Linkin Park and Incubus
Rain City Ambience was fortunate enough to be apart of a conference call with Chester Bennington of Linkin Park and Brandon Boyd of Incubus to discuss their upcoming co-headlining Honda Civic Tour. While time was limited there were no questions asked on our behalf. However, there were a lot of topics addressed by other media outlets such as the bands’ evolution and…laryngioplasty?
Be warned, this is not your typical 5-minute read so strap in!
Hi. Past Honda Civic Tours have been more pop-oriented, such as “Blink 182”, “My Chemical Romance”. What can fans expect from this year’s Honda Civic Tour?
Chester Bennington: Well, I think that for us, I mean, really, I think the most special thing about this tour is the fact that you have two headlining bands singing together on one bill, which typically can be kind of hard to do, specifically, because usually when you’re in a position to headline a tour of this kind, you know, there’s only room for one headlining band usually. So the fact that Incubus gets to come out and perform a full headlining set and Soul Production and Linkin Park gets to come out and perform our full headlining set with personal production and everything is kind of special. But also, we kind of don’t really look at what the other artists have done on these tours and kind of go, OK, what do we think we should do. You know, we’re just going to go out and do what our fans want from us which is, you know, play songs that they’re familiar with and catch up on some of the new music and become familiar with that. So really I think from Linkin Park’s standpoint, we’re just going to come out and put on the highest-energy show we can. And incorporate as much of the new music as possible. And I’m expecting that Incubus will probably do the same.
Brandon Boyd: Hey Chester, it’s Brandon.
Chester Bennington: How are you?
Brandon Boyd: I’m good, how are you doing, man?
Chester Bennington: Wonderful.
Brandon Boyd: I would like to add to that.
Chester Bennington: Absolutely.
Brandon Boyd: I just think it’s a good moment and a great opportunity to have kind of just a, you know, two big giant rock & roll bands sharing a stage. I just think that’s going to be better than either of us would do in our own show, it’s two headlining sets, including MUTEMATH which is going to be a good time as well. So it’s almost like a mini-festival, which is amazing. And Incubus has done a Honda Civic-sponsored tour before. It may have been one of Honda Civic’s first ones, I’m not sure, but that was like, over 10 years ago and I remember it being really really great. And I think the listeners and friends and fans and family who came out to those shows had a really great experience, too, so I know that we, as a band, are really looking forward to doing it again this year. And personally, this will be the end of our touring cycle for our newest record and so we’re looking forward to just making some music and I’m very much looking forward to seeing Linkin Park with my own eyes for the first time since… I mean, I saw you guys, I think, once at a radio show, like over 10 years ago as well. So I think it’s going to be fun to be able to see you guys every night.
Chester Bennington: Thank you.
You guys are committed to green energy on the Honda Civic tour. Do either of you wear your political affiliations on your sleeve, especially in this pivotal presidential election year?
Chester Bennington: Well, I know that within Linkin Park I’ve honestly never heard anyone talk about who they want to vote for, for example. I think it’s something that we kind of take very personally. It’s so funny, I was watching some comedy show the other day and they were making fun of how Americans won’t talk about who they’re going to vote for.
Chester Bennington: It’s such a secretive process. Whereas if you go overseas or something people are talking about who they’re going to vote for and who they don’t like all the time. It’s no big deal. But here in the United States it’s a little different for us. It’s such a private and personal moment to kind of choose who you think is going to be the best leader and the last thing you want to do is influence somebody else to vote based on what they think of you as opposed to what they think of the politician they’re voting for. So we definitely don’t really kind of brag about who we’re going to vote for, but we do talk about the things that are important to us. And the things that are very important to us at this point are really making sure that our tours are as environmentally friendly as possible and also giving back to our local community as well as the world community that has been so good to us. So those are the things that matter to us. And in terms of the green movement and other things, one of the reasons why we’re so keen on that is because the tie between natural disasters and what we’re doing as a society to the planet. So if we can counterbalance some things or offset some things that we’re doing just naturally through the way that we (Indiscernible) things on a daily basis, if we can make that more efficient and less wasteful, then we can provide families with renewable energy sources, so they don’t have to burn garbage, they don’t have to burn dung. Those things actually go a really long way in terms of helping with the recovery process of a natural disaster. So for example if a community is deforesting the areas around their villages, and let’s say a hurricane hits, OK, now all of a sudden not only did the wind destroy the homes that so many people are living in, but it’s also now created flooding and mudslides and all of that kind of stuff. Those things become very difficult and very costly and time-consuming in terms of the recovery project. So if we can encourage people to use the solar-powered lightbulbs, for example, that we’re giving out, via Power the World , instead of chopping down trees, when that hurricane does hit, it’s amazing how roots hold the soil together. [laughs]
Chester Bennington: So those are the kind of things that we’re interested in. I don’t necessarily know that either of the future presidential candidates are really thinking that way. So that’s where it’s kind of like I’m not sure exactly how political our green movement is.
More of a human movement.
Chester Bennington: Yes, it’s more of a purpose-driven green movement in terms of just wanting to be more clean and efficient with our tours so we leave less of a footprint when we’re out there. But the big picture really is the tie between, you know, the effect that it causes in terms of the natural disasters that hit. So if we plant more trees and put more oxygen in the atmosphere, hopefully the storm systems aren’t so tough every year.
