Xero Instrumentals

From Linkinpedia
Xero Instrumentals
Demo by Xero
Producer:Mike Shinoda
Linkin Park demo chronology
Xero Instrumentals
Hybrid Theory EP

Xero Instrumentals is the 1998 demo tape by American band Xero (now known as Linkin Park) sent to singers who auditioned for the band following the departure of original singer Mark Wakefield. The tape contains instrumental versions of some of the band's earliest known songs.


Following the release of their self-titled demo tape, Xero played many showcases, but vocalist Mark Wakefield couldn't perform live because of a really bad stage fright, so he was fired in 1998.[1] "I wanted somebody in the band who had the same drive and passion for melodic singing vocals as I had towards rapping vocals," said Mike Shinoda.[2] Bassist Phoenix explained their situation, "We went through a period where we kinda didn't know what to do with the band, like, the singer we had been playing with was transitioning out and we didn't know if we wanted to continue; if we did, if we wanna continue with just with five guys or how that would even look or work out. And, you know, we tried a bunch of different guys that were LA-based, whatever, and nothing was really working, nothing we're excited about. When we heard Chester stuff he had done, we're just like 'ok, this guy can sing, we need to get him out here quick and see what the deal is.' We got him out and then 'ok, if the band is gonna work then this is gonna work. Otherwise, that's the end of Linkin Park as it is, kind of thing."[3]

Mike talked about being the sole frontman during this period, “I only sang on my own for around two months. When we did shows, I’d get friends to the other vocals. It was really fun. It’s strange, though, whenever I’ve written vocals, I’ve always written them with two people in mind. I think it adds a cool depth and vibe to the songs.”[4] During a LPU chat, Mark Fiore from The Snax recalled being asked by Brad to learn every song on the Xero cassette tape for a show.[5][6]

In Los Angeles, there was a magazine called Music Connection in which the band had announced a vacancy. One of the people who auditioned for Xero was Boris Bouma of the Dutch progressive metal band Frozen Sun, and who would later be known as the frontman of the American band Epidemic.[7][8]

T.J. Demonte, a singer from Hartford, Connecticut,[9] was recommended by Staind vocalist Aaron Lewis. He was the vocalist for Sugarmilk (originally known as Crumb), a band that opened for Limp Bizkit and Staind.[10][11] He said, "I was one of the very first contacted by Jeff Blue and Mike Shinoda to fly out for an LP audition. Aaron Lewis from Staind told them about me so I signed an NDA and they asked for a video of me and sent these early tracks.They were an assembled band lie Back Steet Boys formula. The said they spent their advance on gear and could not afford 900 plane ticket for me togo to California, after agreeing to pay, they then said I would have to find a motel. I got nervous that this was a scam, and made the worst decision of my life. Theyewere XERO, Hybrid Theory and then Linkin Park"[12] Demonte explained he received two tapes from the band, one with three instrumentals and another with vocal versions for reference. "I have versions of the tunes when the rapping was the focus of the tune and the singing was the refrain or hook only..... I have my tracking vocals with the audition tape, as well as my demo that got me a Next Day Air Fedex package from Jeff Blue, with lyrics, this demo and the other studio tracks partially finished along with Mike's 4-track ideas"[13] He later went on to front a band called No December with whom he released an EP called Mobius in 2004.[14]

Kirk Harper, the singer for a band native to Arizona called Oil, was approached by Jeff Blue after one of his shows in early 1999 and asked to cut vocals for a Xero audition. He said, "Jeff happened to be in Phoenix for New Year's Eve and hanging at a bar my band Oil was headlining that night, side note during this time me and my drummer Clancy were recording the Lynch Mob smoke this record so things were pretty crazy at the time. Long story short after the show Jeff approached me outside and said he Really liked what he saw in my vocals and stage performance etc and thoght i would be perfect for this band he was working with from LA so he sent me a disk with 4 or 5 tunes and no vocals and asked if i could cut vocal tracks on the tunes and send them back to him asap of course i said sure and a buddy of mine at saltmine studios help me cut the tracks and do a quick mix so we could get it back to jeff and the guys. I got a call from Jeff telling me that he and all the people in their office were freaking out that they All Loved the songs and my performance on the cd so Jeff said i needed to talk to Mike and gave me Shinoda's number and we spoke seemed a very nice guy and apparently gave alot of heed to Jeff and what Jeff said about how it was going down so i thought i had the gig, i was really excited because inside i KNEW these songs were special and different then all the other nu metal out at the time so next step was head to LA and meet the guys and do some jamming but Jeff wanted to talk a bit more with me just to gleen an understanding on what everyone expected and how things worked etc etc and i made my fatal mistake and asked a business question, i guess i shouldn't have but i did. I asked " so Jeff, your company has been working with these guys for a while now yes"? Yeah he says. I say so "how much money have you guys invested so far"? Jeff says none of my business and how dare i ask i kinda laughed and said to him im perfectly ok with getting fucked on this deal i just need to how fucked im getting? I laughed he did not and told me that they had spoken with Chester from Grey Daze and i said Chester is awesome and the rest is history."[13] Harper and Oil’s drummer, Clancy McCarthy, went on to work on George Lynch’s infamous rap metal album Smoke This.

