“I came to a point in my life where I was like, I can either just give up and fucking die or I can fucking fight for what i want. And I chose to fight for what i wanted. I wanted to have good relationships. I wanted to love the people in my life. I wanted to enjoy my job. I wanted to enjoy being a dad and having friends and getting up in the morning. Because that was a struggle for me. “ - Chester Bennington
But his loyalty was there from the very beginning. When we were recording [2000’s] Hybrid Theory, we were basically a new band with a new record deal. The label could have shelved us at any moment, and we were halfway through recording when our A&R started losing faith in us. He took Chester aside and suggested he take the band over, or put me on keyboards, or even kick me out. He told him, ‘You’re the talent, you should make a rock record. You don’t need the rapping, you don’t need the rest of the guys…’ Chester finished the conversation and came in to tell us. 'So what did you say to him?’ I said. 'I told him to go fuck himself’, replied Chester. A lot of people would have been tempted! We had nothing. We had a record deal that hinged entirely on whether or not our A&R liked the album we were making, and he just told the guy to go fuck himself.
— Chester Bennington’s very last interview gives an insight into his very complex relationship with depression.
“One More Light is for us a very personal and very therapeutic kind of record,“ Chester said. “We got into a lot of aspects of our lives that we probably wouldn’t have normally shared with anyone and just dealt with it on our own.“
“We brought in various issues and situations into the writing process. When you hear it in the context of the music there’s a hopefulness and there’s a sense of moving forward and moving on and that’s really where we’re coming from.“
“For me personally when we first started working on this record I was coming out of the darkest time of my life and it was all shit that I was doing to myself. It was all stuff that I had control over but even though I felt differently at the time. I felt like the world was full of shit and everybody I knew was full of shit and life sucks and I was like ‘Fuck it.’ All that stuff it was just internal.“
“It was all really things I could work on if I chose to, and make myself happy,“ he said. “You know? Make myself capable of dealing with life on life’s terms, like it’s not always going to be peaches and cream but it doesn’t always have to suck when it’s not. For me it took a lot of work. It actually took me opening up and talking to my friends about it and writing about it, and like going to therapy and battling my demons.“
“I came to a point in my life where I was like, ‘I can either just give up and fucking die or I can fucking fight for what I want.’ And I chose to fight for what I wanted. I wanted to have good relationships. I wanted to love the people in my life. I wanted to enjoy my job. I wanted to enjoy being a dad and having friends and just getting up in the morning. Because that was a struggle for me.“
“And as a result of making [One More Light] and working on all of this stuff over the last couple of years — while it was very hard — I feel like my heart and soul was poured into this record. A lot of my heart and soul, and Brad’s, and Joe’s, and Rob’s, and Dave’s, and Mike’s. We all put so much into this record and allowed for that to happen that — and I’m not going to speak for everyone else — but where I am now in comparison to where I was two years ago is on the opposite end of the spectrum. It was full of darkness and yuck where I was a couple of years ago. It’s the opposite now.“
Chester Bennington said that over a period of two years, writing the record and making decisions to tackle his problems, he had helped him to move on and work to get into a better place. He revealed it was his wife Talinda, his six children, and indeed his band and friends who had helped him to find the strength to battle his demons.
Tragically only four months later Chester was found dead at a private residence in Palos Verdes Estates in Los Angeles, at about 9 a.m. on Thursday July 20.
Featured Photo:Myself in 2007, in a Linkin Park t-shirt
warning: This article discusses the recent suicide of Chester
Bennington, and his past, dealing with drug addiction, mental illness,
and sexual assault.
a day after the news broke that Chester Bennington of Linkin Park had
died, Afropunk posted a heartfelt and somewhat personal reaction, which
encouraged black kids from ages 35 to 15 to respond in droves. For a
certain age set of the black community, Linkin Park was our
reintroduction to rock music, via the DJ styles of Joe Hahn, and the
poetic bars of Mike Shinoda. They gave Chester’s lyrics and voice an
edge that could cross barriers. It’s why the band resonated with so many
not everyone could see that. An older generation of black people also
weighed in on the article, unsure of what to make of this band, being
herald by AFROPUNK as having given black kids the gift of rock. But if
you were like me, in 2001, the internet was just a baby. My mother and
nana, who both raised me, didn’t raise me on rock n’ roll, or its
origins. How could I have known this glorious, and complex genre was
invented by a queer black woman? Or even known that Chuck Berry came
before Elvis? Enter Linkin Park.
