The pain left by his passing still feels raw, though. For Sean and Cristin, the re-recording of Grey Daze’s back catalogue has carried a heavy emotional burden. The vocals left behind by their friend and former bandmate are very much of a time; the music, when it was re-recorded, had to match to vocal power presented by one of the most distinctive voices of his era.
“I started listening to the songs to learn them,” says Cristin of the updated material. “I hadn’t listened to those records in a long time, and just hearing his voice, it brought me right back to the early ’90s or mid-’90s. I could really hear all the talent that I might have missed before. I was like, ‘Oh, my God, he was exactly the superstar that he is now, 20 years ago.’ But I tell people all the time, I never met ‘Chester from Linkin Park’. I only know ‘Chester, my buddy from high school’, so he never changed, from the time I met him ‘til he passed away. He was just such a sweetheart.”
Much in the same way that Sliver – The Best Of The Box uncovers old Kurt Cobain demos for fans of Nirvana, so Amends delivers a peek into Chester Bennington’s teenage years. Both records have something in common: all the material was constructed amid the 1990s grunge boom, after all. But the texture of Amends has been rebooted and crafted in such a way that the songs carry a 21st century upgrade with their heavy synths and scattershot drums. The vocal tones couldn’t be anyone other than Chester Bennington, however: a soulful scream full of catharsis and rage, the harmonious despair offset with heavy-hearted tenderness. The experience of revisiting Amends has been a little too raw for Chester’s family.
“For me and my kids, none of us can listen to this,” says Talinda. “Because it’s hard, because it’s not just a song – we have actual memories. We all have our own memories of him singing that in our own way. There are memories attached to these songs that are deeply personal. Although I wasn’t around during that time, I didn’t know him then, he shared that with me. He shared every song. He would sing them to me; he would sing them to our kids. It’s not like listening to a record for me, it’s not like listening to a song; it’s literally living with these videos in my head, these moments in time, that I’ll never have again.
“In our home, with my kids and my new husband, we keep Chester’s memory alive. We talk about him, my kids love telling my husband now about their dad. They look at photo albums. We have our own personal ways of keeping his spirit alive. His pictures are all throughout the house, he’s not forgotten, and right now, that’s how we do it.”
For a father remembering his late son’s adolescent years, the pain runs just as deep.
“Chester was his own personality,” says Lee. “He liked to have fun. He was very dedicated to what he was doing. How do I feel when I listen to Linkin Park or Grey Daze? I have not listened to his music since he passed. I don’t listen to any rock music anymore.
“I just can’t. It’s too emotional for me.”
Grey Daze's album Amends is out now via Loma Vista Recordings.