|Chester Bennington and Brandon Boyd talk about upcoming tour|
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Headlining the Honda Civic Tour 2012 is Linkin Park, they are doing dates with Incubus and Mutemath. Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington and Incubus’ Brandon Boyd take part in a tele-conference. Here are some highlights from the interview.
Karissa Vassallo: What can fans expect from this year’s (0:01:40 – indiscernible) tour?
Chester Bennington: Well, I think that for us, I mean, really, I think the most special thing about this tour is the fact that you have two headlining bands singing together on one bill, which typically can be kind of hard to do, specifically, because usually when you’re in a position to headline a tour of this kind, you know, there’s only room for one headlining band usually. So the fact that Incubus gets to come out and perform a full headlining set and Soul Production and Linkin Park gets to come out and perform our full headlining set with personal production and everything is kind of special. But also, we kind of don’t really look at what the other artists have done on these tours and kind of go, OK, what do we think we should do. You know, we’re just going to go out and do what our fans want from us which is, you know, play songs that they’re familiar with and catch up on some on the new music and become familiar with that. So really I think from Linkin Park’s standpoint, we’re just going to come out and put on the highest-energy show we can. And incorporate as much of the new music as possible. And I’m expecting that Incubus will probably do the same.
Brandon Boyd: Hey Chester, it’s Brandon.
Chester Bennington: How are you?
Brandon Boyd: I’m good, how are you doing, man?
Chester Bennington: Wonderful.
Brandon Boyd: I would like to add to that.
Chester Bennington: Absolutely.
Brandon Boyd: I think that, I just think it’s a good moment and a great opportunity to have kind of just a, you know, two big giant rock & roll bands sharing a stage, I just think that’s going to be better than either of us would do in our own show, it’s like there’s, it’s two headlining sets, including Mute Mass [Sounds Like] which is going to be a good time as well. So it’s almost like a minifestival, which is amazing. And Incubus has done a Honda Civic-sponsored tour before. It may have been one of Honda Civic’s first ones, I’m not sure, but that was like, over 10 years ago. And I remember it being really really great. And I think the listeners and friends and fans and family who came out to those shows had a really great experience, too. So I know that we as a band are really looking forward to doing it again this year. And personally, this will be the end of our touring cycle for our newest record, and so we’re looking forward to just making some music and I’m very much looking forward to seeing Linkin Park with my own eyes for the first time since... I mean, I saw you guys, I think, once at a radio show, like over 10 years ago as well. So I think it’s going to be fun to be able to see you guys every night.
Chester Bennington: Thank you.
Phil Bonyata: Hi Chester, Phil Bonyata from Concert Livewire here… Hey, you guys are committed to green energy on the Honda Civic tour. Do either of you wear your political affiliations on your sleeve, especially in this pivotal presidential election year?
Chester Bennington: Well, I know that within Linkin Park I’ve honestly never heard anyone talk about who they want to vote for, for example. I think it’s something that we kind of take very personally. It’s so funny, I was watching some comedy show the other day and they were making fun of how Americans won’t talk about who they’re going to vote for. It’s such a secretive process. Whereas if you go overseas or something people are talking about who they’re going to vote for and who they don’t like all the time. It’s no big deal. But here in the United States it’s a little different for us. It’s such a private and personal moment to kind of choose who you think is going to be the best leader. And the last thing you want to do is influence somebody else to vote based on what they think of you as opposed to what they think of the politician they’re voting for. So we definitely don’t really kind of brag about who we’re going to vote for, but we do talk about the things that are important to us. And the things that are very important to us at this point are really making sure that our tours are as environmentally friendly as possible, and also giving back to our local community as well as the world community that has been so good to us. So those are the things that matter to us. And in terms of the green movement and other things, one of the reasons why we’re so keen on that is because (Indiscernible) and the tie between natural disasters and what we’re doing as a society to the planet. So if we can counterbalance some things or offset some things that we’re doing just naturally through the way that we (Indiscernible) things on a daily basis, if we can make that more efficient and less wasteful, then we can provide families with renewable energy sources, so they don’t have to burn garbage, they don’t have to burn dung. Those things actually go a really long way in terms of helping with the recovery process of a natural disaster. So for example if a community is deforesting the areas around their villages, and let’s say a hurricane hits, OK, now all of a sudden not only did the wind destroy the homes that so many people are living in, but it’s also now created flooding and mudslides and all of that kind of stuff. I don’t necessarily know that either of the future presidential candidates are really thinking that way. So that’s where it’s kind of like I’m not sure exactly how political our green movement is.
