Interview: Scott Henderson

Randy Allar: You guys are wrapping it up on the road. Your first U.S. tour in over two years.

Scott Henderson: This is the most record company support we've ever had in the history of this band. It's the only reason we've been able to tour the states. As you know, we didn't tour the last two years. It's not our fault! It's really due to crappy support from our old record company.

Randy Allar: It has to be very expensive for you as a band to tour yourself.

Scott Henderson: It's pretty expensive, yeah. We're not really out on the road to make money, but we don't want to lose money either. So thanks to Zebra Records, and they've been really nice and supportive in the states. They've been amazing. They're making it easy...well, not easy. It's not easy driving around the states in a van, but we're able to do it.

Randy Allar: How does that compare to traveling abroad?

Scott Henderson: Touring in Europe is a lot easier for sure because there is smaller distances between the cities. Driving the states is a lot harder. I don't care. I love to play every night. I pretty much live for the road. I love to be on the road. I just don't want to have to pay to play like some of the bands in L.A.

Randy Allar: Do you have to pay to play?

Scott Henderson: If you choose to play in certain places. We don't play those kinds of rooms. We have a blues trio I'm thinking seriously about taking on the road next year, me, Kirk (Covington), and John Humphreys. That's another really fun band that I play in.

Randy Allar: Next year you have to plan on hitting Cleveland.

Scott Henderson: Yeah, absolutely. For sure!

Randy Allar: Are you looking to do another solo record?

Scott Henderson: Yeah, I'm writing for it. I don't have that many tunes yet, but I haven't really had a slice of time to do it. I keep going out on the road. I finally graduated to a hard disc recording system and that took me a little while to get together. So finally the studios done and I can start recording, like whenever.

Randy Allar: You seem to always have something going.

Scott Henderson: If I'm not on the road with Tribal Tech, I'm trying to be on the road with the trio. I try to stay on the road as much as I can.

Randy Allar: You don't like it at home, do you?

Scott Henderson: I love it at home, but you can't play here. You can't play in L.A. every night. We're lucky to play once a week here. It's just the nature of being a musician. People won't pay to see you every single week. You have to travel and change your audience to be able to play every night.

Randy Allar: Tribal Tech has had the same lineup for a number of years.

Scott Henderson: Yeah, we've been really lucky that we've got guys that appreciate what we're doing. They like this kind of music and they are willing to make sacrifice to play, especially in the states. They're willing to go out without a road manager and crew and it's really hard. But they're like us. They love playing every night.

Randy Allar: You guys have to be working your tails off just unloading and loading the van.

Scott Henderson: Well, we try to get help doing that. We pay people. We give them free T-shirts if they'll help us load. We're lazy by nature. Actually that is the only exercise we get on the road. I'm better at lifting my gear than I am at playing my guitar.

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Randy Allar: You have another project, a fantastic disc featuring Steve Smith and Victor Wooten called "Vital Tech Tones".

Scott Henderson: Yeah, those guys are great. Great players. That was kind of Steve's project. He just called us up and he had all ready spoke to Mike Varney (Shrapnel Records) about it and had wanted to play with me and Victor. So, there you go. We did it really fast. We wrote all the music and recorded it in ten days. I hear things in it now that I'm not really satisfied with, but I hear that in every project that I do.

Randy Allar: You're too critical.

Scott Henderson: We're going to do another one in December. Those guys are great players, they learn fast and they really make things happen quickly. They have really good ideas. Not just as players, but writing stuff. Victor's a monster man, he's incredible.

Randy Allar: I like the name "Vital Tech Tones." Vital Information (Steve Smith) Tribal Tech (Scott Henderson) Bela Fleck and the Fleck Tones (Victor Wooten).

Scott Henderson: You know, just a second. It was like we couldn't think of anything else. (laughs) The height of creativity.

Randy Allar: With Vital Tech Tones, is there a lot of improvisation or are the songs structured?

Scott Henderson: It's both. At first, when we decided to do the record, it was going to be an all inprov record. I was okay with that. But I brought this tune, "Dr. Hee" in and cause I thought let's start with this, and this would be the only tune on the record. We recorded that one and we all liked working in a composed music format. We decided to compose some tunes for the record, and then we decided let's do all tunes. That sort of put a lot of pressure on me because being the guy with the writing instrument, I had to do most of the work. I was thinking that I don't know if I can write five or six more tunes in ten days. I usually take my time when I write, so I was really under the gun to write that quick.

Randy Allar: You may not be happy with it, but from our end, it sounds great.

Scott Henderson: I'm not displeased with it. I just know I can write better stuff if I had more time. That's the whole point is to go in there and kick ass and do it really fast. Sort of music boot camp!

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Scott Henderson has accomplished many different goals in his career as a guitar player. He was voted Guitar Player Of The Year from Guitar Player Magazine a few years back. He's worked with jazz keyboardists Joe Zawinul of Weather Report as well as Chick Corea, Jean-Luc Ponty, and bassist Jeff Berlin. His band Tribal Tech has seven discs and a greatest hits release.

Henderson also has two solo blues discs out; one of which features the lovely voice of singer Thelma Houston. One name to watch is an Australian drummer name Virgil Donati, who features Henderson on the point of his disc, "Just Add Water." Now that is some resume. His newest project is with Bass Player of the Year, Victor Wooten and drummer Steve Smith. They are ready to go into the studio and cut "Vital Tech Tones II", or something to that effect.

Recently we caught up with Scott and it went something like this.