BlackChester.de is one of the major German Linkin Park fansites with very fast and detailed updates. In this second part of the interview series, I am talking to Thomas, whom you might now as Black Chester, the admin of BlackChester.de and also contributor to the official German Linkin Park website by Warner.
LPFC: When was BlackChester.de founded? Can you briefly describe the process?
Thomas: BlackChester.de was founded on January 29th 2008. The main reason I founded it was to build a little community where Linkin Park fans could share their concert experience and to share the formerly named SBDs which are now the DSPs which were downloadable with a multiple usable code back then. I missed out to get a CD at the Linkin Park concert in Hannover on January 16th 2008 so I searched everywhere for the record of that show and that’s how I put up this fanforum for german fans since there was none like this yet. I made the site pretty quick with the help of a friend from the gaming clan I’ve been in back then and that’s why my solution back then was made with PHP Kit, a horrible CMS if you ask me, but it only took me like a day to build the page and I had a lot of traffic in the first few weeks. I took the site down later that year because I got tired of all the spambots and “hackers” who were trying to be funny. In 09 the version of BC.de you can see nowadays went online because some other german fansites who were better when I stopped working on BC.de became worse and did not provide that much info and stuff I wanted for the german fans, so I searched for a new solution for BlackChester.de because I still had that domain. I chose wordpress because I knew that CMS already from another site I worked with: Julien-K Germany, the former Julien-K Street Team from Germany which has now become the official german site of the band. And yeah, I put up that site pretty quick because it’s a standard, free theme for wordpress. At first I just wanted to put this up to have a site at all, but yeah, I never found time to make my own design, but more on that later on in the interview I guess.
LPFC: What was the main reason of starting the site? Were there many German fansites at that time?
Thomas: Well, I think I already said that, but I might explain that a little more detailed. Back in 2007 I started to visit the LinkinPark.de forums more frequently because on May 27th that year I visited my first LP show in Hamburg. I frequently checked that forum (that no longer exists, it was deleted in 08 I think) and later became a member of LPRevolution in February 2008, but I started my site kinda right after my second Linkin Park show in Hannover on January 16th 2008 because the range of the official german message boards wasn’t wide enough, and yes, I didn’t really know of international fansites, LP.com and LPU back then, but I learned about them pretty soon after (I think I became a member of the LPU like a day after the Hannover show, but I’m not sure of that right now). I think that’s all I have to say about starting my site. Back in 2008 there were many german Linkin Park fansites yes, leading was LPRevolution, then there were Linkin-Park.de and so many others, I can’t name them all, because almost all of them have already vanished (Linkin-Park.de e.g. has been bought by Warner Music, at least the domain) and right now there might only around 5 left and only 2 of them quite known in general if I’m right.
LPFC: What were your personal highlights in the history of BlackChester.de so far and were there moments when it was hard to maintain the site?
Thomas: You know, everyone has his ups and downs. I never thought, that people would actually show interest in my site, so I was actually stunned, when the forums where a huge success in the beginning of my page and many people were missing the site, when I took it offline because I didn’t really have time to update it etc. But my personally favorite moment was, when Warner asked me to help them with LinkinPark.de the official german Linkin Park Website, but that’s a different, quite long story, that has a lot more influences, not only my website, but some other things too. It’s also funny when I’m at a Linkin Park show and talk with my friends about my site and some people around us just start like “wait, you’re BlackChester? I love your site, great work!” these are those moments, that make me feel like I’m doing something right. On the other hand there were many moments when I just wanted to stop all that, and give my site up, because it seemed like no one even read what I was writing so I thought it wasn’t worth carrying on with all this, but as you can see, I did.
LPFC: BlackChester.de is one of the most updated and detailed German fansites, but you’re the only one contributing to the site. How do you manage to keep this up?
Thomas: To be honest, I don’t even know. Mostly maybe because I’m connected with fans and friends all over the world, you can see it as some kind of network, as soon as I see something on twitter/facebook or get a tip via IM I’m researching (yes, I always search for the sources before I post something) and post it as fast as I can. Sometimes sooner, sometimes later, it depends on how much time I have, but usually I’m that fast because I’m online most of the time I’m awake. You may ask yourself why? I’m a computer science student and I’m online in university all the time because I need my laptop for my studies and so I always have twitter etc open when I’m in my lectures, and that helps a lot when it comes to terms of being up-to-date. And yeah, I put a lot of time in the page, sometimes it even costs me some sleep, but to keep the site up to date might be a lot of work, but once the work is done it’s pretty easy to handle.
LPFC: Do you think that there are features of the site that many fans seem to overlook? If yes, can you briefly describe those features?
Thomas: As preparation for the forthcoming new design (yay finally after over 3 years!!) I finally added all the pages I wanted to add when I started the new version. There are self written (yes self written) biographies of the band and it’s members, even biographies for Fort Minor, Dead by Sunrise and Julien-K! There’s a wide discography with lyrics to every song, release date info and more! The small live section is powered by LPLive and used with their permission (I only have the dates listed, all of them link to the corresponding page on LPLive). Many people only seem to see the news and the “blog” I keep updated and many seem to overlook, that there’s a lot more in that page, but that may depend on the fact, that you can’t really see them on the current design, it’ll be a lot easier once the new design is online, so stay tuned!
LPFC: What have you planned for BlackChester.de in the future? Is there a part of the site that you want to improve on?
Thomas: As I already mentioned, a redesign is in the works, I can’t tell anything yet, but I already teased in April. We don’t have a release date yet and I won’t tell anyone when it’s coming, until it’s time for it, we don’t want any pressure when it comes to this so we can deliver something, that pleases everyone, but mainly ourselves. Right now the site looks really boring and well, it’ll be awesome! But that’s all I have to say about that yet. I hope you had fun reading that interview and if you have any further question, feel free to ask!
Huge thanks to Thomas for a great interview! Check out BlackChester.de 🙂