When an actor plays a certain role for a long period of time, that actor can become what is known as typecast. This means that they have become so strongly connected with a particular role, that people automatically think of them as that character and they may even struggle to get work in roles that contrast with what they are known for. In the film ‘The Woman in Black’, where actor Daniel Radcliffe’s identification with Harry Potter is hard to see past. Actors like Bruce Willis or Arnold Schwarzenegger have become typecast as the strong, robust character, who can’t seem to die in action films.
I believe the same principle can apply to music too. When a singer decides to do a side project, even if the musical style of the new group is radically different, it’s hard not to think of that new band as an evolution of the same thing. In many cases the fan base will be shared across both bands. This effect is most common for vocalists, as they tend to have the biggest presence in the factors that make us like or dislike a band, but naturally it can happen to any band member – guitarist, drummer or even triangle-players (especially if you’re a connoisseur in triangle solos).
I have brought this up in response to the news that Linkin Park vocalist Chester Bennington has announced that he has joined Stone Temple Pilots. Founding member and previous vocalist Scott Weiland was fired from the band in February (who also left the bands Velvet Revolver (he was about to be fired anyway) and Camp Freddy in 2008 following disputes), leaving the position of vocalist open.
As well as Linkin Park, Chester is also vocalist for his own side project called Dead By Sunrise, who are a prime example of a band which suffers from the vocalist being musically typecast. Dead By Sunrise play an almost identical style of hard rock, so much so that slipping the odd song into a Linkin Park playlist would go unnoticed. This is what surprised me about the hiring of Chester for Stone Temple Pilots, because although Chester is a very talented vocalist, he is also tremendously typecast in rock.
Upon listening to the first new track released with Chester, called “Out of Time”, it is evident that he has purposely change his vocal style to imitate the grunge-tonality which Scott Weiland was known for. Where some might say it’s a very wise decision, others may say it’s a cheap impersonation which detracts from the music. In my opinion, it was the only option if they wanted to avoid the typecasting. Business-wise it also makes sense: by changing his style, not only does it please the current Stone Temple Pilots fans, but also attracts along the Chester fans from Linkin Park, significantly increasing the fan base.
I look forward to hearing the results.