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.
Michael Waterlo [Lebanon Daily News]: Hi, guys. This question’s for Tim. Tim, I spoke to Joe yesterday and he was telling me about The Black Market album and he told me for the lyrics that you just kind of find your dark place and then transfer them over to the album. Can you just kind of take us through that process and what it’s like to see them play out?
Tim McIlrath: Yeah. That’s a good question and a lot of thematically what’s going on behind our most recent record, The Black Market. Even the title is referring to the idea, you know, a band like Rise Against, or even a band like Linkin Park, we’re playing all within a range of songs and lyrics that oftentimes have a lot to do with feelings of angst or sadness or anger. There’s a lot of emotion in what we’re doing and that emotion is sometimes coming from a dark place. To me coming into this record, which was Rise Against’s seventh record, I came into it from sort of a little more of an introspective place, trying to think, “Well, what have we accomplished as a band already? And where do you want to move forward?” And then a lot of just thinking about, like, “What is this crazy endeavor that we do?” We’re grown men who jump on a stage every night and scream into a microphone and people come and see us play and what a bizarre thing to do, you know? And so, a lot of the record was kind of talking about that. Like, what goes into the DNA of bands like Rise Against and how does that come out in lyrics? And then where do you find the positivity in that? Where do you find the silver lining? And for us, it’s just that simple process of creation and venting and getting it out of you and then also connecting with the fans. But it does involve confronting demons. It involves going to a place where you have to be real with yourself and look head-on to what you want to sing about and then do it in a responsible way in an attempt to connect with people who might also be feeling like that. So, therefore, you can feel less alone; they can feel less alone and then somehow you’re channeling something that can be a part of a bigger, more reciprocal process, I guess.
Chester Bennington: Beautiful.
John Serba [Grand Rapids Press]: Hi. This is a question for Chester. The news broke about a month back that you guys were going to part from your management company and manage yourselves. And it seems like a mark of success for some bands when they can cut out some middlemen and achieve that type of independence. And I was just wondering if you could kind of talk about the decision behind doing that? And correct me if I’m wrong, but it just seems like instead of being on someone else’s roster, you’re not the employee; you’re the employer now, right?
Chester Bennington: Well, I think it’s important for everyone to be clear that all managers are employees of the band, and I think that sometimes needs to be made clear. Not in our case, though. We actually have a lot of respect for Michael Green and the company The Collective but I think for us we’re at a point where I think in terms of Linkin Park especially- we’re kind of a special situation. I mean, we’ve always managed ourselves. That was one of the reasons why we made the change in the first place from working with Rob McDermott to work with The Collective was that we wanted to do less of that; we wanted somebody else to do that for us but we found that we were best when we were doing it ourselves and we feel like we are at a place where we basically do know what we need, and we can function financially in a way that can support a team of people that can do what we need to do under the supervision of the band and some key heads of different facets of our business.
It’s weird to talk like this because I’m a dude from Phoenix who likes to play music for a living. This is what I did when I ditched school. When I talk to my kids about their plans in life, I say, “Do not look to your dad and think I’m going to do what he did, because please don’t do that.” Like, I basically have won the lottery and the fact that I am in a band that functions at a corporate level because of the massiveness of it is strange to me. I mean, I’m sitting in a tree house looking at the ocean staring back at fucking Los Angeles. I mean, this is like, this is not the real world. So, every day’s a blessing. We are actually able to be able to function in a way that we can really run our business the way we want to and, like you said, cut out a lot of the middlemen so that we can grow our business the way we want to and so that we can achieve the kind of success that we want to and also show bands that you can take your career into your own hands, which is basically what we do anyway. I mean, we are the ones who are creating the art that people are buying and we are in an industry that thankfully is collapsing because it’s an industry that’s full of criminals and people who do backwards business and it’s a great time for bands to take over the business of the music industry and it’s a great time for intelligent businessmen who have souls to come in and do business with us.
So, this is a great time for bands to take back the power that they have and work with people who are good people and honest people who want to make music and art and bring together people for sort of good reasons and not just for the sole sake of making money and sucking that off the artist as long as possible. Like Tim said, we make music and we bring people together and it’s about the music and what happens when you’re playing the shows and the experience and exchange you have with the fans. That’s what bands do this for. And so the fact that we can do this on a level where we can actually really take control of our business is pretty awesome.
