HOLLYWOOD — Chester Bennington’s house might have been the place to trick-or-treat this year, at least if you had any interest in the Linkin Park singer’s top-secret side projects.
“I was thinking of making candies and giving them out to little kids, and then when they eat them, it downloads [the albums] into their brains,” Bennington deadpanned. “If anybody out there actually has the talent to create that technology, give me a call.”
And if not, at least Bennington is finally talking about his outside efforts, Snow White Tan and Julien-K, both with Orgy guitarists Ryan Shuck and Amir Derakh, as well as cover band Bucket of Weenies, whose Hollywood debut was October 25 at the Avalon.
In fact, it was hard to get Bennington to shut up about the latter, a much less serious band with no plans to record. When he did, however, he revealed a bit about the other two bands. It seems Bennington sings for Snow White Tan, while Shuck handles vocals for Julien-K, an electro band. (Bucket of Weenies features Bennington, Shuck, guitarist Mike Rouse of the Johns, bassist Mike “Cheez” Brown of T.S.O.L. and drummer Sean Dowdell of Bennington’s pre-Linkin Park band, Grey Daze.)
“We’ve been working for a long time on these projects, and they’re really interesting and different,” Bennington said. “I don’t know if I want to let too much of the cat out of the bag at this point, but when the time is right I think people are really gonna enjoy what we’ve been doing, and hopefully it kind of adds a new flavor to the music scene.”
Like Linkin Park MC Mike Shinoda’s Fort Minor, which is pure hip-hop (see “Linkin Park MC Gets Director With Flair For Video With Flares” ), Snow White Tan and Julien-K are much different than Linkin Park. “It’s not done purposely,” Bennington said. “It’s just that way, it’s just naturally different.”
Shuck, who met Bennington when Linkin Park were recording their first album at the same studio where Orgy were working, said some of the Snow White Tan material dates back five or six years.
“I always used to go to his house and hear him play acoustic guitar,” Shuck said. “And I always thought to myself, ’Oh my God, these are such good songs.’ ”
Both the Snow White Tan and Julien-K albums are nearly complete, but the guys want to properly release and promote both the projects, which is where the scheduling issue comes into play.
“Timing is everything, and because of the kind of lives that we have, with so many different things going on, we have to really make sure that it’s the appropriate time,” Bennington said.
“By the time it actually comes out, we’re gonna have probably three or four records’ worth of material to release,” he said. “But we’ll see.”
In the meantime, Bennington and Shuck are having the time of their lives with Bucket of Weenies, who put a punk or hard-rock spin on a variety of covers, including Elvis Presley’s “Suspicious Minds,” Oasis’ “Wonderwall” and Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game.” At the Avalon, the band also played Snow White Tan’s “The Morning After” and a few Brown originals.
Bucket of Weenies formed last spring to play a Tempe, Arizona, show celebrating the 10th anniversary of Bennington, Brown and Dowdell’s Club Tattoo chain.
“What was gonna be a small thing turned out to be 6,000 people, and we had a ton of fun,” Brown said. “And then we thought, ’Let’s keep playing.’ ”
“It’s really kinda cool ’cause we play like, not the typical stuff — it’s not ’Smells Like Teen Spirit,’ ” Bennington said. “We’re doing tracks that I think are songs that when you listen to them you go, ’Wow that’s a really cool song.’ ”
The band apparently built its set list while jamming in Shuck’s basement, yelling out songs and seeing if they could figure out how to play them.
“We’re all over the map,” Rouse said. “We’ve got Dramarama, we’ve got the Cure, we’ve got Bowie, just kind of like a collective sort of what we all listened to growing up and kind of got us to where we’re at now. And we’re having fun re-exploring it.”
As for the name Bucket of Weenies, Shuck came up with it during a live radio interview in Tempe.
“It’s just when you’re partying and all your friends are, like, pulling their shirts off and you’re just like, ’What a bucket of weenies,’ ” he explained.
“It was fantastic and stuck,” said Bennington, who noted that the initials spell “bow.” “Join the BOW movement!”