We Moved! WE MOVED

Rolling Stone New Faces Interview

Friday, February 11, 2005

New Faces

January, 18 2000

A BIT OF TRIVIA: IN THE entire thirty-seven minutes and fifty-three seconds of Linkin Park's rage-filled rap-rock debut, Hybrid Theory, you won't hear a single curse word. "We just want to be honest and not hide any emotions with vulgarity," says vocalist Chester Bennington.

Hybrid Theory may not carry a parental-warning label, but with as much potency as albums by Limp Bizkit or Korn, it reflects the frustration of life as a twentysomething dude- "the everyday struggle that you get stressed out by," according to MC Mike Shinoda. Stacked with catchy, pissed-off rockers like "One Step Closer," the album debuted at Number Sixteen on the Billboard 200 albums chart and within a month of its release sold 289,000 copies.

"When I met them," says Don Gilmore, "I was expecting some darker creatures. But these guys are very smart, very happy, and they're all sort of spiritual." Adds Shinoda, "The topics of the songs may not be positive, but I think people can relate to them in a positive way."

A graduate of the Pasadena Art Center College of Design, Shinoda formed Linkin Park in 1995. He talks about benchmark rap-rock moments- Run DMC and Aerosmith's "Walk This Way," Public Enemy and Anthrax's joint 1991 tour, the Judgement Night soundtrack- as life-changing events but says Linkin Park aim to take that mix one step further. "We want to make songs where you can't tell the rap part from the rock part from the electronic part," he explains.

The band landed a publishing deal the night of its very first show - before a scant crowd at LA's Whisky - but it wasn't until it recruited Phoenix native Bennington two years ago that things really jelled. "There is so much passion, so much adrenaline in his singing," says Gilmore. "In the studio, he would go off like he was insane."

For all the rage they project, though, Linkin Park want to be seen as approachable- regular guys with regular problems, who just so happen to be budding rock stars. "People see us after a show," Bennington says, "and it's like, 'Wait a second- you're supposed to be this scary guy, and you're not.'" He describes himself as a "happy-go-lucky dude" and says playing music has served as a kind of therapy to help him work through childhood trauma. "I've never talked about it," he says nervously. "I was molested when I was a kid [by a friend]." Following five years of sexual abuse and the divorce of his parents when he was eleven, Bennington became addicted to cocaine and methamphetamine in his early teens. "I went straight in the wrong fucking direction," he says. "That's where I get some of my intensity from, and I think that fuels the music we write."

"In this country, people do not think about the sensitivity of young men," Bennington adds. "It's a real tragedy. For kids to be able to listen to bands like us who are able to express ourselves-not through violence and vulgarity-I think it helps them learn to express themselves."