This past Friday (01/09/2015), AltWire.net, along with several other online and print publications, were invited to take part in a telephone press conference featuring Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington, Rise Against’s Tim McIllrath and Of Mice and Men’s Austin Carlisle to promote Linkin Park’s upcoming The Hunting Party Tour, which kicks off in Orlando, FL later this week.
For fans of all three bands, we here at AltWire have taken the liberty of providing the full transcript below for your viewing pleasure. Check it out below!
Editorial Note: The transcript below has been edited from the originally provided transcript to provide greater clarity and to improve readability.
Scott Mervis [Post Gazette]: Hey, guys. Thanks for talking to us today. This is for both of you. Can you just talk about how Linkin Park and Rise Against fit together on a bill as bands from maybe different cultures and maybe bands that appeal to different fan bases?
Chester Bennington: Well, I think that what’s interesting about being in a band like Linkin Park, is that we can play with anybody. Like, for us, it makes sense for us to play with Jay-Z, Rise Against, Metallica, or any band, and it doesn’t seem like that’s a stretch. And so, I also think that a lot of our fans do cross over. I think we have a lot of fans that share interest in both bands. I know that we actually poll our fan base every couple of years and Rise Against is actually a band that comes up quite often in just like the top five bands that our fans listen to. And so, for me personally, like, I’ve always been a fan of the band and I’ve wanted to tour with these guys for a long time. I think every time I run into these guys or play the show with these guys, I’m like, “Okay. So, when are we going to go on tour?” And finally, here we are and it’s happened. So it’s kind of a weird question that doesn’t really have like a very clear answer, but it certainly does generate a lot of attention, for sure.
Tim McIlrath: Yeah. I would just add to what Chester was saying, too. Like, I mean, you run into one person where it’s like Rise Against and Linkin Park; that’s a no-brainer. Why haven’t you guys toured yet? And then there’s the person who’s like, “Rise Against and Linkin Park? Like, that sounds crazy. How is this going to work?” And so, you have people all over the board, but a lot of what Chester said, something that even tuned me into Linkin Park was our own fans. I was finding out that, like, we’re speaking to a lot of that audience. And, like you were saying, Chester, it’s, like, there’s not a really good answer, but something intangible that connects music. And there’s something intangible about Linkin Park. I think [with] Rise Against – [there’s] something behind the message of what we’re doing that speaks to audiences in what I’d like to believe is more than just, like, a consumer kind of way, but in a way that really connects. And the DNA of Linkin Park and Rise Against connects with fans and connects them to the music and turns them into more than just fans, but, like, part of the community of what you’re doing, in that sense. I’m excited to go out with you guys for that reason and also to see, like, what you guys have done, like to see your community and to be a part of it. And especially, just as people who are still playing guitars on stages and arenas nowadays. There’s not many of us left. You know what I mean?
Chester Bennington: Yeah.
Tim McIlratch: And so, we’re all allies out here.
Chester Bennington: Yeah, exactly. I totally agree with you. I think that there’s a lot of elements of our music that we share, especially lyrically, that do speak to fans of both bands. And I think that’s one of the reasons why I really enjoy Rise Against’s music so much, and my family enjoys the band so much. I mean, I know that everyone from my wife to my kids in college, my kids in high school, and middle school, and elementary school – all of them – they’re all excited about this tour, because of Rise Against and I think that that’s something that is a testament to the strength of the message of the music.
Scott Tady [Beaver County Times]: Tim, you talked about the idea of not many of your guys left in the arenas. Talk about the notion of being in a rock tour. And, Chester, some of your fans might not remember the glory years of arenas. We know more of outdoor festivals and club shows. What makes an arena so special in your mind?
Chester Bennington: To me, what makes an arena so special is kind of the things that make anything so special, which is people inside it – the audience – and what they decide to do with that particular evening. And so, when you have thousands of people singing back your songs and being part of this – I don’t know – just this moment in your life and in their lives, that’s something where the ferocity of that is only increased in numbers. So, it’s like people can talk all day long about like the intimacy of a small venue versus the grandiose part of being in an arena, but really it comes down to the audience, to me, and, like, when you have that audience and you can hit that moment in the night where everyone’s kind of on the same page, that’s a pretty beautiful thing.
