Linkin Park's Chester Bennington on Kids, Touring and Summer Vacations

"I partied harder when I wasn't a rock star than I have since I've been one"

Chester Bennington recently started leasing his very own tour bus, separate from the one his bandmates ride, so he can bring his wife, Samantha, and their one-year-old son on the road. Credit: J. Shearer/WireImage

AFTER THREE YEARS OF NONSTOP touring and with three blockbuster albums under their belt, you'd think Linkin Park might want a summer off. 

"What do you mean?" says singer Chester Bennington."If we weren't doing summer sanitarium, we'd be on our own tour." To reward himself for all of his hard work, Bennington recently started leasing his very own tour bus, separate from the one his bandmates ride, so he can bring his wife, Samantha, and their one-year-old son on the road. "I'm spoiled now," he admits. "Sometimes when Samantha isn't with me, the guys will be like, 'Why don't you stay on our bus?' And I'm like, 'You guys sleep in bunks. On my bus, I have a real bedroom and my own bathroom.'"

What were you doing the summer before you joined Linkin Park?
I had pretty much quit the business. I had played with every single person in Phoenix, and I hated everybody. I made a demo and moved to L.A. I was twenty-four year old, and I was way overqualified for Burger King. I was like, "I just need to make a hundred bucks a week so I can eat." I ended up Chester Bennington, Continued Working at his little cofee shop. Coffee-houses are understanding of the underemployed. They know that every employee could be a future CEO.

How is it playing when the sun is still up?
Davey Havok from AFI and I were talking about this: During the day, there's no lights, and there's just not that feeling of a rock & roll show. We're there to kick ass, and that's harder to do when it's daylight.

What did you do in the summer as a kid?
Well, between thirteen and fifteen is when I discovered drugs. I had a group of friends, and they were the cooler kids who would let me hang out with them. I did so much partying that I kind of earned respect. I would see everybody, because I was going to all these concerts. I'd load up on whatever I wanted to play with that night, whether it was ten hits of acid or a liter of vodka, and I'd run around with my friends. We'd trip out and drive home.

Do you worry about your son seeing the other bands partying when he's with you on the road?
Every band that I've met – even the ones that misbehave – know it's not cool to misbehave in front of a little kid. And I won't have him with me on the road his whole life. He's got to have a normal life. But if he wants to be a rock star, that's fine.

Like his daddy?
Honestly, I partied harder when I wasn't a rock star than I have since I've been one. I always say that you don't have to be a rock star to act like one. You don't have to be special to be a dick.

Summer Sanitarium pairs you guys with Limp Bizkit. Now, didn't you all have some kind of beef?
We never had a beef. But in the beginning, we were lumped in with bands like Crazy Town. I think because we were associated with that, Limp Bizkit didn't want to be associated with us. One of the guys in the band said, "I'd rather stab myself in the neck with a screwdriver than listen to Linkin Park." Then one time they got to watch us play. Afterward, the guy who had made the comment said he was sorry for talking shit about us. That kind of inspired us; anybody who has anything derogatory to say, we just say, "If you've listened to our records and seen us play and you still think we suck, more power to you."