Chester Bennington is most recognized as the lead singer of Linkin Park, his higher-pitched, emotional vocals balancing out those of main rapper Mike Shinoda. A victim of sexual abuse, Bennington had a childhood that was far from picture perfect, and when his parents divorced at age 11, he turned to drugs to deal with his pain. By the time he was a teenager, Bennington had gotten heavily into cocaine and methamphetamines, supporting his drug habit with a gig working at Burger King. Despite his drug problems, however, Bennington never forgot his childhood dream of becoming a rock star — he was a huge fan of Depeche Mode and Stone Temple Pilots — and in 1993, he joined up as the lead singer of the local band Grey Daze. The band built a sizable following around the Phoenix area, but Bennington ultimately grew unhappy with the group and decided to leave in the late ’90s over creative differences. He then moved to Los Angeles and became the final piece of burgeoning rap-metal act Linkin Park in 1999. (Bennington came up with the name, changing their then-moniker from Hybrid Theory.)
Brandon Boyd is an American musician, author, and visual artist. He is best known as the lead vocalist of the American rock band Incubus. Boyd graduated from Calabasas High School in 1994 and attended Moorpark College for two years before committing to Incubus. Brandon grew up in Calabasas, CA with Ricky Taylor who inspired him to write music. Brandon is also known for playing several instruments such as the didgeridoo and djembe. He also has some guitar parts during live performances. Boyd’s voice was part of what enticed Sony’s Epic/Immortal Records, and Incubus was signed in 1996.
The Chester Bennington & Brandon Boyd Interview
TIS: So both your bands are obviously committed to green energy being on the Honda Civic tour as that’s one of their big promotional points. Aside from green energy, do either of you wear your political affiliations on your sleeve, especially in this pivotal presidential election year?
CB:Well, I know that within Linkin Park I’ve honestly never heard anyone talk about who they want to vote for. I think it’s something that we kind of take very personally. It’s so funny, I was watching some comedy show the other day and they were making fun of how Americans won’t talk about who they’re going to vote for. It’s such a secretive process. Whereas if you go overseas or something people are talking about who they’re going to vote for and who they don’t like all the time. It’s no big deal. But here in the United States it’s a little different for us. It’s such a private and personal moment to kind of choose who you think is going to be the best leader. And the last thing you want to do is influence somebody else to vote based on what they think of you as opposed to what they think of the politician they’re voting for. So we definitely don’t really kind of brag about who we’re going to vote for, but we do talk about the things that are important to us. And the things that are very important to us at this point are really making sure that our tours are as environmentally friendly as possible, and also giving back to our local community as well as the world community that has been so good to us. So if we can counterbalance some things or offset some things that we’re doing just naturally on a daily basis, if we can be more efficient and less wasteful, then we can provide families with renewable energy sources, so they don’t have to burn garbage, they don’t have to burn dung. Those things actually go a really long way in terms of helping with the recovery process of a natural disaster. So for example if a community is deforesting the areas around their villages, and let’s say a hurricane hits, OK, now all of a sudden not only did the wind destroy the homes that so many people are living in, but it’s also now created flooding and mudslides and all of that kind of stuff. Those things become very difficult and very costly and time-consuming in terms of the recovery project. So if we can encourage people to use the solar-powered lightbulbs, for example, that we’re giving out, via Power the World, that’s awesome. So those are the kind of things that we’re interested in. I don’t necessarily know that either of the future presidential candidates are really thinking that way. So I’m not sure exactly how political our green movement is.
TIS: Would you say it’s more of a human movement?
CB:Yes, it’s more of a purpose-driven green movement in terms of just wanting to be more clean and efficient with our tours so we leave less of a footprint when we’re out there. But the big picture really is the tie between, you know, the effect that it causes in terms of the natural disasters that hit. So if we plant more trees and put more oxygen in the atmosphere, hopefully the storm systems aren’t so tough every year. If we could help people have clean water and have access to renewable energy sources then they can focus on agriculture and they can focus on getting jobs and making money as opposed to hunting down water or moving a village because it’s been destroyed. So hopefully that answers your question.
