Ernie Ball's latest String Theory video with Polyphia's Tim Henson is an excellent insight into the work ethic and creative mind of an often misunderstood musician. Rather than the outspoken and aloof figure he's sometimes been painted as in the past (and yes he has said a few things), Henson's creative maturity and progressive outlook on influence shines here in this interview for Ernie Ball's String Theory series.
Though he was raised on "dad rock" and "boomer bends" growing up with a musician father, Henson always had big ambitions when it came to music; "I had this idea that I wanted to be the best guitar player on earth."
Big headed? Henson simply had big ambitions, and this idea of trying to reach them seems to have defined his approach ever since those early days.
"There are so many times where I write beyond my current capability," he reveals about how he has continued to push himself as a musician. "I shoot way further than I can actually make and then I have to make up the difference and by the tour rolls around I have to be able to play this f*****g thing.
"You do have to tell yourself kind of ridiculous stuff," he adds. "If you want to create something good or do something cool, you've got to dream big."
And although Henson is a contemporary guitar hero who draws from multiple genres and is now bringing even the nylon-string tones to new ears with Polyphia, he began admiring the rock gods of old, but now he merely sees the instrument and his playing as a vessel to express the sometimes unreachable visions he has in his head. Perhaps that's why his parts frequently sound so unusual.
"Guitar playing to me is more a means to an end – the end being the creation of music," he explains. "The guitar is a tool to execute my ideas and bring them to life. If I was good at any other instrument, I'd be playing that instrument, but I'm only good at guitar, so that's the one that I use. It's more of a vehicle than anything, for the expression"