were one of the earliest bands I ever got into, with maybe Green Day
coming in first. Linkin Park were the only band that showed me a side to
rap that I hadn’t seen before. A sensitive, poetic branch. An album
like “Hybrid Theory” gave me the space in my mind to later be able to
consume or even conceive something like, Jay-Z’s 4:44. They were the
first to show me how two seemingly different genres of music can meld
together. They were one of the first bands I was truly devoted to.. if
only for a passionate childhood and pre-teenhood. They were also the
first band to teach me about depression, and trauma, and how it’s all
connected. And I want, somehow, to further connect by writing down my
experience of knowing Linkin Park, as a black person, the full extent of
their contributions, and Chester’s legacy.
the news first broke, I was in Sapelo Island. My partner and I were on
vacation. We had only just gotten settled, when my friend Daniel made a
vague Facebook post about Chester, that didn’t allude to situation.
I found out through Google. I couldn’t cry.
thing is that, Chester isn’t by any means, a legend. Not even one his
main influences, Stone Temple Pilots (for whom he front for a while),
were legends. They were both products of legends (i.e. Mother Love Bone,
the beginning of grunge), and they successfully rode that train of
influence to a lucrative career. But despite this, Chester Bennington is
someone that means something, to MILLIONS of KIDS. It is mostly kids
who listen to Linkin Park. How on earth do you tell your young teen or
preteen that their favorite singer couldn’t cope with the world? With
2016 having passed, I think we can all say we have had our fair share of
heavy loss. But as an adult, how do you navigate the death of a portion
of your life? That was what Linkin Park was, for black millennials; a
gateway to a lifestyle
Photo: A photo I took on the endless beaches of Sapelo.
This is also a story about trauma.
don’t know how many know his story, but Chester was sexually abused for
several years, by an older male friend. I know I have friends who have
experienced sexual traumas. I know based on their experiences that
recovery is so hard. And the trauma eats its way into habits (think
“Breaking The Habit” from 2004’s Meteora), like drug addiction and
eating disorders, and self harm. Chester had ALL of that, and then some,
and while it may not have been the sole reason he took his life, it was
one of many. A myriad of thoughts and actions, weighing him down to
a world where black pain is weakness, and often ignored, I sometimes
felt kinship with Chester for the pain that, while expressed creatively,
existed between the lines, that hid inside himself. He was an empath. I
am an empath. And we exist in a minority circle of people who probably
get hurt, a lot.
Late at night on August 4th, I watched footage of Chester doing an interview, not too long before he died.
was so alive. When Chester was alive, he was SO alive. He had the
personality of the sun. His smile, and laughter, and playfulness, were
all still incredibly infectious, up until he died. What has been hard is
knowing that as intensely as he felt joy, he probably felt pain just as
intense. But that was Chester. My only images of Chester in my mind are
of two, radically different faces: His wide, open-mouthed smile, and
his wide, open-mouthed screams, when performing.
of what made Linkin Park relatable from the jump, and for almost 20
years, was their ability to tap into the angst (and beyond teenage
angstiness) of an entire nation.. and farther. And that emotion is
directly descended from Chester’s personal experiences with being a
person, trapped in the memories of trauma and substance abuse, which he
was very, very, painfully open about.. which made him, and the band
stand out from the likes of Evanescence, Slipknot, and Limp Bizkit. So
you can imagine, that anything that Linkin Park commits to tape for an
album, is coming from a genuine place of heavy emotion.
that said, despite them being honest songwriters until the end, the
backlash towards their newest release (One More Light, May 19th), was,
and still actually is, very severe. People genuinely do NOT like this
album. Linkin Park have had their fair share of harsh criticism over
their career, but I don’t think there’s been a single album of theirs
that’s been met with such universal scorn.. despite it charting at
number one, high numbers around the globe, before Chester’s death.