TIS: It did, thanks. And Brandon, your thoughts?
BB:Chester makes a lot of wonderful points, you know, and I think that any type of meaningful movement and/or meaningful change that’s going to occur if you were to measure it based on who people were voting for and/or who even gets elected, it’s like watching water boil. It’s infuriating to try and hang anything worthwhile or legitimate upon that process even though it is a valuable process and an essential one. My point is, I truly believe that most of the meaningful change, if not all, is going to come from the ground. And I think it’s wonderful that Linkin Park has the Music for Relief Foundation, and is able to make waves and make moves on the ground there. We’ve been trying very hard and very joyfully with the Make Yourself Foundation for many years to do the same thing, both with environmental causes, but also with humanitarian efforts, to inspire people as opposed to, hang our hat on a politician. It’s like I said, it’s an infuriating, fascinating, but ultimately infuriating process. So I think that we’re just in a very blessed position to be able to have even a remote influence on the ground here. I think that’s where the most meaningful change is coming from.
TIS: Awesome. It’s great and refreshing to hear that you’re both so in touch with these important issues. So can you guys talk about why you wanted to team up for this tour and what you hope fans who may not have seen one of your bands before walk away with?
BB: Chester, if you don’t mind I’ll hop into this.
BB: I personally think it’s an occasion that’s kind of long overdue. We have a lot of mutual listeners and I think that it’s one of those things that once the idea was floated, and we really kind of caught onto it, that it seemed like, why haven’t we done this yet? Linkin Park has a considerably larger reach than Incubus has, and I think it’s going to be wonderful for us as a band to play in front of more people (laughing.) So we definitely appreciate the opportunity but I personally think that it’s going to be great because of the carryover between the fans. There are a lot of Linkin Park fans who are also Incubus fans and vice versa. But we’ve never done something like this before so I’m really excited for it to get started.
CB: Thank you, Brandon. I agree. I think that it’s funny because in Linkin Park, each member has one thing they do better than others. For example I’m really bad at reading long-form legal documents (laughter.)
BB: You are? (laughing)
CB: Most of it doesn’t make any sense to me. You know, there are guys in the band who are much better and more qualified to kind of go through that process than me. So one of the places that I actually can contribute some skill or input that matters is regarding touring. Typically, even in my loosest form, I’ve been involved in figuring out who we would tour with for a long time now. And so, I swear, it feels like I’ve probably tried to figure out a way to get Linkin Park and Incubus on the road together at least once per cycle for quite a while now. It just goes to show how difficult it can be to actually get two headlining groups together. Kind of going back to your first question, it was surprising to me that we haven’t actually done more touring with Incubus than we have in the last 14 years. We do share a big group of fans that listen to both bands. I do still feel like there’s a large number of people that are Incubus fans that never really got into Linkin Park, or vice versa, but I think that there’s a common interest there. So I feel like that’s one of the things that’s been so overwhelmingly positive, which is everyone’s response to our bands going on tour together. I think it gives both of our fans something that they’ve wanted for a long time because I think they’ve had to choose a lot of times on which band they’re going to go see. Like when we’re on tour in the U.S., Incubus is off in the Pacific Rim, hopping all over Asia or somewhere in Europe and we’re down in Asia. It just never works out. So I think the fact that they’re ending their cycle and we’re beginning ours, that things have lined up for us to be able to do a tour like this together. We get to go out and just fully express ourselves as artists and really do whatever we want to do. So I’m very appreciative to the people on the Civic tour. You know, having the vision to understand that this is something that is rare and is something that people are going to be excited to go see. You never get to go see Bon Jovi and Kiss at the same time. This feels as exciting as a lot of the concerts that I would be excited to go to when I was a kid. That is one of the reasons why when I was young, Lollapalooza became so important, it was the only place that you could go see the Chili Peppers, Ministry, Pearl Jam and Ice Cube play together. That’s been the inspiration for modern festivals and I think that this does kind of feel like a little mini-festival, even though there are only three bands (laughing). It does have that feeling of being a show that you want to go see because it’s got something special. I’m excited. Honestly I think and hope that our bands can walk away inspired from each other. You know? I’ve always appreciated Incubus for their music. And they’re also very good live. I’ve had the chance to pop over and watch them play a couple songs onstage here and there at some festivals throughout our career and they’re a great live band. So I think the energy is going to be really amazing out in the crowd. I would actually like to be down there to watch the show but I don’t know if that’s going to be possible (laughing.)