Kris Dunn [CBS Radio]: Hi. This question is for Tim. Tim, with so much deep and dark emotions behind not just your lyrics on The Black Market album, but pretty much all lyrics in this album, how do you prepare for your shows? How do you maintain that focus and energy level to go out there each and every day on stage?
Tim McIlrath: That’s a good question. Actually Chester and I were talking about that, kind of that transition you make from like home life, and for guys like Chester and I, that’s family life, because we have families and kids. Going onto a stage and becoming that person that created those songs that walks on that stage and that people are coming to see. And so, it’s a tricky transition to make. It’s a little bit of Clark Kent versus Superman. And you walk out there and, I guess, the honest answer is that I never have a plan. There is no plan. I wake up that day of the show not knowing how it’s going to happen or a game plan of how it’s going to happen or have a set of steps. But over the last 15 years, I can bet that when I walk onto that stage, it all kind of clicks; everything makes sense. You see it in the eyes of everyone in front of you. They bring you into it. If they’re there, you’re there. It’s like, if that emotion is there, then you can’t help but get all kind of wrapped up into it and that’s kind of key. That’s when from the moment before I’m on stage, I’m kind of wondering how was this going to happen again? How am I going to do what I did last night tonight? I’m not sure that I can, but when you walk out there it all just kind of washes over you and I think that for a lot of us that’s kind of what triggers it all.
Chester Bennington: I like Tim’s answers way better than mine. He can just answer the rest.
Tim McIlratch: I’ll just start saying, “I’m Chester,”…
Derek Oswald [AltWire.net]: This next one’s for Chester, but if Tim wants to take a stab at trying to answer it, he can! Something somebody said earlier actually made me think about back in the day. You guys have been touring for quite some time and back in 2001, you infamously were on the road for 300 out of 365 days, if I remember correctly.
Chester Bennington: (overlapping) I think we were on the road for 321 days out of 365, if I remember right.
Derek Oswald: Yeah, that’s right. Going back, what was it like being on the road for that long? And now that you’ve actually kind of became more successful as a band now, do you ever think that you’ll be on tour for that long again, given that now you don’t have to prove yourselves?
Chester Bennington: You know, it’s kind of funny, but I look back at the guy that was touring at 23 in the prime of my life with no injuries and I could drink and smoke and stay up all night and sing and I would complain. I was doing like 20 minutes and maybe half an hour max. I don’t even think we had 30 minutes of music to play. And I remember doing five shows- sometimes six- in a week for the entire year and that’s pretty much what we did. I remember being like, “Dude,” when we went to 45 minutes, I was like, “I don’t know if I can do this, man,” you know? Then we got to an hour, and I was like, “I don’t know how these guys do it for two hours every night! I can barely make 45 and now we’re going to do an hour? This is like insane. I don’t know how I’m going to sing.” Now, it’s funny because literally in one night I’m doing more singing than I did in an entire week during that first year.
So yeah, it seemed like all that travel kind of sucked and you’re not making any money. It kind of sucks, but it was super fun and it was worth it, man. Like, every show we did was the most important thing in my life and every night, every person that we played for had never heard of us before and it was my personal mission to convert everybody there into a Linkin Park fan and with every band that played after us, I wanted them to go, “Fuck. I don’t want to get on. Like, I don’t want to go on after these guys.” And that was our goal. Our goal was to conquer everywhere we went and do it with our music, and I remember even the most aggressive person that we met had been pretty active taunting us during our show. And after the show, I confronted the person outside and was like, “Why were you doing that to us? Like, why can’t you just not like our music and that’s fine? Why do you have to dislike us so much that you distract from everybody else’s ability to even pay attention to what we were doing or have a chance to even make their own opinion? Why are you forcing your opinion upon everyone else in the room?” And by the time I was done with him he signed up with the Linkin Park Fan Club and became a Street Team member and it was just a fun time.
We were out to take over the world and I guess in a lot of ways we achieved that goal, but we still go out every night and think, “We have to earn our place to be where we’re at.” Once you have it, it doesn’t just stay here and once you’ve had success, it doesn’t just continue to come your way. You have to continue making records like it’s your first album and playing shows like every show matters and every fan you meet needs to be the most incredible experience of their life. And you have to be willing to be in the frame of mind of doing that every day. And that’s something that’s a blessing and it’s a pleasure and it’s a privilege for me to be able to do that.