Glenn Gamboa: Can you guys talk about why you wanted to team up for this tour and kind of, what you hope introducing, having Linkin Park fans seeing Incubus and having Incubus fans seeing Linkin Park, what that can kind of do for your own fans?
Brandon Boyd: Chester, if you don’t mind I’ll hop into this.
Brandon Boyd:I personally think it’s an occasion that’s kind of long overdue. We have a lot of mutual listeners, our bands, and I think that it’s one of those things that once the idea was floated, and we really kind of caught onto it, that it seemed like, Why haven’t we done this yet, type of a thing. Linkin Park has a considerably larger reach than Incubus has had, and I think it’s going to be wonderful for us as a band to play in front of more people. [laughs] So we definitely appreciate the opportunity there. But I personally think that it’s just going to be great because of that sort of, because of the carryover between the listeners, you know there are a lot of Linkin Park listeners who are also Incubus listeners and vice versa. But we’ve never done something like this before. So as far as the feedback is concerned from people around the world-—Incubus has been on tour for the past year—once this tour was announced it’s been overwhelmingly positive and enthusiastic. So I’m really excited for it to get started.
Chester Bennington:Thank you, Brandon. I agree. I think that, um, it’s funny because in Linkin Park we all have the things that we do better than other guys do, so for example I’m really bad at reading long-form legal documents [laughter].
Brandon Boyd: You are?! [laughing]
Chester Bennington: Like I just don’t, like, get, and most of it doesn’t make any sense to me anyways. You know, there are guys in the band who are much better and more qualified to kind of go through that process than me. So, one of the places that I actually can contribute some skill or input that matters is on touring. Typically I’ve been pretty, even in my loosest form, I’ve been involved in figuring out who we tour with for a long time. And so, I swear, it feels like I’ve probably tried to figure out a way to get Linkin Park and Incubus on the road together at least once per cycle since probably Meteora [Sounds Like]. It just goes to show how difficult it can be to actually get two headlining groups together. Kind of going back to that first question, you know, it was surprising to me that we haven’t actually done more touring with Incubus than we have in the last 15 years. Fourteen years. So for the fact that like we do share such a big, I think, group of fans that kind of listen to both bands, I still feel like there’s a large number of people that, um, are Incubus fans that never really got into Linkin Park, or kind of vice versa. But I think that there’s a common interest there. And so I feel like that’s one of the things that’s been so positive, overwhelmingly positive, about everyone’s response to our bands going on tour together is that I think it gives both of our fans something that they’ve wanted for a long time, which is to see Incubus and go see Linkin Park, because I think they’ve had to choose a lot of times on which band they’re going to go see because we’ve both been on tour. Or when we’re on tour in the U.S., Incubus is off in the Pacific Rim, hopping all over Asia or somewhere in Europe and we’re down in Asia. It just never works out. So I think the fact that they’re ending their cycle and we’re kind of beginning ours and this is a very specific time in our career that things have lined up for us to be able to do a tour like this together. We get to go out and just fully express ourselves as artists and really do whatever we want to do this energy we feel our fans are going to want. I think that that’s something that’s really special. And so I’m very appreciative to the people on the Civic tour. You know, having the vision to kind of understand, that this is something that is rare and is something that, um, you know, people are going to be excited to go see. You know you never get to go see Bon Jovi and Kiss at the same time.
Gary Graff: Brandon, you mentioned as this being the end of the Incubus cycle. What’s next? You made us wait awhile for this last album. What are you guys planning?
Brandon Boyd:Ummm… as far as that’s concerned, we have no plans, to tell you the truth at the moment. We are, for the first time since 1996, we are free agents again. We’re without a record label. So what we’re kind of doing is trying to get our bearings as to what we should do next, just as a band but also as a band that is kind of off in new territory again. So I have been tinkering around potentially with a second solo record. That’s probably the most likely scenario. But as far as Incubus right now, we’ll probably take another break. Hopefully it won’t be as long. But what we like to do is arrive with the best of intentions and try and create music from a sense of urgency as well as purity and not necessarily based on a schedule. I know that that can be a little bit frustrating for our listeners and stuff. But I think that we’ll make better music as a result. So the plan is to have no plan.
Gary Graff:Has there been discussion about what you might do in terms of a new deal or Incubus records label or anything?
