Sing What makes Chester Bennington so unique

Chester Bennington: His first band mates release old songs

Most knew him as the singer in Linkin Park, but before that Chester Bennington made his first musical steps with the band Gray Daze. His former band mates have now re-recorded old songs.

On July 20, 2017, Chester Bennington was found dead at his Los Angeles home. The then 41-year-old singer of the American nu-metal band Linkin Park had committed suicide. Bennington left behind his wife and six children. The music world was shocked. Almost exactly three years later a new album with Bennington's vocals was released posthumously: "Amends" contains newly recorded songs by his first band Gray Daze. Cashing in on the back of a dead person? No, that's definitely not the point, says drummer Sean Dowdell on the phone. In fact, the release of this album was planned before Bennington's death. But one after the other.

Bennington was just 17 years old when he became the lead singer of Gray Daze. "Our guitarist Chris and I wanted to start our first band back then and were looking for a singer. Chris said he knew this guy who makes music with his little brother. When Chester came to the first rehearsal, I thought it couldn't be true" Dowdell recalls. "He weighed 45 or 50 pounds, had curly hair, wore glasses - he was a total nerd and didn't look like a rock star at all. But then he sang 'Alive' by Pearl Jam and man, the guy could sing! We started started rehearsing together and Chester and I soon became close friends. "

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Gray Daze quickly made a name for themselves in their home town of Phoenix, Arizona: their songs were played on the radio, they gave sold-out concerts and their self-released second album "... No Sun Today" (1997) sold 10,000 times. "Our bass player Mace had quite a drug problem back then, though," explains Dowdell. "One day we got into a big argument after a show and went our separate ways." Bennington then joined the band Zero, which later renamed itself Hybrid Theory and later became world famous as Linkin Park. "Chester and I haven't spoken for two years," Dowdell recalls. "In 2002 our guitarist Bobby was diagnosed with a brain tumor and the prognosis wasn't good. When Chester heard about it, he called me. We both apologized and picked up where we left off."

Together, Dowdell and Bennington built the tattoo parlor chain "Club Tattoo", and at some point Bennington felt like making music with his old buddy again. "He called me in 2016 and suggested we bring Gray Daze back together," says Dowdell. "He said he missed playing with me. In early 2017 we announced a reunion show and started re-recording songs from our first two albums."

Bennington's death a few months later came as a complete surprise to Dowdell. "I knew Chester had his demons and was a tormented soul. I knew about the abuse in his childhood. But I thought he had left all of that behind," he says. "We had just opened a new branch of 'Club Tattoo', were working on a clothing line and the Gray Daze reunion. I spoke to him two days before and there were no signs," says Dowdell. "But something like that cannot be predicted. You just never know what others are going through. And of course you ask yourself: What did I miss? How did I escape that he felt this way? Why did I let my boyfriend down? " About six months after Bennington's death, Dowdell first considered continuing the Gray Daze project anyway. "I didn't think about a record deal or radio play back then. I wanted to finish what I had started with a friend," he says. "I felt I owed it to Chester."

The band worked on the record for two and a half years. From the original recordings, only Bennington's vocals remained - recorded when he was 17 and 21 years old respectively. Gray Daze (without guitarist Bobby Benish, who died in 2004) played the music from scratch. "Our goal was to put Chester and his voice in the foreground - and not a cool guitar or drum solo. It should sound like his solo album," says Dowdell, explaining the musical direction of "Amends". "We selected eleven songs that we felt had a common theme, namely sadness, fear, anger." Stylistically, the songs are clearly rooted in the 90s, but the production sounds modern.

"Anyone who thinks I'm doing this for money can piss off"

Gray Daze invited numerous guest musicians with whom Bennington was friends to the recordings. Besides Brian "Head" Welch and James "Munky" Shaffer from Korn, "Amends" also features Page Hamilton (Helmet), Jasen Rauch (Breaking Benjamin), Ryan Shuck (Orgy), Marcos Curiel (POD), Chris Traynor (Bush) and to hear the singer LP. Bennington's son Jamie also provided the backing vocals for the song "Soul Song". "For me and the boys, this album is a kind of reparation. That's why it's called 'Amends'," explains Dowdell. "For us it was a way to end what happened."

Dowdell is aware that there will still be people who condemn the publication as money-making - but it doesn't matter. "I'm a multimillionaire. I had more money than Chester when he died. I put $ 120,000 into this album, I'm not doing it for money," he says. "Anyone who thinks that, I'll be honest, piss off. People who say that have no idea what they're talking about. Chester was my best friend."

Part of the album proceeds will go to Bennington's children. And what's next for Gray Daze? Does the band have a future? "Let's see how the album is received. If people enjoy it, we definitely have enough material for another album, if not two," reveals Dowdell. "But I'm in no hurry. I can't imagine looking for a new singer. That doesn't feel right. But since we're constantly being asked whether we also play live: Maybe we'll do a few shows with guest singers, one Kind of a tribute to Chester. "

Source: teleschau - der mediendienst GmbH