Linkin Park's Chester Bennington talks

04.05.2008
It makes sense that Linkin Park is covering Nine Inch Nails on its current Meteora World Tour. But at first listen, the two bands couldn't sound more different.

Linkin Park is a young, guitar-driven nu-metal outfit that is rooted in its dueling vocalists - singer Chester Bennington and MC Mike Shinoda - and the dynamic DJ/production work of Joseph Hahn. Nine Inch Nails, meanwhile, is made up of a single music veteran - Trent Reznor - who anchors his industrial metal in a skillfully lopsided mix of electronics and guitars.

Yet both acts have made a fine living out of manipulating instruments, creating unique melodies and singing about what ails them. Linkin Park's "Numb" is the band's moody equivalent to NIN's "Hurt." So it makes sense that Linkin Park's live take on NIN's "Something I Can Never Have" is drawing rave reviews from fans who have seen the recent tour, which stops at Colorado Springs' World Arena on Monday.
But a band that makes its name on angst has a tough road ahead, as proven by NIN. Young bands are dealing lyrically with issues from their childhood and their current state as Star- bucks-employed starving artists. Angst is a natural reaction.

But what about five years later, when the records are flying off the shelves, the royalty checks are piling up and the adoration is seemingly endless?

Linkin Park's Bennington said nothing - CD sales, money or praise - has been a guaranteed cure for his depression and insecurities.

"People suffer depression even through success, and I don't think that money is the answer to everything," 27-year-old Bennington said recently. "But people get this idea in this country that money is the answer to every problem in your life. Fame is even better (they think) because then not only do you have money but people know you and want to be your friends and they'll give you stuff.
"But I would like my music to change with who I am as I get older. Not every song that we write is like, 'BAHHH!' all in your face. There are songs like 'Easier to Run' and 'Breaking the Habit,' songs that are different. 'Papercut' is a different song."

To prove the point that success won't make you happy, Linkin Park played more than 320 shows in 2001. Its debut, "Hybrid Theory," dropped in late 2000, and singles including "Crawling," "One Step Closer" and "In the End" fully blew up as 2001 ran its course.

The brutal travel schedule, which included stints on the Family Values and the Project: Revolution tours, made the band's sound tighter than ever, but it also wore them down to the point of creative and physical exhaustion.

"We figured it out, and I think we played about 5.5 shows a week that year," Bennington said. "It was cool, but it also stifled our creativity because it's boring. It's (expletive) hell. Every day blends into the next. It's not like there's Tommy Lee and Pamela Anderson and tons of drugs after every show, at least not with us."

The band had a mini-recording studio on its tour bus, but it was difficult to find the necessary drive for songwriting, Bennington said. It's the reason why it took Linkin Park 2 1/2 years to release their true follow-up to "Hybrid Theory," last year's "Meteora."

Meteora is a quality record that delves deep into the band's talent register, but it's not as hit-heavy as the debut. The band, too, cheated a bit with the release of "Reanimation," a 2002 remix album, and "Live in Texas," a 2003 live recording/DVD combo from its Summer Sanitarium date in Dallas.
"Live in Texas," both the CD and the DVD, are proper re-creations of Linkin Park's live sound; Shinoda is a competent MC even without the vocal tricks of Pro Tools and Bennington's vox is on-point everywhere save for "Crawling." That the live record and the remix album came so early in the band's career is an unnecessary indulgence. Bennington concedes they came early but ultimately said the live record was "a lot of fun to do.

"The album was actually just a bonus to the DVD," he said. "We put (the CD) out for the kids who didn't have a DVD player."

The trend of packaging a DVD as an added bonus to a CD came into its own in 2003, with everyone from J-Lo to Triumph the Insult Comic Dog getting in on the action. Bennington, a fan of both concerts and movies on DVD, says he was especially excited to unleash his live performance visually.
"I buy (DVDs) constantly," he said. "I buy more DVDs than I do records. I must buy 10 DVDs a month, whereas I buy like three records a year."

It's not that he doesn't listen to new music - he gets CDs sent to him gratis, "one of the great things about being in a successful band," he says - but truthfully, he said the last two records he bought were the new Jay-Z and the first Candlebox record.

"But I'm really picky about music and where I spend my time," said Bennington, a first-time father of his 20-month-old son, Draven. "Most of the time when I'm home, I'm watching 'Spongebob Squarepants' and 'Sesame Street' and 'Veggie Tales.' "

Denver Post - January 30, 2004


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