Grey Daze are back with another exciting and wholesome project after the success of their 2020 album Amends. In keeping Chester Bennington’s legacy alive, the band have a new album titled The Phoenix which is set to drop on Friday, June 17th via Loma Vista Recordings. And they’ve also created a four-part documentary series on the process.
We caught up with drummer Sean Dowdell two years ago, and it seemed only fitting to catch up with him again for this new release.
Sean, welcome back to Wall of Sound and congratulations on The Phoenix, the second album for Grey Daze. Following the success of Amends, did the fan reaction from the first release play any part in the conception of this album?
Thank you for the kind words. Absolutely. We knew we knew we had the material to do another album but we didn’t know how the first one would be received and we probably would not have done the second album if we hadn’t received an overwhelming amount of support from the first one. It seemed to truly connect with many of Chester’s fans in a meaningful way.
What did you personally (and as a band) learn in the studio the first time around that you bettered or adapted to with this release?
Trying to write the first album, Amends, was a difficult task in that none of us had any experience in trying to write and create an album in that way. We had certain limitations which are obvious, so we had to learn how to work within the confines of what we had. I think we did a great job overall and took many lessons from that experience into writing The Phoenix. We had somewhat of a successful template to work from.
You are doing an incredible job at maintaining the legacy of Chester and showing a side of his musical career that may have been lost or forgotten about had this project not come to fruition. What barriers did you come across this time around and how did you all collectively overcome them?
We asked all of the children if they wanted to participate on both albums. For The Phoenix, Lily and Lila said they wanted to contribute and see what they could do with their dad. We had them come into the studio and write out their dad’s lyrics and developed a nursery rhyme style vocal part that they do on the intro of the song, as well as had them sing on a chorus with Chester.
They were a pleasure to be around and work with. They have so much of the father in them. It is hard not to get teary eyed while working with them.
It seemed to be one of the only ways we could give something back to Chester and his family. He had his kids in the studio with him many times over the years, but to my knowledge, I don’t believe he recorded anything with them and that was something we felt was not only special for him, but for everyone in his family.
The four part docu-series is a brilliant insight into the makings of the album and how much Chester is still a part of the band. Why did you decide to create the docu-series for this album instead of Amends? Was there a different aspect of the band and Chester that you wanted to showcase?
Thank you. It initially was started by Cristin and a friend Marc Silverstein on the first album when we just thought it was important to capture as much of the process on camera. This docu-series will showcase more of the writing and recording of the music and of course capturing some of the banter and inside jokes among the band, etc.
Marc did a great job on making Amends so we had him film everything while recording The Phoenix as well. Currently, it is being directed and edited by Heidi Gadd for The Creation of The Phoenix four-part docu-series and I think it is turning out nicely.
You were supposed to embark on a reunion tour prior to the passing of Chester. With Linkin Park on hiatus and unsure of their future and touring plans, would you say that Grey Daze would remain a studio/recording band only or could you find a way to play these songs live?
Yes, for now, we are simply trying to complete our catalogue of music and release it. We can’t envision touring without Chester (we won’t do a hologram or anything like that), and we certainly won’t be replacing Chester. We would love to do some type of tribute show where we could bring several singers that admired and knew Chester up to sing along with Chester’s vocal tracks, but it would only be a one-off type of thing and done in a respectful way that showcased our friendship and love for Chester.
Much like the tribute show Linkin Park did. I like that concept! What would you like fans, new and old, to keep in mind when hitting play for the first time?
Turn it up, raise your fist and scream along. We hope that you love what we did.
Interview by Ebony Story (@ebonyrose.s).
Pre-Order The Phoenix here
Grey Daze – The Phoenix tracklisting
1. Saturation (Strange Love)
2. Starting To Fly
3. Be Your Man
4. Holding You (featuring Dave Navarro)
7. Believe Me (featuring Richard Patrick)
8. Anything Anything
10. Wake Me