The tragic passing of Chester Bennington left wounds on family, friends and fans that may never fully heal. Prior to his untimely death, it was announced that Bennington’s pre-Linkin Park project and first band, Grey Daze, would be reuniting.
Today, that announcement came to fruition with the release of ‘What’s In the Eye’, a key feature of a forthcoming album re-worked by the members of the band containing songs lead by Bennington’s original vocals.
‘What’s In The Eye’ was originally recorded throughout 1993 and 1996 and revitalised for 2020 with the support of Bennington’s friends and family. The track tells a harrowing tale, recalling a friend’s premature death in a car accident; a devastating reflection on the fleeting nature of our existence.
Towards the end of last year, Grey Daze signalled that they’ve decided to “pick a selection of songs” from previous releases, with plans to “re-record them the way they deserved to have been treated back in the ‘90s”.
Grey Daze began talks of reviving the project and material back in February, 2017. It serves as an expansion of the musical universe that Bennington is known for inhabiting, and an elaboration on his beginnings in the industry.
More news is set to be revealed soon. In the meantime, you can read a series of letters about the project from Bennington’s bandmates and family below.
Listen to ‘What’s In The Eye’ now.
Open letter from Talinda Bennington (Chester’s widow):
One of Chester’s greatest gifts was music. The only thing he took more pride in was being a father to his children. Given how much he cared, he wanted fans to hear everything he did, and his musical journey started with Grey Daze.
In February 2017, Chester and his bandmates began re-recording their music for a planned re-release of the band’s early music and by June, he announced that Grey Daze was reuniting and would be playing a 20th-anniversary reunion show that fall. He was so enthusiastic about doing this, and he was eager to play rock music with messages that he knew would be meaningful to fans. It also meant a lot to him to be working with his Grey Daze bandmates, Sean Dowdell (with whom he had a very special friendship, and was a business partner in Club Tattoo), along with Mace Beyers, and Cristin Davis. He’d known them more than half of his life.
When Chester passed away, Grey Daze’s reunion seemed like an afterthought to everyone involved; they were suffering, I was suffering, and there were way too many emotions to work through before we could even think about what would happen to that project. Once the clouds lifted a bit, once we could focus on what Chester would want us to do, we looked for a way to continue what Chester was working on—the things he was proud of and wanted to share with his fans. The Grey Daze project is one of the ways we can continue to tell Chester’s story and connect with his fans.
Through our foundation, 320, I endeavor every day making sure Chester’s legacy shines a light for positive change. For us, releasing a new Grey Daze album will shine a light on where my husband started and hopefully give his fans a better understanding of his art and a more full picture of his journey through this incredible music.
Open letter from Susan Eubanks (Chester’s mom):
It’s hard for me to remember a time when Chester didn’t tell me he was going to be a rock star. He had discovered music at a very young age, and I can even recall the first time I saw him sing: a two-year-old mimicking the songs to “Grease!” he loved to sing Olivia Newton John’s!
Music was a constant for him. He was always listening to bands, but it was when he was 13 that he began to tell me that he was going to be a singer. He was trying out for local bands, playing with friends, and doing what normal teenage boys do when they dream about becoming a “rock star.” I was encouraging, but obviously wanted him to keep his feet firmly planted on the ground and focused on his education.
At 15, he came home with his slightly older friend, who seemed immensely older to me in comparison to Chester, Sean Dowdell. I laugh now when I think that Sean was a mere 17 at the time. Sean was forming a local band that was in need of a singer, and Chester was eager to fill that role. That band would become Grey Daze. As any parent would be, I was reluctant to have my 15-year-old son going to clubs but I cautiously gave my permission once I saw how Sean treated Chester, not just as a new bandmate, but as a protective older brother. Over the past 25 years, Sean has become a part of our family.
