3 Doors Down guitarist talks greatest hits, anonymity before bassist's arrest, canceled concerts

Special to Lowcountry CurrentApril 25, 2013 

3 Doors Down

Hours after the Lowcountry Current spoke with 3 Doors Down guitarist Chris Henderson, in anticipation of the band's performance at Jacksonville's Metropolitan Park on April 28, Henderson's bandmate, bassist Todd Harrell, was arrested for vehicular homicide. According to police reports, an intoxicated Harrell was driving down Interstate 40 in Nashville and clipped a pickup truck, sending it down an embankment, and killing the driver. Though Henderson had nothing to do with the accident, we preface it for a few reasons: One, because the accident occurred after this interview; and two, Henderson, as you'll soon read, has some now ironic words about being part of a band where its members remain anonymous. The band has canceled all of its performances at least through May.

Question. You guys are touring in support of "The Greatest Hits." Oftentimes people consider the release of "best of" albums as the end of a band's career. Do you feel that way?

Answer. To be honest about it, I never really thought about it being the end of (our) career. It seems to be something that other people think about. It's kind of a surprise to us. In light of the fact that the Foo Fighters just put out a greatest hits (2009) as well, so we were kind like, "Oh cool, well, it seems like the thing to do." And then once we did it, everybody's like, "Oh my God, are you guys done?" No, really, we just used it as a vehicle to put out some new music ("The Greatest Hits" has two new songs). We wanted to get some new music out in the marketplace just to see how things were going and have something to tour on and that's what we did.

Q. Do greatest hits records have the same cachet now as they once did, knowing that anyone can just create their own greatest hits or best of album through iTunes?

A. No, I don't think so. Back in the '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s and even '90s -- when people still bought records -- a greatest hits album would be put out as a record piece, another album. I think now greatest hits albums are put out for catalog pieces because it's just, as you say, people can make their own. We try to remix them and remaster them to make the songs different. A greatest hits record is really a nice thing for a hardcore 3 Doors fan or somebody who just doesn't want to spend the time putting together their own greatest hits record. That's just my opinion. I'm not a marketing guru or anything.

Q. Unlike a lot of other bands, the individual members of 3 Doors Down don't really have their own identities. Is it a good or bad thing to have your anonymity?

A. It's a good thing, man. I enjoy my anonymity. In order to get recognized in the music industry, you got to punch somebody in the face or you got to be strung out on dope or you got to do something stupid or you got to gain 15 pounds with a baby in order to get people to recognize you -- and that's just too much. It's really not what this band is about, and we really like it the way it is. And there's other bands out there that have that notoriety.

Q. A few years ago you had a pretty strange ensemble tour with ZZ Top and Gretchen Wilson. How'd that go over?

A. It was hit or miss. The people that come to see ZZ Top typically come to see ZZ Top. We toured with Lynyrd Skynryd five or six years ago and that was crazy cool. Skynyrd and 3 Doors Down, we kind of traded fans back and forth, if you will. Not all, but some. The hardcore Skynyrd fans would tolerate us. And the same with ZZ Top, but it was just a little bit different. The crowd was a bit older across the board, more reserved. These are people that wouldn't have come to see us, basically. It was kind of a hard sell for us. But we did our best and had a good time with those guys.

Q. What's the latest with guitarist Matt Roberts, who left the band last years due to unspecified medical issues?

A. He's still recovering. He's got health issues that keep him from doing lots of things. He's still recovering as far as I know.

Q. Do you keep in touch?

A. Every now and then someone will talk to him. It's one of those things where he's so busy and we're so busy that we don't usually talk much.

Q. What 3 Doors Down song would you pay $1,000 to never have to play again?

A. $1,000?

Q. All right, $100.

A. That's a loaded question. I'll tell you what, there's a song that we don't play anymore that I'm really happy we don't play called "It's Not Me." It's not because it's not a good song (and) it's not because I didn't have anything to do with it. It's just one of those songs, when I play it, it seems to get lost inside of me. I don't really know why I don't like it, but whenever I see it on the set list I'm always like, "Aww, man."

Q. 3 Doors Down play relatively the same set every night. Why?

A. Over the years the set list just starts evolving into what the fans really want it to be. If you think of it like this, if the Black Crowes go out and they don't play "Jealous Again," people get (annoyed). Who wants to go play $40 and they don't play the songs you wanna hear? (Expletive) that, you're going to go home and you're going to (complain). We just listen to the fans and they dictate what we play. And there's a few things in there that we kind of slip (in), but for the most part that's what people over the years have told us that we better have in our set list.

Q. I see that you've been playing Megadeth's "Symphony of Destruction" on this tour. How'd that come about?

A. Man, everyone in this band is a metalhead and I was a huge, I mean huge Megadeth fan when I was growing up. And so was (singer) Brad )Arnold) and so was Todd, all of us. We had an opportunity to meet )Megadeth frontman) Dave Mustaine in Dubai and we were totally blown away by him. Everyone in this band has seen them play like 50 times. I'm going to see them again May 1 in Nashville.

Q. Do you get deer-in-the-headlights looks from the people that are there to hear "Here Without You?"

A. Yeah. (Pause) You do. Sometimes the whole crowd is like, "What the (expletive) is this song?" Sometimes a lot people get it. It just depends where you're at. For lack of a better term, 3 Doors Down are a rock band, but in some markets we are considered a pop band. Let's say "Here Without You" and "Kryptonite" were both pop songs that crossed over to rock or vice versa, but they did better in pop crowds. So when you play, let's say, I don't know, Winter Springs, Florida, you're going to have a more pop crowd just because of the radio station coverage. Sometimes you jump into a "Here Without You" or a "Kryptonite" crowd and you play ("Symphony of Destruction") and they're like, "OK, we're at the wrong place."

MORE INTERVIEWS BY BLAIR R. FISCHER

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