|Dead By Sunrise
|Rock, Alternative rock
|Chester Bennington, Ryan Shuck, Amir Derakh, Anthony "Fu" Valcic
|Elias Andra, Brandon Belsky
Dead By Sunrise is the name of Chester Bennington's side project, created in 2005. Dead By Sunrise has released an album, Out Of Ashes, in October 2009.
Chester’s project was created in 2005. After the Meteora touring cycle for Linkin Park, the band wanted some down time after the hectic world tour in support of the album. At the same time, they were facing issues with their record label Warner Bros which made the band angry. In a February 2005 press interview about Music For Relief that asked about progress on new Linkin Park music, Chester replied, "The last thing on my mind is making a record."
In spring 2005, Chester was facing a bitter divorce from his wife Samantha Bennington earlier in the year and he turned to alcohol and drugs to cope with it. His good friend Ryan Shuck, whom Chester knew from the days when Orgy and Linkin Park would record at NRG Studios at the same times and also play together, eventually saved Chester’s life by being a strong support for him. Around the same time, Chester played some solo music for Ryan that he had worked on and Ryan was instantly a big fan. The first song that sparked the project was “Let Down”.
Chester became even closer to Ryan and Amir Derakh and executive produced their album Death To Analog after becoming involved in Julien-K’s music as well. Chester taught Ryan how to sing in new ways and laid down demo vocals for quite a few Julien-K songs so Ryan could go back and record them at a later time for the Julien-K debut album.
Amir in a November 9, 2009 interview with The Rebel Yell describes how they became close to Chester: "We met Chester when we were in Orgy. We were recording our second record in a studio in Hollywood and Linkin Park was in the same studio in a different room. Chester was kind of singing in the hall, warming up and stuff. We heard him so Ryan went down and quickly made friends with the guys from Linkin Park. This is when they were doing their first record. It turns out that they were on our label and when our record came out their record came out. We ended up taking them out on tour and we all became friends very quickly. We’ve really been friends ever since and it was just a natural progression to do something together. It was something we had always talked about."
When we asked Ryan which project came first... Julien-K or Snow White Tan, he said, "Julien-K definitely started first. Really, all of these projects stem from a really close friendship, over the course of 10 years. We just happen to be really good at creating music that people want to hear - that’s what we end up doing... ALL THE TIME! Ha ha."
At this point, the three of them began to work on Chester’s solo material. At this point, they were referring to the project under the name “Snow White Tan”. Chester said that he’d give Ryan and Amir a song, come back later in the day and be blown away at how great the work was that they did to the track… turning it into a full song from just an acoustic demo.
In an LPTV episode about “Let Down”, Chester said, “The very first song that kind of sparked this whole project is a song called "Let Down". I think I was playing it at my house and Ryan heard me singing and he was like “what’s that?” and I told him that it was a song that I had written. And he pretty much told me that he really liked the song… in many words. And he asked if I had more and I said, “yeah I have more and I can write more”. And that’s kind of what started the whole thing.
Ryan added: "I went back and I talked to Amir and Fu and I go, "dude I just heard some of Chester's stuff that he wrote on his own. It's insane, it's really good. He's an amazing writer."
Amir said in the The Rebel Yell interview, "I honestly don’t think we knew at the very beginning. The early songs that we wrote were songs like "Let Down", "In The Darkness" and "Fire". There was definitely some magic right from the very beginning and I think all of us sort of realized that the first song we did together, "Let Down", was just so good. I was just like, this is a really good song, and it all just came to light that we should be working together. This is cool. It’s a commercial song, but it’s got something different to it. It doesn’t sound like anything that any of us have ever done and I don’t really think it sounds like anybody else. There’s a lot of other really strong songs on the record as well. "Too Late" is actually probably one of my favorite songs on the record, and then "Inside of Me" and "Condemned" is some of the more up-tempo stuff, which I really like."
In August 2005, news of the project began to surface. A Blabbermouth article from August 4, 2005 mentioned, "LINKIN PARK frontman Chester Bennington is currently in the studio recording his debut solo album with producers (and ORGY members) Amir Derakh and Ryan Shuck. The as-yet-untitled CD is expected to be completed before the end of the year for an early 2006 release." Additionally, Rolling Stone that month said, "LINKIN PARK screamer CHESTER BENNINGTON will release a solo record, and he breaks the news in the Smoking Section. "We took Nineties rock, mixed it with Eighties pop like DEPECHE MODE, THE CURE, and BAUHAUS and smashed them together," says Bennington. "It's fuckin' driving beats and walls of guitars." Songs like "Morning After" and "Walking in Circles" are in the can, and Bennington is especially psyched about a new song, which a friend says "sounds like T.REX."
In an MTV article from October 31, 2005, Chester said about the project, now titled "Snow White Tan", and Julien-K: "We've been working for a long time on these projects, and they're really interesting and different. I don't know if I want to let too much of the cat out of the bag at this point, but when the time is right I think people are really gonna enjoy what we've been doing, and hopefully it kind of adds a new flavor to the music scene."