David Lindquist [Indianapolis Star]: Hi. This is for Chester. You’re playing our MBA Arena here in Indianapolis where you debuted with Linkin Park in 2001 as part of the Family Values Tour. I was just wondering – wanted to ask about your thoughts on that era and the longevity for the band.
Chester Bennington: Wow, yeah, that’s right. We played there. Was it Stone Temple Pilots and Staind? Right? Was that the one? I think so. Yeah, that’s pretty cool. You know, it’s interesting. The longevity of the band – it’s so funny because I think for the first time in our career I’m kind of realizing that we aren’t the new guys and we’ve kind of graduated to being, like, veterans and almost to a certain degree, almost like a certain level of nostalgia, which is pretty cool to have lasted that long. We’ve released our sixth album and we’re preparing to work on our seventh album coming up here soon. But at the same time, it really still feels like we’re just beginning. Like, we’re all still really young and we all still have tons of ideas and all these creative inspirations and inspirational moments around us and we’re constantly meeting really great people and touring with cool bands that love playing music. And, like Tim was saying earlier, in rock there’s a brotherhood that’s happening within the rock community right now where bands are realizing, like, (1) we have strong fan bases, but (2) it’s important that we stick together and, like, help nurture the scene and live music. And I love that the competitive nature of the early 90’s and the 80’s in rock and roll music doesn’t exist anymore, and really now it’s about just playing music and having a great time and making quality records and playing quality rock shows. And I think that’s what makes bands last a long time. That is something that matters to rock bands and I think that’s a testament to the success of a rock band. If a rock band makes number one on the billboard number one charts and if you look at the odds it has to go against to beat all the pop artists, it’s pretty amazing these days. It’s like David versus Goliath, I think. So, I think that there’s a really strong rock community out there and there’s a really strong push for great rock bands and it’s up to the bands and the fans to go out and make great memories together.
Rob Digiacomo [Press of Atlantic City]: Hi. This question is for Chester, and I wanted to ask about your latest album and how the music fits into your live show? I think the album is a little bit of a different sonic approach for you guys, a little less electronic, a little more rock, so if you can talk about how you work your songs into your live shows.
Chester Bennington: The songs actually work really well with our live set. We play so many tracks from our old records that adding in five songs from the new album almost kind of makes it just disappear. I mean, I think, like, we’re playing 30 songs or something like that, so it’s a pretty saturated set and it moves really fast from one song to the next. We’ve always been a very diverse band. It’s not like we’ve done R&B and all of a sudden now we’re a death metal band and we have to figure out how to make that stuff work together. You know? Fortunately for us we have a lot of really talented guys and we also have a lot of songs that are pretty aggressive and I still think that people probably consider us more of a hard rock band than an alternative band when we play live. So, it’s not hard to put those songs in at all.
Patrick O’Hagan [Chattanoogan.com]: Hey, this question’s for Chester. And I just want to know what was the takeaway for you and for the band after releasing its first self-produced album? And do you plan on doing it again?
Chester Bennington: We feel really good about it. I think critically it’s one of the most acclaimed records that we’ve had out. I think that we made this record specifically to have fun playing it live as a matter of fact. We did have conversations with our manager and our label about releasing such a heavy record and how that would affect our standings in terms of where the record will come out, and how many albums it would sell, how many times it would get played on the radio and whether or not that would affect our whole thing. And everyone said, “Yeah, you’re pretty much not going to get played on the radio and you probably won’t be number one.” We’re like, “Okay. Well, that’s cool and we like this record anyway and we’re going to do it because it’s going to be fun to play live and the songs are awesome.” And I think our fans want to hear us kind of kick ass right now. There’s not really a lot of bands making heavy records right now; it’s a pretty pop-heavy world and I’m a firm believer in a balanced diet.
Josef Lawler [Register Media]: Yes, my question’s for Chester. On the album, Hunting Party, I was reading about how the recording process was a lot more improvisational for writing and collaboration with others in the studio. And I was curious – what made you guys decide to take that approach when it came to this album?