Missing Chester is now a part of my daily life but of course, grief comes in waves, so most of the time I try to remember the joy he brought to me, and the happiness his music brought to so many people. It was in that mindset that I gave Sean my blessing to continue the work he and Chester had begun on reimagining the Grey Daze music. A year later, Sean very proudly played me the results of his, Mace, and Cristin’s work, allowing me to be one of the first people to hear it. When that voice rang out, I remembered the teenage Chester and Sean and thought of how remarkable they would have found all of this. I am grateful that because of Sean’s efforts Chester’s fans have the opportunity to hear his music again.
Open letter from Jamie Bennington (Chester’s son):
To be honest, I didn’t know that Grey Daze was coming back. My dad was the type to keep his work private if it wasn’t finished, so I never heard about his reunion with Sean Dowdell and Mace Beyers to revitalize his first ever rock band. All that I knew was that my dad was looking, once again, to reinvent himself as an artist. Something that was far from unusual considering he was, and always will be, one of the most amoebic vocal talents to ever live. With that being said, to say that getting a call from Sean nearly two years after his death concerning an album they had been working on together in secret was a surprise is an understatement.
Sean asked me to come down and record some backup vocals at NRG. I said yes. Of course, I said yes. And what an experience it was. In a lot of ways, I got to meet the teenage version of my father. I got to reconnect with my own childhood friends. And I got to pilgrimage to the very place that Linkin Park got their start.
Most importantly though I got to work on one of the last things my dad ever made. Something I had so many questions about, like:
How were they going to continue to work on an album when the lead vocalist was no longer in the picture?
I had been told that there were no plans to bring in another vocalist to replace my dad on the album, but I didn’t understand at the time what that actually meant. It was only when I stepped into the studio that I saw the magic being performed. And by magic, I mean magic. Sean Dowdell, Esjay Jones, and Lucas D’Angelo are miracle workers who not only had massive holes to fill in the production of album but had rather limited means of filling them. But they did it. They did it with only masters of old Grey Daze recordings and the goodwill of friends and family.
Thank you so much for having me and congratulations on accomplishing the impossible.
Open letter from Grey Daze:
We met Chester when he was a scrappy 15-year-old and we were “seasoned” 17-year-olds. We’ve been friends, bandmates, and in Sean’s case, business partners (via Club Tattoo), ever since. We were present for the highs, and witness to the lows. Chester was the heart and soul of Grey Daze, it was his enthusiasm, lyrical prowess and emotional integrity that propelled us to record and release two albums and a demo and it was with great pride that we watched the magic we knew was in him shared with the world.
Reuniting Grey Daze was something that we’d been kicking around for years, but because of work and family commitments, we hadn’t had a chance to turn the idea into reality until early 2017. Over the years we’d become more knowledgeable, more experienced, and had more resources, so we decided to pick a selection of songs from our previously released albums and re-record them the way they deserved to have been treated back in the ‘90s when we initially wrote and released them. By February 2017 we started recording and in June, Chester and Sean announced the reunion, with a live performance planned for that Fall. Unfortunately, as we all know, that never happened.
When Talinda, Chester’s widow, and his parents, gave us their blessing to move forward with the project, we did so with the utmost care, making sure to honor his legacy as well as handle the music we had written together with the utmost care.
We all wanted to fulfill Chester’s dream of people hearing Grey Daze music as he always envisioned it.
We also wanted to make sure we had the proper steward for this. We reached out to Tom Whalley, the person who had been the head of Warner Bros. Records for the first nine years of Linkin Park’s existence and someone who knew Chester well, with hopes he’d be interested in doing this release via his Loma Vista Recordings. Executive Producer Jay Baumgardner and Tom helped us to see our vision through, re-recording the music but keeping Chester’s vocals intact. The fact that we got to retrack and rewrite the music around his vocals was an amazing experience. This is what our good friend wanted. He wanted the music to feel fresh and relevant, so people who knew his music but not his original band, could relate to it. That’s what we’ve tried to do with this Grey Daze record now.
We cannot wait for his fans and the world to hear this new album, we hope we made him, and you, proud.
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