In 1996, in Escatawpa, Mississippi, a three-piece power trio was formed. The band consisted of Brad Arnold singing leads, and playing the drums, Matt Roberts on guitar, and Todd Harrell playing bass. About a year and a half later, Todd Harrell asked his friend, and rhythm guitarist Chris Henderson to join the band. Henderson says, “before I was even in the band, they had already written Loser and Kryptonite” and were well on their way to stardom. Soon they added drummer Richard Liles, which allowed Brad Arnold to move to center-stage and concentrate on his singing. After their initial album, The Better Life, was released, its first single, Kryptonite shot up the charts. Eventually that song, along with, two other number one hits, Loser, and Duck and Run, pushed the album, and the band to international stardom.
At the time, Henderson, was a Seabee, which is a world renown combat construction force, in the US Naval reserves. He says, “I actually joined the band while I was still in the service. I was in the reserves, and played with 3 Doors Down for a number of years.” He continues, “so what happened, is when the band got signed, I went to my command, and I was like, hey, you know, my band got signed. I'm going to have to leave. I won't be able to drill because I'm going to go on the road.” The Naval reserves are an all-volunteer force, and depending upon the type of contract you signed; it is possible to resign. Continuing, he says, “I put in a request chit (a special request form) to separate (from the service)." A few days later, “they approved me to separate and to pursue a career in rock and roll. The Navy was good to me, and I’m very blessed.”
Even before Henderson joined the band they were well on their way to stardom. They had recorded Kryptonite, as a demo, and a local radio station began playing it. After it became the stations' most-requested song, the band took its show on the road, where they eventually played at the world-famous New York City nightclub CBGB’s. Lots of bands, like Blondie, The Ramones, and The Police, became famous there. After their appearance, 3 Doors Down was signed by Republic Records and, to date, have as many number-one hits as the legendary Beach Boys, and have sold nearly as many records as Blondie.
Like many performers, success hasn’t been easy for Henderson. There is no manual explaining how deal with sudden fame, and living the rock and roll lifestyle led to substance abuse, and alcohol issues. He explains, “It's like every day is Friday, and it's not like you’ve got to go to work on Monday morning. You can just do it every single day all day, and that's what a lot of people do. You can’t survive like that.” Continuing, he says, “your body is not equipped to handle that, and eventually it starts showing up. It starts with hangovers, and then the hangover’s lead to being dehydrated all the time.” That leads to not eating right so, "basically, you're chasing a feeling, and because you don't want to feel bad you start all over again.” Suddenly, you’re doing it twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week and "your body just can't take it. So you know, thank God, I realized that, and one day (in 2010) I gave it up, and everyone else (in the band) has too.”
For many live acts, getting through the pandemic has been a challenge they’ve met in many different ways. For example, classic-rock legend's Styx, recorded a new album, while Chicago found time to relax. Other bands, like the pop/punk duo, The Dollyrots, kept busy performing StageIt shows over the Internet. Henderson says, “we had a number of years of success before the pandemic, so we were able to kind of take it easy.” He adds, “I’ve been semi-retired, so I’ve had time to sit at home, cut the grass, play with the dogs, and hang out with the kids.”
While there isn’t an album of new songs immediately forthcoming, the band itself, which now consists of Henderson, Brad Arnold, drummer Greg Upchurch, lead guitar player Chet Roberts, and bassist Justin Biltonen, with its spontaneous style, are now on the road playing, "The Better Life 20th anniversary Tour" which is coming to The Grand Theater in Reno, at the Grand Sierra Resort on 3 September 2021. Tickets are on sale now!
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For more information: www.TheBetterLifeFoundation.org