Interviews

Linkin Park – Phone Interview

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Interview with Linkin Park

: So for this upcoming tour, will you feature more songs from your latest release? Or will it feature some older fan favorites?

Chester Bennington: We’re actually going to do a DJ style party set where we just play lyric videos. We thought that would be cool.

Katrina Cameron: So, you just play what kind of videos?

Chester Bennington: Lyric videos.

Chester Bennington: From YouTube. Yeah, we’re just going to –

Mike Shinoda: (overlapping) Not actually even going to go on stage. We’re just going to –

Chester Bennington: (overlapping) Yeah. We’re just going to bring our laptop up there, press “play,” have it on a big screen, lyric videos, lights; it’s going to be awesome. No.

Mike Shinoda: Nobody says, “Just kidding.” It’s so funny.

Mike Shinoda: Yeah. It’s going to be a little different from the last – if anybody caught any of the European tour online. We started there and we put some more work into it and kind of smoothed out some of the rough edges and added a couple songs. So, it’s coming along. I feel it’s a solid set. It’s got a mix of the old – and basically stuff from every record.

Chester Bennington: Yeah. It’s (Inaudible 00:07:01), so there’s a healthy dose of the new record in there. And I think we’re playing Final Masquerade, Rebellion, those are the two that we haven’t played yet, and something to play until it’s gone and still feel the same as well as (Inaudible 00:07:21). So, there’s a lot of the new record in this upcoming tour, for sure.

: In recent interviews, you’ve discussed how this was a direction that required some time to get the whole band on board. Was there initially a lot of reluctance or resistance to make a harder record? Or do you feel like the rest of the band bought in pretty quickly? Like when did you feel it, like, for everybody?

Mike Shinoda: For me, it was a bit of a process. I felt like Chester was on board from the beginning and Chester – I think Chester and Dave and I had talked about it a number of times, but it was still, like, figuring out at that point what we were – well, our conversations were happening mid-tour last album. And so, like, what is a louder record mean? What is bringing energy to the album, even more so than the last album? What does that mean? How do we do that without it sounding throwback or derivative of heavier stuff that we grew up with. And so, we were trying to find the right – and it really fell to a large degree, at first it fell on me to kind of find the right tone, so that I could take that to, in particular Brad and Rob, and say, “You guys, like, I know this is something that you don’t naturally gravitate towards at this point in your life, but check out these reference points.” And as I’ve said before, Derek, you know bands like Refused and At the Drive-In and Helmet and many, many more, but those bands are a great example of how – when you listen to those albums, I feel like there’s a huge aesthetic separation between those albums and other things that were going on at the time. And that’s what I was keying into and saying, “It is possible to bring a smart, and maybe alternative in the more pure sense of the word, an alternative to, like, what people expect when they hear metal or heavy music or whatever.”

: You guys have been doing this for a long time now, 13 or 14 years. Obviously you’re all in different places than you were when you were 25. I’m sort of wondering how going out on tour has changed for you over that span of time, both in how you rehearse songs and get material ready, and also the personal stuff, your own lives. You have much fuller lives than you did then. And what’s involved in putting all of that aside for a few months and just leaving and going out.

Mike Shinoda: I’d say, first and foremost, we have opportunities now that we obviously didn’t have then, and just like being in the studio, you have opportunities with knowing what you’re doing, number one; knowing what’s out there is, like, a possibility of whether you’re talking conceptually or being able to afford production or instruments or whatever. Like, we have so many opportunities and the focus a lot of times is on what’s the selection process, like, what choices do we make that keeps things focused and exciting. I feel like on this one the production that you’ll see, for example, is, I think it evolves over the course of the show really well. It’s more video-based. The song selection and the technology we used to get the set into the form that it is right now. We’ve just finished the idea that that technology didn’t really exist, even seven, eight years ago. So, what’s funny about it is in our band, technology has actually allowed us to be more of a band, more of an organic free-thinking kind of group, because we are the kind of band that creates a lot of our stuff in the studio in layered forms. Like, if you think back to when the Beatles made the decision to go off the road more and focus on the studio, one of things that they did was they made music that they physically couldn’t play on stage. There was so many layered vocals and so many layered instruments and things that at that time it would be virtually impossible for them to do any of that on stage. As technology has progressed, all that stuff becomes more and more possible. And for us, we create in the style where things get layered and there’s a lot of different stuff going on in each song oftentimes. And 10 years ago that stuff would be locked into a timeline with our sampler, keyboard, or whatever, and in more modern stuff, we can actually react on the fly and say, “Let’s slow this part down. Let’s speed it up. Let’s pitch it. Let’s up or down. Let’s loop it,” and there’s moments when we can just kind of jam out and enjoy it. And that, strangely, is, like, this merging of, like, the humanity and the technology and the set that helps allow us to do that.The other thing that I should just mention is, although there is the technology in the set-up of what we’ve got going on on stage, and I feel like it’s very high-tech for music as far as what a music set-up on stage can be. We also have – I feel like we have a great deal of responsibility to be a live band, so, whereas, we have the opportunity to put certain things in the computer or on a sampler or whatever, we’re very careful about what we do, what we do put in the computer, because we want to be playing everything. We want the crowd to see us in performing the song, and I feel like even in almost every case, if you were to remove that other stuff and just have what’s being in played in front of you, you basically have the same song. So, that’s an important difference or, I guess, specific approach to note.