Chester Bennington: If we, you know, could help people have clean water and have access to renewable energy sources then they can focus on agriculture and they can focus on getting jobs and stuff and making money as opposed to hunting down water. Or moving a village because it’s been destroyed and there’s mudslides and all sorts of stuff happening. So hopefully that answers your question.
It did. Is Brandon on the line?
Brandon Boyd: Yes, yes, I’m here.
Brandon, do you have a follow-up to that?
Brandon Boyd: Chester makes a lot of wonderful points, you know, and I think that any type of meaningful movement and/or meaningful change that’s going to occur if you were to measure it based on who people were voting for and/or who even gets elected, it’s like watching water boil. It’s infuriating to try and hang anything worthwhile or legitimate upon that process even though it is a valuable process and an essential one. My point is, I truly believe that most of the meaningful change if not all, is going to come from the ground. And I think it’s wonderful that Linkin Park has the Music for Relief Foundation, and is able to make waves and make moves on the ground there. We’ve been trying very hard and very joyfully with the Make Yourself Foundation for many years to do the same thing, both with environmental causes, but also with humanitarian efforts, to inspire people as opposed to, hang our hat on a politician or, you know, stuff like that. It’s a, like I said it’s an infuriating, fascinating but infuriating process. So I think that we’re just in a very blessed position to be able to have even, you know, a remote influence on the ground here. I think that’s where the most meaningful change is coming from.
Brandon Boyd: Chester, if you don’t mind I’ll hop into this.
Chester Bennington: Yeah.
Brandon Boyd: I personally think it’s an occasion that’s kind of long overdue. We have a lot of mutual listeners, our bands, and I think that it’s one of those things that once the idea was floated, and we really kind of caught onto it, that it seemed like, “Why haven’t we done this yet?”, type of a thing. Linkin Park has a considerably larger reach than Incubus has had and I think it’s going to be wonderful for us as a band to play in front of more people. [laughs] So we definitely appreciate the opportunity there. But I personally think that it’s just going to be great because of the carryover between the listeners, you know, there are a lot of Linkin Park listeners who are also Incubus listeners and vice versa. But we’ve never done something like this before. So as far as the feedback is concerned from people around the world-—Incubus has been on tour for the past year—once this tour was announced it’s been overwhelmingly positive and enthusiastic. So I’m really excited for it to get started.
Chester Bennington: Thank you, Brandon. I agree. I think that it’s funny because in Linkin Park we all have the things that we do better than other guys do, so for example I’m really bad at reading long-form legal documents [laughter].
Brandon Boyd: You are?! [laughing]
Chester Bennington: Like I just don’t, like, get, and most of it doesn’t make any sense to me anyways. You know, there are guys in the band who are much better and more qualified to kind of go through that process than me. So one of the places that I actually can contribute some skill or input that matters is on touring. Typically I’ve been pretty, even in my loosest form, I’ve been involved in figuring out who we tour with for a long time. And so, I swear, it feels like I’ve probably tried to figure out a way to get Linkin Park and Incubus on the road together at least once per cycle since probably Meteora. It just goes to show how difficult it can be to actually get two headlining groups together. Kind of going back to that first question, you know, it was surprising to me that we haven’t actually done more touring with Incubus than we have in the last 15 years. Fourteen years. So for the fact that we do share such a big, I think, group of fans that kind of listen to both bands, I still feel like there’s a large number of people that, um, are Incubus fans that never really got into Linkin Park, or kind of vice versa. But I think that there’s a common interest there. And so I feel like that’s one of the things that’s been so positive, overwhelmingly positive, about everyone’s response to our bands going on tour together is that I think it gives both of our fans something that they’ve wanted for a long time, which is to see Incubus and go see Linkin Park, because I think they’ve had to choose a lot of times on which band they’re going to go see because we’ve both been on tour. Or when we’re on tour in the U.S., Incubus is off in the Pacific Rim, hopping all over Asia or somewhere in Europe and we’re down in Asia. It just never works out. So I think the fact that they’re ending their cycle and we’re kind of beginning ours and this is a very specific time in our career that things have lined up for us to be able to do a tour like this together. We get to go out and just fully express ourselves as artists and really do whatever we want, to do this energy we feel our fans are going to want. I think that that’s something that’s really special. And so I’m very appreciative to the people on the Civic tour. You know, having the vision to kind of understand that this is something that is rare and is something that, you know, people are going to be excited to go see. You know you never get to go see Bon Jovi and Kiss at the same time. This to me feels as exciting as a lot of the concerts that I would be excited to go to when I was a kid. That was I think one of the reasons why Lollapalooza when I was young became so important so quickly. It was because it was the only place that you could go see, you know, the Chili Peppers and Ministry and, you know, Pearl Jam and all these bands play together. And Ice Cube. But there’s no way you were going to see all these bands together, you know? And that’s been the inspiration for modern festivals and I think that the fact that this does kind of feel like a little mini-festival even though there are only three bands [laughs]. It does have that feeling of something that’s going to be a show that you wanna go see ’cause it’s got something special. I’m excited. Honestly, I also hope that our bands can walk away inspired from each other. You know? I’ve always appreciated Incubus for their music and they’re also very good live. I’ve had the chance to pop over and watch them play a couple songs onstage here and there at some festivals throughout our career and they’re a great live band. So I think the energy is going to be really amazing out in the crowd. So I would actually like to be down there to watch the show but I don’t know if that’s going to be possible. [chuckles]
Brandon Boyd: It’s time to start training an understudy and then, uh, do some plastic surgery on him, and then sneak into the crowd.