BB: It’s time to start training an understudy and then do some plastic surgery on him, and then sneak into the crowd.
CB: Exactly. I think that would actually be cheaper than a hologram.
BB: That’s right, get a hologram of yourself and then you can (laughing.)
CB: That would be great. So I’m just going to put this out there- If anyone does have the hologram technology, and it looks real, I would be open to taking the hologram out on the road.
TIS: So Brandon, you mentioned this as being the end of the Incubus cycle. What’s next? It took a while for this last album to be released so what do you guys have planned?
BB:Well as far as that’s concerned, we have no plans, to tell you the truth at the moment. We are, for the first time since 1996, free agents again. We’re without a record label. So what we’re kind of doing is trying to get our bearings as to what we should do next as a band but also as a band that is kind of off in new territory again. So I have been tinkering around potentially with a second solo record. That’s probably the most likely scenario. But as far as Incubus right now, we’ll probably take another break. Hopefully it won’t be as long. But what we like to do is arrive with the best of intentions and try and create music from a sense of urgency, as well as purity, and not necessarily based on a schedule. I know that that can be a little bit frustrating for our listeners but I think that we’ll make better music as a result. So the plan is to have no plan.
TIS:Haha, fair enough. So has there been any discussion about what you might do in terms of a new deal or record label or anything?
BB: We definitely got a taste of what it’s going to be like without a record label on this latest album cycle with If Not Now, When? though we were still signed to Epic Records. There was a sort of changing of the guards going on with LA Reid being the new president and he wasn’t quite there yet, even though he was technically the guy. There was a real lack of direction and leadership when we needed it the most. So it was hard and frustrating but it was also very telling for us and perhaps educational because we were forced into ingenuity. So we came up with this idea to set up shop in this art gallery in Los Angeles and do the Incubus HQ and fly listeners in from different corners of the world and do these live broadcasts on the Internet. We started getting these ideas about subscription-based live concerts online and it ended up being a really scary and stressful project, but the fruits of it are still kind of revealing themselves. We have this HQ box set that we’re putting out and the DVD set comes out I think August 14. There’s like the superfan all six nights on DVD mixed in 5.1 with the CDs and pieces of canvases that people were drawing on in the room while we were playing music. Like I said, it’s forced us to think outside of that normal music industry paradigm that we had gotten so accustomed to. And so in that sense the lack of attention from our record label and the end days of our record label relationship were really good and very beneficial for us as a band. It gave us a sense of what we might be doing in the coming years. So I’m personally very excited about being in complete control, of being able to be a total control freak. It doesn’t mean that we wouldn’t sign with another record label at some point but it would definitely have to be very, very specific.
TIS: Well, good luck with that. Now Chester, as you referenced earlier too, this is the very beginning of the Living Things touring cycle. What’s on the horizon after the Honda Civic tour and also, you guys have a habit where the next album tends to start when you’re on the road, so I’m also wondering if that process has started already, too?
