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Linkin Up

When you conduct a phone interview with a mega rock star like Linkin Park vocalist Chester Bennington, you'd expect him to do something, er, rocky. But that wasn't the case at all. "Oh, I'm just sitting here, petting my puppy" was his response to the ice-breaking enquiry.

The Linkin Park guys, due here in less than a fortnight, are a 'pretty mellow' lot, says vocalist Chester Bennington

The 28-year-old singer was polite _ disconcertingly so. Maybe that's just how they all behave, all his band mates, that is: Mike Shinoda (MC/vocals), Brad Delson (guitar), Darren Phoenix Farrell (bass), Rob Bourdon (drums) and DJ Joseph Hanh. After all, their names have never been associated with any of the debauchery you regularly hear reports of vis a vis other big names in the industry. It would appear that the only place these guys rock is on stage _ as their Live in Texas album bears eloquent testament.
After months of endless hush hush and speculation, it's finally definite: Linkin Park is coming to Thailand on June 20 for a gig at Impact Arena.

"It'll be our first time ever in Thailand," said Bennington during our 10-minute chat. "We're really excited about going to Thailand. I've heard that we've a lot of fans out there. We're really excited to meet them. We've always planned on coming to Thailand and now we have an opportunity to do it, we're just gonna go. We're not gonna cancel on you, guys."

Even though it's very likely to rain on the day _ since it's typical of Mother Nature to burst into tears at the worst possible time _ the organisers insist that it'll be much more fun to hold the concert outdoors. Asked if the possibility of performing in the wet worries them, Bennington was unfazed.
"If it rains? No big deal. We've played in the rain quite often. We play even if it snows or [the temperature drops to] 40 below. We'll be ready for that."

Well, they probably won't be standing in the muddy mosh pit, anyway. So you pogo-loving souls out there, prepare yourselves for black clouds!

The crowd is expected to top 30,000 but that's hardly surprising given that Linkin Park is easily the biggest nu metal band of our era. They started out in 1996 and slowly garnered a reputation for themselves on the Los Angeles scene, finally landing a record deal with Warner Brothers in 1999.
Their debut offering, Hybrid Theory, came out a year later and sent the world over the edge with its brand of nu metal rock and strong pop sensibility. Tracks like One Step Closer, Crawling and In the End quickly became a mantra for alienated youth and brought the band under the brightest of spotlights.
A dastardly attempt at world domination, perhaps?

"I wouldn't quite call it 'world domination' [laughs]. But we do have a lot of wonderful fans all over the world. It's pretty easy [to handle the success], you know. I'm still the same. My friends and family are still the same people. They're pretty mellow guys so we go out and do things like everybody else."
But it must be difficult to be spotted everywhere they go?

"Sometimes ... but our fans are really cool. They just ask you to take photos with them or sometimes they want autographs. Nothing odd. And I live in Los Angeles so it's pretty common here to see famous people. It might be different in Thailand as you don't get to see me every day!"

But success always comes with a price tag. The band members were once known for their penchant for having a close-knit relationship (no sexual innuendo implied) with fans; they'd just mingle with the crowd after a concert and chat away to people. Bennington concedes that things have changed slightly since the early days.

"We can't really jump off the stage and hang out any more. Usually because the buildings have a curfew and we can't keep people around. But we do a meet-and-greet with fans at every show. Yeah, there'll be one in Bangkok as well."

In July 2002 Linkin Park quietly released a follow-up remix album called Reanimation. Then they spent the following 18 months in studio working on their second album. Brought out in March last year, Meteora has taken the same lucrative path as its predecessor.

The touring has, of course, been non-stop but Bennington, a father of one, said he's found a way to strike a balance between his home and professional lives.

"When I tour in the United States, I try to take my family on tour with me for a good period of time. It's difficult on a baby to be travelling all the time. But I call [home] all the time. We have a pretty close relationship."

The band, one of the hardest-working outfits in the business, is already thinking about their next album. "We finish touring the US this summer," Bennington said. "I think that'll be done in September. We'll take some vacation time for ourselves then we'll start working on the next album."
Hurry. There's a lot of people waiting.

- The "Linkin Park Live in Bangkok" concert will take place on June 20 at Aktive Square, Outdoor Impact Arena, Muangthong Thani. The opening acts start at 4pm with Linkin Park taking the stage at 8:30pm. Tickets priced at 2,500, 1,500, 1,000 and 600 baht are available from Thaiticketmaster booths. Call 02-204-9999 or visit for more information.

Bankok Post - June 9, 2004



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