For all the pop pomp and circumstance that the 2008 MTV Video Music Awards rolled out, some of MTV's rock stars felt a bit left out. "Where were Foo Fighters and Nickelback?" says Linkin' Park's Chester Bennington. "Or even a band like Three Days Grace, who had a pretty big year? There was no Vampire Weekend or Daughtry. It was very one-sided." The singer describes Sunday's extravaganza as "raising the bar of confusion and disarray. The VMAs are consistently cluster-f---s, and this year set a new standard." Part of the problem, he says, was the that the main room had "more seat fillers in there than celebrities, and you had people who were invited sitting out in the streets. Plus, everybody was texting, no one was watching the show. I got super bummed out."
Carrying the torch for MTV's rock veterans has always been a difficult task, but never as much as this year, says Bennington. "I think the VMAs have completely lost touch with a broad scope of music. It was very bubble gum and Disney, which is why bands like Foo Fighters, and everybody else in my group weren't there. Honestly I didn't think we were going to win, because we literally felt like we were too old." But Linkin Park did nab a moonman for "Shadow of the Day" (off of the double-platinum album Minutes to Midnight) as Best Rock Video. And Bennington reveals that before his band's next album, due out next year, he'll release one of his own. "It's going to kick ass. I started working on it in 2005 when we took a seven-month break. I wanted to do something creative in that time off and I had songs that I knew weren't Linkin Park songs, but I thought were good. Then we started working on Minutes to Midnight and that's all I've been doing for the last two years. Now that we're done, I've got this body of work that is strong — very moody, very dark and melodic."
The album will be released by Linkin Park's label, Warner Bros., sometime in 2009. As for whether it's a solo effort or a side project, Bennington admits he's been kicking around some band names: "We were called Snow White Tan for a while, and then I changed the name to Dead By Sunrise, but I really just like Chester Bennington." As for Linkin Park, they head to China next month for the second time, where they'll be playing to crowds as large as 40,000 as part of the Music For Relief tour. "China is booming," he says. "they have as many millionaires as we have people." But when it comes to the music business, things don't work quite the same way. Bennington explains: "For every hundred thousands records sold legitimately, there are probably a million of that same album sold illegally. It doesn't feel much different than New York."