Chester Bennington on Joining Stone Temple Pilots: "We Definitely Need to Prove Ourselves"
When the members of Stone Temple Pilots invited Chester Bennington to become the band's new frontman, the Linkin Park vocalist didn't take long to decide. We're talking like maybe a few moments at most. "Almost the second after I was asked, my immediate answer was, 'Yeah, I'd fucking love to,'" he says. Then, reality began to set in.
Courtesy of 13Star The new and improved Stone Temple Pilots.
Bennington -- a Phoenix native who divides his time between the Valley and L.A.-- told Up on the Sun during a recent phone interview that after the excitement of becoming the vocalist for one of his favorite bands, which axed its longtime singer Scott Weiland earlier this year, transformed into a realization that it wasn't "something to be taken lightly." According to the 37-year-old, he started thinking to himself, "It's a big fucking deal."
Stone Temple Pilots with Chester Bennington are scheduled to perform tonight at Marquee Theatre in Tempe.
It's a sentiment that was shared by many in STP's fanbase, in either a positive or negative respect. Some fans were down with the Linkin Park singer taking over for Weiland. Others haven't been as receptive, either toward the grunge iconoclasts changing up their frontman or becoming known as Stone Temple Pilots with Chester Bennington. The backlash and negative reactions have ranged from some fans stating that "STP is not STP without Scott" to calling the singer a "talentless hack." (Some rock wags have even dubbed the act "Chester Temple Pilots.")
Undaunted by such dissing, Bennington says he's out to win these naysayers over, including those who might happen to be in the crowd tonight at Marquee Theatre. When both the band and Bennington hit the stage this evening in Tempe for a performance for his hometown, the set list will largely consist of STP favorites -- such as "Big Bang Baby," "Dead and Bloated," "Sex Type Thing," "Wicked Garden," and "Interstate Love Song" -- as well as a couple of songs Bennington helped pen off the band's new EP, High Rise.
During our conversation, he discussed the new material they've been working, as well as why his vocals are different from Weiland's and how he's working to deliver STP's classics in the much the same fashion. Bennington, who is still very much active with Linkin Park, also admitted that while he ultimately can't replace his predecessor and that some STP fans won't ever accept him, he's doing his damndest to change their minds.
What was it like when you first started performing with STP?
We played a handful of shows at first; most of them were charity shows where we play a couple songs. And we did a couple radio shows together where we played for a half and hours. Those went over great, as nervous as I was [laughs].
Were you nervous about stepping into the frontman role with a band that already has a significant and lengthy history with another singer?
There's a couple reasons. One, I'm a huge fan of STP and I want to make sure I do the best job at giving people what they want when they hear it. And then, of course, there's the fact that I'm not Scott [Weiland]. It could go one of two ways: It could go really, really well or it could suck [laughs]. And luckily for us, those shows were great and the crowds loved it. I think its just going to get better and better as we play more and more together and my goal is for these songs to become second nature for me.
Do you add your own spin to STP's songs and consciously try to be different from Weiland. We imagine it's obviously a challenge.
I want to deliver the songs in a way sonically in a way that sounds like they're supposed to be sang. In some instances, just because of the nature of certain parts of some songs are sang, its kind of hard not to do it that way a bit. But moving forward with the music that STP makes, that's really the place that I can make my mark.
Obviously, my voice sounds different than Scott's. He sings in a much lower register than most people are used to hearing me sing, so I've been working on that and developing my lower range for some songs. At the same time, these are STP songs, man, I want them to sound the way they sound on the records.
That's what I do when I play with Camp Freddy -- I do a lot of covers all the time. When I sing Zeppelin, I sing it the way I think Zeppelin would kind of do it. When I sing Motorhead songs, I sing it hard. And so, in a lot of ways there's going to be some areas where the songs have Scott all over them and that's the way it's going to stay. But moving, it's very important that I don't sing the songs like Scott would sing them. I sing the songs the way I would sing them.
We don't mean this as a slight in any way, but does it ever feel like karaoke in a sense? Are you wary of people making that sort of accusation?
Well, that's a very good point. And to some people, it may have seemed that way, you know, and that's fine. But what we have to do as a band is we have to go out and we have to prove ourselves. To go into this thing thinking that STP fans are going to be behind us 100 percent is ridiculous. We have to go out and earn it. And the only way we can do that is by going out and playing and playing the songs that people know.
But we also need to make new music and we need to get that music out there as soon as possible. And the fact that we are independent and doing everything on our own has really worked out great for what we're doing. We can release songs as we write them, we can release songs in games, we can release songs as part of movie soundtracks -- we don't need an album. If we really wanted to, we could release one song at a time as soon as they're done. We really have a lot of freedom in ways that we can deliver music to the fans and we have to let the music and the shows do the talking.