Jason Setnyk

Interview with Chilliwack frontman Bill Henderson

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Article by Jason Setnyk | Photo of Chilliwack by Rob Pankratz (Wiki Commons)

Article by Jason Setnyk | Photo of Chilliwack by Rob Pankratz (Wiki Commons)

Ottawa Ontario – Legendary Vancouver rock band Chilliwack will be playing the Navan Fair in Ottawa on Friday, August 12th, 2016. The band consists of lead singer and guitarist Bill Henderson, guitarist Ed Henderson, bassist Doug Edwards, and drummer Jerry Adolphe.

Before reforming in 1997, the band was active for 18 years from 1970 to 1988. During that span they released 11 albums including four that were certified platinum in Canada. Chilliwack have some notable hits such as “My Girl (Gone, Gone, Gone)”, “Whatcha Gonna Do”, “I Believe”, and “Lonesome Mary”.

Bill Henderson, who won a Juno Award for Producer of the Year and a SOCAN Special Achievement Award, says Chilliwack brings the audience back to a different time.

“In our show we do a lot of the hits, we play songs the people know well. They are fun to play. We play stuff from the early 70s songs like “Lonesome Mary”. We take the audience back to a psychedelic time. It’s a reference point of where we come from. Our purpose is to get on stage to have a great time with our audience. It’s what makes it worthwhile. It’s an emotional experience. It goes deep in us and it goes deep in our audience,” Bill Henderson explains.

If music is a reference point of where we come from, it’s perhaps only fitting that the legacy of Brian “Too Loud” MacLeod’s lives on every time Chilliwack plays a show. The former guitarist of Chilliwack died of brain cancer in 1992. He was a well known producer and shares songwriting credits with Bryan Adams, Loverboy, Chicago and others.

“Yes I do believe (Brian “Too Loud” McLeod’s legacy and memory lives on in our live show) to some extent. It brought attention to our band when he was in the group for six years. He has an extraordinary and unusual talent. We were lucky to have him work for us. The legacy is deep. Songs like “(My Girl) Gone, Gone, Gone”, and “Whatch Gonna Do”, his sound is there, and it lives on in those songs,” says Bill Henderson.

Bill Henderson’s favourite Chilliwack song to perform live is “Seventeenth Summer”.

“My favourite Chilliwack song to play live? That is a tough one. It changes from night to night. “Seventeenth Summer” is kind of a grunting and chanting thing. People get up and dance. We do different things with the song each night. We have fun with that song, we have fun with all of our songs though”, Bill Henderson confided.

In 2015 music fans were treated to a new music video by Chilliwack for the song “Take Back This Land”. The song became a rallying call during the last Federal Election. The song wasn’t just about the election according to Bill Henderson. Whether it is logging or fracking or whatever else, there is still a lot more work to do in Canada.

“There is lots more work (to take back this land). It’s barely begun. It was inspired about the election. It’s something we need to address. I wanted to inspire people. There is a lot of work to do in Canada. It’s beautiful the land itself. In order to make it good and keep it good, there is a lot of work to do. Every action has effects and repercussions. Things happen when people push politicans and make them move”, Bill Henderson added.

Are there any plans for a new Chilliwack album? The short answer is no.

“We may come up with an album, but I’m not thinking of that. If you want an album to be successful it takes time, money, and energy – including creating videos. Then you have to promote it like crazy. I’m 71. I’m not that interested in building my career. I just want to take the heart and soul of what is Chilliwack and keep playing live. The line up of the band has been the same for the last 17-18 years. We have just been playing Canada and it’s still growing,” Bill Henderson concluded.

The Navan Fair show starts at 9pm and is $10 admission. Those who want to get into the beer gardens must be 19+. The Navan Fair is located at 1209 Colonial Road in Ottawa, Ontario.


Special thanks to Jeff Brunet of Alkaline Entertainment for arranging the interview. Jeff Brunet is bringing the “Hot Rocks” Rolling Stones Tribute band to Cornwall at the Salons of the Civic Complex on Friday, September 23rd, 2016. Doors for that show are 7pm, the event is all ages, and tickets are $25.

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