CB: Usually in the beginning of the touring cycle we kind of focus on what we’re going to be doing with the new music. Touring at this point for us is pretty awesome. I was thinking the other day about why it is difficult to get casual fans into new music? I think it’s because when we started touring it was just Hybrid Theory and Hybrid Theory was like 36 minutes long. We started out opening shows which was great because we played for 15-25 minutes and then leave. So when we got to the point where people fell in love with what we were doing and were listening to us and we were the headlining band, we were forced to play our entire record. Like, every single night. And so people were, I think, falling in love with the record in a different way. And even with Meteora, once we had that record it was like, OK, we basically have enough music to fill a proper headlining set. And so we’ve essentially played both records all the way through for our entire first five years, six years of touring. So once you get to that point where you have a bunch of songs that people have heard on the radio, it becomes less about playing everything you have and more about playing the songs that people are familiar with. We’re at that point now where it’s like, we’ve been around for over a decade, that makes it sound more important, I think (laughing.) But we’ve been around for over 10 years and this is our fifth record. We’ve been fortunate to have a lot of songs do really well off our records and so a lot of people come there to hear the songs they know. Adding in new material becomes something that is a little bit more difficult for us over the last few records because most of the songs that are really great are like, mid-tempo songs and Linkin Park isn’t the band that you go to see to hear that stuff. No one wants to come to a Linkin Park show and stand there and look at the band and listen to beautiful music. People want that but they also want to be kicked in the face and they want to run into each other and jump up and down and sing and have a really great, high-energy time. So being able to incorporate a lot of new material into our set just felt like it was bringing too much of the energy down. So I think what we’re doing on this tour is like with the new record. The new record has so much energy that we feel like we could add a bunch of new music to the set and people will be stoked about it. Casual fans are there to hear the three songs that they love, and go “Oh yeah, I didn’t know they did this song too!” Those fans will actually enjoy hearing the new music at these shows. Right now at this point we’re focused on making sure the new material is up to speed and that we’re familiar with it enough to go and play it live. At that point, once that kind of calms down, that’s usually when the creative process starts to kick in because now we’re not creating a show and we’re working on learning new music. That’s something we don’t do, we don’t sit and jam, we don’t hang out as a band and write music together. That’s just not what we do. So a lot of our connection time and what you would think would be stereotypical band moment time really comes from when we’re learning these new songs and rehearsing and going out and playing these new songs as a set for the first time. Then everything’s new and fresh and I think because we’re adding so much of the new record over the next few months to our live set, that’s what we’re focused on. But once that calms down, that creative hunger is going to turn itself on and we’re going to start writing new music. So I would imagine by the time we’re done touring this record, we’ll be in a similar position to where we were with 1,000 Suns going into Living Things. We’ll be able to go right into the studio, make another record and put it out and keep that cycle going. We’ve really got ourselves in a position now where we feel like we’re touring less as an idea of let’s go tour really hard for nine months and then come home and then tour really hard for another nine months and then come home and hopefully have enough energy to want to do anything else. It’s like touring for a few weeks and coming home for a month, and going out and touring for a few weeks and coming home for a month. So we’re really spending as much time home as we are on the road and I think that also caters to it and encourages a creative process because we feel energized more, more often. So I think that kind of answers all of your questions into one ginormous ongoing answer.
TIS: I think that’s a fair assessment (laughing.) I’m wondering too after Honda Civic, where else are you guys going to be touring, and how long do you think you’ll be on the road more or less for Living Things.
CB: I think we’ll be touring more or less through next summer for sure. Maybe even into next fall, depending on what the schedule looks like. I know that we’re planning on going to South Africa for the first time, which I’m very excited about. We’re planning on going to South America, going back to Europe, going to Asia, and doing another U.S. tour, I believe to end it all next year and then go straight back again into the studio and make another record.
TIS: Awesome. Enjoy those travels. So Brandon, Incubus has been around for over 20 years now. Obviously, the whole environment in the late 90s when CDs were setting record sales and people were touring with tour support has changed significantly whereas today, you have the economy as well as the Internet to contend with and as you previously noted, Incubus is going to be without a major label for the first time. How have you navigated it? I mean, you’ve really gone through the time of the most upheaval in your chosen profession.
