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PCM had the amazing opportunity to participate in detailed teleconference with both Chester Bennington and Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park with several other journalists from top music blogs and publications such as Billboard.com, MSN.com, The Montreal Gazette, Metro Mix, The Chicago Sun Times, Jam Magazine, and more! PCM will be heading out to the upcoming show in Philadelphia, PA, so be sure to see our live Review coming soon!! The tour is sure to be spectacular!

Q: Visually, can you give us a sense of what we are going to see when this show comes out on the road?

Mike Shinoda: Well, the look of the show has a lot to do with the look of 1000 Suns. A lot of the themes that are going on the new record kind of take a central role in the visuals of the show. Our art team developed technology that's new just specific to this show and it had a lot to do with the fact that in our show we don't play the exact same thing every night. We play different set lists and then within those set lists we improvise, so we wanted a way for the look of the show to kind of ebb and flow with whatever we do with the music. So, from night to night, the music will be different and the visuals will be different as well. No two shows will be the same.

Q: You are teaming up with Base Camp Productions, to give fans access to the recording of upcoming shows, what was the basis for that idea?

Mike Shinoda: We actually have been doing the mp3's of the shows as a souvenir for awhile. The idea being that we want the fans to be able to take that special event of the Linkin Park show home with them, just something we give to the fans. And in the past we've charged for it, but on this run we are actually giving it away included in the ticket price. So, when you get your ticket, you basically get your show to listen to for free. What basically happens is it's not what they call a "line mix" or a "board mix," which is the cheapest and easiest way to do it. Most people do it that way. We just think that sounds terrible and it's kind of sloppy, so what happens in our show is the guy that mixes the show live for you records the show as it's going on and then he takes that backstage and we do a special mix for your iPod and your car and something that will sound good on your stereo, because the live mix doesn't sound good on your stereo. So, yeah, it gets remixed and then put up online for all the fans of that show to download.

Q: How do you guys just continue to hit the nail on the head as far as fusing and cultivating the hip hop culture and the rock culture?

Mike Shinoda: I appreciate you saying that. I don't think we think of it in those terms so much at this point trying to make efforts to bridge that gap. I think that gap has been bridged a million times and we just happen to have grown up on many different styles of music and when we write music that's how we write it. I think one misconception about how our band or maybe other bands, too, might write is that when you sit down to write a song you're thinking of imitating something else. When we go into the studio, we don't set out to say, "Let's write a song like another song." We just sit down and try and write something that is exciting to us and something that's fresh and especially on the new record, "1000 Suns," that's where the majority of the songs came from. Just trying to write something that sounded different and was exciting to us.

Q: Every new record that you guys put out seems to almost reinvent the sound, especially if you compare the new record, "1000 Suns," with "Hybrid Theory." So, I'm wondering, is that changed that evolution? Is it, like, a conscious reinvention? Do you set out to do that or does it just happen naturally?

Mike Shinoda: Yes and no. The difference in the band sound from record to record is something that we set out to do in the sense that we want to make something that sounds fresh and exciting to us, but at the beginning of a record, we pretty much, we may have a sense of what that sounds like, but we don't have a definite understanding of what that sounds like. So, just to give you a working example, when we were doing demos for "1000 Suns," we wanted them to sound different, we were making demos and we knew that the sound was a little bit more electronic-based and it was more loose and almost more abstract and, at that time, we hadn't even hired a producer. So, in the discussion about hiring somebody, at one point we thought, "Maybe we'll just go it alone," because we didn't want somebody else to come in and kind of muck up the thing that we were doing that we liked. At the end of the day, we decided that Rick Rubin was a good match, that when he came in it was obvious that he loved the stuff we were making and he didn't intend to change that, he intended to try and help us get there in the best way possible. So, that's why we ended up working with Rick. But that is to say we had a sense of what it was in the beginning and then along the way we made decisions that helped us stay on track and keep our minds open to experimentation and new things.

Q: What drew you to the material for this record?

