Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington tells Vicki Anderson why he wants to punch things and how rapper Rakim ended up on their new album.
Linkin Park lead vocalist Chester Bennington is yelling. It is something of a default setting.
"Music has to have energy," he cries. "It has to make me go punch things in the groin and make me happy to do it."
There's a brief pause before he yells off into the distance: "I wanna f...ing punch things."
Bennington is good-natured but worked up over what he perceives to be a global shortage of "interesting" music.
"There are vast numbers of indie pop bands out there who claim to be alternative but really are just pop," he fumes. "We don't want to contribute to this."
He is also displeased by current hard-rock bands.
"These guys are singing about drinking and f...ing and good old times and it sounds like country music but with guitars. It pisses me off. . . . When we want to hear good hard music we've had to go back to the archives and dig them out. We wanted to make a record that would inspire the young versions of ourselves to go and pick up an instrument and do that."
Linkin Park, the rock band from Southern California, has won two Grammy Awards and sold 60 million albums since releasing its debut Hybrid Theory, in 2000.
Bennington says the band has gone back to its rock roots on new album The Hunting Party.
"We have made the last few records, really going out and pushing things for ourselves creatively," Bennington says.
"It was about trying to find ways to make our music without falling back on standard methods. We have been pushing ourselves and pushing our envelope. I think we did a really great job and made some really great music.
"But, for this album, it was one of those things where we had set ourselves up in a unique position to be whatever we want to be."
He recalls hearing Third Eye Blind's song Graduate on the radio.
"Graduate," he yells/sings.
"I didn't recognise it at first. I thought ‘wow this song is cool'. It had energy and it was alive and it was rocking. I turned it up and, when I realised it was Graduate by Third Eye Blind, I was like ‘dude, I remember when this song came out and how pissed off I was because it was so weak, so watered down and so poppy'."
Then, mid-yell, Bennington says it made him laugh.
"I was laughing because now that is the heaviest s... on the radio and it's from 20 years ago."
The first single off the self-produced new album, Guilty All the Same, features American rapper, Rakim.
"We were working on the song 24 hours a day and we weren't getting to that place. We needed to be inspired, we knew there would be rapping on that bridge, no question about it, but Mike [Shinoda] was like ‘I don't know if it could be me'. The only person I could think of that would be cool that would add something real to the song was Rakim.
"We made a song together and he delivered like a champion."
The album also includes appearances from Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine, Daron Malakian of System of a Down and Page Hamilton of Helmet.
"We were working on a song that Mike had written a chorus to. It didn't sound like him, it sounded like Helmet.
"Mike said ‘wouldn't it be cool if we could get Page in here?' Dude, he put the call out and a couple of days later we were in the studio working on that track and it was awesome."
Bennington says the band was trying to "portray a vibe" with the album artwork.
"It is a beautiful booklet with the characters of the hunting party. You want everything to be specific, we encourage people to enjoy the album. . . nostalgic but that's the way we like it. Even if people download it, I think they should get a hard copy of the artwork."
Also the lead vocalist with Stone Temple Pilots, Bennington becomes quieter when I ask about his Pilot plans: "We are working on more music and going out on the road as soon as we can."
One thing Linkin Park isn't hunting for is social-media fans.
It was the first band to achieve more than 1 billion YouTube hits and Linkin Park has more than 64 million Facebook likes. In comparison, Lady Gaga has 66 million.
"We definitely put a lot of energy into our online presence and interacting and I think that's the reason why people like us," Bennington says.
"We make games, we do things for our fans that deliver the music but which are fun. It should always be fun. The internet is an amazing landscape to deliver as much content as possible."
He's yelling again as I say goodbye.
"Fun!" he yells.
THE DETAILS: Linkin Park's album The Hunting Party is out today. -
- The Press