As bassist for Linkin Park, Dave “Phoenix” Farrell has traveled across the globe playing the biggest stages. But since the tragic death of vocalist Chester Bennington, Farrell has been able to decompress by tapping into other creative outlets, traveling for pleasure and working on some of his non-musical passions.
“I’ve kind of been all over the place,” Farrell said of his 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.”
Farrell launched the “Member Guest” podcast with two longtime friends in professional golfer Brendan Steele and Linkin Park videographer Mark Fiore. The show is a freewheeling conversation about the trio’s collective interests: golf, beer, music and having fun. Episodes feature famous friends. Farrell is a natural host with a keen sense of self-deprecating humor.
“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,” Farrell said.
As far as travel, Farrell has found one of his favorite new getaways is the wine regions of Northern California, most recently exploring Napa Valley. He initially tried to get into wine culture a decade ago, but found that there was a steep learning curve.
“I can kinda get into a deep dive on things when I really get into something,” Farrell said. “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 some of his time on the road with Linkin Park to discover new craft beer from around the world, challenging the band’s longtime chef, Gray Rollin, to find the 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,” Farrell said.
Although Farrell has had the opportunity to see the world with Linkin Park, he hasn’t been able to experience a region’s culture as much as he’d like. The band usually chose to stay in a central city and fly to other cities for individual concerts.
“You learn the city that you’re parked in really well,” Farrell said. “I’ve spent so much time in Berlin I feel like I know it better than I know Los Angeles.”
While Linkin Park has taken breaks from touring before, Farrell and his bandmates have always known the breaks were temporary. That has made the last 18 months so uncertain.
“We’ve definitely had breaks over the past 20 years, times when we could be home,” Farrell said. “But in that process, my brain always had a little bit of a countdown to when the machine starts up again.”
The bassist has dealt with it by focusing on his family. He’s also toured with Mike Shinoda and started drumming lessons with his daughter.
In Bennington, Farrell remembers not only a talented vocalist and close friend, but someone committed to giving his best to scores of the band’s fans—especially when it came to youths.
“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, but especially with kids, Chester was always excited and ready and open to being his warm, natural, energetic self,” he said, adding that Bennington was always warm and engaging to his own children.
The remaining members of Linkin Park have stayed quiet about about their future together. Farrell’s mindset is to respect the process and ensure what comes next is an organic choice. He definitely doesn’t want to “be retired,” but he doesn’t want to rush to a decision when it comes to the band.
“I don’t really know what we’re going to do, and how we’re going to do it,” Farrell said. “I know I still love music. I know I still love the five guys. The five of us still get together; we still hang out [and we] still love being around each other.”
Listen to Mike DeWald and Coco Sterzenbach speak with Farrell and chef Gray Rollin at the Rock’N Vino podcast.