Mike Shinoda: It just happened to be on our minds. I don't know exactly why and there wasn't a specific event that was the catalyst for all of it. The writing process was actually really fluid and loose and we were trying out a new technique, which is actually an old technique but it's new for us, called "automatic writing," where it's really more of a stream of consciousness style of writing vocals. So, ideas would just kind of pop out and I wouldn't even know that I was thinking about some of this stuff and it would come out of my mouth and the song would develop, for Chester and I, it would develop around those instances. And so when we listened back to that all and there are ideas of destruction and there's ideas of kind of like self-annihilation and fear that were popping out and surprising us. We're very analytical when it comes to rating our songs and putting them all together, so we're looking at songs from every angle and we're thinking about things and we start asking ourselves, "What do we all feel about these ideas being on the record all over the place and maybe taking the record in that direction?" And it turned out that all six of the guys felt like there was definitely a universal fear that I think a lot of people these days do have that fear, whether it be in the front of their mind or in the back of their mind, that humanity as a whole is and has been for a long time on the brink of destroying itself. Whether that be slowly or quickly, it's just something that a possibility exists in the world and we're all kind of, I think we're all scared of it to some degree. So, that's just kind of how we decided that, for the six of us, was an honest fear and an honest emotion and that it was proper for it to be a part of the record in the way that it ended up being.

Q: Well, it came together almost as a concept album with these themes. Was there any temptation to play it whole in this current tour at all?

Mike Shinoda: Yeah, definitely there was a temptation. I think that we're not going to do it at this point, but we're still open to the idea of doing special shows where we play "1000 Suns" front to back. But I do want to let everybody know in the U.S. and Canada who might be coming to the show or are interested in coming to the show, I want to let them know that we are going to be playing songs from our entire catalog. This isn't just a "1000 Suns" show; you'll be hearing stuff from every album.

Q: Can you talk a little bit about the Donate To Haiti project?

Mike Shinoda: Absolutely. Appropriate timing. It's the one year anniversary of the earthquake in Haiti and immediately after the earthquake, the folks there obviously needed help and we have an organization called, "Music for Relief," that you can find at musicforrelief.org, and that's what we do. The organization was founded to provide relief in the wake of natural disasters and help reduce the effects of climate change. So, this fell in our lap and we realized we needed to act quickly. We started "Download to Donate," which is a basically a project where you can get an album for free and donate to the cause. The "Download to Donate" project raised over a quarter of a million dollars and it's an ongoing effort and an ongoing album, so we're continuing to collect more songs for it by many different artists and you can go to musicforrelief.org right now and download some music and donate to the cause. Also, $1 per ticket from our North American tour is actually donated to Music for Relief.

Q: Quick follow-up on the free recordings that's going to happen with this current tour. Can people only download the particular show that they attended or will they have access to download any of the other shows on the tour?

Mike Shinoda: I'm 99 percent sure that the way it works is your show is free with your ticket and then, if you want to get any of the other shows, you buy that.

Q: So, during the course of the band existence, you've been creatively involved in various projects. So, what motivates and inspires you to keep going with each new project you take on?

Mike Shinoda: Well, I like to focus on a lot of different things and I tend to kind of wander from one to the next. Over a year ago, I was heavily involved in an art show that I held at the Japanese National American Museum. The show is called, "Glorious Excess Dies," and it was the second part of the show and I put everything into that show and then as soon as that was done, we were back into the Linkin Park record, and after that it's a tour. And then, meanwhile, we're doing other things. Like, right now, I just realized pictures on my website, on mikeshinoda.com, of a new vinyl collectible that I'm doing in conjunction with Disney and the Alice in Wonderland anniversary. So, I'm always doing a lot of different things. I don't know if it's like, it might be overwhelming to some people. You come to the website and I'm always on some other weird tangent, but for some people, it's exciting. For me, that's just how I am; it's a lot of fun and I like to keep a lot of different things going at once.

Q: Right. And then going with that, do you find that when everyone kind of goes off and does their own project that they come back with fresh ideas for Linkin Park?

Mike Shinoda: Depends on who it is. Just because that's the way I work doesn't mean it's for everybody obviously. Some guys really like to kind of unwind and lay low and that recharges them. I'm kind of more of a Type A, like extroverted person, so it tends to be like a lot of different projects with a lot of different people and then that keeps me energized.

Q: Do you have any other new projects that you're currently working on?

Mike Shinoda: I think the stuff I mentioned is probably the stuff to check out and whenever I have anything new, it's always on mikeshinoda.com.

Q: I was just wondering if any new Linkin Park material is coming together while on the road? Do you write on the road?

Mike Shinoda: We do and we're always writing, so I think we benefit from the fact that the music recording and writing technology has gotten so compact and so easy to carry around in your laptop and I find that actually right at this moment in the last, like, I don't know, the last couple weeks, it seems like the guys have gotten really, I keep getting emails from guys in the band saying, "Hey, you want to get together and write some stuff. Like, what are you up to? Are you bringing any gear on the road?" And I expect on this next run, they'll be knocking on my hotel door looking to collaborate on some ideas. So, it's definitely a creative time for us and, hopefully, that means that the next record is in the works.

