is an extensive tour. You are already in your second month and you go through October. Do you have any plans when it wraps? Do you have any other projects when 3 Doors Down winds down for a while? Do you have any side projects, or just enjoy the time off with your family?
CH: Man, I’ve got children. So when I go home, I go home. You know what I mean? My kids…they don’t really understand 100% why I do what I do. They get it. They understand that I’m in a band and I go on tour. But I don’t have a normal job like other parents do. So, when I’m home I try to be home. I live by the credo, it’s quality not so much quantity. I don’t get the quantity that other people do because I’m gone a lot. So when I’m home, I’m thinking about them and trying to make it about being home.
TMR: That’s awesome. Well look, I know you have a show tonight. I want you to have time to enjoy the day. I want to say thank you for putting on a great rock show on Tuesday night, and for continuing to be a great band. I really appreciate you taking a few minutes out of your day to talk to me.
CH: Oh man, you’re welcome. Thanks for having me.
TMR: Okay man. Have a good day and enjoy the arcade.