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Linkin Park's been kickin' it for a couple years, and now they're getting ready to take over. If you're looking for the next big thing -it's right here.

Life is good for Linkin Park right now. Then again, life is always good for young bands with buzz. And Linkin Park's got lots of buzz.

Sitting in a caz conference room at their New York City record label, singer Chester Bennington and DJ Joe Hahn are psyched about the New York City debut they made the night before. "It was awesome," says Chester as he finger-combs his dyed red hair. "There were 4000 insane kids out there. It was great."

It was. Especially for the 4000 kids who only knew Linkin Park from their single "One Step Closer." These were kids who see one-hit blunders fly by faster than a subway train. But the LA-based Linkin Park was tight, fierce and aggressively ready to rock the party. And every kid in the place ate it up. That's what's most important to the members of LP.

Just call 'em fan addicts. "We try to meet as many fans as possible," Chester says. "If we could meet everyone at the venue, that would be great, but sometimes it's impossible." Even if you don't get a high five, or some Sharpie ink on a CD, you'll most likely end up leaving with a little something from Linkin Park. "I hope that they walk away thoroughly enjoying the band," Chester says. "And just become fans and enjoy the music that we make."

Winning over fans should be a walk in the park for the young band whose Don Gilmore-produced debut "Hybrid Theory" crosses over countless genres, including hip-hop, rock, and electronic. "That's what I like about our band," says Joe, "we have a specific sound, but as far as boundaries, we don't have any." That kind of openness is what seems to make the band and its music gel so well.

"I've been in some other bands, but this is the first time I've been in a group that if I wasn't [a member] I would go out and buy the album," laughs Chester. October 24 marks the release of "Hybrid Theory." We'll see if other people feel the same way as Chester.

But for now, the band is enjoying all the firsts: first time hearing their song on the radio ("We were sooo excited," Joe says); first time shooting a video, which was directed by Gregory Dark (Mandy Moore, Orgy); and first time playing New York. They're also looking forward to hooking up with P.O.D and (hed) pe for a tour this fall -- an outing they've already dubbed the "P Tour."

"I always wanted to be a rock star," Chester says. "That was my childhood dream. That's what I told everybody I was going to be when I grew up."

We'd say you're more than one step closer, Chester.

Quick stuff:

Joe likes 'NSYNC. Chester thinks Aaliyah is hot. And they both agree the Foo Fighters' "Everlong" is quite possibly one the best songs ever. But our Linkin Park pals weren't always so cool.

Chester comes out of the Foreigner closet:

"That was what my brother was listening to, it wasn't my fault! My brother is like 13 years older than me. So when he was a teenager, bands like Loverboy, Foreigner and Rush were huge in the rock scene. That was his thing, so it influenced me."

High school Chester:

"I was a geek who thought I was cool. I didn't hang out with a particular clique, but with different people from different cliques. I was a total nerd, trying to fit in. Luckily, I found music and that was my niche. That sorta took me out of my geekdom."

High school Joe:

"I wasn't a geek, but I was into art. I was one of the guys who the other kids were like, 'Oh, you draw. Could you draw a picture of me?' They'd ask me dumb questions like 'Where did you learn to draw?'"

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