Jim Gilbert [Upstate Live]: This message is for Tim. Having been involved in the punk scene for 20 years, can you describe how the scene has changed over the past couple decades and whether there are any emerging punk bands that are capturing your attention?
Chester Bennington: Eagulls.
Tim McIlrath: What’s that?
Chester Bennington: Eagulls.
Tim McIlrath: I’ve heard of the Eagulls band. I need to check them out.
Chester Bennington: E-A-G-U-L-L-S. It’s Seagulls with no “s.”
Tim McIlrath: Oh! Okay. Okay. I’ll check that out. So, the punk scene and how it’s changed. Like, oh my gosh, I don’t even know where to begin. This sounds like it needs to be a whole diatribe that Steve Albany writes and not me answering this question. But I think a lot of what punk was when I was growing up was a very underground sort of thing and one of the most significant changes to not just punk, but all forms of music, was just the access that came along with the information age and the Internet and social media. What was the underground thing that you found out by word of mouth, came into light because you had a friend somewhere who knew about a show and it was almost like an underground rave kind of thing. Now, it’s the kind of thing that everyone is sort of finding, which has been a cool thing, too, because you have all this access. And I think there’s a lot of guys involved in punk rock that sort of get frustrated when they see punk cross over into like a broader audience. And for me, that’s never really bothered me. I love watching punk crossover. It’s like commercial radio, all that kind of stuff. The only time it bums me out is when you see the superficial parts of the punk crossover and the guts of it stay behind. When people kind of leave all the substance at the door and walk into a whole different world and forget about what was behind the message and why they were making music in the first place. As far as the emerging punk bands, I’m really digging a lot of the – I don’t even know what this scene is – but bands like Balance and Composure and La Dispute and Citizen. I grew up in the Midwest in the 90’s and we had almost like a big hard core pre-EMO kind of vibe happening. And now, I’m hearing bands that sound like they came out of that era and those bands are kind of real exciting.
Bryan Corder [Ignite Music Magazine]: Yeah. This actually is for Austin. You’ve mentioned numerous times that Linkin Park was a huge influence in your music life. What is it about the music and the band that makes that influence so strong?
Austin Carlile: Growing up in high school, I listened to kind of a variety of music from my parents’ shelves, whatever they would basically let me, so the majority of my youth I got to listen to country music and blues and jazz and classic rock and contemporary Christian music, and just about everything that was not Linkin Park or anything similar. And I remember during early high school years and when I started getting into the older stuff, from Pantera, Korn, and started going towards Deftones, as soon as Hybrid Theory came out I remember it was during my track season and that was the album. That was the album – everybody on my team had – we all had it in our Walkman’s, on our CD’s. They had the skip protector on; that was the record for us and I was like, “Wow! This guy is so angry and he’s mad about, it sounds like, the same things I’m mad about and I don’t know what he’s really mad about, but I can relate to it because of this and that.” And from the melodies and the fact that it had hip hop and it wasn’t cheesy like Limp Bizkit and the fact that it was just so new and different, I related to it.
It’s cool to see that those people that I set my sights for when I was that young and those people that I looked up to and I admired musically when I was at that age that they’re down to earth guys and they’re great musicians. And then, like Chester was saying earlier, when I got on the press conference, they’re nurturing a new band and they’re keeping the rock scene and not making it a competitive thing now. They see it as, “Oh, there’s a band of a bunch of young kids who really love music, love playing music, and want it.” And I think that’s what Linkin Park sees in us. So, it’s a real honor to get to go and open up every night and to make sure that they can hear us before they go on.
Chester Bennington: It’s awesome; pleasure.
Laurel Feakes [Iowa State Daily.]: My question is for Chester. And I was just wondering what inspired your foundation Music for Relief?
Chester Bennington: Oh, boy. Well, fortunately, some really cool things are inspired by really horrible things. Music for Relief actually sprung into existence as a result of the earthquakes that triggered the tsunamis in the Indian Ocean in 2004. We had actually just toured in Southeast Asia and within a few days of returning home, the earthquake and the tsunamis destroyed the coastlines of tens of thousands of miles and hundreds of thousands of people died and it was a horrible, horrible tragedy. And we felt like we needed to do something and give back.
