When Linkin Park singer Chester Bennington was growing up in the Valley, he couldn’t wait to leave the state. He, by his own admission, was bullied in school and needed a change.
“I couldn’t wait to get the hell out of Phoenix and do something different,” Bennington says during a recent phone interview.
“At the same time, there are elements of Arizona that call to me and that I have to have. I need to go see it. Being in Phoenix doesn’t get me excited; being in Arizona gets me super excited.”
Bennington explains that Valley residents should get out of the area and further explore Arizona.
“If you live in Arizona and you don’t go running around that state all the time, you’re an idiot,” Bennington says.
“It’s one of the most beautiful places on Earth. It’s incredible. That’s the part of Arizona that I love—the Native American culture and history; Hispanic culture and history. I always wanted to be Mexican growing up. It’s one of those funny things. Arizona, as a state, holds a good spot for me.”
Despite his feelings about the Valley, Bennington and Linkin Park will return to play Tempe’s Monster Mash Music Festival with Rob Zombie, Deftones and others November 1.
“It’s not going to suck,” says Bennington, upon hearing the lineup.
“You can expect from us two hours or so of Linkin Park—a Linkin Park extravaganza. I don’t know what that means,” he adds with a laugh.
Seriously, Bennington says, Linkin Park has been firing on all cylinders, playing songs from each album on its tour.
“We’ve got a solid set,” says Bennington, who adds that Linkin Park is working on new material. “The production’s really cool. We just kind of roll from one song to another. We play a ton of songs. It’s not like a two-hour set by The Who, where they play eight songs. How do they play eight songs in two hours? We cram pretty much everything in there.”
That includes songs from Hybrid Theory, which is celebrating its 15th anniversary. Bennington is still coming to grips with this.
“Of course I can believe it,” he says. “My kid’s in college. This is crazy. I don’t know what the hell is happening. It’s gone by very quickly.”
Playing the same songs for 15 years can get a bit tedious, but Bennington has a fail-safe method to keep it fresh.
“I have amnesia so every day is brand new,” he says snarkily. “I have no idea what happened yesterday. I wake up and think, ‘Oh cool. This is where I live? I like it.’
“I also wake up and say, ‘Dude, my wife is hot!’ That’s every day. I wake up every morning and I read this book about my life. I read it. I figure it out and I’m pretty stoked about it. I go to bed, wake up tomorrow and I have no idea what to expect.”
MONSTER MASH MUSIC FESTIVAL W/LINKIN PARK, ROB ZOMBIE, DEFTONES, PUSCIFER, HALESTORM AND GHOST
Tempe Beach Park, 80 W. Rio Salado Parkway, Tempe, 480.829.1300, monstermashaz.com, Sunday, November 1, $99