And on a personal level?

Mike Shinoda: How it’s different? Yeah, go ahead.

Chester Bennington: (overlapping) Well, I mean, honestly when you’re young and you’re out there and kind of – you don’t have a family, I mean, yeah, those are important and you’re focusing on the shows, but you’re also kind of focusing on, like, “Am I going to see – where am I going to shower? Do I want to keep this box of clothes this company gave me, because I don’t really like them, but I also don’t have any clean clothes?” Those are the kinds of things you’re thinking about when you’re young and you’re on the road. Nowadays, it’s, like, we focus on having our families out and, if we can have our families out, we – for me personally, like, all I focus on is preparing for the next show. So, I really don’t think much has changed in terms of our set-ups to get ready for the tour. I mean, we still kind of practice in the same manner. We rehearse in the same manner. The great thing is our crew knows us so well and has been with u so long, we don’t have to do sound checks anymore, which is pretty awesome, because that frees up a lot of time to stay back with your families during the days and listen to stuff. And so, it really has gotten a lot better now, I think, now that we reached the place that we have in our career. We’ve found a way to balance our personal and touring life a lot better. And so, that’s been really great, I think, all around for everybody.

Mike Shinoda: Yeah. When we were making the album, I had a handful of demos that were a little more – they weren’t quite as heavy as this. They were a little more electronic-driven, and there was just a day that I was listening – I was looking for something to listen to and I couldn’t find what it was that I wanted. I wanted something more aggressive and heavy and energetic and I just kept finding either stuff that was – you know, there’s another part to it, too. I wanted it to be, like, modern and progressive and the only stuff I was finding was – if it was modern and progressive, it tended to be a little more mellow. And if it was heavier, it tended to sound more – it tended to not be as progressive. And so, I think we all found that there was just a style that was kind of being underserved that we wanted to hear and that’s what we decided to make. As far as the reception, I don’t know. Kymm, do you have a number of how many – it debuted; although, it didn’t debut at number one in the space. It debuted number one –

Kymm Britton: Sixty-seven countries.

Mike Shinoda: Wow – 67 countries. So, that’s anything near a failure. But some friends of mine in the U.S. said, “Hey, I heard it. Sorry that you guys didn’t get to number one on the charts,” And I said, “You know, it’s actually – I feel like the billboard chart is for one thing. It’s for the first week album sales, and this is not really a first week album sales kind of album.” It’s a statement album. It’s a live album; an album that should be taken to the stage, and that’s exactly what we’re planning to do right now. We leave – I actually fly – we all fly this week and we start the Carnivores Tour here in the States.

Chester Bennington: Can I make a statement?

Mike Shinoda: Please.

Chester Bennington: It’s funny because I think probably more so than any other record, maybe other than possibly A Thousand Sons, I feel like critically the record’s been overwhelmingly positive. Like, I have yet to read anything negative about the record on a critical level that has been written, which is pretty amazing, and so for that we’re very grateful. But at the same time, almost on a daily basis I run into Linkin Park fans and I’ll take pictures or say, “Hi,” whatever, and every single person that I’ve met since we released this record has told me that they love the record. They are super happy that it’s out like it is, that they’ve been waiting for the great rock record. I’ve heard some other guys in the band that they feel like it is a record that really the genre needed and that they also appreciate the record that we’ve made, that it is progressive and it is something that they want to listen to. And I feel like we have accomplished our goal on this album. I think not only creatively, but personally for the band, but also for a lot of our fans. Like, they appreciate what we do, but they’ve kind of been waiting for us to rock out for awhile, and I think they appreciate not only that we did rock out, but in the manner in which we did. I think that they can see that it was crafted in the same manner that we craft everything that we do.

this being your first self-produced album, and the use of analog tape grain. Would you feel that you would go that route again?

Mike Shinoda: Yeah. So, I think it’s something that we’ve been curious about for awhile and it had to be the right moment to really dive into it. I’ve had a little bit of experience with tape on previous projects, but not really cutting such large chunks of the song and large performances to tape, and it’s so nice because it forces you to slow down and, like, really consider each performance, each recording of whoever’s playing at the time and whether or not you want it. That’s really, I think, it gives this album at least its sound. Yeah. So, it’s definitely something that’s kind of this point now is within our bag and we get to potentially go back and use it again, if the song asks for it.

