Linkin Park, Incubus talk Honda Civic Tour, and the rock-star aging process
The 11th Honda Civic Tour kicks off this weekend featuring co-headliners Linkin Park, Incubus and opening act Mutemath. Ahead of the tour, which gets underway this weekend, Chester Bennington of Linkin Park and Brandon Boyd of Incubus conducted a nationwide teleconference with music journalists to hype the outing.
Besides bringing together the two headliners that have been looking to play together for some time, the annual rock music showcase is giving fans a chance to win a Linkin Park customized and autographed Honda Si Coupe and CBR250R motorcycle, plus a trip to Los Angeles that includes signed instruments and a visit to a Linkin Park music video shoot. Attendees can register to win the vehicles at each stop of the tour, as well as see the customized vehicles on display at each venue.
Bennington kicked off the 90-minute teleconference expressing how glad he was to be touring with Incubus.
"I think the most special thing about this tour is the fact that you have two headlining bands singing together on one bill, which typically can be kind of hard to do, specifically, because usually when you're in a position to headline a tour of this kind, you know, there's only room for one headlining band," he said. "I think from Linkin Park's standpoint, we're just going to come out and put on the highest energy show we can. And incorporate as much of the new music as possible. And I'm expecting that Incubus will probably do the same."
Boyd concurred, saying it's a good moment and a great opportunity to have two big giant rock-and-roll bands sharing a stage.
"I just think that's going to be better than either of us would do in our own show," Boyd said. "It's two headlining sets, including Mutemath, which is going to be a good time as well. So it's almost like a mini festival, which is amazing. I know that we as a band are really looking forward to doing it again this year, and I'm very much looking forward to seeing Linkin Park with my own eyes every night."
Both artists responded to a question from from SoundSpike about how the two acts remain relevant to new and changing audience tastes, while staying loyal to each of their respective fan bases.
"People ask me questions like, 'you see the Rolling Stones or guys who have been doing this for 50 years, do you see yourself doing this at their age?' And in my mind, I know that however long I live, until the day I die I'm probably going to feel mentally immature. And physically old," Bennington said laughing. "But my brain's not going to be calculating, 'Oh, I'm 70 years old.' It's like, 'What do you mean I'm almost done? Aagh! I just got started.'
"And so I think that it will become a bit more difficult for me to perform a few songs on a roster that I did so easily through my 20s and 30s, you know? When I'm 70 I don't know if I'll be, um, screaming 'Victimized' at anybody. Hopefully that will be the case, but I doubt it."
New and old fans
Bennington said one of the things that's so interesting about the music business is that anyone can come to one of the band's shows without knowing or caring about the last record Linkin Park put out.
"Every record that we go into, I look at like, this is our very first album and this is the best representation of what we are. And either people are going to love it or they're going to hate it, or not care," he said. "And so we take the creative gamble and we write music that we feel passionate about, that we feel is important and that we feel people [will] hear and connect with. You're giving that person a sense of inspiration."
Boyd added that it was hard for him to imagine performing Incubus material live when he reaches his 70s.
"I agree with you, we have so many songs that we wrote when we were in our young 20s. Some of them we wrote when we were teenagers and we still perform some of them. It occurs to me now at 36, damn, what was I thinking? This is hard! I have to really concentrate and sit still in order to do it," Boyd said.
"Two things occur to me. One was that somehow the guys in the Stones still look really cool doing it. And I think that really is a testament to number one, their talent, as well as their tenacity," he continued. "If you write good songs and if you write songs that have a potentially timeless quality, yeah I think that you'll be able to sing them long into your sunset years. I think that's really one of our intentions as a band."
Boyd said as a lyricist and as a singer, his deepest intention beyond just trying to express himself with a sense of purity is to achieve a sense of timelessness.
"You want to touch on subjects that are potentially universal, and that don't really need to be tied to the '90s. Or the 2000s. Or the 2030s," he said. "You want to essentially be able to make music that will essentially transcend time. The other thing that occurred to me when you said that, Chester, and imagining, knowing myself from experience as well, there are certain songs that get harder as you get older. The term vaginaplasty came to mind, and if they can do that with technology, by the time you and I are in our 60s, why can't they do laryngioplasty, where they can give us a 16-year-old's throat? Can you imagine, being all leathery?"
"Yeah, they would definitely overflow into the vocal cord area," Bennington replied. "I think that there are a lot of connections that can be made to the mouth and the vagina. I think that that's something, you may have actually just pioneered that entire industry. This is something that should be looked into. It's genius."
