Club Tattoo's Chester Bennington Interview - Part 2
January 25, 2008
RB: What’s your role in Club Tattoo, maybe it’s not on a daily basis, but overall, what’s your role in it?
CB: Well, I’ve actually been more involved now than I probably ever even imagined. It’s interesting. Because of the success with my band, I have the opportunity to kind of raise interest in Club Tattoo in ways that are gonna reach more people and have more impact than if Sean or Thora called up Rolling Stone and said, “We want you guys to cover a story on Club Tattoo.” They probably would be like, “Yeah, whatever.” Not to take anything away from anything Club Tattoo has done--in the tattoo industry we can call up any tattoo magazine and say, “We’ve got a story if you guys are interested,” and they’ll come out and do a story on Club Tattoo. But I travel all over the world, I talk to a lot of different people and I have the opportunity to expose the brand to people outside of our region. And so that’s one of the things that I bring to the table. The other thing is that I do have a lot of experience in marketing things because of the group. We’ve gained quite the education on how to keep in contact with people that you want to target. It’s kind of crazy to talk about bands or clients that way, but there is a need for that. And also, I contribute a lot with the designs, I knew [Jed? 19:50] knew kind of what I wanted to see and that [Brodie? 19:55] and the rest of the crew here on which designs we actually liked the most. Clothing-wise, I don’t really have time to sit back and create graphics, but I do have a lot of input on how the clothes look and how being thrown around here a little bit.
RB: I probably should have asked this earlier when we were going through the history, but when Sean came up with the idea for Club Tattoo, back 12 years ago, were you kind of like, “Oh, that’s crazy,” or were you like, “It’s not gonna work,” or were you like, “Let’s do it!”
CB: Actually, I was surprised, because I always thought Sean was gonna do something in business, cuz he was always a very business-minded guy. But it was strange he chose to open a tattoo shop, cuz none of us had any tattoos. We didn’t know anything about any part of the whole world at the time, at least from what I remember. It just seemed like a big risk, but I was like, “Fucking cool! Tattoos are awesome, and now I have a place to go.” (Laughs.) But, yeah, it struck me as interesting because it wasn’t what I would have thought he would have done. And now that I see, this is Sean’s life and this is Thora’s life, and they breathe this place 24 hours a day and it turns out that he is probably one of the best at the business side of the tattoo enterprise. He gets it. It’s a talent.
RB: How about Sean and Thora as a couple? How do you see them, how would you describe them, or what are views of them as a couple?
CB: They’re pretty awesome, they’re really a great couple together. They fit, and they work this place well. They both bring different things to Club Tattoo, but together, they’re pretty funny. It’s pretty awesome to hang out with them. Thora’s a riot.
RB: She’s funky.
CB: Yeah, she is. She’s a firecracker; she’d punch you in the face. And smile. (Laughs loudly.)
RB: How many of your tattoos have been done by Club Tattoo people?
CB: I’d say probably 70% of my work has been done through Club Tattoo. I have had some pieces done--I had some work in Florida done; I had some work in Ireland done; I had some work in California, but most of my work has been done by artists that have worked at Club Tattoo.
RB: Are you still into getting tattoos? Or have you not been really getting a lot of tattoos lately?
CB: I’ve been actually getting a lot-- a back piece I’ve been working on—I took a little break for a while cuz I got a lot of work done really fast, and dude, the back is brutal. I mean, they all hurt, I’m not gonna lie and be tough guy and say “Oh, that one didn’t hurt.” But some places hurt worse than others (chuckles). But I have a back piece, and I just actually got one of the other dragons colored in--most of it colored in--so, probably another 20 hours or so of work left in it. And when it gets done, I’ve got some other skin that needs to be filled in, and I want to just leave the full sleeves, and some more work here and here. I’ve got a piece across my chest that I want to tie in, some work to kind of give myself a tattoo cake (laughs). And I have work on my legs, you know, I’m just gonna keep going until I just feel I’m done. I pretty much decided that this is gonna be a life-long journey.