Chester Bennington: I’ve been recording the drums in this way. It’s really great in that it does give the feel of the song. It’s like a more live feel. For us, I think that, like, one of the things that’s always kind of been surprising to a lot of people that I see when they come to see us for the first time, especially like my musicians’ friends. They were, like, they didn’t know us but they had never really, like, listened to us very much and haven’t seen us play, and they come see play. There’s like this, like, raw kind of more prompt and in your face attitude about the band when you see us live. Like, even like our mellower songs; there’s an edge to them that you get in a live performance that kind of gets lost in the studio and I think that with this record, like, we’ve kind of captured a lot more of what we’re like live in the sound of the record. And I think that that’s exciting.

: With there be kind of a two year timeframe there between your previous and the new album and then with this album being quite a bit different than what we’ve seen from you guys in the past. Was there ever a time in the recording process that you guys were worried maybe you went too far and were kind of like, “Are we alienating our fans in any way?”

Chester Bennington: I mean, we’ve cut the record a lot before on the last three records, because I think since Men in Midnight we’ve kind of had this conversation. Really, we know that when we go – we knew that when we went into Men in Midnight there was going to be different and we wanted it to be extremely different. And we knew that it was going to be a risk to take and we could potentially – worse case scenario, we could potentially alienate our entire fan base.

Chester Bennington: So, not since – we already knew at that point, like, “Okay. We’re crossing our fingers and just hoping that what we do in the studio, which our goal is to make good songs and some are great song. If we accomplish our goal, it will be almost impossible to alienate everybody.” And, luckily, for us, I mean, a lot of our fans have come along for the ride on the last two records and we really did go and stretch our wings and see how far we could take these. And I think, for us, like, going through that process of trying things and making sure that we’re creatively excited and energized helps us create music that still sounds like Linkin Park regardless of what vibe the song is. I mean, that’s kind of what we’re known for anyway. So, I think for people to get hung up on us not speaking to a specific sound is kind of silly idea anyway, considering that we’ve never really been a kind of a single genre type of band. So, I think that going through that process is really a lot of being able to be creative on a heavy record like this. I don’t think we could have been as creative with the guitar, the drums 12 years ago. So, I think that because we’ve kind of gone around and tried new things and kind of alienated ourselves and some of our band. We’ve enabled ourselves, so then set ourselves up to make The Traffic.

do you think having the guest performers, like, Page Hamilton and Amarillo. Do you think that helps maybe even out some of that maybe uneasiness when you put it out there for the fans? Like, “Hey, I see Tom’s on there. I see Page is on there. Joaquin’s on there. Maybe I’ll still check it out anyway, even though it may be a little different.”

Mike Shinoda: The addition of those guys was, in most cases, pretty late in the game. I mean, if you’re just talking about from, like, a fan recognition standpoint, then, sure, like somebody sees those names on there, they kind of know what they’re getting –

Chester Bennington: (overlapping) I don’t think those would have been into working with us if that was, like, the goal, though. I mean, like that was – to me, like, if we were coming at this from the idea of, like, “Hey, let’s go work with these people and then that’ll make it even more cool.” And people were, like, “Want to listen to us, and if they don’t want to.” But that’s, like, a weird way of looking at what we do anyway and it’s kind of the opposite of what our intention would ever be.

Chester Bennington: And it is like that. Like, we do collaborations it’s because of coming from, like, a holistic place, like, more totally into this artist for whatever reasons we are, and we’re interested in working with them and would they be interested in working with us. And if the answer is, “Yes,” then, like, “Let’s create something together that will (Inaudible 00;23:19).” And then see – then let’s go from there. It’s got to come from the very, from a very open, spontaneous kind of grassroots way. It can’t be forced or thought of in a boardroom and written down on a piece of paper and, like, 10 to 15 people that actually see it. That’s not the way that anything creative usually gets done.

. So, I saw you guys on your first time playing the San Juan Sound Cisco, the hybrid theory, and I remember at the end of the show that instead of playing an encore, like the traditional encore, you jumped into the crowd and signed T-shirts and, when I left, you guys were still signing T-shirts in there. That was real impressive. I’m wondering these days if you’re interacting with the fans. Is that something you’re able to do? And if so, how are you doing it? And maybe through social media? Or what?

Chester Bennington: Well, I think, for us, we’ve always – our fans have been the number one most important thing, and we wanted – when we were jumping down and signing things for people, we were discovering each other. We were discovering – the band was discovering our fan base, and our band was discovering the band, and it’s really exciting. But in the game, like you can jump down in the crowd that doesn’t know who you are and you can hang out all night. And these days, it would be much more difficult to do that. Thankfully, it would be much more difficult to do that these days and keep people safe or virtually impossible to find T-shirts for every person that remains at the stadium, for example.

