Farhan Shah, Editor
It was my 14th birthday. I was a skinny, pimply-faced teenager, grappling with the pains of puberty and a troubled childhood. But, I was happy that day. I had saved up enough money to buy Linkin Park’s debut album Hybrid Theory after having first listened to ‘Crawling’ and connecting so closely with the lyrics. It was going to be my birthday present to myself. Until today, the CD is still in my cupboard. Although I have thrown away most of my physical music collection, Hybrid Theory, Reanimation, Meteora and Live In Texas are still present in my home.
News of Chester Bennington’s suicide was hard for me. His angry, controlled screaming and soulful singing spoke to my soul and was the soundtrack to my difficult teenage years, as it was for many others like us out there. I’m sure we must have crossed paths when Linkin Park first came to Singapore more than a decade ago at The Padang. My friends and I were outside the entrance, too poor to afford the tickets. So we did the next best thing. We stayed outside with many other fans just like ourselves and head-banged to Linkin Park’s music while the bouncers and security guards looked on with amusement.
Whether you liked Linkin Park’s music or not (I know my mum hated it), you can’t deny the band’s influence on popular culture. They, together with Limp Bizkit, popularised the nu-metal genre and spawned a list of copycats. They were the first to mash two disparate genres – rap and rock – together with Bennington and Mike Shinoda’s musical aesthetics. Then they went one step further and produced a mash-up album Reanimation. Every other band followed suit.
I knew Bennington and Chris Cornell were close. The former even sang at the latter’s funeral a few months ago.
Cornell’s suicide must have weighed heavily on Bennington’s mind. Despite six children, two wives, fame and money, the demons that he had been running away from since childhood (he was sexually abused as a child, came from a broken family, and abused drugs) finally clawed him back to the ground. It goes to show that everyone’s fighting a hard battle and we should all be kind to one another.
I’ll be listening to Linkin Park today and breaking out the CDs over the weekend to head bang to (I’m sorry mum). I just need to find a CD player. I wonder if there’s one at Sungei Road. Thank you for the music Chester. You will be remembered.
Terence Ruis, Writer
If music is a big part of your life, there’s a good chance you remember the very first album you bought with your own savings. For me, it was Linkin Park (LP)’s debut studio album, Hybrid Theory. I have to credit a pair of my cousins with introducing the record to me. The pair of them, brothers who are around the same age as me, were the coolest people I knew. They always had the best World Wrestling Federation (WWF) merchandise, the trendiest clothes, and of course, the latest music CDs.
When I was 10, the three of us were chilling out in the hotel room while on a family trip to Malacca when my older cousin, Kris, asked if I’d heard of LP. Not wanting to appear uncool, I said ”Yah, of course! Everyone knows it!” when in fact, I hadn’t the faintest clue of what a “Linkin Park” was. The next thing I remember, we were all jumping on the bed, swinging our arms wildly with Hybrid Theory blasting on my uncle’s portable stereo. A couple of songs later, one of us knocked the stereo off the bed, destroying it, and it was the last bit of screaming we heard on the trip, apart from our dads giving us hell for the incident.
I had only listened to LP for about 15 minutes, but I was mesmerized. The chorus of ‘One Step Closer’, with Chester Bennington and Mike Shinoda syncing up perfectly, played in my head throughout the drive home to Singapore. The very next day I started saving to buy that record, and when I finally did, I must’ve played it on repeat for months.
I loved that the band’s sound was nothing like I’d ever heard before. It was loud yet melodic, and noisy yet intricate. You could tell a lot of work went into it, but most of all, it was what Chester brought that tied it all together. The pain in his voice was so visceral I could feel it in every line of lyric he sang. I was fortunate enough to not experience the torment that Chester went through when he was growing up, but whenever I had a difficult day, I could retreat into the enclave that was LP. I admired that Chester fought through the hardship, and showed others that you’re the master of your own fate. I guess that held true till the very end.
I’m heartbroken that he decided to take his own life, but I hope he finally finds the peace he was looking for, and I also hope his wife and six children come to terms with their loss. LP aren’t what they used to be, but they were a huge part of my childhood, and will always be a part of my life. Thank you, Chester, for giving me music to hold on to all through my life.
Like millions of fans around the world, I’ll be spending my weekend listening to all my LP records, and replaying all the memories linked to them.