“Hi Aman – congratulations! You have won a pair of tickets to attend the Linkin Park fan event….”
Having just taken the train into North London, as instructed, we found ourselves in a secluded and derelict alleyway in Camden. “Are you sure this is the place?” I ask my plus-one apprehensively, a look of trepidation playing about my features. “This is what the email said”, he replies. We hesitantly enter the secret, and well-concealed location: a dark and dank pub, tiny, yet teeming with gothic décor, and rich with the pungent smell of aging brew.
A sign greets us, on a door in the corner of the room. “Linkin Park –Album Listening Upstairs”
Shortly after our arrival we’re led through the door, and up the stairs into an even smaller room, softly lit with a purple glow, and white Linkin Park coasters littered among the few tables in the room. There’re also matching Linkin Park posters on the wall, and a huge print of The Hunting Party artwork at the front of the room, along with a microphone.
“I wonder who that could be for?” I think to myself. The email did mention a special surprise guest in attendance. After we’ve settled down with our complimentary drinks, a man takes the microphone, greets us and introduces the event. “Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome… Chester Bennington!”
From a small door at the side of the room, the main man himself enters to a round of applause and loud cheers. He warmly proceeds to wave at us, smiles, and high fives myself and a few others at the front. Chester takes the microphone, asks us how we all are, and begins to talk about the story behind the new album. He then welcomes questions from audience members.
The first person given a mic asks about how the process of making this album differs from that of the past albums. Chester then answers, giving a short story behind each album and how they came about, leading onto how The Hunting Party was made. He emphasized the fact that they wanted to make an album that THEY wanted to make: an album that would make them happy and inspire the teenage version of themselves. He mentioned how that all began with Mike grabbing a guitar one day, and laying down the initial intro riff to “Guilty All the Same.”
I was also fortunate enough to be picked to ask Chester a question. I asked him: “With the main focus of the new album being one which was much more guitar driven, and heavier sounding, was that goal ultimately achieved through the featuring of guitarists such as Tom Morello from RATM and Daron from SOAD? (Other artists including Page from Helmet and Rakim also)”. Chester replied saying how they always had the idea of having a heavy album to start off with, however there were just some songs which felt like they were written with someone else’s guitar parts or vocals in place. Hence, the collaboration with different artists, sort of fell into place afterwards.
As time for questions ended, they began to play the album. Chester’s entourage started to escort him away, but he stopped them, and said: “Hey, I wanna hear everyone’s reactions first!” As the album came on, our ears were pleasantly surprised with a raw, heavy sound, featuring plenty of heavy guitar parts and upbeat drumming. As the album played, Chester stopped to sign autographs, and pose for multiple pictures with everyone. He was also incredibly humble and grateful in going around the room, and personally shaking everyone’s hand and thanking them for attending.
Due to the fact that everyone was talking, and in a rush to meet Chester and get a picture with him, the album played on in the background. Throughout the duration of the album, however, there were multiple occasions where I was surprised, by the sheer heaviness of the record. Chester’s signature screams, distorted down-tuned guitars, and the occasional, yet shocking double bass drumming from Rob never ceased to amaze me. As the familiar singles released at the time (Guilty All The Same, Until It’s Gone, and Wastelands) played, I sung along with Chester, high-fiving him as I did.
After the majority of the album had played, and Chester had posed for countless photographs and signed multiple autographs, he left for his BBC Radio 1 Interview with Zane Lowe, to release the new single, Rebellion (featuring Daron Malakian from System of a Down). Despite being unable to give my 100% attention to the album, I’d fallen in love with the general sound of the record from what I’d heard that day. I look forward to listening to it attentively with the rest of the world at the worldwide listening party on the 19th of June on Twitter with Mike.
Upon reflection, the listening party was an incredible event. An intimate and very personal experience, consisting of an incredible sounding album, and a really informative and brutally honest Q&A session, made even better by Chester being so down to earth and friendly with us all.
Name: Aman Matharu
Country: United Kingdom