Chester Bennington: We basically sign T-shirts and we would – we jump down. When we were playing our music and stuff, when we stopped doing that with our old production manager changed the band and said, “Hey, guys. We really appreciate what you guys are doing. It’s great. But you do this every single night, but we’ve been late for, like, the last four days getting out of here and we’re being charged an extraordinary amount of money for being late. And so, can you guys stop doing that?”

Mike Shinoda: (overlapping) I remember it differently. I thought it was when, because they were saying, like, first of all, like, we’re staying really late and the crew is getting tired because you’re extending the end of the show so far and so on. The crew’s, like getting – because they want to take down the barricade; the security people, local venue. This was, like, this is over. You’ve got to get these people out of here and all that. And then furthermore, like, people would get stuff signed and they just wouldn’t leave. They just stuck around to hang out and stuff. And it’s, like, “Okay. You’ve got way too many people just hanging out here. You guys have to stop. You have to cut it off.”

Chester Bennington: Yeah. It was literally like they were, “We can’t do our jobs because you guys are hanging out with the fans.” And so, basically we had to come up with a new way of, like, doing that. And so, we’ve done meet and greets with our fans every night, every performance we’ve ever done. For us, like honestly, like, meeting our fans is pretty mellow, so when we’re out on the street in our daily lives, we meet people all the time, every day who are fans, and us being accessible to a certain degree is really important to us. We’ve been able to thankfully keep our private lives private and share our professional lives with our fans and everybody’s been really respectful of all that. And it’s really cool to be in Linkin Park and kind of be a normal person at the same time. So, I appreciate that from our fans and it makes it that much easier to keep an openness with our fans as much as we possible can.

So, you guys briefly touched on earlier about the stage, the production and stuff for the show, but I’m watching the video for Final Masquerade and it’s just visually stunning. And I was wondering if you could elaborate a little bit more on the visual element of the stage production and kind of translating your videos and stuff into the live performance and what fans can expect from your visual presence on this tour.

Mike Shinoda: Oh, great. Well, one important thing to start with is that the visuals on The Hunting Party were rooted in a handful of drawings, artwork by an incredible painter named James Jean. James, I don’t even know where to start as far as how important this guy is or how incredible he is. You can look him up on your own. So, he – Joe is friends of James. James drew a bunch of stuff for us. In talking with him, we wanted to do something that has never been done with his artwork before and landed on the idea of converting it into an actual 3D sculpture, each piece into a 3D sculpture. So, although the sculptures live in the computer, they don’t exist physically yet, maybe someday they would, but at this point, we got them rendered in 3D art. Our amazing group at Ghost Town did those renders with James and then those built out the basic foundation of the artwork for the album. And that stuff, you’ll find that on the T-shirts and you’ll find that on the website and you’ll find that in the live visuals as well. And then, it’s not enough to just throw the stuff up there. I mean, you can, but it’s beautiful, but I think that in the context of a live show, it’s really important to have something that lives and breathes with the show. And to some degree, one of the challenges that I posed on the production team was, based on what we decide to do with the show every night, if we decide to play something differently, if we decide to expand the part or whatever we want to do, I want the artwork to change with the performance. So, it needs to be malleable and that turns into – that’s where the real production challenges start to arise. Without getting geeky into it, and in fact I’m not really versed in the geeky stuff, I can just tell them, like, “These are the ideas,” and then, luckily, we have an excellent production team that can do that. And the guys at Ghost Town, again, the guys who are involved with rendering the stuff in 3D, they’ve been intimately involved, as has Joe, on creating these tour visuals. I think it’s gotten real great. I’m not going to spoil any surprises as far as how the LED stuff gets – what it’s actually being presented on, or as far as what the stuff actually looks like. You’re going to have to come to the show to see that stuff. But, like I said, it adapts with the show and the show is a work in progress; like, we are changing – we do change things usually steadily from show to show, and then from tour to tour, there might be some broader stroke changes. But, yeah, we take the live show seriously. It is, in some part of it, it’s as much a piece of art as the music is, so we want it to be compelling and fit with the overall kind of aesthetic of what the band is up to right at this moment.

. Talk a little bit about your touring partners; what your relationship is with 30 Seconds to Mars is and why it’s a good fit and which one of you is planning to somehow steal Jarrod Oscar during the tour.