Chester Bennington: Exactly. I think that would actually be cheaper than a hologram.
Brandon Boyd: That’s right, get a hologram of yourself and then you can, uh… [laughing]
Chester Bennington: That would be great, though. I’m just putting it out there. If anyone does have the hologram technology, and it looks real, I would be open to taking the hologram out on the road.
Brandon Boyd: Right.
Hey Chester, I believe you’ve at least come to the 500-mile race with cheese, and since you’re on a Honda-sponsored tour, I thought I’d ask a car question. Is it accurate that you have an affinity for open-wheel racing and can you maybe tell me about your impressions of the 500-mile race?
Chester Bennington: Well, I would have to say that growing up I was actually not very fond of… I mean, let me put it to you this way. If I could be the driver of the car, I’d be stoked about it. But if I have to sit there and watch, I don’t really want to do it. It’s kind of like baseball. It’s like, I love playing, but you’re not going to get me to sit and watch a whole baseball game. It’s just not going to happen. So the same thing kind of has been that way for me with racing, and I mean that respectfully. I just want to do the fun part. And so, uh, I didn’t really get into it growing up. But I would say that, you know, similarly to golf and things like tennis and soccer, where I’ve kind of been bored by them as a young person, I’m really enthralled by them as an adult because of one, the technical skill the drivers have to have, in terms of, you know, basically flying that car. It is really impressive. I just don’t know how those guys, and women, I don’t know how they control those cars at those speeds in groups like that. It’s pretty phenomenal what they have to do, mentally and physically. And then the cars. I’ve been in a few races, I’ve had the opportunity to go to the Indie 500 and that was really fun and I had a great time. So the combination of being in a band and having access to kind of more of the underbelly of racing and getting to go down and, you know, meet the drivers and look at the cars and hold the steering wheels in my hands, you know, kind of understanding more about everything that goes into not only the performance and the driving of the car but everything that goes on in the whole production is really impressive. These guys are setting up massive, huge shows. And it’s a really interactive experience. Fans are always talking to the drivers, they’re always looking at the cars. It’s a very interactive and very engrossing atmosphere. It reminds me a lot of music, actually. There are so many similarities that go on between the drivers and teams and fans, the same as you know, uh, bands like Incubus and Linkin Park. We try to do those things for our fans and we try to give them as much as we can because we care about them and we appreciate their support of what we do. And you get the same feeling in racing. So I’ve had an opportunity to go to a few Indie races and I’ve been to a couple Formula races and it’s a very impressive sport. So, I would say my interest is probably at its highest right now. I do fantasize about being a driver when I retire from Linkin Park. So I might be the oldest rookie driver in the history of the sport.
Actually this will be for both of them but separate questions. Brandon first, you mentioned as this being the end of the Incubus cycle. What’s next? You made us wait awhile for this last album. What are you guys planning?
Brandon Boyd: Ummm… as far as that’s concerned, we have no plans, to tell you the truth at the moment. We are, for the first time since 1996, we are free agents again. We’re without a record label. So what we’re kind of doing is trying to get our bearings as to what we should do next, just as a band but also as a band that is kind of off in new territory again. So I have been tinkering around potentially with a second solo record. That’s probably the most likely scenario. But as far as Incubus right now, we’ll probably take another break. Hopefully it won’t be as long. But what we like to do is arrive with the best of intentions and try and create music from a sense of urgency as well as purity and not necessarily based on a schedule. I know that that can be a little bit frustrating for our listeners and stuff but I think that we’ll make better music as a result. So the plan is to have no plan.
Has there been discussion about what you might do in terms of a new deal or Incubus record label or anything?
Brandon Boyd: Right. We definitely got a taste of what it’s going to be like without a record label on this latest album cycle with If Not Now, When? Though we were still signed to Epic Records there was a lot of sort of changing of the guards going on with LA Reid being the new president and he wasn’t quite there yet, even though he was technically the guy on the TV show and there was a real lack of direction and leadership when we kind of needed it the most. [laughs] So it was hard and it was frustrating but it was also very telling for us and perhaps educational. Because what we were forced to do was we were forced into ingenuity. And so we came up with this idea to set up shop in this art gallery in Los Angeles and do the Incubus HQ and fly listeners in from different corners of the world and do these live broadcasts on the Internet. And so we started getting these ideas about subscription-based live concerts online and it ended up being a really scary and stressful project but the fruits of it are still kind of revealing themselves. We have this HQ box set that we’re putting out and the DVD set comes out, I think, August 14 is the release date. There’s like the superfan all six nights on DVD mixed in 5.1 with the CDs and pieces of canvases that people were drawing on in the room while we were playing music. Like I said, it’s forced us to think outside of that normal music industry paradigm that we had gotten so accustomed to. And so in that sense the lack of attention from our record label and the end days of our record label relationship were really good and very beneficial for us as a band because it gave us a sense of what we might be doing in the coming years. So I’m personally very excited about being in complete control, of being able to be a total control freak. It doesn’t mean that we wouldn’t sign with another record label at some point but it would definitely have to be very, very specific. [laughs] Not get into just a good old-fashioned record deal again, if they even exist. So…
Well, good luck with that. Now Chester, as you referenced earlier too, this is the very beginning of the LIVING THINGS cycle, what’s going to happen on the horizon after the Honda Civic Tour, and, you guys do have a habit of the next album tends to start when you’re on the road so I’m wondering if that process has started already, too.
