Interview: Chester Bennington of Stone Temple Pilots and Linkin Park
Tue, 31 Mar 2015 07:15:39
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Stone Temple Pilots are about to embark on a spring headline tour in North America, and singer Chester Bennington can’t wait. He tells us all about the upcoming tour in this exclusive interview. Chester has been behind the mic for Stone Temple Pilots since 2013, and his voice helped drive the fantastic High Rise EP to classic heights. In between what promises to be an unforgettable jaunt, Chester, Dean DeLeo, Robert DeLeo, and Eric Kretz are in the midst of writing what will be their first full-length album together. With the glimpse High Rise gave us and the power of these live shows, it promises to be a landmark rock record in terms of importance and impact. We can’t wait to hear it!
Chester imbues a piece of himself into Stone Temple Pilots, while augmenting the group’s remarkable legacy. He builds upon what’s there, making for a very bright history. Together, these four are the ultimate rock band for today.
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Chester Bennington talks Stone Temple Pilots, the tour, Linkin Park, the new album, and so much more.
It feels like you bring your style into the world of Stone Temple Pilots and really build upon the legacy—rather than creating something wholly new.
Thank you! That’s really cool. I appreciate that. For me, I just went up there and sang the songs the way I’ve sung them my whole life [Laughs]. It was a lot of fun. The energy I know we were feeling, especially that first day, was just how much fun the guys were having on stage. It was cool to see these guys up there with this renewed, bigger energy and excitement for the songs. They were able to play songs they hadn’t been able to play in a long time. We’ve continued to carry that into the studio and all of our shows. It has been a lot of fun. It has been great to inject my energy into the live show of STP. It’s a different monster. What I do up on stage with STP, I feel differently than I do with Linkin Park. It’s sexier. With Linkin Park, it’s pretty much pure anger [Laughs]. It is a lot of fun to get up there and play with these guys and have a different energy.
Going out on the Spring tour, is there a Stone Temple Pilots song that means more to you now that you’ve been performing it? Are there older songs you’ve even discovered for the first time?
There are definitely a lot. For me, every song is fun to play, because it’s all new. You know what I mean? Getting up and doing any of these songs is an incredible and new experience. Being up, seeing them, and having fun is all new for me. I think what’s interesting is watching the other guys. When we’re talking about doing setlists, I’ll be like, “Oh, let’s do ‘Dumb Love!’ Let’s do ‘Coma.’” These guys weren’t even thinking about these songs because they weren’t able to play them live. There are a lot of songs these guys have wanted to play live that they weren’t able to do prior. We’re going to add “Adhesive” to the set on the upcoming tour. I don’t think they’ve ever played that song live, or at least if they have, it was a long time ago. Things like that are really cool. We get to discover things together as a band for the first time. There are definitely things these guys weren’t able to do live in the past, and now we get to do it because it fits in my range more comfortably. I think we’re also adding “Coma” and some others on this round!
Shangri-La Dee Da is highly underrated.
It is highly underrated. It’s a great record. I think it shows a lot of their chops in terms of musicianship. I love the record.
(Also, you can see this feature for Eight of Chester Bennington’s Favorite Albums of the Nineties)
”Cry Cry” really stands out. What does that mean to you?
“Cry Cry” is an interesting song. That was actually a track I brought in, which is another really fun experience. I get to be in a band with some of the greatest writers in modern music with Linkin Park, and then I get to be in a band with two more of the greatest writers in modern music [Laughs]. For me to bring in a song and have the guys go, “I like this!” is really cool. With that track, I had that link. I wrote that part. I had the melody. I came in the next day, and I said, “Guys, check this out! Let me know what you think of it.” I played it. They loved it, and we started recording it. It was a really cool song for me because it’s nice to see that I something I write will be appreciated by guys I admire as writers. I was stoked that they liked it. I think the song turned out great.
When was the moment you felt like this came together?
I think it felt real the first time we rehearsed. We walked into a big rehearsal space. The guys hadn’t played for a while, and I was helping them figure out the structure of the songs and which parts we were playing. These guys were like, “He knows the songs better than we do!” When I started going into it and laying down the vocals as we were performing was when these guys looked at each other like, “Oh s***, this is real! It’s really happening. STP is happening again.” That was great. Touring-wise, there have been a lot of really good moments. All of our shows have been good. I can’t remember one night where we felt like we had a bad show. I think that’s special. On this last tour we did at the end of 2014, there were some moments where we started playing “Plush,” and there was some magic happening. Also, in those moments when we performing some of the shows, it was so easy and effortless that we were like, “Wow, this is getting really good. It feels like this is our band.” That was great.
With Stone Temple Pilots, you can get more ethereal and poetic lyrically. How do you feel like you’re progressing as a writer on the new material?
It is fun to write these songs. With Linkin Park, things are pretty literal. There’s not a whole lot of poetry going on or clever lines that may not have a direct meaning but have some underlying meaning with what’s going on. Writing for STP, I get to be a lot more poetic. I get to be a lot more clever with my wording. It makes it a lot of fun because I get to be more colorful. With this new record, the music is pretty f***ing insane dude. We’re rocking over here. It’s so f***ing crazy, and it’s so cool. With the melodies, I’m getting funky and stepping out of my comfort zone, which is fun. It’s definitely something I enjoy doing because it helps me think differently in terms of how to get a point across. In Linkin Park, because there are two writers with Mike and I, we both need to believe in what we’re saying to get a point across. As the only writer of lyrics and the only one who has to believe it as we perform it, it allows me to be a little more colorful in my phrasing, which is super fun.
Throw in “Seven Caged Tigers” live at some point…
Dean keeps trying to throw that one in there. I’m sure it’ll pop in there some time. There are so many gems like that on their albums. They’re these hidden little pieces of artistic perfection.
That’s what this new STP album will be!
Thank you very much! We’re really trying to take the musicality to a different level and to bring a lot of energy. We got super funky. This thing is as raw and real as it gets. Everything about it is us, the same way it has been since the beginning. Everything we’re doing is completely the four of us. It’s fun to be a part of that and do it on that level this way. It’s really interesting. I’m having a great time doing it.
And, if you haven’t yet, make sure to check out this feature for Eight of Chester Bennington’s Favorite Albums of the Nineties
Stone Temple Pilots Tour Dates Below!
4/8 Seattle, WA @ Paramount Theatre
4/10 San Francisco, CA @ Fillmore
4/12 Anaheim, CA @ House of Blues
4/13 Los Angeles, CA @ House of Blues
4/15 Denver, CO @ Fillmore
4/17 Dallas, TX @ House of Blues
4/19 San Antonio, TX @ House of Blues
4/20 Oklahoma City, OK @ Diamond Ballroom
4/22 Chicago, IL @ House of Blues
4/24 Silver Springs, MD @ Fillmore
4/25 Montclair, NJ @ Wellmont Theatre
4/27 New York, NY @ Irving Plaza
4/28 Boston, MA @ House of Blues
4/30 Philadelphia, PA @ TLA Center