Chester Bennington: I think, for the most part, I think the relationship is more of a professional relationship. I mean, I’ve been friends with Jarrod for a few years and way more than a few years now, but so we’re pretty friendly, but overall, I mean, it’s not, like, we’re all having birthday parties together and things like that. So, most –

Chester Bennington: This is a closeness; whereas, like, perhaps it might happen with Jarrod and I on – there are six people in our band, six people. There’s four people in their band and obviously they have five (Inaudible 00:33:54). Our respect comes from a professional between each other and, for me, I know that we’ve been very close to our fan base for a very long asking questions and seeing who they want us to tour with and it’s been really interesting, but every time – and it’s funny to say this because it probably sounds really corporate, but this is what happens when your band becomes as big as Linkin Park. We decide to poll our fans to see who they want us to tour with, and for like, what, five or six times in a row, I think, 30 Seconds to Mars has either been the most popular band that they want to see us tour with or number two. I’ve never seen them out of the top three. So, it’s been a long time the fans have wanted to see us tour together. So, for that, I think not only has 30 Seconds to Mars, like, grown tremendously over the last several years into not only a great studio band, writing great songs, but they’re amazing live. And so, for us, at this point, our fans are really excited to see us play with 20 Seconds to Mars. And also, if I can say this, they have released their 13th record in November last year, so that’s pretty impressive. I don’t know if you guys are listening to their most recent record, but it’s amazing. And another band that not only are great guys, but they keep making amazing record after amazing record and also known for their live shows. So, that’s kind of a simple kind of no-brainer. Luckily, this is one of those times where we were, like, “Hey, let’s ask 30 Seconds to Mars and AFI if they want to tour with us.” And they both said, “Yes,” at the same time. So, it all worked out really well.

But, Mike, you mentioned about other kinds of things and styles and directions you were exploring. Are any of those sticking? And any sense of where you might go on the next Linkin Park album?

Mike Shinoda: Yeah. I have no idea. That’s the answer.

Chester Bennington: I mean, that’s really the game with this band is that every time we go into the studio, it’s, like, then you’ve done. We kind of do whatever we want. Yeah, it’s great.

This World Tour, $1 for every ticket sold is going to benefit your organization; Music for Relief. What can you tell me about the organization and why are you guys passionate about it?

Mike Shinoda: Music for Relief started in the mid-2000’s as a response to the Indian Ocean tsunami. We had just been out touring in Asia. That was a – we’d just been there, gone, like, sightseeing tours and stuff, and then we were watching – we got home and we were watching the news and the whole place has been, like, destroyed. And we just felt like we needed to do something. A year later, we had been – Music for Relief had been around for a year and we realized that we were actively involved in cleaning up messes, but not so much involved in anything preventative. So, we added an environmental component to Music for Relief, and all in all, I mean, we’ve done projects all over the world. We’ve worked with the UN. We’ve worked with Habitat for Humanity and Direct Relief and the Red Cross and put on concerts with No Doubt and Jay-Z.. And most recently, we did an awesome, really fun, and awesome show with – it was Offspring and Bad Religion, so just a fun show. Travis Barker came out with us, and it was, like, all of these things – we’ve – it’s just an ongoing, like, effort that we hope to involve more musicians. Like, Music for Relief isn’t about Linkin Park. There are, unfortunately, always disasters to go get involved after and there are always environmental causes that we can get involved in to help prevent the natural disasters or at least keep our oceans and our land clean and our air. And so, this I don’t know how many tours now we’ve done where we’ve donated a dollar from every ticket to Music for Relief, and that is obviously in addition to, like, running the buses on biodiesel and recycling at every venue. I mean, what’s funny is I had, like, there were some fans on Twitter last time we did it. They were, like, “Oh, like you said you were going to recycle at every venue. I didn’t see any recycling bins.” Actually, it’s funny. A lot of people don’t even know this stuff works. Some of the venues find it more effective to physically go through the trash after the show and separate the recyclables, because they find that in their region, the fans tend to not really care about where they throw the trash and it ends up in those bins anyway. So, they just put out one bin and separate it at the end of the day. That’s effective. So, the bottom line is Music for Relief is being built up as something that you can – hopefully, we create trust with the fans. We create trust with the musicians and the industry and let people know that this is a group that does work hard to make sure all the T’s are dotted, or the T’s are crossed and the I’s are dotted. And on this tour actually, we’re also working with another group called, Reverb, and the last thing I’ll say about this is Reverb is really great. Reverb is actually a group that – if you’ve ever heard lead certification; that’s the certification for essentially an environmentally-friendly building. So, if you’re gong to do a lead certified building, you can be assured that, for example, it was built in a way that was a sustainable build, but they weren’t throwing away stuff needlessly that they were reusing materials, that they were replanting in a way that saves the plants and wasn’t wasteful. That’s Reverb is a group that is doing that for concerts. So, they want to set up a Reverb certification. They’re working towards that so that you can go to a concert and know that if it is certified with Reverb as a partner, that that is a green concert. And they have various things – they look into, for example, how are the groups and the crews traveling; what’s their carbon footprint; what are they throwing away; what energy are they using; are they trying to offset that with anything? It’s very complicated stuff. They’re an excellent partner, and they do a great job of making sure that the bar is set really high so that we’re not being wasteful when we go out on tour.

your newest album, Hunting Party, was just released two months ago. And if we could only listen to one song on the album, what song would you recommend? What do you think kind of, like, sums up the whole album? Or which one is, like, most meaningful for you guys?