Chester Bennington: Um, usually in the beginning of the touring cycle we kind of focus on what we’re going to be doing with the new music. You know, touring at this point, for us, is pretty awesome and at the same time it works against you to a certain degree. Because I realized the other day, I was thinking about it, why is it more difficult to get casual fans into new music? I think it’s because when we started touring it was just Hybrid Theory and Hybrid Theory was like 36 minutes long. So basically you know when you’re headlining a tour, we started out opening shows which was great because we played for 25 minutes and leave. So when we got to the point where people fell in love with what we were doing and were listening to us and we were the headlining band, we were forced to play our entire record. Like, every single night. And so people were, I think, falling in love with the record in a different way. And even with Meteora, like, um, once we had that record it was like, OK, we basically have enough music to fill a proper headlining set. And so we’ve essentially played both records all the way through for our entire first five years, six years of touring. And so once you get to that point where you have a bunch of songs that people have heard on the radio, and it becomes more, you know, less about playing everything you have and more about playing the songs that people are familiar with. We’re at that point now where it’s like, we’ve been around for over a decade, that makes it sound more important, I think. [laughter] We’ve been around for over 10 years and this is our fifth record. We’ve been fortunate to have a lot of songs that do really well off of our records and so, you know, a lot of people come there to hear the songs that they know. And adding in new material becomes something that is a little bit more difficult for us over the last few records because most of the songs that are really great are like, midtempo songs. And Linkin Park isn’t the band that you go to see, you know, chairs on the floor in the arena. That’s, no one wants to come to a Linkin Park show and stand there and look at the band and listen to beautiful music. People want that but they also want to be kicked in the face and they want to, you know, run into each other and they want to jump up and down and sing and have a really great, high-energy time. And so being able to incorporate a lot of new material into our set just felt like it was bringing too much of the energy down. So I think what we’re doing on this tour is like with the new record, the new record has so much energy that we feel like we could add a bunch of new music to the set and people will be stoked about it. Casual fans are there to hear the three songs that they love, and go “Oh yeah, I didn’t know they did this song too!” Those fans will actually enjoy hearing the new music at these shows. Right now at this point we’re focused on making sure the new material is up to speed and that we’re familiar with it enough to go and play it live. And then at that point, you know, once that kind of calms down that’s usually when the creative process starts to kick in. Because now we’re not creating a show and we’re working on learning new music ’cause that’s something we don’t do, we don’t sit and jam, we don’t hang out as a band and write music together. That’s just not what we do. So a lot of our connection time and what you would think would be stereotypical band moment time really comes from when we’re learning these new songs and rehearsing and going out and playing these new songs as a set for the first time. And then everything’s new and fresh and I think because we’re adding so much of the new record over the next few months to our live set, that’s what we’re focused on. But once that calms down, that creative hunger is going to turn itself on and we’re going to start writing new music. So I would imagine by the time we’re done touring this record, we’ll be in a similar position to what we were with A Thousand Suns going into Living Things. We’ll be able to just kind of go right into the studio, make another record and put it out and kind of keep that cycle going. We’ve really got ourselves in a position now where we kind of feel like we’re touring less as an idea of, “Let’s go tour really hard for nine months and then come home” and tour really hard for nine months and then come home, and hopefully have enough energy to want to do anything. It’s like touring for a few weeks and coming home for a month and going out and touring for a few weeks and coming home for a month. So we’re really spending as much time home as we are on the road and I think that also encourages a creative process because we kind of feel energized more, more often. So I think that kind of answers all of your questions into one ginormous ongoing answer.
I’m wondering, too, after Honda Civic, where else are you guys going to be touring, and how long do you think you’ll be on the road more or less for LIVING THINGS?
Chester Bennington: I think we’ll be touring more or less through next summer for sure. Maybe even into next fall, depending on what the schedule looks like. I know that we’re planning on going to South Africa for the first time, which I’m very excited about. We’re planning on going to South America, going back to Europe, going to Asia, and doing another U.S. tour, I believe. Probably to end it all. Next year. And then go straight back again into the studio and make another record.
Chester, you’re going to be opening in Virginia, which is what I’m writing about, where unfortunately Linkin Park is the only one on there, we don’t have Incubus. What can you tell me about opening night and what you look forward to? And maybe preview a little bit what the fans can expect, since they won’t be getting Incubus like the rest of the tour.
