Chester Bennington has laughed off the perception from some metal purists that LINKIN PARK was nothing more than a boy band with guitars when the group released its debut album, “Hybrid Theory”, in 2000.

Reflecting on the LP and the reaction to it, the LINKIN PARK frontman said his band was partially responsible for bringing metal into the 21st century.

“I think that’s really funny — just those words, ‘the integrity of metal,'” he told Metal Hammer magazine. “In my opinion, we actually kept metal alive.”

He continued: “I met a kid a few days ago who said, ‘You were the first rock band I ever listened to,’ and I hear that all the time. We played a surprise Vans Warped tour show in California in 2014 and had a whole bunch of singers from other bands come up and sing with us. Every one of them was either, ‘Your band was my first record,’ or, ‘Your band is the reason I’m playing music.’ It was maybe the first time where I felt like we were the band that people looked at in the way that I look at DEFTONES, METALLICA and STONE TEMPLE PILOTS.”

Chester previously told the “Metal Hammer” radio show that he wasn’t affected by criticism from some of the metal fans who said that LINKIN PARK could not possibly be considered a “metal” band, Chester explained: “It doesn’t hurt, because I don’t think we’re a metal band either. That was actually something that we kind of intentionally wanted to make clear from the very beginning when we were kind of tagged as a ‘nu metal’ band. Not that we have anything against metal. It’s like a facial expression, or like an emotion. It’s like someone saying, ‘He’s an angry person.’ And you’re, like, ‘I can be nice. I can be loving and I can be sensitive.’ That’s kind of how we feel about ourselves with our music. We aren’t just one thing. So there are elements of the band that are metal, there are elements of the band that are pop, there are elements that are electronic, and hip-hop as well. And we’ve kind of always felt like we weren’t bound to just one genre. So after we made ‘Hybrid Theory’ and ‘Meteora’, we really wanted to take risks beyond what we had already done on those first two records, creatively, and show the world that we can do a lot more than just make nu-metal songs.”

Both Bennington and his LINKIN PARK bandmate Mike Shinoda have said that the band’s return to heavier sounds on their last studio album, “The Hunting Party”, was partially a reaction to the more subdued music being played on Modern Rock radio.

LINKIN PARK is currently working on the follow-up to “The Hunting Party” for a 2017 release.