We wanted to do something and give back to the communities of places we’d just been and we felt the connection. And so, we basically put a bunch of our money together and started an organization called, “Music for Relief.” We got on the phone the next day together as a group with our partners in business and we formed Music for Relief and we responded. And crazy enough, we were the first music industry based relief organization in the world that responded. So, we wanted to continue providing relief for natural disasters around the world as a result and we wanted to create a place where the people that donated knew 100 percent of the money was going toward the cause that they specifically donated to. It wasn’t just going into a giant fund and being decided upon by a board member or board members that decided which disasters deserve how much money and which ones don’t. So, we decided to do that. We also wanted to encourage the rest of the music community, from bands to executives, to producers, to the fans, to get involved and, hopefully, make it a music community organization, not just a Linkin Park organization. And we’ve been doing it ever since and we’ve helped a lot of people and done pretty spectacular things and right now we’ve been working with the UN on some really important initiatives like Power The World and we’ve got some more coming up. So, please encourage your readers or listeners to go to musicforrelief.org and check out all the really great ways that they can either donate their time, money, or just talk about what’s happening in the world and do something cool to help somebody out.
Sean Chin: [Live In Limbo]: So, you guys have been active since 1996 and how has your music evolved over the 18 years? And how has the foundation evolved in parallel?
Chester Bennington: I have no idea. I mean being in Linkin Park is like being in a new band every time we put a record out, you know? I think with the exception of Hybrid Theory and Meteora, every other album pretty much sounds different. And that’s a really cool thing. It’s fun to be able to just kind of walk in and go, “I want to make a country song today.” And like, everyone’s like, “Cool.” It’s so freeing to just be like “I want to write an R&B song,” or “I want to write a pop song,” or “I want to write a death metal song,” or “I want to blow in a jug and make a diddly.” I mean, we can do whatever we want. It’s really fun. And after we experiment we always find a way to bring it into the world of what Linkin Park is doing and make it sound like a Linkin Park song, and I think that’s exciting, but it’s really fun to be in the process that works that way.
Zachary Birdsong [Tullahoma News]: So, with that being said, when you guys go on tour, do you kind of feel pressured to provide fans with what they’ve come to expect from your live show? Or do you strive to go in a new direction?
Chester Bennington: I personally strive to go out and do stuff that people go, “I can’t do that.” Like, I want to sing harder; I want to run harder; I want to sweat harder; I want to be the person that’s the most exhausted by the time I’m done on stage. That’s what I want every night and that’s what my whole life purpose is for. I literally spend every waking moment of every day either doing one of two things. I’m either doing things with my kids or I’m preparing for a show. And, like, that’s all I care about. I want to go out and crush the stage every single night. And if I can’t do that, I have failed. I hope that answered your question.
Kinsey Haynes [WVUA-FM]: I have two questions. One’s for Austin and one’s for Chester. For Austin, I know someone touched on this earlier, but I want to know, like, what it’s actually like touring with Linkin Park since they’re one of your favorite bands. And then for Chester, I want to know, like, where the influence for the song, “War,” off the Hunting Party came from, because it’s very punk rock.
Austin Carlile: What is it like touring with Linkin Park? Wow! Super awesome. It’s great.
Chester Bennington: (overlapping) The most fun ever.
Austin Carlile: Yeah. It’s the most fun ever. We have a coffee meeting and there’s a yoga room. No. It’s great; it’s cool to see it on both sides of it. It’s cool to see it from a business aspect. Like Chester was talking about bands taking control of their own brand and then people that work for them being employees for the bands, the management. And it’s cool seeing the business side of it, just as well as the production side of it. And, you know, we get to the venues at, you know, 9:00AM, 10:00AM every morning and we wake up, walk in, half dressed, half asleep, tired day at the studio, or at the venue, then Linkin Park comes in. You know, they’re not there for sound check, a few hours before they play the show; they’re rock stars. They come in and go, “Oh, we want to do that.” We want to be able to come in and we want to get to a point where we cannot have to set up the venue for literally 13 hours all day wondering what we’re going to do, trying to figure out what to do in the middle of nowhere.
