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Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington “If you call us sell-outs, I’ll punch you in your fucking mouth” If you only like us for a certain song you can suck my dick”

In an explosive and impassioned interview with Kerrang! Radio’s Loz Guest, Chester Bennington and Mike Shinoda have vigorously defended Linkin Park’s shift in musical direction.

One of the big musical talking points of 2017, as showcased on lead songs ‘Heavy’, ‘Battle Symphony’ and ‘Good Goodbye’, the band’s seventh studio album ‘One More Light’ (released today) sees the Agoura Hills sextet boldly delve into pop and hip-hop realms.

Joking that it “took the biggest set of balls” to put the album together, Chester explained to Loz that they had over 40 songs written before they whittled them down for the album.

“We knew which songs we were leaning towards,” says Chester. “Our whole thing was like ‘Okay, we got a bunch of material, we just want to put our best foot forward no matter what the song is’. It could be the craziest heaviest thing or it could be the most hip-hop thing or the poppiest thing, it doesn’t matter as long as it’s the best song. Let’s put our best foot forward on every track. Y’know it’s not holding anything back.”

Not holding back, he continued: “As we were going through the process we did have a conversation, we were like ‘okay here’s the shape the record is taking, we know we love these songs, we’ve got an album worth of these songs and like we love them and they’re different. We know they’re going down a route that a lot of our hardcore rock fans are going to be like put off by it maybe.’

“And I think… I’m not going to speak… this is not an opinion of the entire band… I think my response was ‘cool, fuck them we don’t want them as fans anyways.’ By now, if people don’t know that we can throw a curveball then fuck them!”

“If you’re a guy who only likes ‘War’ off ‘The Hunting Party’ – that’s your favourite Linkin Park track and that’s what you want, you’ve got that one song. It’s the only song that we’ve ever written like it, that’s it. I don’t know if we’ll ever write another one. It was the right thing at the right time in the right moment, now is that what we’re going to live forever (doing)? It’s like sorry dude… if you’re going to hate on us for it then fuck you, I don’t care.”

Echoing Chester’s sentiment, Mike adds: “I’ve had a feeling like what Chester just described where I’m like… maybe not that person that he’s just described… for me it’s like somebody who’s like trying to work out in their head like ‘the band is making these decisions for marketing reasons or monetary reasons or whatever’ and if that’s your thing then yes take a hike. That’s not how I operate.”

Chester interjects: “That guy can suck my dick.”

Linkin Park One More Light© WARNER BROS RECORDS

Explaining that attacks on a personal level accusing the band of selling out are his main gripe, Chester adds: “Either you like the song or you don’t and if you don’t like the song because you hear it and on a kneejerk reaction it’s like ‘oh it doesn’t have metal in it so I don’t like it’, that’s fine, like whatever.

“But if you’re gonna be the person who says like ‘they made a marketing decision to make this kind of record to make money’ you can fucking meet me outside and I will punch you in your fuck-ing mouth because that is the wrong fuckking answer.

“Because guess what, calling us a sell out for that purpose is… selling out on your fucking excuse as to why you don’t like it. You’re a fucking pussy. For any band to take musical risks because you like what you’re doing in spite of what you know some people will say they don’t like, it doesn’t matter if they like it or not – what matters is that you took the chance to do something that you felt was important to you and that’s what being an artist is all about.”

“When we did Minutes To Midnight (their third studio album, which saw them abandon nu-metal), this was a conversation we literally had, ‘this could end our career’. We all had that real honest conversation like ‘look I know we’re doing this because this is what we love and we really really… this is important to us. This could honestly be like the worst decision we’ve ever made professionally. Creatively probably the best thing, professionally it might be the worst.’ We were like ‘we’re good with that. We can live with that.’

Mike says: “The irony is that that’s more punk rock than the other thing (making straightforward rock music).”

Summing up his thoughts on naysayers accusing them of selling out, Chester finishes: “When you make it personal, like a personal attack against who we are as people, like dude shut up. That means that I can actually have feelings about it and most of the time my feelings are I want to kill you.”

You can listen to the full interview with Loz below where Chester and Mike also give an indepth insight into the recording process, explain why their press trips leave them more tired than hiking up a mountain and Chester reveals how he diffused what could have been a rather intense shoot for ‘Heavy’.

‘One More Light’ is out right now. Linkin Park also hit the road this July playing a trio of UK arenas. To buy tickets head to Kerrang! RadioTickets.

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