"We'll talk about this more when we get on the road together. And we're going to pioneer this technology and we're going to get elderly people singing like 20-year-olds. It's going to be awesome," Boyd said.
Responding to a follow-up, the two rock singers reflected on how they connect that to their particular brand of high energy music that is essentially rooted in experiences of much younger artists.
"Actually, it's been a real struggle, challenge," Boyd replied. "But being so identified with a particular style and a particular time, I know that there are certain parts of the world where certain journalism music reviewers will literally have not looked beyond Incubus's very first album, "Science," which we wrote and recorded when we were just freshly out of high school in 1997."
In support of their freshman effort, Incubus was thrilled to tour with established bands like Korn and Limp Bizkit.
"And we ended up doing a lot of touring, which was amazing, with Ozzy Osbourne and Black Sabbath and Pantera," Boyd continued. "But what's wild to me is that it's been that long and there are still these holdouts that are [asking] 'How's it going, being a nu-metal band?'
"And that's been a real challenge, not to make music that has transcended a genre, because I do believe that we've accomplished that and we continue to accomplish that, but to sort of shift people's perceptions and get people to take a second glance at an established artist."
Boyd observed that once people feel like they have you categorized, "they've put the milk on the milk shelf in the refrigerator, and it's almost like it can never live anywhere else in the refrigerator."
"I personally am interested in music. I'm not interested in making a kind of music. And I think that's why Incubus records have changed sometimes dramatically over the years," he continued.
"Our newest record, "If Not Now, When?" is really a good example of that. It's different, it's more different than any of our records than we've ever done before. And I personally am really inspired by that. I'm proud of that. I want to make music that continues to evolve and challenge people and surprise people. But getting people to let go of a predetermined notion of what you are and what you're supposed to be is really probably the largest challenge."
Bennington said Linkin Park has enjoyed the advantage of mixing various styles of music and bringing them together.
"We worked very hard from "Minutes to Midnight" on to change what we felt was the perception of what Linkin Park is by people outside of the band," Bennington said. "I think that Incubus and Linkin Park share a lot of similarities in terms of when we became popular in a time when selling tons of records was what people did, and the Internet wasn't really a strong force in the world. And then transitioning into a time where no one's buying records. And yet people are spending more money on music than any time before."
Bennington said that transitioning and getting older and having all these experiences definitely shapes the way he thinks about working in the music business.
"But the things that inspire are all the same kind of things that inspired me when I was 15. You know, life is very complicated and there's so much stuff that happens, like moments in your life that are so precious and so beautiful and so specific to our individual story," he added. "Each person has such a beautiful story to tell and some are horrific and scary but yet there's still something beautiful happening there. Those are things that inspire me creatively, and I think that the older I get the more savvy I become in business and how you view your business. I think it's because you have more experience.
Bennington said the music business is a very tricky business to be in. But Linkin Park has successfully transitioned from focusing on selling records to being accessible to fans on tour.
"There's a million versions of our songs out there anyways, good to bad. People can videotape every performance that we do. And everything's out there," Bennington said. "So why do we even care about [selling records]? Isn't giving your music to a billion people far more valuable? I don't think it's the way musicians would have thought ten years ago. I wouldn't have even have thought that ten years ago. I would have thought, no way, we have to sell records.
"I think that age brings wisdom and age brings experience. But the things that inspire me are the same, those are the moments that you kind of catch in your web as you go through life," Bennington concluded. "You kind of grab the tastier parts of life and we get to write songs about them, we get to write music about those experiences and then go perform them for people just as often."
The tour will kick off Saturday (8/11) in Bristow, VA, and wind its way throughout the country concluding Sept. 10 in San Diego.
11 - Bristow, VA - Jiffy Lube Live
12 - Uncasville, CT - Mohegan Sun Arena
14 - Mansfield, MA - Comcast Center
17 - Camden, NJ - Susquehanna Bank Center
19 - Atlanta, GA - Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre
21 - Auburn Hills, MI - The Palace of Auburn Hills
22 - Cincinnati, OH - Riverbend Music Center
24 - Tinley Park, IL - First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre
25 - Noblesville, IN - Klipsch Music Center
27 - Dallas, TX - Gexa Energy Pavilion
28 - The Woodlands, TX - Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
30 - Englewood, CO - Comfort Dental Amphitheatre
4 - Vancouver, British Columbia - Rogers Arena
5 - Tacoma, WA - Tacoma Dome
7 - Mountain View, CA - Shoreline Amphitheatre
10 - Chula Vista, CA - Cricket Wireless Amphitheatre