And it inspires us, and it makes us want to work harder and it makes us want to work and create and become artists that can support themselves, like Linkin Park does. And, you know, we were going out and playing in Germany and even played 12 shows in Germany on our last tour and every night, [there were] just thousands of people singing and screaming, and it’s unbelievable to me and it’s something that we want to set our sights to to do as a band. And we see Linkin Park as a band like ourselves. And just like Chester was saying, with each of his albums, he feels like he’s in a different band and feels like their songs change. That’s what we do as a band and I think we’re constantly evolving our sound and constantly evolving who we are as a band and who we want to be, because at the end of the day I don’t think with any kind of music you ever really know, because it’s always changing and you’re always creating as a musician. And just the fact to be able to take notes and to be on tour with a bunch of really awesome guys; it’s a blessing and it’s a great experience. It’s something I’ll definitely never forget.
Chester Bennington: You know, it’s interesting because in the same way, touring with Of Mice and Men, it’s inspiring to me because here are these guys, like you said, they’re at the venue 13 hours a day. They’re trying to figure out how to wash their clothes, to figure out what to do. They’re around each other all the time. They also have lots of decisions to make. These guys play something like fucking eight shows in a row, and I was like, “Dude, you’re going to destroy yourselves.”
It’s important to know, like, you don’t have to do that. You can actually, like, put a limit on that stuff so that you don’t have to wear yourself out. And you’ve got to think long-term. And these are the things that, like, I look and I go, “Wow! These guys actually are like really prepared to play eight shows in a row.” Like, that is bad ass. I don’t care who the fuck you are. That’s insane, and especially the shows these guys do. It’s not like you’re walking out whisper singing and doing folk songs for 30 minutes. It’s, like, these guys are putting it out there. And so, it’s inspiring. It’s fun to be around a young band that loves playing music and will do anything, literally anything, to do it and show up every day with a smile on their face and go out every night and crush it and come up and play songs with us when they should be resting or whatever else they want to do. It’s fun to be around guys that are so hungry, because it makes me want – I want our crowd to love these guys so that they go play arenas. I want these guys to go play arenas; I want them to play stadiums; I want them to have the same success that we have, because it’s fun to watch them play. It’s fun to see somebody want it so bad. And it’s inspiring to me, you know? And it makes me go, “That’s what I do this for.”
I love seeing bands that make me want to be in a band. It’s fun to go out on the road with young people that when I watch them I go, “I want to be in a band.” And then I go, “Yes! I’m in one!” And it’s like “woohoo,” it gets me pumped up. And that’s what’s beautiful about music. I love my life. Mike and I were laughing today, like, my girls were like running through the house literally screaming their brains out and I’m going, “Get it out. Get it out. Come on,” and everyone in the house, like, there were people who may not be used to seeing that. It’s just kind of funny, living this lifestyle where you’re around creative people and you’re allowed to express yourself and it’s fun to be creative and be different and it’s a blessing. Every moment that we live is a blessing. It’s fun to see that transcend into younger generations. It’s fun to see my kids grow up in a home where they can express themselves and it’s fun to be able to see all these things happening, not only from within our own band, but within other bands that we tour with and it truly is a blessed life that we live being musicians.
Scott Yager [he Connecticut Sound Magazine]: Hey, everybody. How’s everybody doing? This question is actually for Chester and for Tim. Now, you guys have such similar performance styles. Some might say you guys scream at equal volume at times. You guys remind me of each other. I know I got introduced to you guys at different points in my life. I assume you guys got introduced to each other at different points in your own lives. How would you describe the first time you heard Linkin Park, Tim, and try to describe the first time you heard Rise Against, Chester. And just what your thoughts were; what you thought about each other as performers before you met each other and now having worked with each other a bit.
Tim McIlrath: You want to go ahead, Chester?
Chester Bennington: I will because I remember it very specifically, exactly what I said the first time I heard Rise Against, and this is funny because they have actually, to my satisfaction, answered the question that I posed the very first time I heard Rise Against. The first time I heard Rise Against, it was, I believe, their very first single that they released ever; I can’t remember what it was, but it was an awesome song. And I remember I looked at my wife, because we were both cranking it, and I go, “Dude, this guy is bad ass, but I hope he can keep doing this for a long time,” because he sings so hard and is so bad ass. I was like, “Man, I don’t know how he does that.” Like, “How does he do that with his voice? That’s crazy!” I’m like trying to figure it out, but I just hope this guy can do this forever…like, that’ll be the test, you know? And here we are; they’re on their, what, seventh album and he’s probably getting better every album with his vocal chops. So, yeah, it’s pretty great. That’s exactly what I remember thinking the first time I heard Rise Against. Like, this is great; I hope this guy doesn’t blow his voice out.