Chester Bennington: Well, considering that there’s no break between the first five songs, I would suggest listening to that as one track. Honestly, I mean, that’s going to – that’s how I feel. I don’t know. It’s always weird to kind of say what your favorite song is on the record, because when you’re in the band, you kind of have a close relationship with all the songs and it’s kind of weird to – not that this song has, like, feelings, but you think of them that way obviously. But I don’t know. I mean, this record is a really difficult record to say that for, because there’s so much range in terms of the songs. So, yeah, I would stick to Mike’s answer. The first five tracks – it’s looking as one simple track and that’s the one you listen to.

Mike Shinoda: I mean, I feel like whenever we go into make a record, we try and create the best thing we can create for that moment, and obviously with this album, it was – our effort was more in an aggressive and I feel like still a very experimental direction. And so, yeah, it’s been interesting. It’s, like, different people gravitate toward different songs for different reasons, and even I like different ones on different days. So, whereas, one day I love Keys to the Kingdom because it may be one of the wildest rapid fire songs on the album. Another day, I like Rebellion because it’s such a cool mix of the heaviest stuff on the record, but also it’s really melodic and a solid song underneath there. And then other days I like Line in the Sand. I think Line in the Sand does all of the best things that Linkin Park can do in, like, one song. So, yeah, so just different songs.

this new record is very heavy for the band, but there also seems to be a very strong social message then the records have had in the past for Linkin Park. But for some reason, you seem a little more aggressive than in the past. Did you have a lot on your mind that you wanted to get out on this record?

Mike Shinoda: Yeah. Well, –

Chester Bennington: (overlapping) Kind of for us, I guess, it was really lyrical when it came down to what we wanted to write about. We talked about things – actually the conversations were less about what we wanted to write about and more about what we didn’t want to do in the studio. And that’s really where the most interesting kind of revelations came from. It was, like, we said, we want to go into making a heavier record; like, what are the things we should strive for in terms of the style and in terms of what we’re drawing our inspiration from. And then, what are the things that, like, we don’t want to. What are the things we want to stay away from? And I think that, for us, it was, like, well, clearly when you make a record with music, like, for me, it was to go more aggressive with what was the style and also was lyrics. Now, part of me happening now is making me want to sing (Inaudible 01:02:02). So, we want things to be really aggressive. For me, I just want to sing something (Inaudible 01:02:11). And for us, it was really, like, “Well then, if we’re going to be aggressive, what kind of things can we talk about?” I mean, look at where we are in our lives; look at what we do for a living; look at what we stand for as people; what do we really have to be angry about? And so, that’s where we kind of, like, said – looking at things lyrically, schematically that, I think, were important to us, and not coming across like a bunch of whiny teenagers is something that we want to avoid. At the same time, I do like the streaming and we do like to play really great guitar riffs and Rob Bourdon is really awesome at playing just to that drum. So, I think that, for us, like, we really wanted it toward things that we were fighting for and that was the one thing that we kept thinking about lyrically; like, what are things that are worth fighting for for us now in the place where we are in our lives. And a lot of different things came up on that list and we kind of drew from that as much as possible.

. With this album being more heavier, harder, and aggressive, would you say that guitars have played a more important role as compared to previous albums that you’ve done?

Mike Shinoda: I mean, the is the first album since probably either Mist in Midnight or Medioria that has had such a focus on the heavier guitars and drums and so on. And I should also say that, like, I think that – for the most part all of those things always exist in a lot of our music, but it’s the choice of what do you put up front; how do you mix it; and how do you -in writing it, what’s the important part to really take away? And a lot of the guitar stuff on the last couple albums has been more atmospheric and, like, sets, say, a background tone as opposed to being, like, a leading role. So, yeah, so the guitars are definitely, like, the main character in the music of this album. And in getting there, I know I spoke a little bit ago about having the conversations with Brad about where to arrive and how to, like, prepare them for the right mind state to get into this, but I neglected to say, and I’ll say it now, that he and Rob – Rob’s situation was -I write this stuff for him and with him a lot of the times and I send him stuff and say, “This is what I’m thinking of for the song,” and he’s always up for a challenge. Like, there’s nothing I can send him that he wouldn’t say, “I’ll give it a shot.” And he had a lot of fun doing it, because he actually had to – he had to physically prepare. He needed to up his, like, cardio to, like, actually play the drums on this album, which was funny. And I don’t mean that – like, he wasn’t, like, lazy before. He was already in good shape and then this stuff comes and it’s, like, wow, this is harder to play and especially if I’m going to play 100 minutes of it. Like, I’m going to need to really be physically able to do that, and he had to work up to it. Brad, on the other hand, is another story.

