Club Tattoo's Chester Bennington Interview - Part 3
January 31, 2008
RB: How old is your, is it son, you have a son?
CB: Yeah, I have four boys.
RB: Four boys.
CB: Got a litter of kids!
RB: What’s the oldest, and the youngest?
CB: My oldest is 11, and his brother is gonna be 10 in November. And I have a 5-year-old, and my youngest just turned one, a couple weeks ago.
RB: So throughout all this, like the music career, the rock star, the everything, how does fatherhood affect that, as far as whether it be creating music or . . .
CB: No I think I’ve really figured it out. I figured it out that I wasn’t always the best dad, you know what I mean? My kids love me, I love my kids, but the reality is that my career always took front seat for a long time. And so I really kind of figured it out, like how to balance being a dad and running a company, and trying to create new companies, and . . . I have another company called Level 7 that is a music and technology-based company, and people will start hearing about that in the next couple of years, but that’s been also a lot of work too, building that, recruiting people for that type of thing too. So it’s been a lot of work too. But, it’s interesting, because somehow I figured out how to do it all. I don’t know exactly when it happened, but I spend more time with all my kids than I ever have. I’ve been married for, I’ve been with my wife for a little over two years. I got divorced a couple years ago, but it was interesting because I spend more time with everybody now. Like, I spend more time with my band, I spend more time with my wife, spend more time with my kids, and I spend more time working than I ever have.
RB: You just figured out the balance?
CB: It’s really weird, dude, I don’t know when it clicked, but it somehow all the gears just kind of. . .
RB: It’s a good thing.
CB: (Laughing) I’m not gonna be able to write any kind of self-help book, tell anybody else how to do it though. . .
RB: So I asked Sean and Thora to give me a good Chester story, like a funny story, and they told me about the RJ Reynolds show.
CB: Oh, dude, that was awesome!
RB: And that was an amazing story, so I wanted to ask you if you had a good, funny Sean and Thora story or. . .
CB: Well, Thora’s pretty awesome when we uh, we throw parties for Club Tattoo every year. We started about four years ago, right after started expanding into multiple shops. We decided our clients were kicking ass, and they gave us a lot of things to be thankful for, so let’s throw a party and invite them all. And so we started doing that every year, and it kind of escalated into this party everybody looks forward to every year, and we have bands come out. Thora freaks out, dude. From the second we start, dude, she’s on a thousand miles an hour. And she’s nervous, and she’s sweating and she doesn’t know how to, she’s like, “How do you talk to all these people?” and it’s kind of funny. And every year I have to take her aside, and kind of calm her down and tell her to chill out, and it’s all cool, and to just have a good time, and she doesn’t have to – cuz she wants to be sure everybody’s having a good time, and, you know, when there’s 4,000 people there, that can be quite a hectic position to put yourself in. It’s like, “Dude, relax, and just enjoy the party.” But it’s pretty awesome. I guess it’s something that you might have to see, in order to appreciate, but nervous breakdowns are pretty spectacular. Cuz she doesn’t do that, she holds things together pretty well, most of the time. And Sean, dude, there are so many Sean stories I have . . . there was this one time when we were in Grey Daze. And we drove out and we were doing some shows and a photo shoot. Photo shoot and a show, out in San Diego. We might not have done a show during this time. But we went out and did this photo shoot and we ended up staying overnight, and I had been married to my ex-wife, and it was a pretty fresh marriage. And so I’d just gotten into, you know, cuddling with someone, you know what I mean? And we had to share a bed. And so Sean and I were in the same bed. And Sean had really long hair, like really long hair, like down-to-his-ass long, and so I woke up in the morning, and I was like this around Sean. (Demonstrates cuddling.) And he was like, “What the fuck are you doing, dude?!” I was like, “Uhhh, nothing!”
RB: Yeah, how do you come out of that one?
CB: You just kind of like that, “Uhhh, nothing!”
RB: And move on?
CB: Yeah, you kind of hope that the flashlight wasn’t hanging out of your pants or anything like that, but, it was pretty embarrassing, dude. That was a good Sean story. I wish I could think of a better one. . .
RB: That’s like that scene in Planes, Trains and Automobiles.
CB: The “dirty pillow” scene? Yeah, it was pretty similar. It was our own little “dirty pillow.” Dude, there’s so many stories, most of them are incriminating, so I won’t go into them. (Laughs.)
RB: Fair enough. I read somewhere that I guess, Sean or someone was saying that grips of people come here to get the same tattoos as you, like on your wrists. . .
CB: (Laughs) Yeah. . .