Brandon Boyd:Right. We definitely got a taste of what it’s going to be like without a record label on this latest album cycle with If Not Now, When? Though we were still signed to Epic Records there was a lot of sort of changing of the guards going on with LA Reid being the new president and he wasn’t quite there yet, even though he was technically the guy on the TV show and there was a real lack of direction and leadership when we kind of needed it the most. [laughs] So it was hard and it was frustrating but it was also very telling for us and perhaps educational. Because what we were forced to do was we were forced into ingenuity. And so we came up with this idea to set up shop in this art gallery in Los Angeles and do the Incubus HQ and fly listeners in from different corners of the world and do these live broadcasts on the Internet. And so we started getting these ideas about subscription-based live concerts online and it ended up being a really scary and stressful project, but the fruits of it are still kind of revealing themselves. We have this HQ box set that we’re putting out and the DVD set comes out I think August 14 is the release date. There’s like the superfan all six nights on DVD mixed in 5.1 with the CDs and pieces of canvases that people were drawing on in the room while we were playing music. Like I said, it’s forced us to think outside of that normal music industry paradigm that we had gotten so accustomed to. And so in that sense the lack of attention from our record label and the end days of our record label relationship were really good and very beneficial for us as a band because it gave us a sense of what we might be doing in the coming years. So I’m personally very excited about being in complete control, of being able to be a total control freak. It doesn’t mean that we wouldn’t sign with another record label at some point but it would definitely have to be very, very specific. [laughs] Not get into just a good old-fashioned record deal again, if they even exist. So…
Mark Brown: But I think of both bands as new bands and as you’ve both pointed out, you’ve been around for more than a decade, 14-15 years, and obviously the whole environment in the late 90s when CDs were setting record sales and people were touring and there was tour support, versus today with the economy and the Internet and everything else is a completely different thing and as noted, Incubus is going to be without a major label from here or at the moment anyway. How have you navigated it? You’ve really gone through the time of the most upheaval in your chosen profession.
Brandon Boyd: Hmm. That’s a really interesting notion actually. It’s something that I talk about with friends and people in different industries and everything, but it’s been really interesting to be, I’m sure it’s been interesting from Linkin Park’s perspective as well, because they as well were kind of, Linkin Park and Incubus were two of the very few bands who kind of like got a gust of wind out of the old paradigm of the music industry. But like survived out of it. There are so many bands that, bands in a traditional sense, bands who write their own music, and perform their music, that didn’t survive that transition. That fell by the wayside with the industry. So it’s been frightening to watch something that you for a very brief moment almost learned to rely on, because we learned the ins and outs of how the industry worked, you know you poured your heart out into making an album and then the label puts the record out and you go out on tour in support of the album, and we even started doing it in the van and trailer. We’d make a record and get in the van with our gear and the trailer and we’d drive ourselves around the country and sell albums and T-shirts out of the back of the trailer. That was sort of our education and then once things started going really well, thankfully, we got a sense of what it looks like when all of the, when the engine is nicely greased and things are working the way they’re supposed to. And then it’s like the millennium turns and the technology changed. And all of that became old. It became an antiquated model. And it was frightening at first but I actually have come to appreciate it. I’m going to actually use the pun, a living thing. It’s a living system. Our technologies are a living system just like we are and our communities as human beings, and for us to expect them to remain constant is really just quite foolish. I mean anybody that’s going to come to rely on the way that our music consumption is looking now is going to have the same hard lesson in less time than you think. I think that the technology is going to shift probably sooner than any of us really realize. And that’s a really cool thing, because it keeps everyone on their toes. It levels the playing field, too. It’s allowing for a really wonderful democratization of the music writing process and the music presenting and performing process. So what it’s doing is it’s making us try harder and it’s making us expect the best of ourselves and the people that we work with. You know, do more with less. I was talking to my friend this morning about the notion of the music video. Incubus has made a music video. We’ve paid like $500,000 to make a music video that MTV just didn’t play. And that was considered like, “Oh, OK. That’s a bummer, but, you know, next.” But now? Are you kidding me? It’s like if we can get a fraction, a spittle of that amount of money to make a music video, that’s amazing. But the cool thing is, is that the intention is exactly the same. And in fact it’s even better, because now we have to think even further out of the box. We still have to make a music video but we don’t have any money. So we have to have a better idea than we did before. You know what I mean? I personally, when all is said and done, I really welcome these changes. And they excite me. And they scare me at the same time, but I’m choosing to focus on the excitement.
John Vocket: . Hello gentlemen, it’s John Vocket from Soundspike. I was wanting to kind of couple on to a couple of the last answers, but kind of veer more into the creative inspiration. So I was wondering if you would respond. As you each grow older and wiser, how do you stay loyal to and inspired to produce the style of music on both the record and in concert that your most loyal and long-term fans both love and expect?
