Grey Daze

Chester Bennington possessed one of the most inimitable, infectious, and instantly identifiable voices in the history of rock music.

The moment he screamed, it felt like the heavens themselves burst apart into a torrent of often violent, undeniably vibrant, and always vital emotions. It’s why fans worldwide hung on to every single word he uttered—and ultimately
sang along with him forever.

His voice lives on in Grey Daze.

What started as a pledge to Chester by friends and family has crystallized into an essential extension of his storied legacy. Grey Daze introduced him to the world during a crucial run from 1993 to 1998. It’s where he honed the vocals that ultimately defined Linkin Park. Prior to his passing, he personally broke the news of the band’s return and intention to re-record, re-invent, and re-ignite music they’d started twenty years prior. Working closely with his family and widow Talinda, the bandmates—longtime members Sean Dowdell [drums, backing vocals] and Mace Beyers [bass] joined by Cristin Davis [guitar] who entered the fold in 2017]—breathed new life into 10 tracks with his original vocals on Amends in 2020. It generated tens of millions of streams and incited widespread critical applause. Beyond praise from Rolling Stone, Revolver, and Alternative Press, Brooklyn Vegan hailed it as “pretty fascinating stuff,” and Billboard attested it “provides some grunge-laced light in an otherwise dark hour.” NME summed it up best as “a great modern rock record fronted by one of the best vocalists in the game.” It was only the first part of this promise though. There were another ten tracks to bookend the original.

Fulfilling the second part of this pledge by finishing the other ten songs, Grey Daze continue Chester’s story on 2022’s The Phoenix [Loma Vista Records], amplifying his voice like never before once more.
“Amends was more emotional and reflective,” exclaims Dowdell. “We felt sad when we were writing it. Now that we’re a couple of years removed, it’s very clear what we were going through. We were at a different stage of grief. We went through the shock and the sadness. Now, we’re back to gratitude. So, The Phoenix is more of a celebration of our friend, his talent, and the music. It captures Chester’s angst and energy that people fell in love with. It’s much more aggressive. If you love Chester’s scream, you’ll love this record.”

In late 2020, Dowdell and Co. turned their attention to the remaining tracks and what would become The Phoenix. They handpicked tracks from 1994 and 1997 and entered the studio with Amends producer Esjay Jones. This time around, she exclusively produced the entire project. They immediately locked into a groove and rallied around Chester’s spirit.
“The Phoenix embodies what Chester was,” he continues. “His soul is rising through our world past his death. It’s his rebirth.”

It’s a rebirth in flames as evidenced by the first single and opener “Saturation (Strange Love).” Chester’s scream rings out with passion and power over hard-hitting distortion before dipping back into a vulnerable verse only to snap back into vocal pummeling.

“It goes right back to his roots and core,” smiles Dowdell. “You get the feeling of angst from early Chester. It’s powerful and punches you right in the gut. Lyrically, it’s metaphorical. We told the story of a narcissistic leader who values fame and money over other’s lives.”

A searing riff kickstarts “Starting To Fly” as Dowdell’s voice resounds in a chant, “How high can we go?”

“Chester and I wrote the lyrics together,” he recalls. “It’s a philosophical song about coming into your own adulthood and independence. I got to sing with Chester, which was always really fun to do.”

Leaning into a gothic industrial soundscape, droning guitars buzz through “Drag.” It culminates with a well-placed “Shut up” before he warns, “Life is much too short to be a drag.”

“I’ve always loved that lyric,” he goes on. “It’s very meaningful and profound. Don’t let the little shit bother you.”

Various special guests contributed to The Phoenix. Dave Navarro of Jane’s Addiction delivered an evocative, ethereal, and entrancing guitar solo on “Holding You,” ripping with raw passion beneath Chester’s words. Filter main man Richard Patrick—who happened to be another one of Chester’s influences—duets with him on “Believe Me.”

“This album really pulls in all of our influences—Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam, Jane’s Addiction, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and grunge,” he observes. “It’s all mixed in with Chester’s energy.”

The most important collaboration happened during “Hole” though. Immortalizing a family bond on tape, Chester’s daughters, Lily and Lila Bennington, sing a chorus and a nursery rhyme at the beginning of the track.
“That was the coolest thing,” smiles Dowdell. “He never had the chance to sing on a song with them, so it was a gift to our friend.”

As a whole, The Phoenix is the ultimate gift to their friend.

“When you listen to this, I hope you appreciate Chester even more,” he leaves off. “This is a different perspective on who he was. I want his music to live in your heart and mind. At the end of the day, we did this for him. I know his parents, wife, and kids are super proud. To me, that’s still the only thing that matters.”