Q: Have you written anything while on the European tour?

Mike Shinoda: Yeah, yeah, a couple ideas. The best things that I've come up with on the last couple legs of this tour were actually on my iPad. I use a couple different apps and, yeah, I've come up with some stuff that I like.

Q: So, to go back a couple questions, you were talking about the challenges of playing "1000 Suns" live. It's very representative of how Linkin Park sound has evolved over the years and there are some soft and experimental moments. Can you sort of describe the challenge of working those elements into a set list for Linkin Park?

Mike Shinoda: In theory, we felt really confident about how it was all going to tie together, but we know from experience that it really all has to come together on stage. You can plan it out from beginning to end in the studio and whatever, but there's something else that happens when it comes to stepping on stage with that set list. So, that's one reason why we're constantly tweaking the set list and making little changes and improvising on parts, because we're searching for ways to improve it. But at the end of the day, the new songs and the old songs, I think they work well together. The new record definitely lends, like, as I kind of mentioned earlier, it brings, like, a narrative to the show, which is really nice, kind of ties different parts of the show together, and I find that some of the old songs take on a new meaning when they're put in that context.

Q: I know that the concert industry had kind of a down year in 2010. You guys had a successful run in Europe. Can you talk about going into this tour, this North American tour, like, what your mindset is now knowing that the concert industry did not have a fantastic year in 2010?

Mike Shinoda: I guess it's kind of an ignorance is bliss situation that we've been on the road and things have been going relatively well. This "1000 Suns World Tour" started in South America. We took it to Europe. We actually did some shows in the Middle East for the first time and we're bringing it home to the States and Canada and, I mean, with that said, it's a well-oiled machine at this point. We feel really good about the sets and actually we're excited to be playing with some very cool bands for the first time as well. So, it looks like Pendulum and Does It Offend You, Yeah from the front of the tour until February 13 and then the Prodigy comes onboard from February 15 through the end of the tour. Now all that said, we feel like it's a good show and we hope to see a lot of fans out there.

Q: When you have a band that has, for the lack of a better term, two front men and I know Linkin Park is certainly collective, but you guys are the ones who are on this call today. Can you describe your working relationship? Not just in the studio when it comes to songwriting, but in the many innovative business decisions that you guys, you and Chester?

Mike Shinoda: I think when it comes to the stuff behind the scenes, the whole band sees itself as a collective of equals and Chester and I only play front men when it's time to take photos or stand on stage. I mean, really we're not trying to, like, grab the reins and tell everybody what to do and I think that's one thing that makes our band work. We respect each other's ideas and we're also not afraid to speak our minds and we know that everybody else is going to hear that if we have to tell everybody else that we disagree with what's going on and we're upset about something, the other guys will actually listen and that's just great. That's a great thing to have. We're lucky to have that because that's not true in every situation collectively with the guys.

Q: Can you talk about the LP Underground events? What it entails? Because I know there's, like, basketball and ice skating involved. I'm wondering, how does stuff get started and organized and how involved you are actually in it and what it really it involves for you guys as a band?

Mike Shinoda: Okay. A little bit of background about LP Underground. I mean, the LPU is as old, almost as old as the band. I mean, we started the Underground around 2000; I don't know the exact time, but I know this is the first year that we've been doing the summit events. We've changed a lot about the LP Underground in the last year, because it is the 10 year anniversary. So, one thing that we created that we think is really special and has been getting incredible Reviews by the fans, both in and out of the Underground people who are out here joining it just to come to do these summit events. The events, no two are alike. We've done two so far and we're doing a third one now. The one in London we saw people from as far away as South Africa, Asia, all over Europe flying out just to come and be a part of the event. They have opportunities to, I mean, everybody meets the band, everybody talks to the band. You all get autographs, photos. You have opportunities to get up on stage, to play our instruments. A bunch of the fans got up on stage and jammed the song, "Saint," on our instruments. And, by the way, the drummer and the guitar players were incredible; they were so, so amazing. We gave them, who was it? It was Joe and I gave groups tours of the backstage, so you can see where everybody hangs out and how the tour works, how it gets put together. So, stuff like that goes on. It's a two day event. You can find information at lpunderground.com. And basically who gets in? It's members of the LPU, so if you're an annual member of LPU, you can sign up to be a part of the summit. You get in for free, but you do have to get access and then you're in charge of your own transportation and accommodations.