BB: That’s a really interesting notion actually. It’s something that I talk about with friends and people in different industries. I’m sure it’s been interesting from Linkin Park’s perspective as well because Linkin Park and Incubus were two of the very few bands who kind of got a gust of wind out of the old paradigm of the music industry but survived out of it. There are so many bands in a traditional sense, bands who write their own music, and perform their music, that didn’t survive that transition, that fell by the wayside with the industry. So it’s been frightening to watch something that you, for a very brief moment, almost learned to rely on because we learned the ins and outs of how the industry works. You pour your heart out into making an album and then the label puts the record out and you go out on tour in support of the album, and we started doing it in the van and trailer like most bands. We’d make a record and get in the van with our gear and the trailer and we’d drive ourselves around the country and sell albums and T-shirts out of the back of the trailer. That was sort of our education and then once things started going really well, thankfully, we got a sense of what it looks like when the engine is nicely greased and things are working the way they’re supposed to. But then the millennium turned and the technology changed and all of that became old. It became an antiquated model. It was frightening at first but I actually have come to appreciate it. I’m going to actually use the pun, “a living thing.” It’s a living system. Our technologies are a living system just like we are and our communities as human being, and for us to expect them to remain constant is really quite foolish. I mean anybody that’s going to come to rely on the way that our music consumption is looking now is going to have the same hard lesson in less time than you think. I think that the technology is going to shift probably sooner than any of us really realize, but that’s a really cool thing because it keeps everyone on their toes. It levels the playing field, too. It’s allowing for a really wonderful democratization of the music writing process and the music presenting and performing process. So what it’s doing is it’s making us try harder and it’s making us expect the best of ourselves and the people that we work with. You know, do more with less. I was talking to my friend this morning about the notion of the music video. Incubus has made a music videos where we’ve paid like $500,000 to make a video that MTV just didn’t play. And that was considered like, “Oh, OK. That’s a bummer, but, you know, next.” But now, are you kidding me? If we can get a fraction, a spittle of that amount of money to make a music video, that’s amazing. But the cool thing is, is that the intention is exactly the same. And in fact it’s even better, because now we have to think even further out of the box. We still have to make a music video but we don’t have any money. So we have to have a better idea than we did before. You know what I mean? I personally, when all is said and done, I really welcome these changes. They excite me and they scare me at the same time, but I’m choosing to focus on the excitement.
TIS: Thanks for all of that insight! Speaking of which, as you each grow older and wiser, how do you stay both loyal and inspired to produce the style of music, recorded and in concert that your long-time fans have both come to love and expect?
CB: People ask me questions like, you see the Rolling Stones or guys who have been doing this for 50 years, do you see yourself doing this at their age? And in my mind I know that however long I live, until the day I die I’m probably going to feel mentally immature and physically old (laughin.) But my brain’s not going to be calculating, “Oh, I’m 70 years old.” It’s like, “What do you mean I’m almost done? Aagh! I just got started.” And so I think that it will become a bit more difficult for me to perform a few songs on a roster that I did so easily through my twenties and thirties, you know? When I’m 70 I don’t know if I’ll be screaming “Victimized” at anybody. Hopefully that will be the case, but I doubt it. That’s one of the things that’s so interesting about our business anyways. None of us are guaranteed that anyone will come to one of our shows or care about the last record we put out. With every record that we go into, I look at like, this is our very first album and this is the best representation of what we are and either people are going to love it or they’re going to hate it. Or not care. So you know, that’s what happens. We take the creative gamble and we write music that we feel passionate about and what we feel is important and that we feel is, um, what’s the word I’m looking for, um, damn it!
CB: No, not vital, but like, giving something to the people who are going to hear it. It’s basically like when you create a song and people hear it and they connect with it, you’re giving that person a sense of inspiration. And so I think that… that word threw me off. Trying to find that word threw me off! My brain just went into a completely different area. I’m sorry, it just shut down. But anyways, I think I’ve answered at least part of your question. And so if Brandon wants to jump in. I just completely shut down. My brain went into left field on that question. You melted me.
BB: You made me think of something though when you were saying, will you be screaming some of your most demanding lyrics when you’re 70. You can’t really imagine yourself doing that. I agree with you. We have so many songs that we written when we were in our young twenties. Some of them we wrote when we were teenagers and we still perform them. It occurs to me now at 36, damn, what was I thinking? This is hard! I have to really concentrate and sit still in order to do this.
