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Bill Henderson of Chilliwack Talks "Whatcha Gonna Do When I'm Gone"

This Sunday, all four of our Cover Me Canada competitors will open the show with a performance of Chilliwack's "Whatcha Gonna Do When I'm Gone". Joining them on stage will be frontman Bill Henderson, who took the time to chat with us about the history behind its creation!

So, how did "Whatcha Gonna Do When I'm Gone" come together?
Basically, it started with the guitar rhythm that Brian MacLeod came up with. I think he had the chorus, too. Together we wrote the verse; I did the lyrics and a lot of the melody. The thing about it was - if there's any drama in it - at the end of the recording session, we still didn't have what we thought would be a hit. One morning he walked in with this thing that ended up being "Whatcha Gonna Do". That felt like it was gonna do it. We wrote it in the studio - i think it's the last one we recorded.

A lot of times you start an album in one headspace, and after a couple months you're in a different headspace; you've got a groove happening WITH the studio. You feel comfortable. I notice a lot of times that a song will pop out at that point cause you're comfortable. Songs are funny that way - they come out when you're ready. You can manufacture as much as you want, but you can't push 'em. They can't be little robots, it just doesn't work that way. Treat them like kids - you have to give them space and allow them to emerge as what they are.

What was most rewarding after the song had been released?
I think to see the little song have legs and see it running off into the public. The most magical thing about a song is... the magic! The magic is that they do have lives of their own - they know what they want to be. There's a chance they'll have that certain energy and people will go, "oh, that's great." You don't have to push it every step of the way. It's kind of like the viral idea. If things have that energy, it will go.

The music video was released very early in the history of MTV. Do you remember much about it?
That was our second video. There weren't many videos at that time, and no music stations in Canada; there was only MTV at that time. Our songs did really well at MTV - we started getting recognized everywhere we went because of those videos. As far as the concept goes? Somebody had that idea so we went ahead and did it.

Our Cover Me Canada competitors will be singing "Whatcha Gonna Do" as the show's opener. Do you have any advice for them?
My advice to anyone is to sing it like you feel it. Sing it well - there is craft involved - timing and groove is really important. Your own personality is really important too - and what you personally get out of it. Let that happen! I'm really curious to see 4 bands doing the same song! It's a bizarre concept and I'm curious.

Anything else that comes to mind about this song in particular?
Every night that Chilliwack does a show, we always do that song. It's usually 2nd in the set; the first is always a jammer - woozy jammer thing. Then we hit this one, and it kind of feels like home base. People like the jammer, but when that "gah gahgah gahgah" hits, they know that everything's ok. Just something about it. It so knows what it is, it's so settled. It just feels good.