Chester Bennington: (overlapping) Sometimes when we sent him some stuff.

Mike Shinoda: Totally. Like, I would send him some stuff and it literally would be, like, “Good luck, Rob.”

Chester Bennington: That’s a great point. That’s so funny.

Mike Shinoda: And Brad, on the other hand, was, like, mentally not interested in, like, playing heavy stuff for a long time. And that was a function in him having grown up playing so much, like, Metalica basically that when you play eight hours of guitar or six hours of guitar every day when you’re in high school for however many, maybe through college, too. Like, so many years, he just got burnt out on that and didn’t want to do it anymore.

Chester Bennington: Especially with the things you’re creating.

Mike Shinoda: Yeah, And, I mean, we are making stuff that was really – it was exciting to him in different ways and we were all fine with that. I wasn’t like we were going, “Oh,” like, so mad at Brad for not, like, ripping some crazy solo. I think that’s not the kind of music we were making. But when it came to this album and we knew that if this was what we wanted to make, I was saying to Dave, like, “There’s no way that Dave and I And Chester – there’s no way that we could, like, create the kind of guitar – not all of the guitar that would make this album what it needs to be.” Like, we need Brad, because Brad is a better guitar player than we are and he needs to be on board with this. So, this more I talked to him about it, basically the conversation ended up being, “Oh, you realize the real, like, tipping point was that he needed to get in touch with his, like, inner 14-year-old who got inspired to start to play guitar and what he listened to back then and what he wanted to make.” And he’s a guy that inspired that 14-year-old, not, like, “Hey, I want you to write something that’s going to impress some kid in Idaho. No, I want you to write what would excite you as a young kid to learn to play guitar. Like, don’t make it about anybody else but yourself. So, what is it that would be exciting to you?” And he found, over the course of the nine months working on a record, more and more he found that.

do you feel like your newest record, The Hunting Party, is a project you’ve taken the biggest risks on as far as sound and collaborators?

Mike Shinoda: It would be a split between this and A Thousand Suns for me. I mean, A Thousand Suns, we hadn’t done anything that outrageous yet. I mean, before we even, like, released – before we even, like, wrote five songs, we knew that we were on a path to, like, totally piss off a portion of the fan base, you know? And we knew that if we were going to go down that road, that we had to be committed to being, like, okay with that. And the same things for – since then, I think that we don’t have – it’s not like a fun thing for us to be pissing people off. Like, we’re – I don’t feel like our thing is, like, “Hey, I’m just going to do this to, like, make our fans mad.” That’s never the thing. In the case of both albums, as they were pulled in different directions, like, at the time when we released A Thousand Suns, what was popular on rock radio was, like, the strokes and the killer – maybe going into the killers. But it was more, like, of a grimy – I’d say more like the strokes. It was, like, at that time, it was more garage rocky, grungy kind of stuff, low fine, whatever, and we just decided to go out and make this really, almost esoteric artsy concept record that was really electronic-driven and really didn’t have a lot of that, like, aggression to it in that sense. And if there was aggression, it was, like, more of an outrageous, like, experimental kind of sound. Like, for example, the song, Black-Out, or the song, Catalyst. And on this album, it’s the same thing kind of happening, but in the opposite direction, and now everything is that kind of, like, electronic base, almost I would say, in a lot of cases, a kind of throwback. Like, I hear, for me, I hear, like, a lot of Talking Heads in it and, like, even Tears for Fears and stuff of that ilk, which I like. And that –

Chester Bennington: (overlapping) I even hear, like, Sinead O’Connor.

Mike Shinoda: Yeah. There’s a lot of that out there. And so, whenever I feel like, “Okay, there’s a lot of that.” Like, if that’s what I want to listen to, I’ve got a lot of that to listen to. What is it that is not out there that if I wanted to listen to, I can’t find it, except other than going back to records that came out in the ’90’s? So, that’s what ended up happening is we made an album that had that energy. It was more about, like, the kind of stealing of that music. It’s not nostalgic at all; this album is the point. Like, we wanted it to be heavy, but progressive as opposed to, like, “Oh, it should sound like that album or that band, whatever.” We wanted to take, like, ESO, so those heavy things that we like and try and harness it and create our own new thing.

. And, Chester, do you feel the same?

