Chester Bennington steps out of the studio to take my call, but he's not in there making music for his new solo venture Dead by Sunrise. He's making Linkin Park's fourth record.
When Bennington announced that he'd be exploring music on his own, it seemed that Linkin Park might be dissolving, especially considering the famously drawn-out recording process that accompanied their most recent album, 2007's Minutes to Midnight. But he seems more excited about Linkin Park than ever.
Rumours abound that their next album will be more consistent than Minutes to Midnight, which was knitted together from 50 songs, and will be structured by a loose concept. He says that songwriting rules long held by the band are now disregarded and they are producing some of their most fluid material in their 10th year together.
Dead by Sunrise were a project that hatched during less permissive times. Bennington had written a number of songs that sank when he brought them to Linkin Park but that he didn't want to throw away.
He says that while guitarists Mike Shinoda and Brad Delson liked his material, they didn't think it would fit in with the songs on Minutes to Midnight.
"I played (one of the songs) … and they said, 'That's a great song, but we don't know what we could do with it'," Bennington says. "I knew the song was good, but I also knew the elements of the song the guys felt they could add to were small, and to take those elements and make something new out it would destroy the original body of the song."
Underlining the extent to which songwriting conditions have changed in Linkin Park, he adds: "Where we're at now with how we view ourselves as songwriters, had these songs been written now, there probably wouldn't be a Dead by Sunrise."
This might suggest Dead by Sunrise are merely a less conventional Linkin Park. Not so. Although Bennington believes Linkin Park in their current state would be receptive to some of the material they rejected, that material, as played by Dead by Sunrise, still sounds distinct from Linkin Park.
Part of that difference is due to the influence of his band members, Ryan Shuck and Amir Derakh, members of Julien-K and Orgy, respectively. They helped turn Bennington's acoustic demos into fleshed-out dark pop songs drawing from a variety of styles.
Fire, the opening track on their debut album Out of Ashes is a steady arena anthem; first single Crawl Back In is straight-up rock and closing song Morning After contains elements of Bennington's nu-metal origins.
"We've created our own sound with its own identity," Bennington says. "We'll be making more Dead by Sunrise records for sure.
"How fast we'll turn those around I don't know. Linkin Park are always No.1 so I'm forced … not forced, I am at the whim of whatever Linkin Park are doing at the time. But Dead by Sunrise are something I care about and want to do for as long as I can."
Out of Ashes is out now