Linkin Park singer/guitarist Mike Shinoda discussed the difficulty when it comes to possibly replacing Chester Bennington in a new Rolling Stone interview.
Shinoda has only performed live a few times since Bennington’s death. The first was at Linkin Park’s tribute to the singer, an event that Shinoda calls “exhausting” in hindsight. “I was onstage for almost the whole thing, singing most of the time,” he says. “I had to compartmentalize and be out of my body for some of it in order to get through the whole thing. But I really loved how it came out. The longest show we did before was 90 minutes, and this was over three hours. I know it helped a lot of people who didn’t have any kind of memorial and it provided closure for some people.”
One thing his fans might not have known about the show is that Shinoda had Bennington’s voice in his in-ear monitors during some of the songs for cues. “I’m used to hearing the songs in a certain way, so we’ve started making practice tracks,” he says. “So if anybody’s missing, we can turn on the album version of their track and practice as if they were there. When you think about some of my parts, we would go back and forth, so I would want to hear that other voice.”
But hearing Bennington’s voice alongside a who’s who of hard-rock luminaries – including Bush’s Gavin Rossdale, Korn’s Jonathan Davis and Avenged Sevenfold’s M. Shadows, among others who appeared at the event – helped the band realize an important lesson. “The week after the show, I was listening back and going, ‘God, these people were all really great singers and none of them were Chester,'” he says. “He had such a specific tone and range – an incredible range. He could sing almost any style you wanted him to. That led to conversations about what to do next. It became obvious that you can’t just hire some schmuck to get up there and sing with us, ’cause they won’t be able to hit half the stuff.”