RB: Right on. So, we were talking about this earlier before the camera went on, but you’ve got the Linkin Park album coming in about six weeks
CB: May 15th it comes out.
RB: So I’m imagining things are gonna get just super hectic for you?
CB: Yeah, dude, it already is, it’s kind of crazy!
RB: I guess, just maybe walk us through that a little. You were telling me earlier you’re doing all this stuff.
CB: Yeah, for the last couple weeks, we just finished mixing the record, and mastering the record, and we started doing all this press and everything, and I think last week alone we did 70 interviews internationally. We went to New York and launched the shoe, also, and then came back and I’ve done press all this week, every day, and now I’m out here doing this photo shoot here. Tomorrow I have off, but I’ve got phone interviews to do, and then I leave for Southeast Asia on Sunday and I’ll be gone for 10 days doing promo and press out there. And then come back and I have about five days off, four of which I’ll be rehearsing and then we’re gonna go out and start performing shows the 22nd of April. And then we come back, do Bamboozle Festival, Saturday Night Live, that’s on the East Coast. And then Jimmy Kimmel and the Weenie Roast in LA, and then we’re off to Europe for a month doing all the big European festivals. And we’re doing some other shows, like the Pearl Jam stuff out there, that aren’t festival-driven, and then we kick off the summer tour (chuckles) in the US, and after that we are probably gonna either go back to Europe or out to Southeast Asia. And then, get home, do Christmas. . . (laughs) and go back out as soon as possible, another, probably, back to, depending on if we go to Southeast Asia, we might go to Australia, and we want to do South America, South Africa next year around this time. I’m already into next year already (laughs) so this is gonna last for the next two or three years.
RB: Yeah, I was just gonna ask. . .
CB: We’re launching a clothing line, a premium clothing line, too, at Club Tattoo, we have a premium clothing line called VE’CEL that we’re launching in August, so I’ll be doing the shows and on my days off, between tour dates, I’ll be flying from this place or that place, so we can launch the clothes, which is kinda like “Psht [similar sound 27:06].”
RB: So the act of – let’s eliminate the recording process or whatever – the act of putting a record out, with the tour included and the promotion, becomes sort of a three-year commitment?
CB: Oh yeah, yes. A lot of bands go out, like the average cycle lasts about a year and a half. And our cycles last about two, and we’ve always stopped around there, cuz we felt like we had to go back and do a record. But I think that was always the peak. It felt like every time we stopped, we were at the peak of our touring, so I think we might push for three.
RB: Well, you guys have been on sort of a hiatus for a while.
RB: It’s been the longest gap between records and whatnot.
CB: Right. . .yeah, and I’ve got a record I’m gonna be finishing while we’re gonna be touring cycle.
RB: Another Linkin Parker?
CB: Well, we’ll be doing that as well, but I have another band called Death by Sunrise.
RB: Oh, okay.
CB: It’s kind of like my solo, I guess you can consider it like the solo thing, but I like to look at it more like a band, cuz we’re all working it together; it’s exactly the same way we work the Linkin Park thing. I have a little bit more of a dictatorship, but it is not as much as a democracy as Linkin Park, like I have more control over it. But I’ll be finishing that up too, so when the LP record’s winding down, I’ll probably drop that one and have to tour that as well.
RB: It just dawned on me you guys, didn’t Bucket of Weenies ??? play GVR? Was that your band?
CB: Yeah, we played GVR last year. Or the year before.
RB: Yeah, ’05. So, with all that work, that commitment to not having a free day or hour to yourself, once things sort of do wind down, are you bored in a way? Or sort of desensitized to relaxing or do you bask in it?
CB: No, it’s interesting. Most of the time I feel like there’s something I’m forgetting and I should be doing and if I don’t do it something really bad’s gonna happen. So I get kind of this anxiety, kind of “what am I forgetting?” or “what am I blowing off?” But there are times where I realize that even if there is something I’m blowing off, I kind of need to, cuz if I don’t, then . . . I enjoy doing what I do and I enjoy all the different things that I’m involved in, and I don’t ever want to get to a place where I’m like, thinking, “What the hell did I get myself into?” (Laughs.)