Following Grey Daze's break-up, Chester took on jobs in restaurants and coffee shops to pay the bills while trying to find a new band that could match his ambitions. Lee Bennington, his father, said, “He spent a year-and-a-half or so trying to find something else to do. He’d call up the local rock people and go to their studios. I asked him one day, ‘What are you gonna do if you don’t find something?’ He said, ‘I’m gonna give it another six months and then I’ll get a real job.’ And that’s when he was contacted by the guys that were putting Linkin Park together. The rest of it is history. If music had not happened for him, he was capable of doing anything he wanted to do. He was very smart. He could been a doctor, a lawyer or an engineer.”[15]

Grey Daze worked with a Los Angeles based attorney named Scott Harrington and after the group was dissolved, Chester remained friends with Harrington and would receive demos from him every once in a while.[16][17] Danny Hayes, the attorney who helped sign Xero to a publishing deal, was partners with Scott at the law firm Manatt, Phelps & Phillips.[18][19] They were at South By Southwest in Texas talking about a band that needed a singer and Scott recommended Chester.[20] Jeff Blue was also at the music conference when he was told about the singer from Phoenix. He was so desperate he called him up when he was still in Texas and told him he would be sending the music and the original songs for the singer to sing over them.[21] Scott called Kerry Rose, Grey Daze's manager, and asked if it was possible to approach Chester about a project called Xero. Kerry came through at the cost of his job with the remaining members of Grey Daze.[16]

Scott called Chester, who at the time really wanted to quit music all together after a bad band audition for Kongo Shock in 1998,[22] and told him about a band he thought "could really go somewhere." Upon learning the band was consisted of teenagers, Chester dismissed it as a waste of time, but Scott insisted he should listen to their music. The next day, on a Friday, Chester then received a tape. One side had vocals on it and the other side was just instrumental. Chester listened to the instrumental side first and was really impressed, it was different from anything he had heard. However, when he flipped the tape over and listened to the songs with vocals he started to have some doubts about it. He turned it back over to the other side, and started singing the parts and thought to himself: "I can do this."[23] Among the tracks on the tape were early versions of "A Place For My Head",[24] "Forgotten"[25] and "Pictureboard".[26]

"I noticed that Mike's rapping was really good, and I felt I could improve on their melodies as far as where their choruses were concerned. Something did tell me that, yeah, this is the one. This was the golden ticket to get inside Willy Wonka's chocolate factory!", said Chester.[25]

Chester called Jay Kereny of Lemon Krayola and asked if he would help with he tracks they sent him. Jay, his brother John, and Bart Applewhite of Kongo Shock learned the songs, Jay helped Chester with the melodies and they videotaped the session. The three musicians were playing together in a band called Size 5 at the time.[16] Their frontman, Chuck Moore, said, "One awesome memory I will always have is the night that him and Sam came to the base at a Size 5 practice and asked me if he could "borrow" the band for a few hours and record an audition video for a band in LA called "Hybrid Theory"..of course I was "absolutely" and Jay Kereny John Kereny and Barton Applewhite went to work on this video. Sam recorded this amazing work of vocals and history was born."[27]

Chester threw a 23rd birthday party for himself the next day but skipped it to record the demo of his vocals over Xero's music. He called Mike Jones, who handled engineering and production work on ...No Sun Today, to use his studio, but said he didn't have much money. He charged a hundred dollars an hour. Mike then called his partner, Ghery Fimbres, who met with Chester in a late Saturday evening at the studio. Ghery transferred the cassette to a 24-track-2 inch-tape, cleaning it up as much as possible, and set up a Neumann U-87, a pop filter, and a headphone rig to start the recording. After 3 hours in the studio, the final audition tape was committed to DAT, and also burned in a CD.[16]

Chester went home and called Jeff Blue (who was back in Los Angeles) on a Sunday, asking when he could come out. At first, Jeff didn't believe Chester had actually finished the tracks in such a short time. Jeff told him he had to listen to the recording first, but Chester refused to send it via mail because he wanted to be sure he was going to listen.[23] Chester then put the tape in his stereo and played 30 seconds of it via the phone and Jeff was impressed with what he heard. Not only Chester had sung Mark's parts but also added his own flavor to them.[28] "What I heard floored me. Every crack of his voice had a story to tell. It was iconic, genuine, vulnerable, urgent, beautiful and hit you in the gut. I ­immediately called Brad and Mike and told them I was flying Chester out to Los Angeles."[29]

Chester was working in technology, at a digital services firm that was taking maps of newly developed local sub-divisions and scanning them to put the entire county library of maps on 13 discs.[17] He left his job being assured by his boss that he could have it back if things didn't work out with this new band.[23] In Los Angeles, he was essentially homeless for months, shuttling between friends' and relatives' sofas, a rehearsal studio, and even slept in his old Toyota.[30]