CB: That’s funny.
BB: Two things occur to me. One was that somehow, the guys in the Stones still look really cool doing it and I think that really is a testament to their talent, as well as their tenacity. If you write good songs and if you write songs that have a potentially timeless quality, yeah I think that you’ll be able to sing them long into your sunset years. I think that’s really one of our intentions as a band. I know for me as a lyricist and as a singer, my deepest intention beyond just trying to express myself with a sense of purity is to hopefully achieve a sense of timelessness. You want to touch on subjects that are potentially universal and that don’t really need to be tied to the 90’s or the 2000’s or the 2030’s or whatever. You want to essentially be able to make music that will transcend time. The other thing that occurred to me when you said that, Chester, knowing myself from experience as well, there are certain songs that get harder as you get older. The term vaginaplasty came to mind, and if they can do that with technology, by the time you and I are in our 60s, why can’t they do laryngioplasty, where they can give us a 16-year-old’s throat? Can you imagine, being all leathery?
CB: I would imagine that the vagina specialties will actually…
BB: Might do well, right?
CB: Yeah, they would definitely overflow into the vocal cord area. I think that there are a lot of connections that can be made to the mouth and the vagina. I think you may have actually just pioneered that entire industry. This is something that should be looked into. It’s genius.
CB: I just hope my vocal cords don’t have that worked-on look, you know?
BB: Right, right.
CB: I want to look natural.
BB: That’s good, that’s good. Does that answer your question?
TIS: It um, it answered something (laughing.) To follow up though, the desire to still be identified with a trademark sound on each of your parts I’m sure is somewhere in the frontal consciousness or subconscious every time you put pen to paper, fingers to keyboard, or you step onstage. So how do you connect that to the style of music that is as you just both sort of admitted, is very rooted in a much younger Chester and Brandon?
BB: Well you know, actually, it’s been a real struggle, a challenge. I don’t know what the right exact word is but being so identified with a particular style and a particular time, I know that there are certain parts of the world where certain journalism music reviewers will literally have not looked beyond Incubus’s very first album, Science. We wrote and recorded Science when we were just freshly out of high school and it came out in 1997. We toured a lot on that record, a little over two years. We were on tour with bands like Korn and Limp Bizkit and we ended up doing a lot of touring, which was amazing, with Ozzy Osbourne and Black Sabbath and Pantera and all these great tours. What’s wild to me though is that it’s been that long and there are still these holdouts that are like, “How’s it going, being a nu-metal band?” and that’s been a real challenge, not to make music that has transcended a genre. I do believe that we’ve accomplished that and we continue to accomplish that, if I could be so bold, but to sort of shift people’s perceptions and get people to take a second glance at an established artist, that’s really the most challenging thing. Once people feel like they have you categorized- they’ve put the milk on the milk shelf in the refrigerator, it’s almost like it can never live anywhere else in the refrigerator. I personally am interested in music. I’m not interested in making a kind of music. I think that’s why Incubus records have changed sometimes dramatically over the years. Our newest record, If Not Now, When? is really a good example of that. It’s more different than any of the records than we’ve ever done before and I personally am really inspired by that. I’m proud of that. I want to make music that continues to evolve and challenge people and surprise people. But getting people to let go of a predetermined notion of what you are and what you’re supposed to be is really probably the largest challenge. What I’ve had to do is really let go of perceptions altogether and just make music. The only time I ever get reminded is when people ask, not you in particular but when other journalists ask questions like, “How’s it feel being a nu-metal band in this day and age?” and stuff like that, and it’s sort of like, “I don’t really feel that way.” You know, I feel like we make music. We make all kinds of different music. I’m rambling now so I’m going to stop.
TIS: I don’t think you were rambling. I really appreciate the sincerity of your answer. Any thoughts from you Chester?