Q: Going back to the earlier question about the set list and integrating the different realms from your career, has there been some things that just haven't worked? You said you've kind of been shuffling these things and improvising. Can you talk about things that have really worked or surprises that have happened as you've tried things out and just things that you've had to just kind of say, "All right. We'll leave that one behind. We don't really do it that way again."

Mike Shinoda: The one that comes to mind right away, it was actually a song we were scared to play a little bit, because the way it was recorded. On "1000 Suns," we have a song called, "Black Out," which when you hear it on the record, it's really sample heavy, meaning it's mostly like drum sounds and keyboard sounds and stuff like that and we were thinking, "This is going to be a nightmare to try and play live, like literally the whole band is going to need to play samplers and synthesizers, so how are we going to do that and make it sound as exciting as the song is supposed to sound?" We threw some ideas together and rehearsed it and felt pretty good, but, I mean, we couldn't be prepared for it the first time we played it on stage. I mean, the crowd went out of their minds. It was so much fun to play that song and it actually is now probably one of the most exciting moments in the set because it is one of the songs that's kind of different, so it was definitely a pleasant surprise and, like I said before, you never know that these things are going to happen until you actually get out on stage and try them out.

Q: Linkin Park has experienced such staying power from "Hybrid Theory" to now. What do you think it is about Linkin Park that keeps you so relevant?

Mike Shinoda: I don't know how to answer that question because I feel like, for us, we don't, I think it's kind of intuitive for us. I think that, like when we're writing; I think everything comes back to the record, the albums that we make, and when we're in the studio, if at this point, whenever we hear a demo that one of us brings in that sounds too familiar, it's kind of boring to us. It turns the band off. And so we just try and keep things fresh and to keep ourselves excited and try and make honest music that we like to listen to. We're not trying to make a song that, "Well, that's what other people are going to listen to. That's going to be a hit." And from our perspective, that's just not the way that we want to do things. I mean, I just kind of hate to go, and it would feel like a job if I had to just go and do the same thing every day. So, rather than doing that, we tend to focus on trying to make things that are new and different and fun for us to make.

Q: . I guess this past fall "Hybrid Theory" hit its tenth birthday and so you've been in the thick of this thing for a decade now. I'm just kind of curious when you look back, you've talked a lot about the music revolution of the band and sort of your creative ideas over time. Just wondering, talking about how you approach your career and just what you've learned; what are the biggest lessons you've learned when you look back at your 23-year-old self in 2000 compared to you here in 2011 in terms of navigating a rock career and sort of the demands of the business and those kinds of things.

Mike Shinoda: So far, I mean, I feel like we've done a lot of things right. We've had a lot of luck. We've made some missteps that looking back, if we were given the opportunity to do it a different way, we probably would have done it a different way. I mean, in 10 years, I mean, most people run the whole gamut, so for us, it's just a matter of trying to be the band that we want to be and learn from our mistakes and our successes and definitely, like, I like where we're at right now. Creatively, I feel like the band is really energized. "A 1000 Suns" was really an important record for us and not only on a creative level but actually also just as a group of friends. I think that things are really positive and so we're looking forward to what the future holds.

Q: Linkin Park has never been a band afraid to push limits or be experimental. How would you say throughout the course of your career this has been beneficial or been a bit risky?

Mike Shinoda: We're just a product of our collective environments. We grew up doing different things, listening to different things, and that dynamic of these six guys who have such varied interests; it tends to work towards our advantage, as long as we're taking each other's opinions. Because we always look at it, like, if one guy in the band doesn't like something about what we're doing, then that's a fraction of our audience that doesn't like it, too. So, we should pay attention when one of us feels like something is not quite right. And that's really apparent in the studio. In the production role, I just try and steer the ship and make sure everything's moving forward, but also I try and do my best to balance and respect all the different ideas that come in, because it's a lot. I mean, six guys just coming up with stuff when everybody really is on and contributing, then that's a lot of information to kind of shift through and make sure nothing slips through the cracks and obviously it's impossible to make sure every single thing is taken into account or else it would take us 10 years to write a record. But, yeah, definitely, I feel like our guys, they've all got great ideas and try and respect each one.

Q: You spoke earlier a little bit about the LP Underground and your fan base. As an artist, I'm curious, how is it for you when a fan will say that your music changed their life in some way?