August 16th, I got through listening to the album. It is not the worse
thing I’ve ever heard. It’s just not what I expected. For half of it, I
was simply bored. There is one song that I just had to skip, “Sorry For
Now”, because it had a beat drop, and some synth stuff happening that
made me feel like I was listening to Halsey or some shit, and I feel
bad, but I just couldn’t do it. That one I genuinely hated. But there
are highlights. The first single, “Heavy”, featuring Kiiara, is growing
on me, mainly because the music video for it is so captivating. Mike’s
verse in “Good Goodbye” was strong, but it’s his only rapping part on
the entire album. “Halfway Right” would have been a better choice for a
single than the last two that were released.
Photo: Hybrid Theory-era Linkin Park, photoshoot outtake | Credit: Jen Luciani
saving grace of this album is its title track, “One More Light”; an
entirely stripped, almost acapella take, that is heartbreaking, and
sadly prophetic. I cry whenever I hear it. The final track, “Sharp
Edges” is a wonderful, folksie song that should’ve been put before “One
More Light”, instead of being the closer.. but that’s just how I feel.
The album is not a total dud, it’s just not Linkin Park at their full
an opinion like mine, paired alongside the harsh insults they have
received, was probably incredibly painful, and damaging to Chester, who
since the album’s release, has been accused of being a “sell-out”,
prompting him to lash out in interviews and on social media in the
immediate aftermath.. causing some musician friends, i.e. Slipknot’s
Corey Taylor to tell him to take it easy, and try to tune out the
negative, because at the end of the day, they’re still one of the
biggest millennium bands in the world.
probably didn’t help. Our “criticism” didn’t help. Based on interviews
given before his death, clearly was having a hard time personally,
leading up to the recording of the record. That’s something none of us
probably ever take into consideration when listening to an album: the
artist’s mindset. And I’ll be honest, since I haven’t consistently been
listening to Linkin Park in about 10 years, I thought that because they
had all these things going for them–charities, millions of fans, nice
houses in California, the same band line-up for 15+ years, and the most
upbeat personalities of any band i’ve ever seen, I assumed things were
Chester’s a person with clinical depression. Who had a therapist. Who
probably took medication (or maybe not). Who experienced YEARS of
trauma, and then years of substance abuse to try and silence his mind.
How stupid am I to think that everything is fine, just because it’s been
x amount of years, and he’s in a successful rock band?
disappointed in myself, and as guilty as anybody, for accusing Linkin
Park of “putting on” the angst in their recent work, thinking that
they’re just trying to keep up with writing what they always write
about. That the lyrics are “just words”, to fill in the instrumentation.
In that way, I’m pretty sure we’ve let Chester down. How fucked up is that?
night, I got high at a party with my partner, and inevitably, our
conversation ending up toward Linkin Park. I thought it was drabble, but
he said I should commit it to paper (or iPhone). That I had something
mentioned earlier the lyrical content of Linkin Park’s songs. They are
incredibly personal, and the last album is no exception. I’ve mentioned
that, when Chester was alive, he was very much ALIVE. He radiated
intense amounts of joy… but how that also means his pain was probably
felt just as hard. Throughout his career, and particularly (and eerily)
in the last year of his life, Chester had been candid, open, about his
struggle with mental illness. There were hardly boundaries between him,
the band, and his fans. Viewing the Instagram and Snapchat videos
they’ve done in the last few months of Chester’s life, you can see how
active of a participant Linkin Park is, in their fan base. And that’s
what I want to single out, here: Chester’s death, was like the loss of a
Park’s fan base consists mostly of millennials. We grew up with Linkin
Park. Those feelings of anger, depression, and anxiety that they knew
too well, resonated with all of us. That’s what propelled them to the
top of the charts. That’s what won them Grammys. But what made Linkin
Park completely transparent, and still relevant after 18 years, was
their kindness, namely Chester’s.
made you feel like you were his best friend. It was in his physical
enthusiasm. It was in his voice, and the way it engages with you. His
sense of humor. His humility. Linkin Park were never a cocky band. The
strength of their dedication and transparency with their fan base, made
it feel like we knew them. And yeah, I felt like I knew Chester. It was
like one of us moved away, but every now and then, one of us would make
it back home to visit, and catch up. Was I listening to new Linkin Park,
and keeping up musically? No. But I would play the old stuff, and
reminisce about the intensity to which I carried a torch for LP, once.