CB: I agree with Brandon. I think for us, we’ve kind of had the advantage to cross a bunch of different styles of music and bring them together, and we worked very hard from Minutes to Midnight on to change what we felt was the perception of Linkin Park. I think that Incubus and Linkin Park share a lot of similarities in terms of when we became popular. In a time when selling tons of records was what people did, and the Internet wasn’t really a strong force in the world, and then transitioning into a time where no one’s buying records. So I think that going through all that and transitioning and getting older and having all these experiences definitely shapes the way you think about how you do business. But the things that inspire me now are all the same kind of things that inspired me when I was 15. Life is very complicated and there’s so much stuff that happens. Each person has such a beautiful story to tell and some are horrific, and scary yet, there’s still something beautiful happening there. Those are things that inspire me creatively and I think that the older I get the more savvy I become in business and how I view business. I think it’s because you have more experience. The music business is a very tricky business to be in. I think that age brings wisdom and age brings experience but again, the things that inspire me are the same.
BB: Well said.
TIS: Agreed. So will there be any guest appearances by either of you, or any other band members in one another’s sets?
BB: At the moment there’s nothing planned in the traditional sense but it really only takes a couple of days of making music and being on tour with new friends to become inspired by each other and each other’s mutual distinctions and idiosyncrasies and stuff and then for that desire to share a little moments to arise. I have a sneaking suspicion that some of us will be sneaking onstage in each other’s sets and I hope that you guys are cool with that (laughing.) We have a tendency to sneak onstage with our friends’ events once in awhile. We took this band out with us years ago, Sparta, I don’t know if you know Sparta. They’re an amazing band kind of from the ashes of At the Drive-in.
TIS: Yeah, absolutely. I love Sparta. I think they’re often overshadowed by The Mars Volta but I dig them as well. Most importantly, ATDI has been playing together again, but I digress.
BB: Right, right. Well we became friends with them very quickly and started playing. We both went and saw the movie Dodgeball when it came out in the movie theatres. We were laughing so hard at the movie that we started playing dodge ball in the empty arenas after the shows were over, and became so enthusiastic about it that we started going band against band. So their drummer, Tony (of Sparta) ended up breaking his thumb from one heroic move, and rendered himself incapable of playing. So then Kenny and Jose from our band learned all of the songs in Sparta’s set and played for like 10 days. They took turns being the drummer of Sparta and then Tony got well enough to play by the very last show in LA and played again. It ended up being kind of a fortuitous occasion. I’m sure it was really hard for Tony, having to sit out, but it brought us closer to the band. I’m not suggesting that someone in Linkin Park should go injured and one of us has to sit in, I’m just saying music is a communal experience and it’s one to share. As well as to sit back and revere when your friends and their bands are in a moment. There are moments to not disturb but there are definitely moments when it’s fun to disturb your friends. So probably. That’s the answer to the question. It’s a long answer.
TIS: A great answer. Like I said, I dig Sparta so that’s a great story. And Dodgeball was of course a great movie too. So Chester, with Linkin Park’s Living Things debuting at No. 1 it actually set a record for having more No. 1 albums on the Billboard 200 than any other band this century. So, I’m wondering from a personal standpoint and given the ever-changing landscape of music throughout your career, what does a milestone like that mean to you personally?
CB: It’s cool, you know. It’s a statistic that I never would have thought of as being attached to Linkin Park. I’ve always felt that we just made the best record that we could at the time. So it’s really more of a testament to our fans than to us. It really is a testament to how enthusiastic our fan base is about what we do in the studio. I think that the true test of what we’ve done as being good or not is obviously how well the songs hold up over time. But to hit like a No. 1 is really something you hope for when you’re making a record. You know, that people respond to it well. It’s not really a goal that we set out for as a band. I think we pay attention to so much stuff that’s going on, we kind of forget about goals like reaching No. 1 on the charts. We’re focused more on putting the live show together and where we’re going to be in six months, which videos to make and which ones not to make and all that good stuff. It was kind of a cool little moment for us to take a break and go “Oh, hey, this is what all our hard work is doing.”
