"I came up with the band name because in the beginnings of making this album, I was partying ... we'll call it partying. It wasn't much fun, but we partied a lot. And there was a lot of times where I was kind of in a really self-destructive place, and sometimes it felt like you weren't sure if you were going to make it to the next day," he explained. "The name kind of evolved from that lifestyle, and the title of the record, Out of Ashes, is kind of coming out of that self-destructive path I was on, and rising from the ashes, so to speak."
And so, like most of the songs on Ashes, "Crawl Back In" — for which Bennington recently shot a video in California's Vasquez Rocks Natural Park — is plenty dark: full of churning, burning, grunge guitars. But it's not pitch-black: Lyrically, the song details Bennington's slow climb back into the light — a climb that started with some serious self-discovery.
"It's a song about questioning your authenticity. I do that every once in a while; I wonder how many of my own thoughts are really my own, and how much influence do the people around me have on the person I am," he said. "There's a lot of that on the record. There's a very dark side [to it], and there's a very light side on it. There are songs about being in love and there's songs about hating people. It's a very strange juxtaposition. And that represents what had been going on in my life over the past couple of years — really great moments happening at the same time as these really terrible things were happening."
And, admittedly, most of those "really great" moments had to do with his other band, Linkin Park. And while Bennington is eternally grateful for all that LP — and their fans — have given him, he's also not afraid to push either away with Dead by Sunrise.
"I think that being in Linkin Park, our sound is so different from song to song and record to record that I really was forced to stop worrying about what I might think our fans want to hear, as opposed to just writing music that I like," he said. "I think that if you get into a place as an artist that is focusing on outside opinions of people you don't even know — like, 'What does the 15-year-old kid in Cleveland think of this song?' — I really don't know, and if I focus on that, I almost end up biting myself to ensure that I keep giving them what they want, and that's a dangerous place to be in.
"I don't want to be a caricature of myself, just kind of rewriting the same song over and over again, to get people to buy it," he continued. "I'd rather take a chance at doing something new and different and lose a few and gain a few rather than keep the same ones around. You can't make everybody happy."
And to that point, though Ashes will finally hit stores in September, Bennington isn't about to forget his Linkin Park duties anytime soon ... in fact, he's trying very hard to combine Dead by Sunrise with LP. Literally.
"I'm actually taking these guys out with me. [Linkin Park] is leaving for Europe and Japan, and Dead by Sunrise is going to be joining us on tour, and we're actually going to be jumping in the middle of LP's set, playing a few songs, then jumping out and letting LP finish out the set," Bennington said. "And that was actually an idea that was brought up by the guys in Linkin Park. I think it's going to be amazing. Exhausting, but amazing."