With over 300 concerts around the world yearly there is precious little free time for the popular rock group 3 Doors Down.
And while living the lives of rock stars is clearly one of life's most intriguing prospects for many, 3 Doors Down takes their livelihoods seriously. But one pursuit besides music that they seemingly always make time for is watching their favorite football team, none other than the New Orleans Saints.
Whether touring in the United States, Europe, South America, Asia or Europe, the band keeps close tabs on the Saints. The band, which seemingly churns out one hit song after the next, have their roots firmly entrenched in the Gulf South and aren't shy about displaying their affinity for the Saints.
In fact Chris Henderson's guitar, a Paul Reed Smith Signature Singlecut "Chris Henderson Model" is proudly adorned with the Saints' logo, an authentic "Fleur-de-Lis" that is the exact same kind the Saints wear on the sides of the helmets. "I didn't want to just have a fleur-de-lis painted on the guitar," he said. "I wanted something real. Through (former Saints QB) John Fourcade we were able to get the helmet logos and I am certain to play that guitar at every show. It's the guitar with the most special meaning to me. I kind of went crazy when I saw the guitar for the first time. It's Saints' gold, the same color as the Saints' helmets."
Drummer Greg Upchurch, born in Houma, La., also sports the Saints' logos on the front of his kick drum set, a highly visible spot for the millions of people that watch the band perform each year. "Ever since I have played the drums, which obviously has been a long time, I have had the Saints' logo on my drums," Upchurch said. "To me it's a must. I was in a band called Puddle of Mudd before I joined 3 Doors Down and the Fleur-de-Lis was on the drums."
3 Doors Down, which was formed in 1994 in Escatawpa, Mississippi, features Brad Arnold (vocals), Chris Henderson (guitar), Greg Upchurch (drums), Matt Roberts (guitars) and Todd Harrell (bass guitar) and has become known for their hit songs that include "Kryptonite", "Loser", "Duck and Run," "Be Like That", "Here Without You", "When I'm Gone", and most recently, "It's Not My Time", "Train", "Citizen/Soldier" and most recently "Let Me Be Myself," which debuted this week at #1 on the Hot AC Chart.
3 Doors Down has quite a bit of company in the music world in their support for the Saints, joining such notable people like Jimmy Buffett, Harry Connick Jr., Better Than Ezra, Pat Green, Kenny Chesney, Erma Thomas and The Neville Brothers, among others.
According to Henderson, Upchurch is the most fanatical Saints fan he knows. "He knows everything about the team," Henderson said. "He's really, really into it. I am too and we go pretty crazy watching the game on the tour bus or wherever we are. We are totally connected through the Internet and checking out the team website and constantly keeping up with what is going on with the team. Thank goodness I have the iPhone, I get alerts about every 30 seconds with everything that is going on."
"Ever since I can remember, I have been a Saints fan," Upchurch said. "Swilling, Jackson, Hebert, I could go on and on," Upchurch said. "My family, the majority of them, live in Thibodaux, and are Cajun. We are all into the Saints. It's like the Saints are part of the family."
When asked what happens when the Saints are playing and the band is playing at the same time, Upchurch said it's one of the most trying times of the job. "All I can tell is I am watching the game until the very last second before we hit the stage," he said. "Rarely are there conflicts, but the occasional Sunday night game or Monday night game make it pretty tough on us. We have a job to do, but those are hard times right there to battle through."
Upchurch talked today about the latest Saints news, rattling off the injury report and enthusiastically talking about Sunday's game against the 49ers. "I live in Los Angeles and have some 49ers fans that are coming over for the game," said Upchurch. "Hey, I have a closet full of jerseys: home and away. I have options."
