Interview: 3 Doors Down guitarist Chris Henderson

There are few bands in the world who, when they release a record, can count on multiple hit singles. 3 Doors Down are one of those bands. From their inception in the late 1990\’s and \”Kryptonite\” to the more current years, one thing is always for sure- 3 Doors Down are always one of the highest-selling bands around. Their latest record- Us And The Night– is set for a mid-March release and it comes five years after their previous offering- Time Of My Life. Already a few singles in, longtime guitarist Chris Henderson took some time to talk to us about getting back into the studio and what Us And The Night means for 3 Doors Down. FRR: It\’s been 5 years since Time of My Life- it\’s hard to believe its been that long. Tell me a little bit about what it was like, getting back in the studio and making an album when it had been so long since the last one. Chris Henderson: Well, it was a lot of fun! A lot of fun, a lot of hard work. I\’d say to sum it up, it was scary, because we hadn\’t done it in awhile, and new people, new guys in the band who had never written for a record before… Well, they had, but not on that level. It was weird walking into a room with them, and getting ready to write a record that all these people are going to hear, and you\’re adding two new members of the team that are unproven. It\’s a scary situation, because songwriters, when they get around other songwriters, they want guys who\’ve written a few songs, but these guys hadn\’t, so we didn\’t really know what they bring to the table. We were really surprised and excited, and it worked out great. Chet and Justin really brought a lot. They both performed well in the studios, so it was a great experience overall. FRR: Yeah, I was about to talk about that. New guys in the band, especially Justin stepping into the role of bass, with everything that had gone on with that position. I feel like he did a great job, especially with writing this record. I mean, this is definitely a 3 Doors Down record. You\’d been playing with Justin for a little bit before going into the record. Did that help when you went in? Because you were already somewhat familiar with it.  Chris Henderson: Yeah, I mean, that was kind of the purpose of doing that touring, was to get ready to write. At the end of the day, we knew Todd wasn\’t going to come back for a little while, or ever, or whatever. We knew that chapter of the band was finished, and we needed to move on from that and do it permanently, and the only way to do that is to do it. So with Justin, we decided \”hey, this is our guy, he\’s going to be in it with us, we might as well let him fully submerge in it.\” So we took him out on the road with us for two years, and just kind of threw him to the dogs. He was a guitar player in another band, hadn\’t ever really played… He had never played at this level before. He\’d don\’t two shows, opening for other bands, but he\’d never done that. His first show was in Moscow, Russia. So he had to step on an airplane to Russia, and the  play his first show with us. It was one of those things where, we hired Justin, and I called him like, \”hey, you got a bass?\” And he was like, \”no, I\’m not a bass player\”- he was a guitar player. And I was like, \”can you get one?\” so he actually borrowed a bass from his friend, showed up here, played two or three songs, and we were like, \”alright, you\’re our guy.\” FRR: Nice! I think you guys recorded Time of My Life in a couple different cities, but with this record, you really just recorded it in Nashville for the most part. Did that affect anything as far as the final product and how things got done and I he way things turned out? Or did it not play as big of a role as you would think?  Chris Henderson: Well, Nashville is a music city, so…we recorded it in my studio in Hendersonville, which, you know, we record friends in here, we have bands come in here all the time that we do records for. We don\’t really charge, it\’s more of a project room that we have fun playing in that sounds great. So when Matt, our producer, saw this place, he\’s like, \”dude, why would we go downtown and spend all that money when we can do it in your room? You guys know the place, your microphones, your gear. Why don\’t we do it?\” So we rented a few key pieces of gear for vocals, and we went for it, and we did it all here. Basically, we recorded this record two miles away from my house. Everybody drove to work every day. FRR: That\’s awesome, man. I feel like a lot of material on this record… It\’s fast, it\’s heavy… I feel like this is a statement album for 3 doors down, in a lot of ways. You\’re basically here to kick our ass with this record, and I feel like that\’s exactly what you did. Going in, what did you guys want to accomplish, musically, with this record? Chris Henderson: What I think our main goal was… We had several, but what I think our main goal was to number 1.) not alienate our fans, which, when you change, you\’re going to alienate some of them. You\’re going to owe a few of them, but that\’s part of it. And [number 2.)] we wanted to gain some new 3 Doors Down fans that had never really given us a chance; they\’d listened to that one song about Superman or that \”Here Without You\” thing, and those people are out there, and you meet them every day. We wanted to go after those people. And then you have to go after the people who have been listening to rock radio for the past five years- those people are still listening to rock radio, so that\’s where we want to live, so we had to find those people, too. Had to go a little bit rock n\’ roll on this one? FRR: Yeah, I feel like there are a lot of people who have only heard the singles, or maybe they\’ve only heard \”Here Without You\” or songs like that. A lot of people, like you said, for some reason, think for some reason, 3 Doors Down is like a ballad band in a lot of ways, which couldn\’t be further from the