Chester Bennington: Well, I feel really bad that they won’t get Incubus because I think that’s awesome for everyone who gets to see both bands. It’s going to be a great day. Um, so, right after that, I think that to come out and start any tour, this is kind of like our first offering here in the States of new music, and so the good thing that I think is we’ve got a really great response from our fans and from critics on this record. All the songs have a lot of really great energy. And I think that’s going to lend itself really well to the live shows, so… You know, the first show is always the most nerve-wracking for me personally just because my throat isn’t like a guitar that gets put away in a nice velvety case and hidden from the outside world until I’m needed again. It’s a muscle and it’s a living thing—no pun intended. It kind of, you know, it’s like any other muscle, if I’m working out every day in the gym the likeliness of me getting sore and hurting myself is far less than if I’d been sitting around on the couch for three weeks and then get up and go run around. So it’s always more nerve-wracking even with taking care of myself and still maintaining, trying to keep myself going, it’s not like I’m singing really hard for two hours every day. So it’s always nerve-wracking for me personally. But I think that our fans should expect whatever they want. They’re paying money to see their favorite band play. Or one of their favorite bands play. And so, um, that’s what I expect from our fans to expect of us. And so, it doesn’t really matter what the first show feels like. It has to be the same as the last show of the last tour. When you go play a show it’s like the best thing in the world, like you want to go out and play your hardest and put your heart into it. For me, that’s where I get all of my fulfillment as a musician, is playing the music live. Writing the song and having people listen to it is great, but if I never got to perform the songs that people liked, I don’t even know if I would be in a band, honestly, if all I did was sit and write music and let people hear it. Performing it is the most important thing for me and so every show has to feel the same; the same intensity, the same level of technical skill. So that’s what the first show is going to be like. It’s not going to be any different than the fifteenth show on the tour.
Brandon Boyd: Hmm. That’s a really interesting notion actually. It’s something that I talk about with friends and people in different industries and everything, but it’s been really interesting to be, I’m sure it’s been interesting from Linkin Park’s perspective as well, Linkin Park and Incubus were two of the very few bands who kind of got a gust of wind out of the old paradigm of the music industry. But, like, survived out of it. There are so many bands that, bands in a traditional sense, who write their own music and perform their music, that didn’t survive that transition. That fell by the wayside with the industry. So it’s been frightening to watch something that you, for a very brief moment, almost learned to rely on, because we learned the ins and outs of how the industry worked. You poured your heart out into making an album and then the label puts the record out and you go out on tour in support of the album and we even started doing it in the van and trailer. We’d make a record and get in the van with our gear and the trailer and we’d drive ourselves around the country and sell albums and T-shirts out of the back of the trailer. That was sort of our education and then once things started going really well, thankfully, we got a sense of what it looks like when the engine is nicely greased and things are working the way they’re supposed to. And then it’s like the millennium turns and the technology changed and all of that became old. It became an antiquated model. And it was frightening at first but I actually have come to appreciate it. I’m going to actually use the pun, a living thing. It’s a living system. Our technologies are a living system just like we are and our communities as human beings, and for us to expect them to remain constant is really just quite foolish. I mean anybody that’s going to come to rely on the way that our music consumption is looking now is going to have the same hard lesson in less time than you think. I think that the technology is going to shift probably sooner than any of us really realize and that’s a really cool thing because it keeps everyone on their toes. It levels the playing field, too. It’s allowing for a really wonderful democratization of the music writing process and the music presenting and performing process. So what it’s doing is it’s making us try harder and it’s making us expect the best of ourselves and the people that we work with. You know, do more with less. I was talking to my friend this morning about the notion of the music video. Incubus has made a music video. We’ve paid like $500,000 to make a music video that MTV just didn’t play. And that was considered like, “Oh, OK. That’s a bummer, but, you know, next.” But now? Are you kidding me? It’s like if we can get a fraction, a spittle of that amount of money to make a music video, that’s amazing. But the cool thing is, is that the intention is exactly the same and in fact it’s even better because now we have to think even further out of the box. We still have to make a music video but we don’t have any money. So we have to have a better idea than we did before. You know what I mean? I personally, when all is said and done, I really welcome these changes. And they excite me. And they scare me at the same time, but I’m choosing to focus on the excitement.
I was wanting to kind of couple on to a couple of the last answers, but kind of veer more into the creative inspiration. So I was wondering if each of you would respond. As you each grow older and wiser, how do you both stay loyal to and inspired to produce the style of music on both the record and in concert that your most loyal and long-term fans both love and expect?
Chester Bennington: Um, well, I think that’s a good question. I kind of wonder, you know people ask me questions like, you see the Rolling Stones or guys who have been doing this for 50 years, do you see yourself doing this at their age? And in my mind I know that however long I live until the day I die I’m probably going to feel mentally immature. And physically old. [laughter] But my brain’s not going to be calculating, “Oh, I’m 70 years old.” It’s like, “What do you mean I’m almost done? Aagh! I just got started.” And so I think that it will become a bit more difficult for me to perform a few songs on a roster that I did so easily through my twenties and thirties. You know? When I’m 70 I don’t know if I’ll be, um, screaming “Victimized” at anybody. Hopefully that will be the case but I doubt it. That’s one of the things that’s so interesting about our business anyways. None of us are guaranteed that anyone can come to one of our shows or care about the last record we put out. I personally, throughout my own career, every record that we go into, I look at like this is our very first album and this is the best representation of what we are. And either people are going to love it or they’re going to hate it. Or not care. And so, you know, that’s what happens. We take the creative gamble and we write music that we feel passionate about and that we feel is important and that we feel is, um, um, what’s the word I’m looking for, uh, damn it!
Brandon Boyd: Vital?
Chester Bennington: No, not vital, but like, um, giving something to the people who are going to hear it. It’s basically like when you create a song and people hear it and they connect with it; you’re giving that person a sense of inspiration. And so I think that… that word threw me off. Trying to find that word threw me off! My brain just went into a completely different area. I’m sorry, it just shut down. But anyways, I think I’ve answered at least part of your question. And so if Brandon wants to jump in. I just completely shut down. My brain went into left field on that question. You melted me.
