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Linkin Park recall ‘crying for joy’ hearing Chester Bennington’s voice for the first time

Linkin Park
(Image credit: Mick Hutson / Getty Images)

Linkin Park are celebrating the 20th anniversary of their hugely-successful debut album Hybrid Theory by issuing new special editions of the set. On September 29, band members Mike Shinoda, Brad Delson, Dave Farrell and Joe Hahn took part in a special online interview with host Matt Pinfield to discuss the recording of the album and the memories they hold surrounding its initial release. 

The forthcoming Super Deluxe edition of the album, due for release via Warners on October 9, features, among numerous other rarities, 12 previously unreleased demo tracks from the band, one of which, Pictureboard, is considered by hardcore fans to be the ‘holy grail’ of Linkin Park recordings, as it’s only ever been played live in concert once. Written when the band was still called Xero, a demo version of the track was passed along to Chester Bennington in 1999 by an acquaintance in the music business who knew that the Los Angeles band were seeking a lead vocalist, and Bennington duly recorded new vocals for it, before submitting it to the band for their consideration 

“The second I played the demo, I knew it was special,” Bennington told Metal Hammer in 2016. “I knew right away. I thought, ‘This is the one.’”

Speaking with Matt Pinfield, guitarist Brad Delson reveals that he was equally enthused upon hearing what Bennington had done with the song.

“I think Pictureboard was the first thing I heard Chester’s voice on,” the guitarist recalled. “I remember getting that, and being like, ‘Hey, what do you think of this guy? He just sent us this recording…’ and being like, not crying with joy, but like, almost crying, just like, Wow! I don’t even know what that is. He‘s tiny and vulnerable on the verse and you could hear all these timbres and harmonics, like overtones, in his voice on the heavy part. It just blew my hat off my head, and we’re like, ‘We gotta meet this guy!’”

Asked about the band’s first rehearsals with Bennington, who had formerly fronted Arizona rockers Grey Daze, Mike Shinoda recalled he and his friends marvelling at the singer’s talent.

“We were so protective of like, the identity of the band, and what we were trying to do,” Shinoda remembered. “We had this vision of what it was supposed to be coming into focus, and it wasn’t there yet, but we really wanted to get it right. And so when Chester came in, I remember we all couldn’t stop talking about how talented he was, and what a voice he had. 

“When we were making demoes together and doing stuff for the first time, he was still discovering who he wanted to be as a vocalist as well, and it was partially like, how he could express himself in a unique way, but then also what would fit this style of music, what would fit this band the best. So it was doing both of those things at the same time, and I was like, the first point of contact: it’d be me recording him, and he’d do a thing and I’d respond to that, and so it was like a slow progression into that identity. It wasn’t like there was one moment where he sang a thing and I went, ‘Wow! That’s it!’ It was like all these little steps.

“We released a song for this box set called She Couldn’t, and looking back at that one, I don’t know if I realised it in the moment, but She Couldn’t, to me, was so cool because it had… for example, lyrically, it had the line ‘You’re not alone’, he didn’t scream in the song, there were no heavy, distorted electric guitars in the song, the entire rhythm track was mostly sampled, and in one song, like super super early on in our relationship together with Chester, it was like this was the type of song that would become part of our identity way down the line, like it was pointing the compass in the direction of 2010, or 2007. It was all in there, we just had to discover it.”

The new Super Deluxe box set Hybrid Theory will include five CDs containing the original album, the Reanimation remix album, B-Side Rarities containing 12 tracks from the album era, LPU Rarities with 18 tracks that were only previously available through the Linkin Park Underground fan club, and Forgotten Demos which will bring together 12 previously unreleased tracks including She Couldn’t.

In addition, the Super Deluxe Box will contain a replica DVDS of the out-of-print Frat Party At The Pankake Festival, a previously unreleased Live Projekt Revolution set from 2002, and Live At The Fillmore 2001/Live At Rock Am Ring 2001.

There will also be a cassette reproduction of a two-track sampler originally handed out by Linkin Park street team members ahead of the album release, an 80-page book featuring contributions from the band and previously unseen photos, a poster of Chester Bennington, three lithographs featuring new art by Mike Shinoda, Joe Hahn and Frank Maddocks and a replica tour laminate.

Linkin Park: Hybrid Theory 20th Anniversary Edition
Linkin Park will celebrate the 20th anniversary of their debut album Hybrid Theory with this new edition. It'll feature all the album tracks, along with demos, rarities, b-sides and more.View Deal

Linkin Park: Hybrid Theory Super Deluxe Box Set contents

CDs
1. Hybrid Theory
2. Reanimation
3. B-Side Rarities
4. LPU Rarities
5. Forgotten Demos

DVDs
1. Frat Party At The Pankake Festival
2. Live Projekt Revolution
3. Live At The Fillmore 2001/Live At Rock Am Ring 2001

LPS
1. Hybrid Theory 
2. Reanimation 
3. Hybrid Theory EP

EXTRAS

* 80-page book featuring contributions from the band and previously unseen photos
* Cassette reproduction of original 2-track street team sampler
* 18x24 poster of Chester Bennington
* 3 Lithographs featuring new art by Mike Shinoda, Joe Hahn, & Frank Maddocks
* Replica tour laminate

(Image credit: Warner Records)