Chester Bennington: No. I honestly I feel like A Thousand Suns is a far bigger risk than this record. And although I do think that this record was written, the risks we were taking from the band perspective is that kind of we laughed at them a little bit, because they weren’t really risks for us. It was just, like, more of a business thing. Or it was, like, I felt like when we were doing, like, Music to Midnight and we were doing A Thousand Suns, we knew we were going to alienate probably some of our fan base, but we didn’t know if anybody was going to like what where we were going. That’s like, okay, we know people like what we’ve done in the first two records; now, this one is completely different. Like, are people going to, like, – are they going to buy it or are they not buy it in the store? Are they going to believe what we’re doing? Are they going to find the concept of what we are doing, like, a new head coach working; that kind of thing? Or are we going to have a team that’s going to revolt us and, like, no one’s going to show up to practice and, like no one’s going to care? And so, for us, like, some of the team members left and most of them stayed, and when we went for A Thousand Suns, it was, like, “Okay, we’ve already kind of had a taste of what that gamble is we’re doing and that’s kind of scary.” The reality is potentially no. People might not like what you’re doing. With this record, I feel like, “Yeah, even the culture of radio and it’s probably not going to get played a lot on the radio. It’s probably not going to be number one in the Untied States.” So, we knew that going into it before – those things don’t really matter to us. Like, what we care about is making a record that’s exciting to us. And at this point in our career, we wanted to make a statement and we can and we found ourselves in a very unique position to do that, and make that statement. So, for us, and in doing so, we knew if we did it right, if we made a good heavy record, we would actually be pleasing most of our fan base. So, I’m pretty sure that, like, 90 percent of Linkin Park fans would be excited to hear a record that reminded them of the Linkin Park they discovered early on. And so, I think in that sense it was not a risk. It’s, like, we’re willing to take a chance at radio and we’re willing to do those kinds of things that may not be fitting within the mainstream right now; that’s fine. But we know that we’re going to be making our fans happy and we know that we’re going to be happy, because we wrote these songs to be played live and bring the interview at the live shows up. And any time we can put the interview up on stage, everybody has more fun. So, it was kind of a much lower risk, in my assessment, than them, for example.

Mike Shinoda: Yeah. I think that’s true. And I also say that, like, it’s a great point that Chester made that has to do with, like, how do you measure what’s a success and what’s, like, risky? Because clearly, as we were saying with the Billboard thing, like how important is – I mean, you have to keep in mind. Like, we lived through – our band was out and in music at a time when a number one album meant, like, it could mean, like, a million and a half records the first week. Like, if you’re talking about 150,000 records is the number one this week; it’s, like, it’s not that a tenth of the people are listening to music. It’s that the actual metrics live somewhere else. Like, if you’re measuring success by Billboard, no disrespect to Billboard. Billboard’s doing what they’re supposed to do and I think they’re doing their best to evolve with people’s music assumption, tendencies, whatever by including things we used to do.

Chester Bennington: (overlapping) Simultaneously.

Mike Shinoda: Yeah. Because really, I mean, what we care about at this point with our releases – are the fans talking about it? And that means anywhere, whether it’s online or in person or whatever. But you can gauge that on our social media. Like, are they excited? Yes, they’re excited. And then second, are they coming to the shows? Do they care enough that they want to come out and see us play? And, yes, they’re coming to the shows. Like, the tickets are selling out and it’s doing well. So, at least at this point, I mean, you could talk to us in six months and we’d say, “Yes, it’s been a debacle. Like, all of a sudden, they got bored and now they don’t come to the shows. Like, I guess we’ve got to – ” But barring that actually happening, like, we’re really happy with the reception that everything’s gotten. And, by the way, in a format that you can’t just, like, look at it on a chart and say, like, How does this compare to so and so, whatever/” Like, we’re living in a different age. Everything is niche or into it. Everything is, like, cut down into a sub-group where you can be a fan of ASAP Rocky and Linkin Park. Like, that’s a very realistic possibility in this world. So, just because numbers work out one way or another, whether you’re talking about radio or Billboard or Grammy’s or whatever it may be, like, those are all different metrics and that’s not necessarily how the world works.
many ways. And whether it’s, like, a personal thing or, like, a decision that we make creatively or whatever, like, all those things, like, we’ve tried to be really cognizant about; not operating by fear.

. Chester, I think I want to ask you this one, because no one’s really talked about your other activities with Stone Temple Pilots. I’m just kind of curious how things are working out. There was word that you were going to be working a new STP album at some point during the year, and just kind of curious what’s going on on those fronts.

Chester Bennington: Well, we started writing some stuff a couple weeks ago, and that was a lot of fun. So, yeah, we’re planning on recording some music as soon as possible and we’ve got a kick start on a bunch of tracks and it’s fun to be around a bunch of people who just thoroughly enjoy making music all the time. It’s, like, I get to be in Linkin Park and play with some of the best musical minds, in my opinion, in music right now, and then I get to come home and go play with some more people who are great. So, it’s pretty awesome. I don’t know when we’re going to get in the studio. We want to do it as soon as possible, so we’ll make that happen with the time that we have when I’m not with Linkin Park.

Mike Shinoda: Awesome. Hope to see you guys out on the road. Like, I said, we’re leaving this week and we’ll be out through September on Carnivores. So, we’ll see you out there. Bye.

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