Linkin Park's Chester Bennington on New Album: "We Wanted to Make a Statement"
Photographer Brandon Cox
Linkin Park has been putting out rock-rap tunes for over a decade and recently returned with an album that promises a return to the heavier shit. The band is currently showcasing their new album The Hunting Party with 30 Seconds to Mars and openers AFI on the Carnivores tour. Before they hit West Palm Beach, we got the opportunity to jump on a group call with Chester Bennington and Mike Shinoda.
On the afternoon of June 22, in Venutra, California, Linkin Park played a surprise set for an overwhelmingly large crowd at the twentieth anniversary Warped tour. Shinoda explained how the idea of playing this pop-up stage came about. A friend who works with people on Warped Tour did some introducing of bands, and the idea evolved from there.
The guys said it reminded them of the old days, when making music was about jamming with your friends and doing it for the love of it. "It reminded me of just, like, that raw, we're just going to do this because we like each other, and we're going to do it right now. It was really... It made it really fun and felt like, it reminded me of, this is what I love about being in a band. This is what I love about making music," Bennington said.
Fans of Linkin Park, and especially fans who have criticized the band for "going soft," will be pleased with its return to heavier music and heavy guitar with the new release. "What we care about is making a record that's exciting to us. And at this point in our career, we wanted to make a statement, and we can and we found ourselves in a very unique position to do that," Bennington revealed, "We knew if we did it right, if we made a good, heavy record, we would actually be pleasing most of our fan base. So, I'm pretty sure that, like, 90 percent of Linkin Park fans would be excited to hear a record that reminded them of the Linkin Park they discovered early on."
When asked about the Carnivores tour, the two explained the show will be a set of old and new stuff with a bit of something from each of its albums, including a healthy dose of songs from The Hunting Party, like "Final Masquerade" and "Rebellion."
As for why the band partnered up with 30 seconds to Mars on the road? We were hoping for something a bit more personal about the guys being besties with Jared Leto, but apparently this was a professional decision, and one that catered to the desires of their fan base. Not that they aren't friends with Jared, but that wasn't the reason behind their choice. They actually polled their fans to see who they wanted them to play with, and 30 Seconds to Mars was a top runner for the spot. That being said, the band has major admiration and respect for its fellow musicians.
"I think not only has 30 Seconds to Mars grown tremendously over the last several years into not only a great studio band, writing great songs, but they're amazing live. And so, for us, at this point, our fans are really excited to see us play with 30 Seconds to Mars," Bennington admitted.
Music isn't all this band loves. The group is also passionate about helping out and doing its part to protect the environment with its organization Music for Relief. It is funded in part by concert ticket sales. So when you attend an LP concert, you can tell yourself that you're also doing something good for the planet.
"There are, unfortunately, always disasters to go get involved in, and there are always environmental causes that we can get involved in to help prevent the natural disasters, or at least keep our oceans and our land clean and our air," Shinoda broke it down. "I don't know how many tours now we've done where we've donated a dollar from every ticket to Music for Relief, and that is obviously in addition to, like, running the buses on biodiesel and recycling at every venue."
And while some of their fans have taken to Twitter doubting how green they really are about their post concert clean-ups, Shinoda assures us that recycling does happen.
The band is also working with a group called Reverb to produce completely green shows. "They look into, for example, how are the groups and the crews traveling; what's their carbon footprint; what are they throwing away; what energy are they using; are they trying to offset that with anything? It's very complicated stuff," Shinoda said, "They're an excellent partner, and they do a great job of making sure that the bar is set really high so that we're not being wasteful when we go out on tour." Maybe pick up a few recyclables after their gig tonight at Cruzan, and help the band, and the earth, out a little.
Linkin Park. With Thirty Seconds to Mars and AFI. 6:30 p.m. Friday, August 8, at Cruzan Amphitheatre, 601-7 Sansbury's Way, West Palm Beach. Tickets cost $31 to $100 plus fees. Call 561-795-8883, or visit livenation.com.