Interview with Chester Bennington of Linkin Park & Brandon Boyd of Incubus
Independent Philly recently had the opportunity to take part in an interview session with Chester Bennington of Linkin Park, and Brandon Boyd of Incubus, to talk about the Honda Civic Tour that the two bands are co-headlining (with opening support from MUTEMATH).
The Honda Civic Tour will be rolling into the Susquehanna Bank Center in Camden, NJ on August 17th, 2012 and we’ll be there to catch all of the action.
This promises to be a great show but don’t take our word for it; here’s what the two lead singers had to say…
IP: Past Honda Civic Tours have been more pop-oriented, such as (bands) like Blink 182 and My Chemical Romance. What can fans expect from this year’s Honda Civic 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: 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 Mutemath which is going to be a good time as well. So it’s almost like a mini-festival, 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.
IP: 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?
CB: 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. Those things become very difficult and very costly and time-consuming in terms of the recovery project. So if we can encourage people to use the solar-powered light bulbs, for example, that we’re giving out, via Power the World, instead of chopping down trees, when that hurricane does hit, it’s amazing how roots hold the soil together. [laughs] So those are the kind of things that we’re interested in. 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. It’s more of a purpose-driven green movement in terms of just wanting to be more clean and efficient with our tours so we leave less of a footprint when we’re out there. But the big picture really is the tie between, you know, the effect that it causes in terms of the natural disasters that hit. So if we plant more trees and put more oxygen in the atmosphere, hopefully the storm systems aren’t so tough every year. If we, you know, could help people have clean water and have access to renewable energy sources then they can focus on agriculture and they can focus on getting jobs and stuff and making money as opposed to hunting down water. Or moving a village because it’s been destroyed and there’s mudslides and all sorts of stuff happening. So hopefully that answers your question.
BB: Chester makes a lot of wonderful points, you know, and, um, I think that any type of meaningful movement and/or meaningful change that’s going to occur if you were to measure it based on who people were voting for and/or who even gets elected, it’s like watching water boil. It’s infuriating to try and hang anything worthwhile or legitimate upon that process even though it is a valuable process and an essential one. My point is, I truly believe that most of the meaningful change if not all, is going to come from the ground. And I think it’s wonderful that Linkin Park has the Music for Relief Foundation, and is able to make waves and make moves on the ground there. We’ve been trying very hard and very joyfully with the Make Your Cell [Sounds Like] Foundation for many years to do the same thing, both with environmental causes, but also with humanitarian efforts, to inspire people as opposed to, hang our hat on a politician or, you know, stuff like that. It’s a, like I said it’s an infuriating, fascinating but infuriating process. So I think that we’re just in a very blessed position to be able to have even, you know, a remote influence on the ground here. I think that’s where the most meaningful change is coming from.
IP: Can you guys talk about why you wanted to team up for this tour and what introducing Linkin Park fans to Incubus and having Incubus fans seeing Linkin Park can do for your own fans?
BB: 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.
CB: 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 [laughs]. 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. 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. This to me feels as exciting as a lot of the concerts that I would be excited to go to when I was a kid. That was I think one of the reasons why Lollapalooza when I was young became so important so quickly. It was because it was the only place that you could go see, you know, the Chili Peppers and Ministry and, you know, Pearl Jam and all these bands play together. And Ice Cube. But there’s no way you were going to see all these bands together, you know? And that’s been the inspiration for modern festivals and I think that the fact that this does kind of feel like a little mini-festival even though there are only three bands [laughs]. It does have that feeling of something that’s going to be a show that you wanna go see. Cuz it’s got something special. I’m excited. Honestly I think that, I also hope that our bands can walk away inspired from each other. You know? I’ve always appreciated Incubus for their music. And they’re also very good live. I’ve had the chance to pop over and watch them play a couple songs onstage here and there at some festivals throughout our career and they’re a great live band. So I think the energy is going to be really amazing out in the crowd. So I would actually like to be down there to watch the show but I don’t know if that’s going to be possible.
BB: It’s time to start training an understudy and then, uh, do some plastic surgery on him, and then sneak into the crowd.
CB: Exactly. I think that would actually be cheaper than a hologram.
BB: That’s right, get a hologram of yourself and then you can, uh…
CB: That would be great, though. I’m just putting it out there. If anyone does have the hologram technology, and it looks real, I would be open to taking the hologram out on the road.
IP: I’m wondering too after Honda Civic, [Linkin Park] where else are you guys going to be touring, and how long do you think you’ll be on the road more or less for “Living Things”.
CB: I think we’ll be touring more or less through next summer for sure. Maybe even into next fall, depending on what the schedule looks like. I know that we’re planning on going to South Africa for the first time, which I’m very excited about. We’re planning on going to South America, going back to Europe, going to Asia, and doing another U.S. tour, I believe. Probably to end it all. Next year. And then go straight back again into the studio and make another record.
