Chester Bennington Talks Stone Temple Pilots, "High Rise", and More
Wed, 16 Oct 2013 11:04:52
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On High Rise, Chester Bennington helps uphold Stone Temple Pilots' legacy, while ushering in a new age for the band. The Linkin Park frontman taps into the group's classic mystique, but he also adds his own panache and flare within this collection of undeniable and unique new rock 'n' roll. High Rise is everything Stone Temple Pilots fans have been waiting for from the group and so much more...
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Chester Bennington discusses High Rise, his favorite Stone Temple Pilots record, and so much more.
High Rise feels like classic Stone Temple Pilots. It's the continuation of the band's legacy.
That's great! I appreciate that. It's hard to describe music to people who haven't heard the whole thing or have only heard pieces of it. I've been telling everyone it's hard not to make a record that sounds like Stone Temple Pilots when you're working with the guys who wrote all the songs [Laughs]. They're writing songs for the same band they've been in. The one difference that's there is the majority of the melodies you're hearing are the melodies the music inspired me to think of. When these guys want to make a change to a word or a melody, they'll come in and say, "Hey, what about this one?" They'll actually give you an option. It's pretty darn good! It's great. High Rise really captures the spirit and the essence of what we created at the beginnings of our creative journey together. I'm glad you felt that.
What was the role you stepped into here as a singer and a writer?
It was a very inspiring time. There is a lot of music being created in Linkin Park's camp that ranges from the poppiest dance rock thing you've ever heard to the sickest, most heavy guitar-driven song any heavy metal band would fucking pay a million dollars for [Laugh]. It's really inspiring. Then, I get to go work with STP, and everybody is inspired and is writing these really beautiful songs. It got to the point where Dean and I were so on the same page that as he was creating and writing on the fly, I was singing melodies that sounded great. When he wanted to change, I didn't know where we were going to go key- or chord-wise, but we were on the same page and we changed at the same time. We moved to the same chord progression. It was very inspiring. I think we all just wanted to write really great music. It's fun because I get to be around all of these really talented people, and they make my job really easy.
What's the story behind "Tomorrow"?
It really is about that last day. For me, I'm gone for long periods of time. It could be anything from five days to five weeks. When you're on tour and you're not with your family, the first week-and-a-half flies by pretty quickly. You get that adrenaline and excitement of the tour. Then, it slows down to real time, which is still not bad. It's that last day before coming home that seems like it takes forever. It's like the lowest point for me. As I'm traveling so much, the last day is the worst and most depressing time. It just doesn't seem to go by fast enough. Really, what it comes down to is the love I have for my wife and children. When you're disconnected from that, you get a little bummed out. "Tomorrow" is literally about the feelings I get on that last day before coming home.
Where did "Same On The Inside" come from?
For all of us, that one came from out of nowhere. It's really different. In a stylistic way, it's a step in a new stylistic direction for STP that still sounds very STP. I think a lot of people find themselves trying to play some type of role in society and fit in. Sometimes, in their lifetimes, people don't feel like anybody else and they don't want to play by the same rules anybody else does. You start to find the glass half empty. You also start to find your own independence and point-of-view. This is a song about struggling with those things. When I write lyrics, they're a little more to the point. It's a bit easier to figure out what they're about. When I was writing for High Rise, I was channeling the spirit of Mike Shinoda to a degree. It's like when Luke Skywalker is talking to Yoda and he's already absorbed "The Force". I was pulling on those guys, Mike, Rick Rubin, Don Gilmore, and all of the people who pushed me when it comes to writing lyrics. I'd run it through what my brain reconstructed as those people in my mind, and they criticized the lyrics along with me. I was hoping I wouldn't just settle for something I thought sounded nice when I sang it. I would try to live up to what we do with Linkin Park in terms of having songs with meaning but also writing in a more poetic manner as STP has in the past. I tried to combine more of that poetic style into the lyrics.
What's your favorite Stone Temple Pilots album?
I would probably have to say my favorite one is their second record, Purple. I listen to songs off of it more than any other record. I think Core is great, and it has great songs on it. I really feel like the thing that became uniquely STP really came to light on Purple. I think Tiny Music...Songs from the Vatican Gift Shop is a great record as well. I think the heart and soul of STP really lies predominantly in the first three albums. As time went on, I think people grew to appreciate No. 4 and Shangri-La Dee Da in their own right. There are some great moments on those records. My favorite is Purple though.
What's been the most meaningful moment of this whole journey?
It wasn't a premeditated thing to get into the band. As a fan of the band, you follow what's going on. These guys have struggled with a lot of things. It's a testament to all four of those guys for trying to make it work for so long. There was a time when I thought, "For sure, I'm going to get a call". I don't know why I thought that. Maybe it's because selfishly inside, I really do believe I'm the only person who can do this. Ten years later after that off-the-cuff thing I said, it came about. It's been really great. For me, the best part of this whole experience has been twofold. Being inside the machine, to a certain degree, there's a lot of growth going on for these guys, personally, while this is happening. It was the little things I take for granted in my daily life like the way people I work with communicate with each other. It's how we do business. For the most part, we show up when we're supposed to. If we don't, everybody knows why. We have trust for each other. We treat each other with respect. Bringing the Linkin Park mentality into the band and showing them how things can be done…it's more because I'm selfish I want to keep things going in the best way for me to bring my team on [Laughs]. There are a lot of moving parts. It's been about watching these guys really show appreciation for the little things—knowing the songs, showing up on time, coming into all of the studio sessions with parts, new songs, and words every day, being engaged and going home. Seeing these guys enjoy the process and how much fun they're having when we play live is amazing. It's hearing Robert, Dean, and Eric say things like, "I just realized I'm not worried if we're going to play tonight". It's all things that are on a deep level. I get to see things a lot of people don't get to see. It's those little things they show appreciation for, and it seems like they haven't had it. It's really cool to watch everybody start to enjoy the process of doing this and being excited about it. It's consistent.
What's next for Stone Temple Pilots?
We have a bunch of songs we're working on. We've got some dates coming out in Japan and a handful in the U.S. Then we go to Australia in February.
Have you heard High Rise? What's your all-time favorite Stone Temple Pilots song?
Chester looks back on Linkin Park's Meteora here!
See our exclusive interview with Dean DeLeo here!