RNV 42: Linkin Park Bassist Dave 'Phoenix' Farrell & LP Tour Chef Gray Rollin
Dave 'Phoenix' Farrell found a variety of new passions in recent months. As bassist of one of the most successful rock bands of all time and one of defining bands of the millennial generation, Linkin Park, Farrell has traveled across the globe playing some of the biggest stages at the farthest reaches. In the time that's passed following the tragic death of vocalist Chester Bennington, Farrell has been able to decompress by tapping into other creative outlets, travel for pleasure, and tap into some of his non-musical passions. Farrell joined the Rock'N Vino Podcast and RIFF for an exclusive wide-ranging conversation, along with longtime tour chef Gray Rollin, to talk travel, life on the road, and the future of Linkin Park.
"I've kind of been all over the place," says Farrell of his experiences in the past year, "it's like the saying, a jack of all trades and a master of none, there's a lot of things in my bio that I'm just mediocre at."
For one, Farrell launched the Member Guest podcast with longtime friends professional golfer Brendan Steele and Linkin Park videographer Mark Fiore. The show is a freewheeling conversation about the group's collective interests: golf, beer, music, and fun. Episodes often feature famous friends from the worlds of music and sports for a lively conversational atmosphere. Farrell is a natural host, with a natural delivery and keen sense of self-deprecation in his humor, the show sounds like friends meeting up at the 19th hole to reminisce and tell stories.
"We started the podcast more than anything just to give us an excuse to all hang out when we're all at home at the same time," jokes Farrell.
Along with a fair amount of travel, Farrell has found one of his favorite new getaways to get up to the wine regions of Northern California, most recently exploring the Napa Valley. Farrell quips that he initial tried to get into wine culture around a decade ago, but found there to be a steep learning curve."
"I can kinda get into a deep dive on things when I really get into something," says Farrell, "I was so overwhelmed so fast even just trying to learn Napa red wines as far as the different tastes and varietals."
Originally a beer connoisseur, Farrell used his time on the road with Linkin Park as an avenue to discover new craft beer from around the world, challenging Chef Gray to find the locales best local fare.
"I'm going to always end up landing somewhere in Germany, Prague, Eastern Europe - there's a lot of solid beer coming from that region," says Farrell.
Given the ample time Linkin Park spends on the road, Farrell gets the opportunity to cities around the world, but says seeing a particular city in that setting doesn't necessarily allow him to experience as much of a region's culture as much as he'd like. Many times on an international tour, the band will elect to do 'fly dates', choosing a central city to locate and flying to the individual show dates.
"You learn the city that you're parked in really well," says Farrell, "I've spent so much time in Berlin I feel like I know it better than I know Los Angeles."
One of Farrell's favorite cities along the way was Cape Town, remembering the band's opportunity to play South Africa in 2014, it was a memorable enough experience that Farrell returned earlier this year with his family.
"It's a very different world down there," says Farrell, "it's humbling, but at the same time it's also invigorating."
The past year and a half marked a titanic shift professionally for Linkin Park following the shocking passing of Bennington in July 2017. Farrell says the eighteen months that followed has been a difficult road for the band and for him personally, but the time has also allowed him a moment to decompress.
"We've definitely had breaks over the past twenty years, times when we could be home," says Farrell, "but in that process my brain always had a little bit of a countdown to when the machine starts up again."
Farrell says he's made the best of a tough situation by allow himself to fully disconnect from being a professional touring musician and taking the time to focus on being present with his family. Farrell still has taken advantage of avenues to keep himself engaged in music and being creative, both personally an professionally, not only playing a string recent of recent dates as bassist for Linkin Park vocalist Mike Shinoda's solo outing but also taking up the drums taking lessons with his daughter.
In Bennington, Farrell remembers not only a supremely talented vocalist and close friend, but also as someone who was committed to giving his best to scores of the band's fans - especially when it came to kids.
"To be the focal point of a band as big as Linkin Park, it's tough to feel like you're always having to be 'that person' for everybody," says Farrell, "but, especially with kids, Chester was always excited and ready and open to being his warm, natural, energetic self."
Farrell and his wife had a long-standing joke that Bennington was better with their children than they were, saying he always made it a point to engage with them and just be silly.
The question remains as to just where the road ahead lies for Linkin Park. The band has stayed mostly quiet about about its future, with their last on stage appearance being October 2017's 'Celebrate Life' tribute concert feature scores of guest vocalists and musicians playing a three-hour concert for their fallen friend and bandmate. Linkin Park DJ Joe Hahn made news recently, telling a South Korean newspaper that the band has started conversations about the potential for making new music together. Farrell sums up the path as he sees it as succinctly a possible:
"I don't really know what we're going to do, and how we're going to do it," says Farrell noting the realities of being vague.
"I know I still love music, I know I still love the five guys," says Farrell, "the five of us still get together, we still hang out, still love being around each other,"
The band has faced months of speculating their next steps from fans and media alike, trying to glean any inkling of whether there will be a next chapter for Linkin Park and what shape that might take. Farrell's mindset is not only respecting the process, but also making sure what comes next is an organic choice.
"I don't feel like I want to be 'retired', whatever that means," say Farrell, "I know I want to do something at some point in the future, but I'm not in a rush to do anything just to do it,"
Farrell says the major hurdle the band faces is getting a handle of the sheer number of potential outcomes and how they would become reality. It's a daunting challenge to decide how to move forward without the presence of Bennington, a figure akin to Freddie Mercury and Kurt Cobain of the millennial age.
"If it comes together, I don't know how it will yet," admits Farrell, "I think there's a ton of different possibilities of what we can do and how we can do it, but I don't know beyond that."