On December 12, 2005, Julien-K posted a message on their MySpace, "As many of you already know, we (JK) have also completed a solo record with Chester Bennington. We are calling the band Snow White Tan, until we decide to not call it that. As of now, the band consists of Amir, Chester and I. Because of Chester's Linkin Park obligations, we have no information regarding WHEN the record will be released- but it is done, and it will come out. We (JK) are planning on doing some un-announced dates in Southern California after the first of the year."
The first public appearance of Snow White Tan in any form was after Hurricane Katrina. A benefit show was organized in Nashville, TN for September 10, 2005 and "Chester Bennington" was listed as a performer. Chester, Ryan, and Amir debuted a beautiful acoustic version of "Let Down" and Chester later joined Motley Crue for "Home Sweet Home". On November 5, 2005, the group was going to perform an acoustic set at Tempe, Arizona's Taste The Music Festival but it was canceled. Amir said on October 27, 2005, "What would have been the first performance of Chesters solo project with Julien-K at the Taste The Music Festival in Arizona Nov 5th has been cancelled... WE WILL NOT BE PERFORMING! It was decided today not to play the show... SORRY!!! Let's just say it had nothing to do with us being "ready" to play and BTW we were only doing 3 songs acoustically anyway..."
Around the same time, Chester and Ryan formed the band Bucket Of Weenies with friends as another fun side project to go and jam rock covers in a live setting. This project was born in Ryan's basement.
In a September 4, 2007 interview with Artisan News Service, Ryan says, "He (Bennington) came in and was basically working for Julien K when this thing was kind of in its nucleus stage. He was sort of teaching me and coaching me to sing and giving me the confidence to actually be a singer because in Orgy I wasn't a lead singer. This was kind of a nebulous group of people creating and writing music and he was sort of part of that group and one day he walked in with an acoustic guitar and he goes 'Hey I want you guys to record my side project.' And Amir and I looked at each other and we were like 'That's awesome. O.K. That's a great opportunity to work with Chester, who is our favorite singer in the world."
Shelving the Project
Although the album was completed and ready to release, Chester decided to put the project on hold in 2005 because Linkin Park was beginning to record their album Minutes To Midnight.
In the Artisan News Service interview from September 2007, Ryan says, "It turned into literally in a few days Julien K became Chester's band Dead by Sunrise so we literally stopped our record and recorded a record with Chester which is complete. Of course, the reason that didn't come out is because you have the Linkin Park record in front of it. There was a little bit of back up in timing and complications but basically Julien K is two bands. With Chester singing it's Dead by Sunrise and when I sing it's Julien K. Julien K is decidedly a bit more Electro but Dead by Sunrise a little bit heavier, a little bit more rocky and it's still got, Chester loves Electro music and he loves what we're doing."
The article adds, "Since Linkin Park has just released their smash breakthrough album Minutes To Midnight look for the band to delay the release of Dead by Sunrises debut album until sometime in 2008."
In a September 9, 2008 interview with Entertainment Weekly, Chester said about the material, "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. 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."
Revisiting the Material
Although the project was shelved so Minutes To Midnight could be worked on, Chester brought the band back together in May 2008 for the annual Club Tattoo Anniversary Party in Tempe, Arizona. He had previously played the party twice with Bucket Of Weenies in 2005 and 2006, but elected to do something different in 2008 after 2007's party was canceled. Julien-K performed an eight song set, with Chester joining for "Technical Difficulties", which he also lends his voice to on the studio version. After the Julien-K set, the band stayed on stage and performed three Dead By Sunrise songs. This was the first official Dead By Sunrise performance and the first official use of its new name after the switch from Snow White Tan. "Walking In Circles", "Morning After", and "My Suffering" were all debuted in demo forms. This would be the third time Chester performed "Morning After" with a different band, following its 2001 Linkin Park solo acoustic performance in Berlin and the Bucket Of Weenies performances of the song in 2005-2006.
While Chester said at the time that Linkin Park had already begun working on a new album (as confirmed by studio sessions in Europe in summer 2008), he said about Dead By Sunrise, I wouldn’t call it a side project. We're a full, ready-to-go band and so this is something we take very seriously. I want to make sure the record gets the chance to do what it can do."
After the touring cycle for Linkin Park's Minutes To Midnight wrapped up, Chester finally had some down time in fall 2008 and in 2009. He revisited Dead By Sunrise and worked on the material further. At this time, he wrote new songs.
Ryan talking to LPLive about the album "being finished" in 2006 said, "It COULD have been finished if we wanted to call it finished. But we just thought it could go further, so we revisited the songs and really focused on what we could do to ensure that this was a GREAT record. Chester is an extremely hard worker – and he keeps us all on our toes, and really focuses on excellence. He is also a pretty prolific writer, and he did have more ideas that he wanted to explore."
