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Building a fan base and trying to stay sane...


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Landing Chester Bennington...


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Turning to the streets and changing the name again...





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-- by Corey Moss, with additional reporting by Peter Wilkinson

For someone whose band has conquered the world, Chester Bennington bellows, "So insecure!" pretty convincingly onstage night after night.

With the best-selling album of 2001 in Hybrid Theory, a permanent home near the top of the Billboard 200 albums chart and a Best Hard Rock Performance Grammy for "Crawling," Linkin Park should reek of confidence.

But Bennington remembers when things were different. When Linkin Park had few believers. When nearly every record label had passed on signing the band, some of them multiple times.

"We did probably 36 to 40 showcases before we got signed," Bennington said backstage at the First Union Arena in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, where he and vocalist Mike Shinoda, guitarist Brad Delson, bassist Phoenix, drummer Rob Bourdon and DJ Joseph Hahn would headline the Projekt Revolution Tour hours later.

"It's like a cycle, too," Bourdon added. "The more showcases you do, the more you get rejected. It's like, if you're the 21st person to see us, you know the band has been rejected 20 times. It got worse and worse."

Obviously, Linkin Park survived and are now armed with one of the most rousing success stories in music history. Not only have they captured the hearts of the rock, hip-hop and electronic universes, they are the inspiration for a myriad of young bands that refuse to listen to industry executives who claim rap-rock is expiring.

Delson and Bourdon's first band
Still, Linkin Park remain humble. Rather than take the credit they deserve, they thank their fans for hearing what record labels did not.

"There were a ton of kids, every day, tons of e-mails coming in, and we would get online and talk to them," Bourdon said. "There was a really good response on the Internet. We knew that we were not insane, that we weren't the only ones liking our music."

"The only way you can really maintain your sanity and keep a clear conscience about what you're doing is when people react to what you're doing from a fan level and not an industry level," Bennington added.

Before Linkin Park would even play a single showcase, they spent half a decade putting together the right lineup, toying with a genre that was still in its infancy and working hard to build a national fanbase.

It all began when Bourdon and Delson were in high school and played together in a band called Relative Degree. "We set a goal to play one show at the Roxy [in West Hollywood]," Bourdon said. "That was our big goal, so we wrote 12 songs, rehearsed for a year, played that show at the Roxy and then broke up. That was the end of Relative Degree."


NEXT: Landing Chester Bennington...
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Photo: James Minchin






"In The End"
Hybrid Theory
(Warner Bros.)



"Crawling"
Hybrid Theory
(Warner Bros.)


"One Step Closer"
Hybrid Theory
(Warner Bros.)



"One Step Closer" (Live)
2001 Video Music Awards
(MTV)




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