Brandon Boyd: You made me think of something though when you were saying like, um, will you be screaming some of your most demanding lyrics when you’re 70. You can’t really imagine yourself doing that. I agree with you, we have so many songs that we wrote when we were in our young twenties. Some of them we wrote when we were teenagers and we still perform some of them. It occurs to me now at 36, damn, what was I thinking? This is hard! I have to really concentrate and sit still in order to do it.
Chester Bennington: That’s funny.
Brandon Boyd: Two things occur to me. One was that somehow the guys in the Stones still look really cool doing it and I think that really is a testament to number one, their talent, as well as their tenacity. If you write good songs and if you write songs that have a potentially timeless quality, yeah I think that you’ll be able to sing them long into your sunset years. I think that’s really one of our intentions as a band. I know for me as a lyricist and as a singer, my deepest intention beyond just trying to express myself with a sense of purity is to hopefully achieve a sense of timelessness. You want to touch on subjects that are potentially universal and that don’t really need to be tied to the 90s. Or the 2000s. Or the 2030s. Whatever. You want to essentially be able to make music that will essentially transcend time. The other thing that occurred to me when you said that, Chester, and imagining, knowing myself from experience as well, there are certain songs that get harder as you get older. The term vaginaplasty came to mind, and if they can do that with technology, by the time you and I are in our 60s, why can’t they do laryngioplasty, where they can give us a 16-year-old’s throat? Can you imagine, being all leathery?
Chester Bennington: I would imagine that the vagina specialties will actually…
Brandon Boyd: Might do well, right?
Chester Bennington: Yeah, they would definitely overflow into the vocal cord area. I think that there are a lot of connections that can be made to the mouth and the vagina. I think that that’s something, you may have actually just pioneered that entire industry. This is something that should be looked into. It’s genius.
Brandon Boyd: We’ll talk about this more when we get on the road together. And we’re going to pioneer this technology and we’re going to get elderly people singing like 20-year-olds. It’s going to be awesome.
Chester Bennington: I just hope my vocal cords don’t have that worked-on look. You know.
Brandon Boyd: Right, right.
Chester Bennington: I want to look natural.
Brandon Boyd: That’s good, that’s good. [laughter] Does that answer your question?
That went in such an unintended direction. Incredible. If I may follow up though, the desire to still be identified with a trademark sound on each of your parts I’m sure is somewhere in the frontal consciousness or subconscious every time you put pen to paper, fingers to keyboard, or you step onstage. So how does the quality of your life as you grow older still, you know, how do you connect that to the style of music that is as you just both sort of admitted, is very rooted in a much younger Chad and Brandon?
Brandon Boyd: Well you know, actually, it’s been a real struggle, challenge, I don’t know what the right exact word is. But being so identified with a particular style and a particular time, I know that there are certain parts of the world where certain journalism music reviewers will literally have not looked beyond Incubus’s very first album, Science, which we wrote and recorded when we were just freshly out of high school. And it came out in 1997. And we toured a lot on that record, we toured for a little over two years and we were on tour with bands like Korn and Limp Bizkit and we ended up doing a lot of touring, which was amazing, with Ozzy Osbourne and Black Sabbath and Pantera and all these great tours but what’s wild to me is that it’s been that long and there are still these holdouts that are like so, “How’s it going, being a nu-metal band?” And that’s been a real challenge, not to make music that has transcended a genre, because I do believe that we’ve accomplished that and we continue to accomplish that, if I could be so bold, but to sort of shift people’s perceptions and get people to take a second glance at an established artist. That’s really the most challenging thing. Once people feel like they have you categorized, they’ve put the milk on the milk shelf in the refrigerator, it’s almost like it can never live anywhere else in the refrigerator. I personally am interested in music. I’m not interested in making a kind of music. And I think that’s why Incubus records have changed sometimes dramatically over the years. Our newest record, If Not Now, When? is really a good example of that. It’s different, it’s more different than any of our records than we’ve ever done before. And I personally am really inspired by that. I’m proud of that. I want to make music that continues to evolve and challenge people and surprise people. But getting people to let go of a predetermined notion of what you are and what you’re supposed to be is really probably the largest challenge. What I’ve had to do is really let go of perceptions altogether and just make music because it’s really impossible. The only time I ever get reminded is when people ask, not you in particular but when other journalists ask questions like, “How’s it feel being a nu-metal band in this day and age?” and stuff like that, and it’s sort of like, “I don’t really feel that way.” You know, I feel like we make music. We make all kinds of different music. So, I’m rambling now so I’m going to stop.
Any thoughts from you, Chad?