Mike Shinoda: It's always been important to us to really stay; it's almost like staying in the moment and staying, like, actually listening and being very aware when the fans say things like that, because it is special. I mean, to them, it couldn't be more important and it wouldn't matter if they're telling you; I mean, I've actually heard people say some silly stuff, like, "Your band is so important to me and changed my life and blah, blah, blah. It's so important that I named my goldfish, Mike." And you're like, "Okay." It almost sounds like a joke, like that's where you ended up. But they are totally serious and they may be having a tough time communicating why that is actually so important to them, but for us, we need to, like, I think it's important to the six of us to remember that when they're saying these things, like, it means a lot to them and that in turn, we want it to mean a lot to us and we want to make sure that they understand that we are appreciative of that and that we definitely respect the fans. I mean, they've supported the band with such fervor since the beginning, it's been an awesome ride and we're very lucky to have such a great fan base.

Q: Because of downloading and file sharing, the days of any band selling millions of copies of their album are really over. And, interestingly, Linkin Park began its career right when the Internet was beginning to lay siege to the music industry. Over the past few years, what steps has the group taken to protect your music and the brand that is Linkin Park while at the same time still be good to Internet citizens?

Mike Shinoda: Complicated answer. I could probably get way into the weeds on that and it would super uninterested to a lot of people, but I guess a couple of highlights would be that we're obviously very careful about security when we're in the studio. We hire security service that keeps track of the data and the hard drives that we record on and they keep an eye on the cheaters, the service that we use. In other words, to make sure that the computer that we're working on isn't online, it's not docking up wirelessly to some hard drive that's live. When we do trade files and we're working and we're all in different places, we make that it's secure. And then also realistic; we also know that once we realize an album there are some people out there who they are huge fans, they do love the band, and they're going to download the album, they're going to pirate the album, and that's just part of how they consume music and there's nothing that anybody can do about that at this point and we know that a lot of fans understand that there are other ways to support a band that they love and try and put those opportunities front and center just from a smart business perspective, like you don't want your band to go under just because you're being stupid. So, we definitely, when we have something new that people can purchase, we try and get the word out there and we try and let fans know that that's what they can do to go support the band and keep Linkin Park making music.

Q: I was stunned to see that the Prodigy was opening for you. I'm assuming that had to be your doing. What did you say to Liam Howlett to talk him into going on the road with you'all?

Mike Shinoda: We're a fan, a big fan of the band. I mean, we're not speaking for him. I think I've done some interviews with him and he was very complimentary and that's an honor because we are fans of Prodigy. I've listened to the Prodigy since the, I think, early '90s, mid '90s, when they first started kind of breaking through and I'm excited to play some shows with them. They couldn't make it out for the entire tour. They're going to be out for half of it or so and, yeah, we're excited to play with those guys, because I think with our new record, it's a little more electronic based than our other efforts and so we're kind of coming from a different place into the electronic realm and I think those guys, their roots are more into the electronic thing, but they have a heavy rock and punk and metal influence and I think it's a complimentary dynamic for shows going on.

Q: Have you found over the years that your lyrics have challenged the rest of the guys in the band to write music equal to the words that are presented to them? And on the flip side, have the guys created music that in turn inspired either of you to write lyrics equal to what you were hearing from them?

Chester Bennington: That's probably the most interesting question I've ever been asked about what we do, so congratulations. That was a really thoughtful question, couple of questions, and I can't tell you how much I appreciate that. I hope I can give you an equally good answer, but it's interesting. I think that one of the things that works really well for Linkin Park is the fact that we do, the guise really kind of looking at things from completely perspectives a lot of times, and that gives us an opportunity to see things in a much deeper way. And I think that our styles are different when we work individually and, as you can tell from my short minor, from "Dead By Sunrise," but when we get together, something really special happens and I think it's an outside kind of perspective onto a single piece of work. We're both working intimately on the lyrics, but then you have another person to come in and look at it and go, "You know, I'm not feeling this line. This seems a little obvious or cliché; let's find a better way of saying that." It works, I think, much better than maybe a producer or someone who doesn't have to write lyrics under the guise of the band. I think it works really well because we both do have to sing it and we both do have to feel it in a very real way and a very honest way. And in turn, I think that anytime something like that happens where you're elevating and you're pushing and you're constantly giving criticism and having to take that and work with it, I think the band follows in that step. We do the same thing musically. We're all looking at every little piece so intently and almost to the point of, like, ad nauseam, that we kind of want to take criticism in a very constructive way and we kind of expect the best out of ourselves and, hopefully, that translates into the music that we make.

