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Linkin Park: New Chester Bennington music ‘did my friend justice’

Chester Bennington

Chester BenningtonImage copyright
Chester Bennington

When Linkin Park singer Chester Bennington took his own life in 2017, most fans probably thought they would never hear new music from him again.

But this weekend a new album, featuring vocals Chester recorded more than 20 years ago, is being streamed around the world.

It’s based on songs he wrote with Grey Daze, the band he was in before Linkin Park – and features guest stars from the music industry and Chester’s family.

“It felt like it gave me a little bit of closure with losing him, something that I was able to work on for a couple of years in his honour,” Grey Daze’s drummer Sean Dowdell tells Radio 1 Newsbeat.

“And I feel like I did my friend justice, you know?”

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Chester Bennington, pictured here in 2001, sold over 70 million albums with Linkin Park

During their career, Linkin Park sold tens of millions of albums, won two Grammy Awards and released a collaboration album with Jay-Z.

But Sean says – even with all this going on – it was actually Chester’s idea to reform their 90s band Grey Daze.

“In 2016, we decided we wanted make sure people got to hear this music,” he says.

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Linkin Park’s debut album, Hybrid Theory, came out in the year 2000

Chester never got the chance to re-record his vocals – but Sean still wanted to finish the project however he could.

That meant keeping the original vocals intact but re-recording absolutely everything else.

“That’s one of the reasons this took two and a half years because we were in uncharted territory – we had to reverse engineer these songs.

“And I think we did a great job. I think we created a masterpiece.”

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Tom Preston

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Grey Daze’s album is being streamed to fans for the first time this weekend

The album, called Amends, features not only Grey Daze’s original line-up, but also Chester’s friends from bands including Korn and Breaking Benjamin – and even members of his family.

“About halfway through the recording process a kind of a lightning bolt hit me in the chest,” Sean says. “I realised we could actually give something back to Chester during this process.

“We realised we could have his children come in and sing these songs with him – something he never got to do while he was alive.

“So we had Chester’s son Jaime come in to sing backing vocals on a track called Soul Song and I think his dad would be very proud of the job he did.”

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Jaime Bennington is one of Chester’s six children

Sean says going back to the old music was sometimes difficult – but eventually it felt like he and Chester were working together again.

“We wrote all the lyrics together and while I was writing from more of a philosophical point of view, I can clearly see, now he’s gone, that these were real pain points that he was living in his life.

“When you’re writing it, it has one meaning and then after you lose your friend, and you look back, it takes on a whole new meaning.”

The album was originally supposed to be released on April 10 but, because of the coronavirus lockdown, this has been pushed back to June.

Not wanting to disappoint people, though, the band are holding virtual listening parties this weekend, where fans can sign up to hear the record before it comes out.

“Chester was not a rock star in my world he was just one of my best friends,” Sean says.

“One of the tragic things about Chester was he was so giving for other people and put them so much higher than himself that he never really got to a point of appreciating himself or loving himself.

“That’s the one tragedy in all of this is that Chester really never felt like he was enough for anybody and it’s one of the things that led him down this path with his depression.

“But he was a wonderful man.”

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