Mornings with Brian Phillips
Rocks Greatest Trick: Replacing The Singer
May 22nd, 2013
Sure we humans don't deal well with change. When it comes to our favorite bands though we actually accept a great deal of it, as long as the front person remains the same. Singers know this. That's why they're often insufferable divas. For every AC/DC replacing the late Bon Scott with Brian Johnson, there's fellow Aussies INXS finding a new front man with a TV talent show. Sure Van Halen reached new heights of commercial success with Sammy Hagar, but the VH brothers were too dumb and drunk to keep him. Gary Cherrone? How'd that work out?
You may deride Axl Rose, but he's still packing arenas all over the planet with Guns N Roses. Slash meanwhile plays 1pm sets at Central European metal festivals. I've gone off into the classic rock weeds here I realize. A lot of the bands we play seem to have the sense to know a good thing when they hear it. A happy band is a band with a happy singer.
And yet there's only so much one can take. Stone Temple Pilots it seems have had their fill of Scott Weiland and his well documented issues. When they fired Weiland earlier this year though I joined Weiland in figuring they weren't serious. How wrong I was. Taking a page from the aforementioned Van Halen, STP went out and hired an already famous singer. Linkin Park front man Chester Bennington appeared live in LA recently at KROQ radio's Weenie Roast show pulling off a true rarity these days: an honest to God shocker. Or was it? This 12 year old evidence would suggest otherwise:
Here's the new single:
The future of Bennington's Linkin Park is no doubt secure. I don't see him breaking up that gravy train. He can do both, and probably act like a real insufferable jerk off if he wants. His new band mates will likely just shrug and say "we've seen worse."
As a side note another band to successfully employ a new singer is Alice In Chains. I saw the William Duvall fronted version of the band Sunday at Rock on The Range and came away impressed. The man can sing, though perhaps lacks the dark allure of the late Layne Staley. That dark allure comes with a price though.