In a November 6, 2008 interview with MTV about Linkin Park already working on the follow-up to Minutes To Midnight and concocting their first concept record (which would become A Thousand Suns), Chester said, "I wanted to make sure the record was different from the Linkin Park record. It's not as hard as it sounds. If you take Mike [Shinoda] out of the equation — because I personally feel he's created our signature sound — it automatically sounds different. It's more of a standard rock record. There are elements to it where you can tell where the inspiration comes from, but it's pure rock with melody." He also revealed that he had been working with Howard Benson to produce the album.
At the same time, Chester was balancing Linkin Park and Dead By Sunrise simultaneously as Linkin Park's huge single "New Divide" was recorded in spring 2009 and released in May, and Linkin Park embarked on an international summer tour in support of it. Dead By Sunrise performed three songs in the encore of select shows across the world at Mike's recommendation since he said that all members of the band were supportive for both the Fort Minor and Dead By Sunrise projects. The three songs performed were "Fire", "Crawl Back In", and "My Suffering".
On a February 4, 2009 blog post, Mike said, "I was just hanging out with Chester, and got a chance to hear some of his new solo material! In case you haven't heard, he's doing a solo record (he's doing double-duty, working on his album and the LP album simultaneously). The project is called Dead By Sunrise, and the album is being produced by Howard Benson. He played me 9 songs, two of which had amazing vocals. I thought I could hear influences from T-Rex, overall it's a pretty punch-you-in-the-gut rock record. Very cool...look for it later this year, probably September-ish. It's going to be incredible!"
In early August 2009, it was confirmed that "Crawl Back In" would be the first single, and it was released on August 16th on the Dead By Sunrise MySpace page. The song was originally on the Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen soundtrack for May 2009 but it was removed before release.
The album was released in October 2009 worldwide.
2012 and 2017 Comeback Attempts
Frank Zummo was a friend of Chester's and most recently was the drummer of Sum 41 when they opened for Linkin Park's 2017 show in Amsterdam. Frank also joined the Hollywood Bowl tribute show for Chester and guested on several songs. In 2012, Julien-K was looking for a new drummer when Elias Andra left the band. This is the story told by Ryan:
"During our three day cram session, we shot two videos with two different directors and had a day of drummer auditions. We played with a handful of amazing drummers – the finalists were our good friend Frank Zummo (Street Drum Corps) and our new friend Eli James. We wanted to see what it would really be like to have each guy in the band – so we shot one video with each finalist. I think it’s really cool that we documented our … “indecision”… in the face of Elias’ decision to leave the band indefinitely (see past announcements). Although Frank was Elias’ first suggestion to replace himself, we wanted to try some other energy just to be sure. Always a tough choice in the end – wrought with emotion given that we were replacing our friend and brother. We decided to go with Frank – he just felt like he was “in the band” - almost immediately. When we informed Frank of our decision, he showed us a text from Chester saying something to the effect of: “Julien-K is looking for a drummer, you should join them!!”. When I read that I thought “Perfect!!?? If CB is in, I think we made a great decision”"
On July 20th, 2017, Frank posted on Instagram: "We recently were talking about doing some fun Dead By Sunrise shows in the near future."
In an interview with AltPress, he elaborated:
"Going further down the road, Julien-K’s drummer left them right before a tour, and they said, “Hey, we’re doing this tour in Europe. Would you want to do this?” And I was like, “Of course.” We went out to Europe for two weeks, and on that tour, they asked me if I would want to be part of Dead By Sunrise. I was like, “100 percent.” We were going to do a show together in Arizona, where Julien-K were going to play with Street Drum Corps, and Chester was living in Arizona. We were going to do an unannounced, surprise reunion show. Last minute, it wound up not working out.
A couple months ago this past winter, Sum 41 were finishing a nine-week tour. I’m in a random little bar in Russia, and this song comes on, and it was a deep cut from the Dead By Sunrise album that I didn’t recognize at first. I just heard Chester’s voice, and I’m like, “What is this?” And I’m like, “Oh my God, this is Dead By Sunrise!” At that point, I literally got on a group text with Chester, Amir and Ryan. I’m like, “Guys, I’m in Russia. This is a sign. Let’s do this. No stress: Let’s get together for a week, and let’s do a couple pop-up shows in warehouses in downtown LA Let’s just make it really, really special.” And everyone was like, “Yup. Let’s do this.” Chester’s like, “As soon as I have some time off from Linkin Park.” So we were actually talking about it and getting excited. As soon as I got back from the tour, Ryan and Amir were like, “Thank you for doing that. You’re actually getting the band back together right now by your excitement and the way you approached Chester about it.” It’s horrible that we’re not going to have the chance to do that."
- Chester Bennington
- Studio albums
- Out Of Ashes (2009)
- Crawl Back In (2009)
- LPTimes: Chester Solo Album Update, December 12, 2005