Hopping on one foot while balancing his cell phone, Chester Bennington is quick to apologize for sounding out of breath.
He’s hobbling along thanks to a recent ankle injury—one in a long line of mishaps and illnesses that are so frequent that they’re outlined in their own section of Bennington’s Wikipedia page.
That said, he won’t be getting on any motorcycles during Arizona Bike Week at WestWorld in Scottsdale from Wednesday, March 25, through Sunday, March 29.
The Valley-bred Linkin Park singer will eschew the road, and front Stone Temple Pilots during the festival at WestWorld on Saturday, March 28.
“Being a desert boy, I grew up on motorcycles,” Bennington says during a phone interview from his California home. “I’m more of a dirt bike kind of guy.”
His dream motorcycle is, however, a Triumph Bonneville.
“I would love to have one of those,” he says. “Unfortunately, I’m probably the most accident-prone human beings I know.
“I have kids and a lot of people who depend on me being able to perform. For the future of my band and my kids, I do them a favor and stay off the street bikes.”
He does admit, though, that he’ll be eyeing the goods at the Arizona Bike Week. Bennington enjoys checking out the custom choppers and how they meld “old-school craftsmanship, true elbow grease and modern-day technology.”
“That’s what choppers and custom bikes are,” he says. “It’s pretty awesome. I’m excited to get around and live vicariously through all the bikers out there.”
When he’s not perusing the hogs, Bennington heads up the Stone Temple Pilots’ new lineup featuring guitarist Dean DeLeo, bassist Robert DeLeo, drummer Eric Kretz and vocalist Bennington was revealed in May 2013 at KROQ’s annual Weenie Roast as the new frontman.
The “new” band’s debut single, “Out of Time,” reached No. 1 on Active and Mainstream Rock charts. Bennington replaces troubled vocalist Scott Weiland.
“Those guys are incredible musicians,” Bennington says.
“They’re some of the best songwriters of our time. Live we just crush it. It’s an amazing gift to get up on stage with these guys and play songs that I grew up listening to and loving. We’re in the studio now working on a new record. It’s super fun to be able to be in two bands with some of the best writers in the world. It’s a great privilege.”
Even though Bennington is a longtime STP fan, don’t say his latest stint is a “dream come true.”
“None of my dreams ever consisted of me joining another band—other than when I was in the fourth grade when I think I had a string of repeating dreams that Depeche Mode flew in and brought me in and made me the fifth member of the group,” he says.
Instead, he fantasized about founding a band, like Linkin Park.
“Being in Linkin Park, that’s my dream come true,” Bennington says. “To be in a position to be able to contribute to the future of a band that I grew up listening to and loving and present the music they’ve created and inspired me is a privilege.”
He first sang with STP on the Family Values Tour in the early 2000s.
“When they invited me to sing a song with them live, that was a dream come true,” he repeats. “Unfortunately, I would say that the ultimate dream would be that Scott would continue to be a productive member of this group and make music that I continue to love.
“It’s not a dream come true for me to be taking his place. No, I would definitely say that taking Scott’s place is not a dream come true. I respect Scott and care for him. This is an unfortunate situation in many ways. But, at the same time, it’s a privilege to be able to continue creating new music to fans.”
Bennington has a busy year. He’s working on a new album with Stone Temple Pilots.
“The songs sound great and we’re really trying to capture the essence of Stone Temple Pilots and deliver an album that is missing in the rock world,” he says.
“We’re trying to bring some attitude back, some sexiness and piss and vinegar.” He’s pulling double duty throughout 2015, hitting the studio and the road with Linkin Park as well.
Fans need not fret about Bennington’s injury, though. He’ll do just fine on stage.
“It’ll be good,” he says. “The voice works, so that’s good. It’s going to be tricky. I won’t be jumping off of any stages, amps of any of that kind of stuff for a while. Hopefully, I’ll be moving around pretty well by then.”
Stone Temple Pilots, Arizona Bike Week, WestWorld of Scottsdale, 16601 N. Pima Road, Scottsdale, azbikeweek.com, Saturday, March 28, 9 p.m., $28