Mike Shinoda talks about Chester Bennington’s mental health struggles.
During a recent appearance on SiriusXM's The Howard Stern Show on Tuesday, Mike Shinoda opened up about losing former band member and friend Chester Bennington, along with his mental health struggles. Chester Bennington died by suicide in 2017.
Mike said that there were some points in his life when he felt angry and added that it was natural before stating that there are different stages of grief, and anger is in there too. He also addressed the late singer's mental health issues, explaining that no one knew the extent of his difficulties at the time before stating that his life as an impartial observer permitted him to relate so well to Chester.
Mike Shinoda clarified that when he first met Chester, he didn't actually know his story, but as he got to know him, he generally found himself saying that he had never heard of such a crazy experience growing up in such a crazy early life. Mike described Chester's childhood experiences, such as having to run wild in the streets and just doing hard drugs on the roof of his high school, as well as just hardly avoiding jail, before stating that it was these memories that shaped their relationship.
The singer stated that he did not live in such a way and he viewed himself as an outsider since he was a mixed-race child without a society to which he could belong. Mike is half Japanese, however, he does not speak Japanese and does not look Japanese. The white kids mistook him for someone else. He added that he was constantly floating around again and didn't have a home, mentioning that Chester was outside since he was tall and skinny; he was picked on; he was bullied all the time.
Mike Shinoda tells Howard Stern that he wrote the band's classic song "In the End" in one night and recalls Chester Bennington's musical ability as a consequence of his unique, and often never duplicated, voice. He stated that Chester was born for this, and that singing vocals on albums and stage was the happiest he could get. That was the best it could get. So he's always happy about all of that. Mike stated that after Chester Bennington died, he was left wondering whether he should proceed with his music or not, as it felt too overwhelming for him at the moment.
But six months after Chester Bennington passed away, Mike Shinoda released three solo songs that were intimate and dealt with the grief he felt at the time, and he announced the Post Traumatic EP on his social media, describing the emotional turmoil he was in with a handwritten note. According to the note, in the midst of the chaos, he has begun to experience extreme gratitude—for their homages and messages of encouragement for the career they have given him, and for the simple chance to create. He mentioned that he is sharing three songs he composed and produced, along with visuals he shot, painted, and modified himself. Grief is, at its core, a personal and intimate experience. As a consequence, Mike Shinoda said that the songs are not Linkin Park or Fort Minor—just him.
Mike concluded that art has always been the place he goes when he needs to sort through the complexity and confusion of the road ahead; he doesn’t know where this path leads, but he is grateful that he gets to share it with everyone.
The co-founder of Linkin Park shared with Howard Stern that it felt like he had to get back on it and try to do some version of music and also be seen through the lens of what had happened, which was like being a member of a club that he didn't want to join. Linkin Park recently dropped a previously unreleased song titled "Lost," which includes vocals from Chester Bennington and also honors the 20th anniversary of their 2003 album "Meteora." The band also announced the 20th anniversary of the album, which is set for release in April. When asked about the song, Mike said that it’s like an old photo, which can be bittersweet but to has forgotten that it existed and then to hear it and be teleported back there is a gift.
If you or someone you know needs help, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988.