Chester Bennington: Um, well, I think that’s a good question. I kind of wonder, you know people ask me questions like, you see the Rolling Stones or guys who have been doing this for 50 years, do you see yourself doing this at their age? And in my mind I know that however long I live until the day I die I’m probably going to feel mentally immature. And physically old. [Laughter] But my brain’s not going to be calculating, “Oh, I’m 70 years old.” It’s like, “What do you mean I’m almost done? Aagh! I just got started.” And so uh I think that it will become a bit more difficult for me to perform a few songs on a roster that I did so easily through my twenties and thirties. You know? When I’m 70 I don’t know if I’ll be, um, screaming “Victimized” at anybody. Hopefully that will be the case, but I doubt it. That’s one of the things that’s so interesting about our business anyways. None of us are guaranteed that anyone can come to one of our shows or care about the last record we put out. I personally throughout my own career, every record that we go into, I look at like, this is our very first album and this is the best representation of what we are. And either people are going to love it or they’re going to hate it. Or not care. And so you know, that’s what happens. We take the creative gamble and we write music that we feel passionate about and that we feel is important and that we feel is, um, um, what’s the word I’m looking for, uh, damn it!
Brandon Boyd: Vital?
Chester Bennington: No, not vital, but like, um, giving something to the people who are going to hear it. It’s basically like when you create a song and people hear it and they connect with it, you’re giving that person a sense of inspiration. And so I think that… that word threw me off. Trying to find that word threw me off! My brain just went into a completely different area. I’m sorry, it just shut down. But anyways, I think I’ve answered at least part of your question. And so if Brandon wants to jump in. I just completely shut down. My brain went into left field on that question. You melted me.
Brandon Boyd: You made me think of something though when you were saying like, um, will you be screaming some of your most demanding lyrics when you’re 70. You can’t really imagine yourself doing that. I agree with you, we have so many songs that we wrote when we were in our young twenties. Some of them we wrote when we were teenagers and we still perform some of them. It occurs to me now at 36, damn, what was I thinking? This is hard! I have to really concentrate and sit still in order to do it.
Chester Bennington: That’s funny.
John Vocket: That went in such an unintended direction. Incredible. If I may follow up though, the desire to still be identified with a trademark sound on each of your parts I’m sure is somewhere in the frontal consciousness or subconscious every time you put pen to paper, fingers to keyboard, or you step onstage. So how does the quality of your life as you grow older still, um, you know, how do you connect that to the style of music that is as you just both sort of admitted, is very rooted in a much younger Chad and Brandon?
Brandon Boyd: Well you know, actually, it’s been a real struggle, challenge, I don’t know what the right exact word is. But being so identified with a particular style and a particular time, I know that there are certain parts of the world where certain journalism music reviewers will literally have not looked beyond Incubus’s very first album, Science, which we wrote and recorded when we were just freshly out of high school. And it came out in 1997. And we toured a lot on that record, we toured for a little over two years. And we were on tour with bands like Korn and Limp Bizkit and we ended up doing a lot of touring, which was amazing, with Ozzy Osbourne and Black Sabbath and Pantera and all these great tours but what’s wild to me is that it’s been that long and there are still these holdouts that are like so, like, “How’s it going, being a nu-metal band?” And that’s been a real challenge, not to make music that has transcended a genre, because I do believe that we’ve accomplished that and we continue to accomplish that, if I could be so bold, but to sort of shift people’s perceptions and get people to take a second glance at an established artist. That’s really the most challenging thing. Once people feel like they have you categorized on the… they’ve put the milk on the milk shelf in the refrigerator, it’s almost like it can never live anywhere else in the refrigerator. I personally am interested in music. I’m not interested in making a kind of music. And I think that’s why Incubus records have changed sometimes dramatically over the years. Our newest record, If Not Now, When? is really a good example of that. It’s different, it’s more different than any of our records than we’ve ever done before. And I personally am really inspired by that. I’m proud of that. I want to make music that continues to evolve and challenge people and surprise people. But getting people to let go of a predetermined notion of what you are and what you’re supposed to be is really probably the largest challenge. What I’ve had to do is really let go of perceptions altogether. And just make music. Because it’s really impossible. The only time I ever get reminded is when people ask, not you in particular but when other journalists ask questions like, “How’s it feel being a nu-metal band in this day and age?” and stuff like that, and it’s sort of like, “I don’t really feel that way.” You know, I feel like we make music. We make all kinds of different music. So, I’m rambling now so I’m going to stop.
Be sure to catch both bands Saturday August 11th in Camden N.J.