RB: I was just wondering how you felt about that, is it flattering?
CB: Well, imitation is one of the greatest forms of flattery; it’s a compliment. But at the same time, there’s a lot of people with flames on their wrists, it’s not like I was the first dude to get fire on my arms. But I specifically got, like, I went to this dude, who was really good at the hot rod thing, and I was like, just make them unique and really cool so they don’t look like little flames or tribal thing. He was like, “Alright, dude, I’ve been working on this new one!” And he actually had been working on this new flame style, and he’s like, “I’m gonna do it!” so he drew them on, and I was like, “Awesome!” And I loved how they were really long and kind of flickering up my arm, and it didn’t really look like the typical flames, and that’s what I liked about it. So, when I see kids come up and say, “Dude, I got your flames!” I’m just like, “Aaaah!” Now they’re not mine anymore, now they’re like somebody else’s. But, you know, that’s part of the tattoo world too, you’re gonna see something that you like and you’re gonna go, “Dude, I like this. I want that.” You know? But, it’s cool, dude, no one’ll ever have exactly what I got. That’s kind of dope.
RB: And this is where you walked in, before, I was asking Sean and Thora, what was your first tattoo, what’s your favorite, and if you have any that you regret or sort of laugh about?
CB: My first tattoo encompasses two of those things. My first tattoo I got when I was 18, and there was a girl here that worked here, and I thought she was just smokin’ hot. She had this rock-hard body, and tatted from her neck all the way down to her feet; like almost every inch of her body was tattooed. And I thought she was a goddess, so I was like, “I want her to tattoo me.” So she did this tattoo over here; it’s Pisces. I was like, “I want Pisces like this,” and then she drew a quarter sleeve on. It goes from here all the way up to here. It’s kind of crazy. So I was like, “Alright.” And I did it, sat there for five hours and got the outline done-- which is a really long time, by the way, to get an outline done. And she had a really heavy hand; it was not the best experience. And she drew these little alien faces--let me see if I can pull my sleeve up. She drew these little alien faces on the fish, you see that? It’s like, it’s kinda, it looks like a girl did it, right?
RB: Uh huh. . .
CB: Yeah. So, needless to say, I was stoked cuz I felt like I was tougher or something, I got it done, but it’s not a tough tattoo, you know? And then she bailed, she didn’t finish it, cuz she just did the outline and bailed, I paid her for the whole thing, and so eventually--Sean’s cousin works here and he ended up coloring it in for me. It was just. . . it was a nightmare.
RB: So that was the first and the regrettable?
CB: And the most regrettable.
RB: And then how about your favorite?
CB: It’s kind of hard to say, cuz my back piece is probably the most involved and there’s so much of it that I love. But I think I like my elbows the best. I love the, it’s more of a traditional piece, but it’s kind of done in a non-traditional way, which I really like about it. And my pirate. I think the detail on his face is just amazing. But, ever since this tattoo, I’ve kind of made it a point not to get tattoos that suck in my mind. You know, other people can think that they suck, but like, I drew the koi on this arm, which was kind of a special thing. I was pretty proud of myself that I drew it. I’ve got the Hybrid Theory tat, cover here. I have a dragon on this side that’s pretty dope, and my back piece, I just think it’s . . . I love it, it’s cool. And I have this crest across my chest that has my initials, my wife’s initials and the initials of my boys underneath it. And it’s right over my heart; I think that one’s my most sentimental piece. I love it. It’s really simple, there’s not any color; it’s just black and greys. It means a lot to me. . .
RB: Right on. . .This is the last question. Other than all these other projects that you’re doing, the bands, the clothing, and the Club Tattoo, the Linkin Park. . . what are you kind of into that maybe people don’t know about? Or, maybe in the future, when all this stuff’s over, is there something that you want to accomplish? Like Sean said he wanted to be a pilot . . .
CB: Yeah. . . I’m working on this company called Level 7 and our goal is to completely change the way the music industry is run. And I can’t really--I wish I could tell you more about it, but I can’t. My goal, I’ve accomplished everything I’ve ever wanted, more than I ever could have dreamed of accomplishing with Linkin Park, you know? And we do things that just blow my mind. But I want to contribute; I want to be known as someone who contributed in a positive way to everybody in the business, that helped to give artists control of their careers back. And put the power back into the hands of the fans and the hands of the artists, rather than in the hands of some fucking dude who doesn’t even know how to write a song. I think the people who really make the business possible, the artists and the fans are the ones that are taken for granted the most. And I really want to try and help that, and try to change that, and hopefully with what we’re doing with Level 7, we’ll be able to accomplish that.