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Linkin Park talks Incubus and Honda Civic Tour

Members of the group "Linkin Park."

Members of the group "Linkin Park." Credit: James Minchin

Chester Bennington says this year's Honda Civic Tour, which teams up his band, Linkin Park, with the other main modern rock band from the Aughts, Incubus -- is special.

"I'm very appreciative to the people on the Civic tour for having the vision to kind of understand that this is something that is rare and is something that people are going to be excited to go see," says the Linkin Park lead singer. "You know you never get to go see Bon Jovi and KISS at the same time."

So true. Two headliners, especially two from the same genre, rarely get together for lengthy tours because big bands' schedules rarely align and because they can usually make more money on their own. However, this summer, the stars have aligned for Linkin Park and Incubus, who stop at Nikon at Jones Beach Theater Aug. 15.

"I personally think it's an occasion that's kind of long overdue," says Incubus singer Brandon Boyd. "We have a lot of mutual listeners, our bands, and I think that it's one of those things that once the idea was floated and we really kind of caught onto it, that it seemed like, 'Why haven't we done this yet?' "

"I swear, it feels like I've probably tried to figure out a way to get Linkin Park and Incubus on the road together at least once per cycle since probably 'Meteora,' " Bennington adds. "I think it gives our fans something that they've wanted for a long time, which is to see Incubus and go see Linkin Park, because I think they've had to choose a lot of times on which band they're going to go see because we've both been on tour."

The timing worked out this time because Linkin Park is using the Honda Civic Tour as the rollout for its new "Living Things" (Warner Bros.) album, which became the band's fifth No. 1 album since the turn of the century, making it the most successful rock band in that time frame. Incubus, on the other hand, has tacked the tour onto the promotion of last year's "If Not Now, When?" (Epic) album, its final shows before the band goes on hiatus. ("For the first time since 1996, we are free agents again," Boyd says. "We're without a record label.")

Bennington says he hopes the bands will inspire each other on the tour. "I've always appreciated Incubus for their music, and they're also very good live," he says. "I've had the chance to pop over and watch them play a couple songs onstage here and there at some festivals throughout our career, and they're a great live band, so I think the energy is going to be really amazing out in the crowd. So I would actually like to be down there to watch the show, but I don't know if that's going to be possible."

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"It's time to start training an understudy and then, uh, do some plastic surgery on him, and then sneak into the crowd," jokes Boyd.

"Exactly," adds Bennington. "I think that would actually be cheaper than a hologram."

Of course, holograms would never have the intensity that Linkin Park puts out in its live show, and Bennington says this tour will be as aggressive as the album.

"Linkin Park isn't the band that you go to see in chairs on the floor in the arena," he says. "No one wants to come to a Linkin Park show and stand there and look at the band and listen to beautiful music. People want that, but they also want to be kicked in the face, and they want to, you know, run into each other, and they want to jump up and down and sing and have a really great, high-energy time."

So even though the bulk of the band's recent hits have been more midtempo, Bennington plans to balance them out with some of "Living Things' " roaring rockers. "The new record has so much energy that we feel like we could add a bunch of new music to the set and people will be stoked about it," he says. "Casual fans are there to hear the three songs that they love, and go 'Oh, yeah, I didn't know they did this song, too!' "

As modern rock radio formats become increasingly rare, bands like Linkin Park and Incubus have had to find new ways to reach their fans and new music to reach them with.

"I think that Incubus and Linkin Park share a lot of similarities in terms of when we became popular -- in a time when selling tons of records was what people did, and the Internet wasn't really a strong force in the world," Bennington says. "And then transitioning into a time where no one's buying records. . . . I think that going through all that and transitioning and getting older and having all these experiences definitely shapes the way you think about how you do business, but the things that inspire are all the same kind of things that inspired me when I was 15. . . . Each person has such a beautiful story to tell. Some are horrific and scary, yet there's still something beautiful happening there."

Boyd says Incubus handles the issue by trying to create music for themselves. "I want to make music that continues to evolve and challenge people and surprise people," he says. "But getting people to let go of a predetermined notion of what you are and what you're supposed to be is really probably the largest challenge. What I've had to do is really let go of perceptions altogether. And just make music."

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