Interview with Linkin Park on Herald Sun & Rolling Stone
Linkin Park’s anchored frontman
Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington is used to scrutiny
However, on their last world tour, Bennington took careful note of one considered opinion – his six-year-old son, Tyler.
Bennington says: "He has travelled more in his short little life than most have done in their lifetime. He has no idea he’s done that."
Bennington is also finding joy in watching Tyler try to piece together the puzzle of the music, the performance, the crowd, the reaction, and how his 36-year-old father fits in all this.
"It’s so cute," Bennington says. "He saw people cheering and thought: ‘They’re all here to see my dad and my uncles’. "He made that connection. He knows there is something special here. He realises dad does something different from what other dads do.
"It’s interesting to see kids figure out how people view their father differently."
To most others, Bennington is a songwriter and the primal howl in Linkin Park, one of the biggest rock bands of the new millennium.
Hits include In The End, Somewhere I Belong, Breaking The Habit and Numb.
Their new album, Living Things, a return to the crunching intensity of Hybrid Theory (2000) and pop structures of Meteora (2002), will be released tomorrow.
"Our goal is to challenge ourselves creatively," Bennington says.
"We want to make music that doesn’t play it safe.
"That’s easier said than done when you’ve been doing it for 12 years and it’s your fifth record.
"It can get easy to become complacent in your career and deal with things you know you’re good at."
Bennington says the new album is more personal than their last record, a concept work called A Thousand Suns.
He explains: "Living Things deals with more issues on a human level, a personal level."
Bennington says he and co-writer Mike Shinoda wrote about characters more than specific experiences.
"Our lives are different, so we come from two perspectives," Bennington says.
"I remember saying to Mike: ‘When I was a kid, my parents got divorced and that made me really sad. I want to write a song about it.’ And Mike goes: ‘Well, my parents never got divorced. I have no idea what that feels like.’
"But, somehow, it works. We end up with songs with multiple layers and points of view."
Yet, in the multi-platinum world of Linkin Park, one voice is always loudest: Family.
In the liner notes of the new album, Bennington thanks his wife Talinda, and children Jaime, Isaiah, Draven, Tyler, Lily, Lila and Alyssa.
He says: "My wife and my children give me a perspective that is necessary to stay a normal person.
"They allow me to see life for what it truly is, and what is important.
"Being a rock star is awesome, but it is not a real lifestyle. It’s very secluded.
"It’s awesome to make music at this level, but ultimately, what we want out of life is to be regular people.
"We don’t want to experience life as rock stars on a pedestal.
"Family brings you back down to earth. It keeps you tied to the things that are important," he says.
Linkin Park will tour Living Things, including yet-to-be confirmed dates in Australia.
Bennington says their ferocious live shows keep him connected to the memory of the wide-eyed fan he once was.
"A lot of people can sing, and there are a lot of talented people out there for what they do. But I’m not sure there are many people who can do what I do, the way that I do it.
"When I get up on stage scream and yell and deliver … I feel everybody wants to do that.
"At that moment, I’m speaking for all of us."
The singer says he recognises himself in the fan in the front row shouting every word of every song.
"There is something about that one kid who got there early, got his tickets first, and ran up to the barricade and waited all day to scream as if they were in the band.
"I remember being in that place, looking up at my heroes. There is nothing better than being that for somebody."
Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda on the Band’s ‘Personal’ New Album
Linkin Park’s fifth studio album, Living Things, came as something of a surprise to the band. “It wasn’t like we said, ‘Hey, let’s make a personal record,’” the band’s Mike Shinoda tells Rolling Stone. “It’s more like we just started recording and these were the things that started showing up. It became obvious to us that it is the kind of record we need at this moment, that we wanted to get that stuff out.”
Living Things, which was co-produced by Rick Rubin and Shinoda and is due out on June 26th, couples its introspection with broader interests; the band made a video art installation for the LP’s first single, “I’ll Be Gone,” that dabbles in astronomy. “The visuals for ‘I’ll Be Gone’ stuck out to me because that song is a relationship-based song, but it’s also got a second read of a space theme,” Shinoda says. “A lot of the songs have metaphors, and one of the metaphors in that song is space. [The visual artists] picked up on that language and turned it into this weird, intergalactic space travel thing.”
In the days leading up to the album’s launch, the band is keeping a busy schedule. “We haven’t had this kind of a rigorous release since [2003's] Meteora,” Shinoda recalls of the group’s second album. “We really dug in and spread ourselves out.” As part of that build-up, the group held an intimate listening, art show and Q&A at Sonos Studios in Los Angeles earlier this week. The assembled friends and fans were treated to a visual presentation of the album, with each of the record’s 12 tracks accompanied by a video. There was footage of the band performing live in “Burn It Down,” a lightning storm cutting the sky in “Until It Breaks,” flames illuminating a black screen for “Castles of Glass” and skulls rotating in “Skin to Bone. The elaborate footage will be used in the band’s next tour.
“A lot of the stuff is part of the album experience. I know that it’s going to be showing up in the live show,” Shinoda explains. “If you go online and look at the lyric videos for ‘Burn It Down’ and ‘Lies Greed Misery,’ you’ll see some of that imagery there. We use it in many different ways.”
After the 40-minute presentation, Shinoda explained to Q&A host Jason Bentley of KCRW that the art show was partially inspired by the communal listening experiences of his childhood. He reminisced about going to the record stores on Tuesdays, buying new albums and listening to Wu-Tang Clan and Alice in Chains in cars with his friends. The discussion also included a guest appearance from Rubin.
Despite the grand visuals, Shinoda insists that the core of Living Things is sincere. “Any time you hear a song that’s about me and you, it’s always coming from a personal story and an honest place.”