Henderson said that the he was amazed recently while playing at a concert at the legendary natural amphitheater in Red Rocks, Colorado that a man and a woman in the front row where wearing a Drew Brees and Reggie Bush jersey and were going nuts when Henderson brought out his guitar adorned with the fleur-de-lis. "It was quite a connection," Henderson said. "I mean, they were going crazy, yelling "Who Dat!" and pointing to the Saints logos. They were so pumped up. I mean, here we were thousands of miles away from New Orleans and they totally connected with us because of the Saints. That was pretty special.
"You know that when you play in our area that the crowd will go wild when the guitar comes out," said Henderson. "But there is always a great reaction in almost every venue. People make the connection quickly and are into it. There are Saints fans everywhere and it's awesome to see. It just strengthens the ties and bond we feel to the team.
"It's pretty amazing that with all the traveling we do, and the places we go, that you are almost always going to bump into a Saints fan," Upchurch said. "I can talk to them all day about the Saints. I think it drives my wife a little crazy, but it's a passion of mine."
Henderson reeled off his favorite former and Saints players and coaches, including Archie Manning, Kyle Turley, Jim Mora, Deuce McAlister, Reggie Bush, Sean Payton and Drew Brees. "I played some ball in high school and really appreciate how good they are," he said. "I really watch in amazement and am a huge fan of not only them, but the role players, as well. I like the make-up of our team. There seem like a lot of great guys out there who are pouring their hearts into it. I am already excited for Sunday!"
3 Doors Down is more than just a rock band, however. The band has also miraculously found time to add kindle to their homegrown The Better Life Foundation, which has raised more than 2 million dollars for local children's charities since its inception in 2003. Most recently the group held their fourth annual Foundation concert at the Hard Rock Casino & Hotel in Biloxi, Ms (in addition, the band has always donated $1 from each ticket sold to one of their concerts to the charitable organization).
Henderson said that one of the most poignant and important moments of his life occurred with the Saints as the central theme. "I think my father would be honored to be mentioned by the Saints," he said of his late father, Gordon Henderson. "In 2005 he was in hospice care with lung cancer and on his final day, the doctor told us that it wouldn't be much longer until he passed away.
"I was helping him sit up in bed and get more comfortable and after I got him situated, he looked at me and said, 'Chris, do one thing for me going forward. Don't you ever root for another team other than the Saints.' Those were his last words before he passed away. I think about it every day. The Saints have that deep of a connection to me. When I think of the Saints, and I do every day, it is really special to me. It the connection between a father and a son and makes rooting for the Saints that much more special to me."
Henderson estimates that he has been to close to 20 games over the past few years and goes out of his way to get to the games whenever he can. Henderson, though, doesn't ask for special treatment. He is often right in the middle of the crowd and despite his notoriety, blends right into the 'Who Dat Nation.' "I really get into it," he said.
Upchurch mentioned the pride he felt as a successful rock star the day of September 26, 2006. It, as any Saints fan can tell you, was the day the Saints returned to the Superdome after a year away due to Katrina.
"I remember watching television all day and how excited I was throughout the day," he said. "You think about the bands like the Goo-Goo Dolls, U2 and Green Day and the local musicians and how it all came together and culminated with that 24-3 win. I know I would have loved to be a part of it, but it was awesome. I think it shows the power of music and how sports and music can go hand-in-hand. We are lucky to play some sports venues and events and sports and rock really go hand-in-hand."
3 Doors Down also owns a distinct part in Saints history, as the band played the song "Here By Me," at Giants Stadium in 2005 in the infamous Saints "homegame" shortly after Hurricane Katrina. "It was emotional for all of us," said Upchurch. "There was so much uncertainty at that time, but we as a band knew that the city would come back. It's taken a lot of hard work and I think the Saints have been leaders in helping the region get back on its feet. It makes me even more proud, if that's possible, to be a fan of the team.
"We believe," said Upchurch. "We're going to get it done. We are true fans and will be there through thick and thin. WHO DAT!"
For more information on the 3 Doors Down, including news, tour dates, and photos go to the official 3 Doors Down Website: http://www.3doorsdown.com