TIS: Yeah man, that’s beyond huge! So both bands have been pretty successful at keeping the majority of most of the original members in your long standing careers. What would you attribute this too as I know from being in bands myself for many years, it can get ugly at times.
BB: Being in a band is hard. You are essentially traveling in very small, confined steel tubes with family members for extended periods of time, like inhuman periods of time. You love your mom, but how much flight time do you want to spend with her? How long do you want to sit in the car with your dad and your mom and your brothers, you know what I mean? So there’s that, but there’s also the understanding that it’s family, and it’s very much a familial thing. That even though there are times when they hurt your feelings or they might get on your nerves, essentially the majority of your experience with them is rooted in love. So as long as we can hold on to that sort of transcendent notion, everything usually is OK. And it’s OK to be angry at your family members sometime, and it’s OK for them to get on your nerves. The best thing to do, I think, is just to remember who you are and understand the difference between a need to express frustrations and potentially your own ego, and little moments when your ego flares up for usually ridiculous reasons. Most of the time we have problems are when someone has underslept or is underfed. So as long as we have enough sleep and enough to eat, everyone’s usually hunky-dory and that’s the honest-to-God truth. Just get enough food and enough to eat, or enough sleep, and you’ll be fine. What do you think, Chester?
CB: I think it’s funny, but that is actually the truth. I think that within Linkin Park we all have similar aspects of our personality that we share with each other. We all are very driven. We all like to work really hard. We all like to do whatever it takes and be involved in every aspect of what we do, but it takes all of us. When you look at the business side of things, or you look at like the marketing side of things, the artistic side of things, and what each member brings collectively to the whole, together the band is worth far more than each of us is as an individual. I think that that’s something we learned about our band very early. It’s not just about one guy or two guys or whatever, it’s about all six of us. So, having six creative people who are totally different personality-wise around each other all the time, we have to be very realistic about what we expect from each other. And it is a family thing. Once you cross that line of being a friend and then it turns into, “Well, now we’re family,” I mean, life gets real, really fast. You know? I mean you’re now exposing yourself. I mean there’s the dating phase, which is like, “Oh, you’re so awesome,” and everybody is so great, and then when you move in together it’s like, “Oh shit. Who am I actually getting myself involved with?” It’s like you get to see all the dirty parts and you get to be around all the unsavory things about each other’s personalities and so we just basically treat each other with respect. We give each other the space that we need. I think that being in my band is an example of the most functional relationship I’ve ever had in my life, but I’ve been in band scenarios where it’s just chaos. There’s no leadership and there’s too much ego and there’s too much pride and there’s too much opinion. With Link Park, we focus on things that are important for the band. We don’t really focus on what the most important thing is for the individual. It’s really about what’s the most important thing for us. I think that’s something that we carry not only in our professional world but we try to carry into our personal lives as well. We share both of those things together.
TIS: Right on. Well thanks you both very much for your time and I wish you all the best on this year’s Honda Civic Tour and beyond.
BB: Cool man, thank you.
CB: Yeah thanks, take care.
Honda Civic Tour Dates
8/11 Bristow, VA @ Jiffy Lube Live*
8/12 Uncasville, CT @ Mohegan Sun Arena*
8/14 Boston, MA @ Comcast Center
8/17 Camden, NJ @ Susquehana Bank Center
8/19 Atlanta, GA @ Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre
8/21 Detroit, MI @ The Palace
8/22 Cincinnati, OH @ Riverbend Music Center
8/24 Chicago, IL @ First Midwest Bank
8/25 Indianapolis, IN @ Klipsch Music Center
8/27 Dallas, TX @ Gexa Energy Center
8/28 Houston, TX @ Cynthia Woods Pavillion
8/30 Denver, CO @ Comfort Dental Amphitheater
9/5 Tacoma, WA @ Tacoma Dome
9/7 Mountain View, CA @ Shoreline Amphitheater
9/10 San Diego, CA @ Cricket Wireless Amphitheater
*Incubus will not appear at this event