Chester Bennington: Well when we were writing the first demos for this record, I remember sitting in Mike’s studio and all the songs were pretty pop-heavy. We had just done the Steve Aoki stuff and we were, like, all kind of like, leaning towards making more pop-heavy stuff because it’s fun and we’re really good at that. At some point, with Mike I remember we were like five songs deep and we were making headway on a lot of tracks and they were really good and Mike kind of looked at me and he was like, “Dude, I don’t want to do this. I don’t want to make these songs. I kind of hate these songs.” I was like, “All right.” You know, my approach creatively with anything anymore is, like, I’m not married to anything. I don’t really care. If we can try to make something better, let’s do it. If all of a sudden you say you hate something and we’ve been working on it for a year, then you hate it. Let’s, like, do something new, you know? So, I was like, “All right. Well, cool. What are we going to do?” And he was like, “I want to do something like this,” and he plays what turned into Guilty All The Same. And the 14-year-old punk rock, hip hop kid in me went bonkers and I was like, “I want to do this all day, every day.” And so, that’s what we did and the direction of the album changed at that point and went from being a really pop-heavy record to being arguably just a straight hard rock heavy metal record.
Brian Auerback [The Record]: Hi. This is for Chester. You’ve collaborated with many, many people over the course of your albums and I was just curious for The Hunting Party, with Paige Hamilton and the other guys that are on the album, how you decided that these are the guys that you’d like to ask to play on the album? What made you think of those people for this album?
Chester Bennington: Well, I mean, it was pretty organic and it was kind of trippy how it all happened actually. This is from my perspective; this is how I remember it. So, you could ask Mike and I’m pretty sure his perspective’s going to be different, but this is how it went down in my world. I was in the studio with Mike and we were talking about Guilty All The Same and the section where Rakim is rapping. And I was saying to Mike, “You need to rap; like, have you got any ideas?” And he’s like, “Yeah I’ve been doing it.” He’s like, “I know rap is supposed to be here.” He’s like, “I just don’t know if it’s supposed to be me.” He’s like, “I’m just not kind of feeling like it’s me. The voice I keep hearing is like Rakim.” And our tech, one of our engineers, Ethan, goes, “Yeah, dude, I know somebody in Rakim’s camp. Do you want me to reach out and see if he would be interested in, maybe listening to this track and, like, doing something?” And we were just kind of like – it was pretty random. I mean, that’s about as random as – I’m pretty sure being struck by lightning is probably more likely than that happening. And so, and this is news to us. It wasn’t like this was something that we knew about him and we’d been working with him for years.
So then like a month later, there’s Rakim in our studio. It was crazy. I think with the track that Paige came in on, we had worked on that track for awhile and the song came together really well in terms of the verses and the rest of the song. We were struggling with the chorus and finally Mike came in with this chorus and he was singing it and the demo version of his vocal, I was like, “Dude.” I go, “This chorus is bad ass. But is that you? It’s trippy how much you sound like Paige from Helmet on it,” And he’s like, “Yeah. I was kind of thinking the same thing.” And he’s like, “Is that a bad thing?” And I said, “Well, no it’s not a bad thing. It’s kind of great thing, but at the same time, it does sound like Helmet.” And so, I think at that point, Mike somehow knew somebody who knew Paige or even bumped into Paige at some point recently; you have to talk to Mike. Somehow there was a connection there and Mike reached out to Paige, and basically the thought was if this sounds like Helmet, we should probably wait to go straight to the source if the inspiration clearly came from that, whether consciously or unconsciously. And so, Paige came down and decided that he thought it would be cool to work with us and threw down a great vocal and added some great guitar and some great input on the track and the song kind of asked for it. It was the same kind of thing with Daron. We kind of hit a point where we were looking for some inspiration and we were talking people and bands that inspired us and guys who were great and would be fun to work with and I think Daron’s name came up and we just reached out randomly and thought it would be fun to see what it would be like to hang out with him for a day or two in the studio and see what came out of it. And he came in with Rebellion. So, it was all very organic and very kind of spontaneous.