Saturday, October 17, 2009

New Interview with Chester at Herald Sun

Herald Sun has a new interview with Chester about Dead by Sunrise.

Linkin Park's singer delves into the depths of his depravity with a side band, but Chester Bennington's finding things are very different when he's the one in charge.

Chester Bennington has a taste of power and it's making him nervous.

The Linkin Park singer has taken temporary leave from his multi-platinum safe haven to try his luck leading his own band, Dead By Sunrise.

And he's finding things are different when you're in charge.

"In Linkin Park I have a role I play - I come in, I hear music, I can say whether I like something or not, but I leave it up to the guys who play the instruments to do their thing and work through the motions of writing the music," Bennington says.

"Then, once they get something really dope, I do my job - I write some lyrics, I make melodies.

"In Dead By Sunrise, I'm really playing more of an all-round bandleader position, where I'm writing the songs, I'm dictating a lot of the style, but I'm letting everybody insert their opinions or give their feedback or do things the way they might think is cool. So it's really different for me to have my fingers in everybody's soup, so to speak."

But the position of bandleader doesn't sit all that easily with him.

"It makes me kinda nervous. If this doesn't do well, it's because my songs aren't good, because these are the songs I brought in. That's reality," he says.

"So that's a little frightening, to think that's a possibility. But I really feel like we've made a good record and so far the people who have heard it like it. Unless everybody's blowing smoke up my ass, which I hope they aren't."

Dead By Sunrise (or DBS as Bennington is already calling it, just as he calls his other band LP), has been a long time coming.

Bennington began working on a solo project in Linkin Park downtime in 2005.

By the time he was promoting that band's most recent album, 2007's Minutes to Midnight, Dead By Sunrise had a name and had become a band - the two integral cogs of which are former Orgy members Ryan Shuck and Amir Derakh.

But it's taken until now to get Dead By Sunrise's album, Out of Ashes, out of the studio and out of storage.

"It feels like we've been working on this thing forever," Bennington says with just a little understatement.

Though there's no chance of hearing the band and not recognising it as the work of "that Linkin Park guy", it has its differences.

It's a far more straight-up rock proposition for a start. And though Bennington's lyrics in Linkin Park often need to tell a story in tandem with what the band's MC Mike Shinoda is writing about, in Dead By Sunrise Bennington was free to shovel his own dirt.

"People will get a little bit more of a personal glimpse into my life and maybe see the kind of songwriter I am," he says.

It's not about being honest for the first time - he's always done that.

"I've always been pretty up front, especially lyrically, with my music. I think that's the one real similarity between LP and Dead By Sunrise."

On this album, Bennington is a cathartic kind of songwriter. The band's name and the album's title refer to his descent into, and his eventual rise out of, a period in which he was doing - as he puts it in PC terms - a lot of partying.

He was self-destructing, he was addicted to booze and various other substances, and his first marriage was falling apart (he divorced in 2005).

"I've seen the devil in a smile, I've found salvation in a vial, my happy ending exists only in my dreams," Bennington sings on My Suffering.

"When I was going through it, I was actually trying to hide it - at least in my mind I was trying to hide it. I don't know if I did a very good job of hiding it," he says. "But I didn't want everyone to know how bad I'd really gotten. So a lot of the more revealing stuff was written afterwards, looking back, like 'OK, I'm cool with this now, I can handle being more open about my experiences over the past couple of years'.

"So that was really freeing for me. It was really interesting to look back and have that kind of perspective."

But some of the songs were written he says "while I was going through all the craziness . . . stuff that had nothing to do with that downfall, the downward spiral kind of thing".

Nowadays, of course, Bennington is happily remarried with a "litter of children".

The four kids in his house not so long ago became five - "One of my nieces moved in with us, which is pretty cool. So I guess I did acquire a 14-year-old girl somewhere along the line . . ."

It makes one wonder what his wife, Talinda, makes of all the darkness on Out of Ashes.

"At first it might have been a little disarming," Bennington says of his wife's reaction. "Like, 'Do you really want everybody to know all this stuff?'

"Honestly, what do I really have to hide?

If I can't be honest about what I'm experiencing and about my life, then what am I going to write about? Make up stuff?

If you do it tastefully and you do it in a way that's not like pornographic, if it doesn't come across as being dirty and kind of creepy, then I think that's OK."

But was it ever coming across as being dirty or creepy?

"No," Bennington says with a laugh. "I'm totally 100 per cent pure, never done anything wrong or weird in my life."

Though tearing out his heart in his Dead By Sunrise songs unburdened him, Bennington says it wasn't what saved him.

"The biggest epiphany for me during this period was realising how much value I had put into the stuff I had. That was the hardest part for me, discovering I had actually associated my success with the things I had accumulated, like money and cars and houses, things like that.

"When that's all gone, when that all disappeared, I kinda felt like maybe I was no longer successful, and I felt like a failure. And that was really tough to feel that way.

"That was really the beginning of the cascading downfall of my mental state for a little while. Then I got my s--- together and pulled myself out of it, with the help of my friends and my family and my beautiful wife."

These days, Bennington counts success as just living. "Success is if you can make it through life - you've figured something out, you know what I mean?" he says with a laugh.

"I'm still doing what I love to do, I get to be with my family as much as I want to be, I get to work whenever I feel like working, and I get to stop working when I'm over it.

"I don't have to get up and go to a job I hate every day, like a lot of people have to do to pay the bills. So I'm totally fine with that."

His other job, Linkin Park, is still simmering away in the background.

They've already been writing for a follow up to Minutes to Midnight, and their singer is more than positive about its direction. "We're always trying to do something that's different from what we've done before, and now we finally have the balls to do it," Bennington says.

"We're in a place where we're writing a lot and a lot of it's really good."

But it's unclear when any of that new Linkin Park music will emerge and Bennington will have to put Dead By Sunrise on the shelf.

"Get back to me in a year and I'll let you know how this is all working out," he says.

"I'm just starting to put all this stuff together and figure out how I can work on Linkin Park and tour with Dead By Sunrise and manage to be home enough to spend time with my kids so they don't feel like I'm a big jerk who always leaves the house."

His Linkin Park mate Shinoda at least has some wisdom to pass on, having been through this side-project thing himself with his hip hop-flavoured Fort Minor album The Rising Tied in 2005 (while Bennington was using the downtime to, ahem, party).

It wasn't a bad album, but it didn't do big business. So Shinoda has helped Bennington temper any grand expectations.

"He's given me a lot of good advice," Bennington says. "Don't go out there expecting to be treated like you're Linkin Park, which I think a lot of the guys in the band may assume - 'We're gonna go out there and have another project and it's gonna be HUGE!'

"I appreciate that. Mike is one of the coolest people I've ever known. He's one of my best friends. I love him to death, he's an amazing guy, super-talented, so anything he tells me, I pretty much listen to."

So what are Bennington's expectations for Dead By Sunrise?

"It just became this thing that is something pretty special for me. So all I really care about is that people, when they get the album, that they like the album from beginning to end," he says.

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