Linkin Park's diversity project
03.05.2008Nice guys don't always finish last. Linkin Park, arguably the most popular rock band of the day, proves the point.
While many bands seem to do everything they can to avoid being known as nice guys, the six members of nь metal rap rock group Linkin Park seem to invite the image. On top of admitting that they don't party much and they do work hard to create good music, the band recently donated about $68,500 from the Projekt Revolution show in Tampa, Fla., to the Red Cross Hurricane Charley Relief Fund.
"The hurricane came through and destroyed a lot of stuff," Chester Bennington, the voice behind Linkin Park's heart-wrenching, angst-filled lyrics, said in a phone interview from Dallas. "We figured, we're here and we could easily donate $5 off each ticket to the Red Cross that's specially handling this problem and it would probably help out a lot. So we did."
The 2004 Projekt Revolution Tour has been crossing the United States for months with one goal in mind - to bring together the most diverse group of musicians to hit any stage this summer. The music, handpicked by Bennington, ranges from hard rock and heavy metal to hip-hop and punk. And the bands include the up-and-coming as well as the already there - Linkin Park shares the main stage with big timers Korn, Snoop Dogg, The Used and Less Than Jake.
The music is so diverse that ticket buyers are encouraged to preview the bands by downloading a digital sampler that includes music from the artists on the tour, exclusive videos, unreleased songs and band bios. Despite the varied music styles, Bennington said picking the bands was a pretty easy task.
"I like them all - it's that simple," he said.
And while Bennington may like the array of music on his tour, throwing together such a diverse crowd of music makers is not without its risks.
"You don't know if you're going to sell the tickets you expect to sell," he said. "When you're a band and you take on the responsibility of a big tour like this - we paid for everything - and if you don't make your money back, it hurts your feelings."
Luckily, it seems that fans wouldn't think of hurting the feelings of the sensitive men of nь metal.
"The shows have been amazing, phenomenal," he said. "Kids will walk away saying this is the best show they've ever been to."
The tour follows on the success of Linkin Park's second multi-platinum record. After selling more than 14 million copies of their 2000 debut album "Hybrid Theory," the pressure was on for Linkin Park to follow up the phenomenal success with an even better album. With 2003's "Meteora," the band lived up to the expectations.
Linkin Park's secret to success - just keep working hard. The "Meteora" CD sleeve mentions the band rewrote the chorus to the first single "Somewhere I Belong" more than 30 times.
"Every time you make a record you start your career over, and I don't think a lot of bands know that," Bennington said. "We kind of figured that out after we figured out how hard it was to write one good song, let alone a whole album worth of good songs. And then having to keep doing that forever seems impossible. But it isn't. You just have to work really hard at it and not kid yourself and fool yourself into thinking you have something that's good.
"I'm not confident about every song we've written the way I'm confident about the songs on the album. We have like 500 crap songs, and we have 22 that are good."
But because those quality songs created two multi-platinum albums and drive flocks of fans to hear the music live, the poster child of teen angst feels pretty good about the way things are going.
"Life sucks," Bennington said sarcastically, but then switches back to his nice-guy persona. "Of course I'm happy. How could I not be happy with the way things are going? It's amazing and I couldn't imagine things being any better than they are now."
But the inspiration for the anguished lyrics must come from somewhere.
"Pain and anger . . . sadness," he said, seriously this time. "Life always has a way of happening whether you want it to or not."
Which goes to show that life is tough, even for superstars. But whether the lyrics result from some internal storage of pain or he merely stubbed his toe and it hurt, Bennington won't say what gets him down - he'd rather that listeners find their own meaning in the lyrics.
"I don't like to tell everybody what the songs are about because it takes away from it," he said. "When someone explains what their music or their songs are about, it kind of ruins it for me because usually I think it's about something completely different."
As the Projekt Revolution tour winds down, the group is making plans for the future. At first Bennington jokes that the band's hard work isn't paying off so Linkin Park plans to slack off and write a really bad third record, but then the musician can't help but straighten the score.
"No," he said simply. "We're going to make another Linkin Park record."
Arizona Daily - August 27, 2004