Chester Bennington: I agree with Brandon. I think for us, we’ve kind of had the advantage to cross a bunch of different styles of music and bring them together, and we worked very hard from Minutes to Midnight on to change what we felt was the perception of what Linkin Park is and by people outside of the band. I think that Incubus and Linkin Park share a lot of similarities in terms of when we became popular. In a time when selling tons of records was what people did and the internet wasn’t really a strong force in the world. And then transitioning into a time where no one’s buying records and yet people are spending more money on music base than any time before. So I think that going through all that and transitioning and getting older and having all these experiences definitely shapes the way you think about how you do business. But the things that inspire are all the same kind of things that inspired me when I was 15. You know, life is very complicated and there’s so much stuff that happens in your life that are so precious and so beautiful and so specific to our individual story. Each person has such a beautiful story to tell and some are horrific and scary but yet there’s still something beautiful happening there. Those are things that inspire me creatively and I think that the older I get the more savvy I become in business and how you view your business. I think it’s because you have more experience. I think that age brings wisdom and age brings experience. But the things that inspire me are the same, those are the moments that you kind of catch in your web as you go through life. You kind of grab the tastier parts of life and we get to write songs about them, we get to write music about those experiences and then go perform them for people just as often.
Brandon Boyd: Well said.
Hi there, my question is for Chester. First I want to say congratulations on the new disc. With it debuting at No. 1 it actually set a record for you guys having more No. 1 albums on the Billboard 200 than any other band this century. So, I’m just wondering from a personal standpoint and given the ever-changing landscape of music throughout your career, what does a milestone like that mean to you personally?
Chester Bennington: It’s cool, you know. It’s something that I never would have thought of, that statistic being one that’s attached to Linkin Park. I’ve always felt that we just made the best record that we could make at the time. So for people, for our fans, it’s really more of a testament to our fans than to us. It really is a testament to how enthusiastic our fan base is about what we do in the studio and I think that the true test of what we’ve done is good or not is obviously how well the songs hold up over time. But to hit like a No. 1 is really something you just kind of hope for when you’re making a record. You know, that people respond to it well. It’s not really a goal that we set out for as a band. I think that we kind of look at a lot of other things, being forced into a different style as a business. I think we pay attention to so much stuff that’s going on, we kind of forget about goals like reaching No. 1 on the charts. You’re focused more on putting the live show together and where you’re going to be in six months, which videos to make and which ones not to make and all that good stuff. It was kind of a cool little moment for us to take a break and go “Oh, hey, this is what all our hard work is doing.”
This isn’t the first time that you’ve shared a floor together. What is a piece of advice or a tidbit about each other’s band for the upcoming tour that you would share with each other?
Brandon Boyd: A piece of advice?
Brandon Boyd: Don’t drop the soap, I don’t know. [laughter]
Chester Bennington: Can we answer this question after the tour? Funny. You know, we both toured so much over the last 10, 12, 14 years. I can’t keep track of it anymore. I realize that when I noticed that my oldest son has a full beard and is driving a car I was like, “Wow.” Time just flies by. And so the only advice I could give to any of my friends who’ve been doing this business for this long is “keep having fun.” That’s what it’s all about. I think that this summer’s going to be really, really exciting and it’s going to be really fun for our friends to come out and see both bands play. And the fact that we’re both known for our live performances and to be able to go out and perform every night with a band that’s as respected as Incubus, and to see them connect with their fans and then go out and do the same with our fans is going to be really special. And I’m sure that we can both swap stories about some pretty fun moments that we’ve all had on tour but the great thing about being in a traveling rock band is that any number of things can happen at any time. I’ve been playing racquetball in Singapore and put a racquet through my face and had to have a plastic surgeon fly in and sew up my lip so that I could play the next day. It was like, you know…but you can’t give people advice for that. [laughter]
Brandon Boyd: Don’t hit yourself in the face with a racquet.
Chester Bennington: That’s good advice, though, man, I have to say.
Brandon Boyd: That’s actually really good advice for me, because I’m the guy that the racquet would go through my eye. I’m accident-prone. I would say don’t bring illegal weapons through airports around sensitive times with national security. That’s a good piece of advice.
Chester Bennington: It’s something that I would never think of. I wouldn’t be thinking, “Oh, this sword I just bought in Japan is probably a good carry-on.” I would just be thinking, “I’m just going to take this with me.”
Brandon Boyd: But it’s happened to the best of us. I’m not kidding.
Chester Bennington: I know. That’s why I’m laughing. Next question.
Brandon Boyd: It’s actually happened to two of us in our band. Once was a throwing star, once was a switchblade.
Chester Bennington: It had a blade on it, I knew…
Brandon Boyd: It had a nice sharp edge.
Chester Bennington: Good advice.
There’s a lot of bands nowadays who are switching members, losing members. But throughout the years you guys have essentially kept the core members. So how do you all stand each other after such a long time, because it’s got to be kind of tough.
Brandon Boyd: It’s definitely, you know… I have a, it’s an old saying, but it’s a saying that rings true for me all the time. Being in a band is hard. You are essentially traveling in very small steel tubes, confined steel tubes with family members for extended periods of time. Kind of like inhuman periods of time. You love your mom but how much flight time do you want to spend with her? You know, how long do you want to sit in the car with your dad and your mom and your brothers, you know what I mean? There’s that but there’s also the understanding that it’s family and it’s very much a familial thing. That even though there are times when they hurt your feelings or they might get on your nerves, essentially the majority of your experience with them is rooted in love. So as long as we can hold on to that sort of transcendent notion, everything usually is OK. And it’s OK to be angry at your family members sometime and it’s OK for them to get on your nerves. The best thing to do, I think, is just to remember who you are and understand the difference between a need to express frustrations and the difference between that and potentially your own ego, and little moments when your ego flares up for usually ridiculous reasons. Which usually, uh, I know for men, I speak for myself and for the guys in my band, them being my family, most of the times we ever have problems are when someone has underslept or underfed. So as long as we have enough sleep and enough to eat everyone’s usually hunky-dory. And that’s the honest-to-God truth. Just get enough food and enough to eat, or enough sleep, and you’ll be fine. What do you think, Chester?