On Monday morning, Chester drove to Los Angeles and, at 8:30, got to the Nine Thousand Sunset LLC and Cord Partners Inc. building on Sunset Blvd. The doors were open at 11 o'clock and Chester met Jeff in his office.[23] "Into my office walked a kid with Coke-bottle glasses; a ­glittery, ­button-down black shirt two sizes too big; spiked black hair; and an ­unstoppable smile from ear to ear that lit up the room. I couldn’t believe the voice I heard on the demo came out of the shy kid sitting before me," said Jeff.[29] He started calling people from the label, announcing they got a new singer for Xero and setting up showcases.[23]

When Chester met the band, he personally gave them his audition tape and they really liked what they heard, but they had already booked appointments with other singers. For 3 days,[31] they frequently had to interrupt the rehearsals to let other people do their audition, even though they had already started writing new songs with Chester.[32] "There was one guy who never wore shoes, and he told us he wanted to do stand-up comedy during our show," said Mike.[33] At one point, one person came up, heard Chester singing, said "If you guys don't take this guy then you're fucking idiots" and walked away. Chester tried to convince him to do the audition, but he said "There's no fucking way I'm going back into that room. Singing after hearing you sing, there's no way! If they don't take you call me up we should start a band."

Prior to Chester officially joining the band, they had been auditioning for a new singer for 4 to 5 months.[34]

Track Listing

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1 Rhinestone Delson Bradford, Hahn Joseph, Shinoda Michael Kenji, Wakefield Mark
2 Pictureboard Carter Barrence Eugene, Delson, Hahn, Shinoda, Wakefield
3 Esaul Delson, Hahn, Shinoda, Wakefield


  • Mike Shinoda
  • Mark Wakefield
  • Brad Delson
  • Rob Bourdon
  • Dave Farrell
  • Joe Hahn


External Links

  • LPLive Interview: TJ Demonte (2021.01.03): YouTube
  • Hybrid Origins: A Look Back At The Early Days: LPLive


  1. Scuzz Meets Linkin Park - YouTube, July 18, 2014
  2. 009.jpg
  3. Linkin Park | Rare Interview | The Lost Tapes, September 26, 2019
  4. Linkin Park, you're a nu metal boy band. Discuss. | Louder, October 23, 2015
  5. LPU Chat with Mark Fiore Summary | Linkin Park Fan Corner, January 16, 2014
  6. Mark Fiore Chat Zusammenfassung 16.01.2014 – BlackChester.de, January 16, 2014
  7. Rockezine.com interview with Epidemic on Apr 22, 2003, April 22, 2003
  8. Frozen Sun - Encyclopaedia Metallum: The Metal Archives
  9. TJ Demonte (tjdemonte) on Myspace
  10. Sugarmilk/Crumb - Homepage | Facebook
  11. LIMP BIZKIT PERFORMANCE STRUMS MOSTLY ANGER - Hartford Courant, October 24, 1997
  12. LP unproduced-forgotten by tehotaone | Free Listening on SoundCloud, September 11, 2012
  13. 13.0 13.1 Hybrid Origins: A Look Back At The Early Days - Linkin Park Live, 2021
  14. No December - Mobius (2004, Digipak, CD) | Discogs
  15. Family, Fortitude And Grey Daze: The Making Of Chester Bennington — Kerrang!, June 26, 2020
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 16.3 LPLive Wiki - Grey Daze Story
  17. 17.0 17.1 Linkin Park's Chester Bennington: The Lost Interview | Revolver, July 20, 2018
  18. LPFan.com
  19. United Auburn Indian Community Invests in Danny Wimmer Presents - News in Roseville, California Travel and Entertainment includes Rocklin and Placer County,CA, January 28, 2015
  20. Club Tattoo's Chester Bennington Interview, Pt 1 » Blog » etnies, January 18, 2008
  21. A&R, Record Label / Company, Music Publishing, Artist Manager and Music Industry Directory, September 12, 2001
  22. 17 Years After Splitting, Phoenix Ska Band Kongo Shock Returns | Phoenix New Times, May 7, 2015
  23. 23.0 23.1 23.2 23.3 23.4 When Chester joined Linkin Park/Radio Alice transcript. - Everything Linkin Park - Linkin Park Live, May 31, 2013
  24. Transcript: LPU Chat with Chester, August 02, 2011
  25. 25.0 25.1 010.jpg
  26. Linkin Park to Finally Release Long-Awaited 'Pictureboard' Song, September 29, 2020
  27. Chuck Moore - Well I've been working all day and didn't have a lot..., July 20, 2017
  28. Linkin Park: The Ride | Episode Highlights | MTV UK, October 10, 2014
  29. 29.0 29.1 Linkin Park's Original A&R Recalls The Struggle & Rejection Of The Band's Pre-Fame Days | Theprp.com, July 27, 2017
  30. Linkin Park: 'We're famous, but we're not celebrities' | Music | The Guardian, July 07, 2011
  31. Linkin Park Interview with Mike and Brad Part 2 - YouTube, October 15, 2011
  32. Linkin Park interview with Chester and Rob Part 1, December 28, 2010
  33. Linkin Park Kerrang! | Tom Bryant - tom-bryant.com, January 23, 2008
  34. Hamburg 2001 Interview