Grey Daze with Chester Bennington

Before the late Chester Bennington became the frontman for Linkin Park, he was the frontman for an unsigned Arizona-based grunge band called Grey Daze. In April 2020, an album titled Amends is set to be released, containing 11 songs from Grey Daze’s ‘90’s repertoire, using Bennington’s original recorded vocals but with the music rerecorded by surviving Grey Daze members Sean Dowdell (drums, backing vocals) and Mace Beyers (bass), and new guitarist Cristin Davis.

Grey Daze originally self-released two independent CD’s in the ‘90’s: Wake Me (1994) and …no sun today (1997). On both CD’s, Bennington co-wrote the lyrics with Dowdell. These two CD’s have long been unavailable, and have been much-bootlegged in the past two decades following the success of Linkin Park.

The 1994 CD Wake Me mostly has the type of Seattle-style grunge sound which was then fashionable, and is particularly reminiscent of Alice In Chains. The guitarist on this CD was Jason Barnes, and the bassist was Jonathon Krause. Vocally, the teenaged Bennington rarely sounds like his future self; instead, he usually bears an almost uncanny vocal resemblance to AIC’s Layne Staley. Likewise, the album is instrumentally more reminiscent of AIC and Soundgarden than of Linkin Park. However, the lyrics do bear Bennington’s recognizable fingerprints, foreshadowing the sense of frustration and lost hope that he would later convey through Linkin Park. One notable standout moment: the title song resembles a Stone Temple Pilots song from the period, and Bennington’s vocals suddenly resemble those of Scott Weiland – foretelling the period from 2013 to 2015 in which Bennington briefly took Weiland’s place in STP.

The 1997 CD …no sun today showed considerable improvement. Mace Beyers took on the bass duties, while the guitar was played by Bobby Benish; both of these musicians made stronger impressions than their predecessors on the previous CD. The band was still basically doing the ‘90’s grunge thing; in fact, three songs from the previous CD (“What’s In The Eye”, “Sometimes”, “Hole”) were rerecorded, and they still bear a noticeable resemblance to Alice In Chains despite their somewhat less grungy presentation. …no sun today still doesn’t bear much resemblance to a work by Linkin Park – although the anxious rendition of Dramarama’s “Anything, Anything” does come surprisingly close to doing so. However, Bennington was recognizably becoming more like the singer we came to know through his later band. His vocal range had become more expressive, conveying more emotional pain and frustrated rage. And, once again, the lyrics foretold the bleak anxiety later found in Linkin Park’s music. The best songs – “Just Like Heroin”, “Soul Song”, “The Down Syndrome” – have understated instrumental arrangements that allowed Bennington to better display his strengths. (The same can be said for the piano demo version of “The Down Syndrome” hidden at the end of the CD). The final track “Saturation”, although not the CD’s best song, was perhaps the best demonstration of what Bennington was vocally capable of. …no sun today is not quite strong enough to give Grey Daze their own distinction, but it does showcase their future star singer to good effect.

In February 2020, to herald the April release of the Amends album, a CD-single was issued, containing two of the album's rerecorded tracks. The single’s first track is the third version of “What’s In The Eye”, which wisely utilizes Bennington’s superior lead vocals from the …no sun today version. The new instrumentation by Dowdell, Beyers, and Davis (with assistance by Bush's Chris Traynor and P.O.D.'s Marcos Curiel) has an updated modern-metal sound which doesn’t blend entirely successfully with young Bennington’s vocal track, but the more polished production values do make this version sound more sophisticated than the decades-old indie versions of the song. The second track is an even more modernized update of “Sickness”, which originally appeared on …no sun today. The instrumentation (assisted by Helmet's Page Hamilton) is very different on this new version, advancing the song from primitivism to high-tech, with effects that almost make it resemble a Linkin Park recording. Whatever the intent, this version works well, with Bennington’s powerful lead vocal mixing with the new background sounds almost as if the different elements were meant to be put together from the beginning.

Grey Daze - Wake Me

Grey Daze “Wake Me” (Grey Daze DAZE0195) 1994

Track Listing:

1. What’s In The Eye?
2. Spin
3. Morei Sky
4. Wake Me
5. Starting To Fly
6. Sometimes
7. Holding You
8. Hole
9. Believe Me
10. Here, Nearby
11. She Shines
12. Shouting Out

Grey Daze - ...No Sun Today

Grey Daze “…no sun today” (Grey Daze 011604-14 63EZ-0722) 1997

Track Listing:

1. B12
2. What’s In The Eye
3. Drag
4. Sickness
5. In Time
6. Just Like Heroin (A Little Down)
7. Sometimes
8. Hole
9. The Down Syndrome
10. Anything, Anything
11. Soul Song
12. Saturation
13. (Hidden track – alternate version of “The Down Syndrome”)

Grey Daze - What’s in the Eye

Grey Daze “What’s In The Eye” (CD-single) (Loma Vista LVR01014) 2020

Track Listing:

1. What’s In The Eye
2. Sickness