Foreign tragedies have a way of hitting close to home when you're world famous and have embarked on several world tours. For Southern California's Linkin Park, the March earthquake and tsunami in Japan affected them on a personal level. “We have family ties to Japan,” Chester Bennington, vocalist, said. “When you play somewhere so many times you start to feel at home. When something at home happens, it's like it happens to you.”
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Bennington said that the Linkin Park-founded charity, Music for Relief, had several ideas how to help and they evolved into one. “We wanted everything from 'Hey, let's donate all the proceeds from a show to Music For Relief,' to 'Is that even possible?' to 'How do we ignite our fan base to help Music for Relief.” Perhaps one of their biggest efforts is their secret show in Los Angeles. Fans can see the band and Japan's B'z in an unannounced intimate venue by raising at least $500 for the cause via social media. The top 50 fundraisers will meet the band.
Bennington wasn't sure exactly how well the fundraiser was going due to intensive touring and a recent bout of strep throat. “I know we have a very passionate fan base,” he said optimistically. “Wheather that means 10 people show up or 3,000 people show up, the bigger the number the better. If there's 3,000 people that show up that means close to 20,000 people donated, which is awesome.”
Donations will be collected via give2gether.com. Fundraisers are encouraged to use social media to meet their $500 goal. “It's a no-brainer,” Bennington said about social media as a tool for making a difference. “Everything from the fall of the government in Egypt to the [Stanley Cup] riots in Canada to raising money for a charity for a natural disaster- it's obvious what Facebook and Twitter has done in those circumstances.”
Music for Relief started within the first 24 hours after the 2004 Indonesia tsunami and earthquake. “We were the first organization in the world to respond,” he said “Not even the governments of the countries that had been hit had responded at that point.” Linkin Park had just gotten back from touring Asia. “It was still fresh,” he said. “It came from us being somewhere one day and the next day the place you were just at is destroyed. Hundreds of thousands of people were dead.” The band and a large number of their management gathered and began making phone calls. Music for Relief was born soon after.
The charity continued because of the frequency and severity of natural disasters as well as the lack of transparency in other charities. “Big charities get a lot of money, but people don't know where their money is going,” Bennington said. “We picked very specific partners (The Red Cross and Habitat for Humanity) because we know they are going to give us full disclosure on where the funds are being spent.”
Months after many abandoned charity drives for natural disasters, Linkin Park continues their fundraising for seemingly forgotten causes. Linkin Park's multi-instrumentalist Mike Shinodadesigned two t-shirts and all of the proceeds will go to Japanese relief efforts. They also released a sold-out CD of new tracks from Slash, Stained, Hoobastank and of course, Linkin Park. Hear a song they make for Japan below.