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Rapping with Chester

While the people at BEC-Tero and the opening bands were preparing for the show late last week, Linkin Park’s lead singer, Chester Bennington, chatted with Weekend from his Los Angeles publicist’s office, his Yorkshire terrier puppy by his side:

What are you planning to do while you’re in Bangkok?
Chester Bennington: I’ve never been there but all I know is that it’s a big city and that it’s supposed to be beautiful. I love food, so I can’t wait to try the food there.

Do you guys have a say in choosing opening local acts?
Chester Bennington: Well, we definitely don’t want the Britney Spears of Bangkok to open up. It kinda sucks to live in America because we close ourselves off to everything outside and miss out on lots of good bands. Unfortunately, I don’t know who’s opening up for us in Bangkok yet, but we’re excited about meeting them.

What were some of the more memorable opening bands on your previous Asian tour?
Chester Bennington: We’ve seen some great opening acts like Uza Monkey in Japan. Pie from Seoul is another band we really like; we’re looking into having them come on tour with us in the States.

What can people expect from your show? Anything special planned for your Asia tour?
Chester Bennington: Well, if you’ve seen “Live in Texas”, its a good indication of what our live shows are like. We try to be high energy – lots of new lights and video screens – and we’ll be playing for about 90 minutes.

What does nu-metal mean to you?
Chester Bennington: I have no idea what nu-metal is. I don’t even know what it means. I mean, before I thought Metallica was a nu-metal band, but what do I know? It seems like the word just appeared one day.

What’s the most inspiring live performance that you’ve ever seen?
Chester Bennington: We played with Korn in Mexico City a few years ago. That was pretty intense. I also saw Front 242 once which was also pretty amazing. But one of the greatest was when I saw Nirvana, Pearl Jam and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers on tour together.

If you were stuck on an island and only allowed to have three CDs with you, what would they be?
Chester Bennington: “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” and umm . . . Man, can’t I just bring my iPod? Well, something that can put you in a good mood . . . maybe an Al Green greatest hits album . . . and the soundtrack to “Fight Club”, so you can run around the island and pretend you’re in the movie.

What’s in your CD player now?
Chester Bennington: Well, I have a hard drive full of mp3s in my new car. I’ve got Metallica’s whole catalogue, everything by Zeppelin, Nirvana, Public Enemy, Pixies, just random stuff.

Any words to your Thai fans?
Chester Bennington: When we were in KL, we kept hearing from tons of fans in Thailand to come over. Thanks all for that. We’re really excited to be playing.

Sunday in the park

A year in the making, Linkin Park’s concert is one of the largest staged in the kingdom

Linkin Park, the hard posturing, six-piece rap-rock outfit, will play for 26,000 fans outside Impact Arena on Sunday. This concert’s been a year in the making and is the first large-scale outdoor show since Michael Jackson’s History Tour in 1996, says Neil Thompson, Bec-Tero’s deputy managing director. Linkin Park’s biggest concern about this show is safety, so barriers will surround each of the price-based seating sections “to put brakes on the pushing flow, with the front section separated left and right to stop the side sway”, Thompson says. Other shows on Linkin Park’s Asia Tour are smaller, making Bangkok the tour’s highlight show. Eight tons of cabinet amps, ramps, risers and audio-visual screens are being shipped in, “so fans in the back of this sold out concert can see the show”, Thompson adds.

The cost to stage this concert is around Bt40 million, but what’s news isn’t the massive amount of equipment that’s being hauled to Bangkok, but the opening acts who get to use it. Ebola, Bangkok’s own grown-up nu-metal band, along with pop rockers Scrubb and Cantaloupe of Black Sheep Records (a subsidiary of BEC-Tero) have been chosen to kick off the concert at 4pm.

“We’re continuing with local bands opening up for major acts after the good reaction to Joey Boy opening for the Black Eyed Peas,” Thompson says. “It’s something I think we’ll keep trying to do from now on.”

Warner threw a CD release party for Linkin Park’s Reanimation album two years ago featuring Ebola covering a handful of Linkin Park songs, so it’s no surprise they’re appearing as the main opener for this concert. Ebola’s first chance to play a full set in a stadium-sized venue was earned through countless underground shows and some manual labor for Warner, who released a couple live albums and their new full-length earlier this year called “Pole”.

Rap-rocking mostly in Thai, Ebola first appeared with an independent release in 1997 and two full-length follow ups before joining with Warner. Ignoring the concept of continuity, BEC-Tero aims to add variety with its opening bands. Scrubb, a relatively new outfit from Bangkok’s music industry, will play their Brit-pop influenced guitar riffs to thousands of hardcore nu-metal enthusiasts on Sunday.

“There will be Linkin Park fans who might not like us, but I’m sure there’ll be people at the show who, like me, can listen and accept different styles of music, not just hardcore,” Thawatpol “Ball” Wongbunsiri, Scrubb’s singer. “We’re excited to play and do the best we can.”

Influenced by Nirvana, Blur and Suede, along with ‘80s Thai pop-rock a la Assannee Wassun and Micro, Scrubb exudes an affinity for pop tunes, breaking down even the most aggro-intense sounds to sugar-coated sunshine pop.

“Put all the heavy distortion and screaming [of Linkin Park] aside and all their chords are pop progressions,” observes Ball. “You can listen to their melodies over and over again because their arrangements are very poppy, which I like.”

In 1999 Linkin Park came out with a six-song EP called Hybrid Theory, and within a span of one year, Warner Brothers picked them up and released their multi-platinum full length debut of the same name. Hit single, “In the End,” trickled down all over the world fortifying nu metal’s alarming rise in popularity. For their second release in 2002, “Reanimation”, Linkin Park took the rap rock crossover to a new high by including remix versions of Hybrid Theory songs for a mighty count of 20 tracks on the album. Linkin Park’s thrid album “Meteora” went quadruple platinum in just one year proving nu metal’s continuing prominence in mainstream rock and that twenty six thousand Bangkok fans can’t be wrong. - June 18, 2004



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