truth. I feel like when they listen to this record, they\’re in for a rude awakening, because this is a ROCK record. It stands right up there with everything else, and it\’s awesome. I love it. It\’s just awesome. So you guys played some of the festivals last year, especially Louder Than Life. I was at that one, and I\’d always wanted to see 3 Doors Down, and I finally got to see you guys there. Playing a festival like Louder than Life or those shows in Russia, how does that affect getting ready to release that record? With Louder that Life, had you guys already finished everything up or were you still finishing up? Did festivals like that affect the record at all? Chris Henderson: Nah, I mean, [with] Louder Than Life, we were already past the recording portion snd were in the mixing stage of that record. And if you remember, we played some of those songs at that festival, which is a pretty typical band moment. People don\’t want to play their music before the record comes out.  FRR: Yeah, people want to hear the hits.  Chris Henderson: They want to hear the hits, but then, you know, a lot of bands don\’t want people to put it on the Internet, blah blah blah.  FRR: Oh, good point, true.  Chris Henderson: But we\’re like, screw it, man! Look, technology is there, and you\’ve gotta embrace it. You can\’t run from it. So from the day we wrote these songs, we started playing them live, and they\’re all over the Internet live before the record even comes out, and that\’s the way it is. But that\’s part of it, you know what I mean? So when we did the Louder Than Life festival, we\’d already been affected, everything had already come to fruition and it was done. It was just fun, that whole day was just fun from start to finish. FRR: Yeah, it\’s an awesome festival, I love it. It\’s only been around for two years, but I feel like it\’s one of the best festivals we have. Chris Henderson: It\’s a good one, man! FRR: It blends the past and the present. You talked about the technology, I mean, when you guys started,  think around \’98, \’99, somewhere around there when the first single, \”Kryptonite\” hit, technology was nowhere near where it is now. Over the course of your guys\’ career, we\’ve seen a lot of things pop up, so do you guys think it\’s better to embrace the technology changes, or how do you guys feel about that, when it comes to people recording it and putting it on YouTube, or file sharing, or all that crazy stuff? Chris Henderson: This is how I look at it and feel about it: the file sharing, I have a problem with that that issue because of theft of art, and that\’s just what file sharing is. People go to the Internet, and they download your songs, and they take it home, and no one gets paid. Because look, it\’s expensive to record music and it takes a long time. A lot of people went to the poorhouse when file sharing started. A lot of bands that you would have known and loved don\’t exist today because of file sharing, pure and simple. There are a lot of great musicians out there who would have written hit songs, and would have had them played, and would have been able to survive had file sharing not come around. But it is what it is. You have to go with it, you can\’t stop it. It\’s bigger than all of us, you\’ve gotta throw it against the wall and see if it sticks. We were blessed because we were able to sell some records early-on, so we were kind of able to weather the storm.  FRR: True. It\’s unfortunate to see it all happening, but there are a lot of tools out there that you can kind of combat it in some ways, too.  Chris Henderson: You can embrace social media for what it is, too. I mean, if people like you, they\’re going to talk about you, they\’re going to talk about you in the Internet, because that\’s where they\’re at, talking about things. The file sharing thing is what it is, and it\’s not going anywhere. But on the other hand, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, people are sharing the videos they\’re taking of you, and people are appreciating it, and you\’re getting exposure you wouldn\’t have gotten 10 years ago.  FRR: Absolutely, there are a lot of positives to go with it too. Chris Henderson: There certainly is. FRR: Touching on all that, I feel like the bread and butter of a lot of the income now comes from touring. You have to tour more than you had to in the past, and speaking of that, with the record coming out in about a week and a half, two weeks now, are there some good your plans in place for this record? Chris Henderson: Yeah, we\’ll be doing the festival run this year. So I don\’t know about Louder Than Life yet, but we\’re doing Rocklahoma, and we\’re doing Welcome to Rockville, doing those. We\’re doing a couple things with Kid Rock, I think. So that\’ll be cool, a backyard thing, I don\’t remember the name of it. That\’s going to be fun, I love that guy. I think we\’re going to do a soft run here, coming up, if people want to check our website, there are some dates up. We\’re adding more now, over the summer, we\’ll have some more festivals, some run offs, and some kind of weekend warrior stuff. Just getting ready for the big fall roll-out; we\’re going to roll out the whole tour this fall. It\’s kind of hard for when our record comes out, in March, o put a summer tour together all the time. Everyone is already touring, it\’s hard to find someone to go with, blah blah blah, all these different things happen.  FRR: Definitely. That\’s going to be awesome, man. Hopefully you guys hit the Indianapolis, Fort Wayne area, somewhere out here, because I\’d love to go out and see you guys again, obviously. Festivals condense it, so I\’d love to see the whole set list.  Chris Henderson: Well, if you get to see us you\’ll see as much as you can, we do what we can. FRR: Definitely, Chris, thank you so much for taking your time today, I really appreciate it. The new album kicks ass; it is everything you could hope for. Chris Henderson: Thank you!