IP: I know you’re both West Coast guys. But I know what you like most about coming to perform on the East Coast. Boston, New York, Philly. I know you have a stop in Camden coming up…
CB: Well, I think that as the tour goes on the more comfortable the bands are going to be. And there’s a kind of groove that we get into. And starting off on the East Coast and really getting into that groove is going to be great. I think that the vibe changes as you shift through the United States. To like when you go through Europe or something. You know, a show that you play for people in Kansas. Or somewhere in Philly is going to be different from playing in Los Angeles. It’s just a different vibe. For me, I really enjoy playing the East Coast.
BB: I can pick up right there. Every place that you play, that’s one of the interesting things about being on tour, especially when you play one of these large places, some of the diversity gets lost in these venues because a lot of them are built by the same architects and owned by the same people and you can get a little bit samey in the vibe. And what really distinguishes them is the people that come and where you are and where the people are from. And that’s when you really get a sense of the distinctions between the places and that’s essentially what makes it really fun, is to travel to all the different places. LA is notorious for having a very jaded crowd, as is New York. But I think that I’ve never been to a Linkin Park concert in LA or New York, but I know for the Incubus shows, the Los Angeles audience as well as the New York audience don’t seem jaded to me at all. They seem enthusiastic. Just in a different way. You know. You have a lot more musicians and people who are in bands and people who know people who are in bands. So it’s maybe harder to impress them but they still have their way of appreciating things and we’ve had some of our greatest shows. Some of our best markets are both of those places. But I personally love hearing the, sometimes you can catch accents in the crowds, people in between songs are yelling like “You suck” or “I love you, man” or on the East Coast it’s “Play that fucking song, man.” You know? There’s more… And the East Coast has got a little bit more grit to it, perhaps, which I find amazing. And on the West Coast you just smell pot a little bit more. A bit more thick in the air.
CB: Well, that’s because the weed on the East Coast smells like cigarettes. [laughs] I’m just having a magical moment over here in Burbank. So anyways, yeah, sorry for dropping out there. I was just saying that for me, playing the East Coast is really, there are other subtle differences that makes every crowd a little different. I just am used to playing the East Coast primarily in winter, so I never really get to enjoy, like, being out in Boston because usually I’m inside because there’s like a two-inch glass sheet of ice on the building outside. And it’s raining at the same time. And it’s like “How is there a blizzard and it’s raining?” So it’ll be nice to actually be able to get out and enjoy the weather and you know, go out, and we’re already talking about, I was talking with some of the guys in my crew the other day and they’re like “We should do something like get a band on band soccer game.” Because we always play, we play our label every time we go to Europe. So we always end up playing our label in Germany and playing a bunch of reporters and stuff from different publications in a soccer match and we always beat them. And so, uh, I was like, “That’s a great idea. We should totally do that.” So I think as the tour goes on, there are going to be a lot of opportunities for band and crew to get together and kind of get to know each other more. And hopefully by the time we make it to the West Coast, the thing that will be the biggest difference is, somewhere along the line, in our travels from one place to the other, sometimes it comes up that we might want to do something special for our fans. I don’t know when or where that’s going to happen, but it feels like a lot of people are kind of wondering what to expect. Perhaps on an inspirational level where the band gets together and plays a song together or something happens where we can give our fans something a little extra. But that’s going to come out of a moment where, you know the best moments that we capture that we’ve found in our career are the ones that come out of a spontaneous idea in a really cool moment. And so, uh, we’re yet to have that moment yet. But I think that somewhere along the line, something special will happen somewhere that our fans will be talking about.
IP: You guys are known for your live performances, and the lights and the huge stage productions, what can fans expect from the Honda Civic tour? Is it going to be that kind of large production effect that we’re used to from you guys?
CB: Every tour is kind of different. Even throughout our world tour, the whole touring cycle for the entire album, the tour kind of changes, production-wise. It depends on where it’s at. The productions in the U.S. are typically our biggest because we can afford to have them. It’s hard to shift really big productions all over the world so the show in Australia is probably going to be pretty stripped-down. But at the same time, I think that what we try to do is incorporate what we’re doing at the most present moment into our live set. So I’m really interested in seeing, I haven’t even seen it personally yet, but I’m interested in seeing what our team at Ghost Town has put together for our show this summer. I think it’s going to be really beautiful. So I’m excited about that. But I actually have no idea what it looks like yet.
BB: I think it’ll be, I’m excited to see what Linkin Park does as well. I’ve seen the videos of their full-scale production and it looks pretty amazing. So I think it’s going to be exciting. I know our production is very much in the same capacity. In the States we are able to have a full-scale production because we can just afford to it, and when we travel overseas, depending on how far it is, logistically how far it is, you’ll see different variants of the production. But we always try and bring as exciting and big of a show as we can given the circumstances. But on the Honda Civic tour you’re going to see, I know from the Incubus point of view it’s going to be an amalgamation of three or four different productions and ideas that we’ve been utilizing throughout this touring cycle. It’s going to be like kind of the best of all worlds that people have seen thus far.
We’re more excited than ever for the Honda Civic Tour in Camden, NJ. It sounds like the stage production, some great sets, and even a few surprises are in store for us. There are still tickets available for show.