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Interview with Chester Bennington

Broken backs? Flying piss? Stage Fright? Bring it on – Chester Bennington and the Boys have faced far, far worse…

Kerrang!: Did Donington mean anything to you as a kid?
Chester Bennington: “Well Arizona is a bit of a time warp for music – they’re still playing the same songs on the radio now as they were when I left – so growing up I didn’t hear much about Donington. Unfortunately, we’re a culture of people that don’t always get the opportunity to hear music from outside America and we don’t really have festivals, so it took a while for me to understand why Donington was special.”

Kerrang!:Will you get a chance to check out the competition at Download?
Chester Bennington: “If we get there early enough in the day I'll check out other bands. Before we played Reading last year I had the privilege to see Placebo play, and also stuff like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Interpol. There's a lot of great bands out there, so I’m hoping to see someone. Sum 41 are a good band, and anyone in the music business who says that Iggy Pop hasn’t influenced them in some way is either lying or…”

Kerrang!:... Or they shouldn't be in the music business
Chester Bennington: “Exactly! So I’m really excited about seeing him.”

Kerrang!:There's a tradition at Donington for fans to throw bottles of piss at bands: does that prospect concern you?
Chester Bennington: “Is that a sign of honour?”

Kerrang!:It's not a total sign of disrespect. Metallica had pigs's heads thrown at them once..
Chester Bennington: “I figure we can handle that pretty well. We did a show with Korn down in Mexico once, and before we went I was talking to Chino from the Deftones and he told us that down there kids spit on the bands. He said, ‘But don’t think that they don’t like you, they do it when they’re really excited’. Sure enough when we got there it was incredible. Have you ever seen ‘Braveheart’ or something when there’s just like 1,000 flaming arrows in the air at once? It was like that, but with 1,00 flaming loogies flying at us. They almost took my head from my body. That was pretty cool. I think we’ve had faeces thrown at us too. So if we just get beer at Donington, that’s pretty good.”

Kerrang!:Do you feel more pressure on a festival bill than at a regular headlining show?
Chester Bennington: “Actually I feel more pressure at the smaller shows. It’s a weird psychological thing, like if you asked me to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ at a small kids’ birthday party I’d just clam up. I like having our peers watching us. I want groups that I love who might never think they could fit on a Linkin Park show to see that they could play with us. Having someone like Metallica say your band is good really means a lot.”

Kerrang!:There's a skate event at Download too: were you a skater back in the day?
Chester Bennington: “I was, and I still have a go. Unfortunately, skating isn’t like riding a bicycle, its not like learn to ride and then you know how to do it for the rest of your life. And my body isn’t as rubber as it used to be…”

Kerrang!:Would your insurance company cack it if they saw you heading for skate bowl?
Chester Bennington: “Probably. But I think they’d be more wary about me going to India than about me getting on a half pipe. I can still perform with a broken back, but I can’t perform very well sitting on the toilet.”

Kerrang!:Speaking of which, you're sharing a stage with Dillinger Escape Plan who famously took a shit onstage the last time they played a UK festival. Think you can top that?
Chester Bennington: “Wow. Short of masturbating and ejaculating fire, I don’t know if you could compete. The shitting onstage thing has been done so often that if I was to do it Iggy would just look at me and think, ‘Poseur!’. Between Bowie and GG Allin and Iggy and Marilyn Manson and Alice Cooper just about every outrageous thing you can do has been done. The only thing we have left is to make sure we kick ass. We’ll do our best to do that, but I don’t think you’ll be seeing any shit.”

Kerrang!:Catch Linkin Park at 9:15 pm on Thursday at Download Scotland and headlining the Kerrang! Radio 1 Stage at Donington at 9 pm on Saturday.
Chester Bennington: Best enjoyed: while wearing an asbestos sou'wester (he might be serious about the wanking)

Kerrang!:What's the chances?
Chester Bennington: Odds of these bands splitting up at download: Linkin Park 40 - 1. “They’re still youngish, so there’ll be more pent-up ambition flying around, and that leads to friction. Plus there’s six of them, and big bands are like soccer teams, someone always feel someone else is hogging something.”

"Kerrang!" Magazine - June 2004



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