And now that Chester’s gone, there’s a significant chunk of that era
that has died. He was brilliant. He was warm. He was kind. It’s still
I lost my best friend, that day.
you or someone you know is suffering from depression, and suicidal
thoughts, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline
(1-800-273-8255), CrisisChat, or the Trevor Project (1-866-488-7386).
I am also selling original, Linkin Park artwork, where 20% of month-end sales on all designs will be donated to Music for Relief (which has been redirected to the One More Light Fund, for Chester). Link below.
It was funny because he was the kind of guy that when you would compliment his voice, especially early on, he would look away. He would deny it, or he would make a self-deprecating comment. While one part of him really enjoyed being the center of attention, another part of him ran away. That was part of the beauty of Chester. And, he was inspired by a wide range of singers at different points in his life, people like Dave Gahan, James Hetfield and Freddie Mercury. I would occasionally remind him that he was in that category but he never agreed with me. He never acknowledged that he was…
I know that the circumstances of his passing were really dark and you know as we said at the time the darkness that he had, like was always there and it was kind of part of the package, but what was so unique and special about this guy is that he used it as fuel to do so many positive things and he really put in, he did so many, he’s overall like the way he was, he was such an happy guy, he was such fun guy, when he’d walk in the room it was such a like positive funny upbeat energy.
Mike Shinoda about Chester Bennington, KROQ interview, September 18 2017
Summary of the Triple M radio interview with Linkin Park
I imagine a recording will probably emerge sooner or later, but for now here are the notes I made while listening to Triple M’s ‘Life after Chester’ radio interview today. The interview itself was recorded backstage after the tribute concert.
- Mike doesn’t entirely know how the tribute concert made him feel. 'People kept asking me “how do you feel? how do you feel?” today, and the truth is I don’t know. I still don’t know.’ It was fun, though. It was a little like a whirlwind tour through the last few months, when there were good days and bad days; suddenly he’s being pulled through all those different emotions in the space from one song to the next. - Dave (accidentally attributed this to Mike earlier, sorry!): 'The five of us are a really great support system for each other; there’s no one else who knows as well as us what we’ve been through, and I’ve found a ton of solace in that.’ - THE RADIO STATION IS NOW PLAYING 'SHADOW OF THE DAY’, DON’T DO THIS TO ME - Joe says that Chester had a strong emotional reaction to the song 'One More Light’ - 'for Chester, the world stopped with that song.’ He says that Chester always wore his heart on his sleeve. - Mike: 'The fans have really been so fantastic - we couldn’t be more grateful … That song [One More Light]’s been kind of turned around on us, we’re no longer the ones giving, we’re the ones receiving condolences, we’re the ones receiving that hug, and I kind of - I can’t get enough of that, that’s what I need, and we’ve been getting a lot of that, so that’s really comforting.’ - Well, now they’re playing the live performance of 'One More Light’ for Chris Cornell, where Chester was so emotional he couldn’t even get through the last line. Thanks for somehow finding something even more painful than 'Shadow of the Day’ to play, radio station. - Mike mentions that they got a lot of condolences from other musicians both in public and in private. Perhaps he wants us to know that we can’t draw 'why didn’t this person react to Chester’s death?’ conclusions; they may well have got in touch with the band privately. - Mike: 'I kind of took a hiatus from social media; I don’t think they needed to see the kind of shit I’m going through.’ - Mike’s not sure what’s going to happen with the band. They’re friends; they see each other a lot; they’re just going to have to see what happens. 'We don’t know what’s going to happen, and that’s okay.’ They might have to try some things and screw up before they can pin down what they’re actually doing.