Chester Bennington: I think it’s funny but that is actually the truth. I think that within Linkin Park we all have similar aspects of our personality that we share with each other. We all are very driven. We all like to work really hard. We all like to do whatever it takes and be involved in every aspect of what we do but it takes all of us. And I think that when we learned very early on, like there’s a few guys in the studio working on every song, so it’s a whole record, when you look at the business side of things, or you look at the marketing side of things, the artistic side of things, and what each member brings collectively to the whole, is worth far more than what… Together, the band is worth far more than each of us is as an individual and I think that that’s something we learned about our band very early. It’s not just about one guy or two guys or whatever, three guys. It’s about all six of us. And so, having six creative people who are totally different personality-wise around each other all the time, we have to be very realistic about what we expect from each other and it is a family thing. And once you cross that line of being a friend and then it turns into, “Well, now we’re family.” I mean, life gets real, really fast. You know? I mean you’re now exposing yourself. I mean there’s the dating phase, which is like, “Oh, you’re so awesome,” and everybody is so great, and then when you move in together it’s like, “Oh shit. Who am I actually, like, getting myself involved with?” You know, it’s like you get to see all the dirty parts and you get to be around all the unsavory things about each other’s personalities and so we just basically treat each other with respect. We give each other the space that we need and I think that being in my band is an example of the most functional relationship I’ve ever had in my life. But I’ve been in band scenarios where it’s just chaos. There’s no leadership and there’s too much ego and there’s too much pride and there’s too much opinion. All those things are very important, so I think what makes it work for my band, for Linkin Park is that, you know, we focus on things that are important for the band and we don’t really focus on what’s the most important thing for me. It’s really about what’s the most important thing for us and I think that’s something that we carry not only in our professional world but we try to carry into our personal lives as well. We share both of those things together.
You guys are known for your live performances, and the lights and the huge stage productions, what can fans expect from the Honda Civic Tour? Is it going to be kind of that large production effect that we’re used to from you guys?
Chester Bennington: Every tour is kind of different. Even throughout our world tour, the whole touring cycle for the entire album, the tour kind of changes, production-wise. It depends on where it’s at. The productions in the U.S. are typically our biggest because we can afford to have them. It’s hard to shift really big productions all over the world so the show in Australia is probably going to be pretty stripped-down. But at the same time, I think that what we try to do is incorporate what we’re doing at the most present moment into our live set. I haven’t even seen it personally yet, but I’m interested in seeing what our team at Ghost Town has put together for our show this summer. I think it’s going to be really beautiful. So I’m excited about that but I actually have no idea what it looks like yet.
Brandon Boyd: I’m excited to see what Linkin Park does as well. I’ve seen the videos of their full-scale production and it looks pretty amazing. So I think it’s going to be exciting. I know our production is very much in the same capacity. In the States we are able to have a full-scale production because we can just afford to do it, and when we travel overseas, depending on how far it is, logistically how far it is, you’ll see different variants of the production. But we always try and bring as exciting and big of a show as we can given the circumstances. But on the Honda Civic Tour you’re going to see, I know from the Incubus point of view it’s going to be an amalgamation of three or four different productions and ideas that we’ve been utilizing throughout this touring cycle. It’s going to be like kind of the best of all worlds that people have seen thus far.
Chester, to jump back a little bit and drill down into the songs on the new album, you’d mentioned “Victimized” which is a wonderful non-midtempo song. I think you said it best, the song makes you feel kicked in the face. What was the inspiration behind the songwriting with this song?
Chester Bennington: Well, each song is so different. One of us could be inspired by the sound of a popping engine of a car that goes by. Everyone’s like, “Oh, that’s awesome,” and you try to create that sound in the studio and all of a sudden that creates a beat, and next thing you know Mike is rapping over it, and the melody popped in my head. Creativity in the studio is such a weird substance. It’s a weird sticky thing that grows when it feels like it. And so, um, it’s very cool when it happens and this is one of these songs that Mike came in with this kick-ass beat and I loved it. It was like, by the way felt really heavy, it felt in your face, it felt like metal but it didn’t feel predictable. It was so cool and we looked at each other and we know exactly what the song needs. And so I think I started yelling something like “Fuck” or something over it, and we were sort of laughing about how funny it would be if that was like the chorus, and then I think it was Mike or maybe Brad, but someone in the band was like, “Just pick like one word, that could be like one really good word,” and I think someone threw out “victimized” and I was like, “That’s great.” And I just ran in the studio and just kind of screamed “victimized” over it and then kind of the most obvious line to come after screaming victimized is “never again” and then that was it. It was pretty much that simple. I mean that song kind of was done at that point in terms of what I needed to contribute to the song and I think the verses are some of Mike’s best. I think the rapping on this record for Mike is the best that he’s ever done. I mean, there’s a swagger to his whole vibe and a confidence that I don’t think I’ve seen from him before. So I think that also adds to the heaviness of the song, too, the vibe that Mike is sending out. And so, it’s a pretty complex track, and I really like it, it’s one of my favorites.