Tim McIlrath: That’s actually super funny and, like, I’m not just saying this because he just said it, but it was kind of the exact same thing I thought when I first heard you guys. Seriously, I remember I heard you really early on because I had a friend who was just kind of, like, into all alternative music. And he was like, “Check these guys out. They’re going to be huge.” And it was before you guys were huge. And I’m like, “Well, what are they called?” He was, like, “Linkin Park.” And I’m from Chicago and Lincoln Park is a neighborhood, a popular neighborhood here. So, to me, I’m like, “Oh, they must be local.” “They must be from Lincoln Park,” and that was a big thing.
Chester Bennington: Yes.
Tim McIlrath: And then I heard it I thought the same thing; I was like, “How is that guy going to keep singing through his songs and not blow his voice out,” and this was almost, I think it was even before Rise Against started. And then I would go on, you know; we’d form our own band and people would ask you that question all the time, I’m sure, and they ask me the same question as well. Of course, the answer is, “Who the hell knows? Somehow we’re able to do this.” But –
Chester Bennington: (overlapping) That’s exactly what I say. I’m like, “I don’t know, dude. If I knew, I’d bottle it and sell it.”
Tim McIlratch: Right, exactly. Yeah, I have no clue. I just go out there and every day it still happens. I’m like, “All right. Cool. I’ve got another stake.”
Chester Bennington: I wake up in the morning and go, “Beep. Okay, it works. Thank you, God; let’s go.”
Tim McIlrath: Yeah. We’re going to live to fight another fight. Yeah. And I think I also stepped into your shoes for a minute last month at the KROQ shows and the San Francisco show where I was singing Bleed It Out with you. I got to sing one of your lines and I think that was when it was really solidified to me, like, “This guy’s a real singer.” Like, “He’s not up there just fucking around.” And kind of like what you just said, when you were talking about Austin not going out there and just whispering into a microphone on a bar stool. Like, we sing; and we do more than sing. We’re out there singing things that we probably should never have written in the first place; somehow we did it and we do it every night. And so, I walked away with kind of a whole new respect. Like, holy shit, because I’ve been asked to guest vocal with, like, some different bands and I’ll go out there and I’ll go, “This guy’s not singing.” Like, I can do that. And then going out there with you, I kind of walk in with the same attitude a little bit and then I’ll start to sing and it’s like, “Chester’s up there. He’s giving it.” I felt like, holy crap, man. Like this is, like he’s not fucking around here. And so, I was, I don’t know, I was happy to have that sort of ally in you.
Chester Bennington: Nice, nice. Thank you very much.
Tim McIlrath: Uh-huh.
David Stagg [HM Magazine]: Hey, fellows. I hope you’re staying warm. Linkin Park is definitely known for their collaborations and those are an integral part of the punk rock ethic as well. It’s also a proud part of the younger up and coming scene that Of Mice and Men is part of. So, this question’s for anyone that’s allowed to answer. Are there any major collaborations planned we should look out for? Is there anything that you guys can see on the Hunting Party tour that we should let our fans know about?
Chester Bennington: Well, I mean, I don’t know. I just know that we always encourage other guys to come up and do songs with us. Austin’s come up and done Faint with us. Tim did Bleed It Out. And I know that we are going to open the invitation for those guys to come out whenever they want to and to do those songs with us, whenever they would; every night if they want to, once a week, only on Tuesdays. It doesn’t matter to me. We encourage that kind of stuff and, of course, I know that me, Mike, and Dave are going to be busting it together, so there’s probably going to be some interesting things happening where we have a little more time with the guys then we did in Europe. So I’m really good at writing songs about farts and pooping and dancing with no pants, to the dance with pants rhyme. They pretty much fit in any song you can write. So there’s always room for lots of writing as well. So, yeah, we’ll see what happens. It’s, like, it’s going to be like winter band camp, you know? It’s going to be fun; it’s going to be fun.
Tim McIlrath: I back that plan, yeah. We’re up for anything.