Q: Do you guys ever reevaluate the situations you get yourselves into? Because in Haiti, the problem goes a lot deeper than throwing money into it and maybe right now, it still seems like it's a fashionable thing to do in the music business to, "Yeah, we're going to donate money to relief for Haiti." Do you guys ever think that maybe you're doing the wrong thing right now? Maybe you should go some place else?

Chester Bennington: One thing about that, I hear you loud and clear that it is smart to continue to evaluate the situation in a project that is receiving your aid. And, in fact, some of our team, a woman named Whitney and our bass player, Phoenix, are the day before our first show on this tour, they're all going down to Port au Prince and they're going to see it in person and see how things are going. So, we're with you on that and we do want to make sure that when we are telling people, we are donating $1 from every ticket on this tour to something that we believe is important and the money is being handled respectively and handled in the right way to get the people who need help some help and it is our responsibility to get down there and make sure that that stuff is happening.

Mike Shinoda: It's interesting that you asked that question, too, because we constantly evaluate the partner we deal with and we want to make sure that the money we raise isn't just going into a big pile and deal with it as they see fit. So, we've done a lot of research, Music For Relief has, I should say, done a lot of research on what kinds of things are really important in terms of relief. Is it simply raising money and awareness? Is it handing out blankets and water? What kinds of things, is it more about educating people, about the kinds of dangers? There are so many different elements; there's so many different elements to relief that kind of get lumped into that generalized term. What areas can be focused on that are going to make the biggest impact for that amount of money being raised? Because we don't raise huge amounts of money. We donate $1 from each ticket. We get a lot of people donating, a lot of musicians donating time and energy in music, but we don't raise $50 million on a televised telethon where we're raising all this money and where does it go. We want to be responsible for the money that we raise and making sure that it's going to things that are actually going to be helping people. So, we do take time to look into those things; it's important to us and it's important that we're responsible with people's money and their time.

Q: I'm still a little unclear on Rick Rubin's role on this record. Was he like some dark overlord where his presence was there to reassure the band's guess where what you're doing is okay; go ahead and follow through on your original plans for the album?

Mike Shinoda: I guess the best I could describe it is that when we first started the demos for the record it was clearly different, it was a very specific sound for "1000 Suns" and we were a little hesitant bringing a producer onboard, but once we met with Rick, we knew it was going to be a good fit. Rick is one of the most versatile producers that I love. I mean, there are guys that make a lot of different stuff and I don't like what they do and I love what Rick does. He's made some of the most important records in my life and from Slayer to Run DMC to Johnny Cash, I mean, he makes different kinds of music. He loves different kinds of music and he gets it. And so when we work with him, it's a matter of, "Okay." On the last record, it was more a sense of, like, getting our bearings and getting new ideas. Like, he was teaching us ways to record and ways to write and then we would take idea and run with it; essentially that old analogy about teaching somebody to fish. He wasn't giving us fish. And so on this new record, we felt very self-sufficient and we felt like, "Okay. Well, do we even need anybody? Do we need Rick? Do we need anybody?" Not that they're not great, but we are doing something that's very specific and we don't want anybody else to muck it up. And to try and shorten this long story, he would come in basically once, on average, I'd say, once every two or three weeks, one time, for, like, a good long day and kind of give us a progress check and tell us what he was hearing, where we were at, but the rest of that time, the majority of that time, was me in the studio with the other guys, whoever was working. Some days it would be just me and Chester; many days actually it would be me, Chester, and Brad, and then other days the other guys would come in and we worked in pairs or groups and Rick was not there. So, really the reason; that's kind of the description of the producer role. I was a more day-to-day producer in the weeds and Rick was the more big picture kind of guy who kind of gave us a sounding board for where we were at.

Chester Bennington: I really have to say, being in the experience of making this album, I mean, Mike plays such a huge role in Linkin Park does, but in particular on this album, but the band, we relied on the direction from Mike and in a huge sense, Mike, from my perspective, is responsible for really holding the creative line on this album, as well as Rick Rubin. He really had the opportunity to step in and produce these records and he produced these records with Rick Rubin and that is a major thing and it's really something to be able to work with someone who is as smart and talented and also to be able to step in, kind of help track the record the way he does. It's pretty awesome, pretty awesome to go to work in that kind of environment.

Q: You guys have an interesting way of actually making music together and as a band, from what I can tell, you never, all of the members are never in the studio really at the same time playing together. It's a combination of guys piecing things together and I'm curious why would that approach work, a best produced band and it's kind of evolved into that sort of thing and seems to be where you get your best performances and such.

Mike Shinoda: I would guess, I've never been, none of us have a lot of experience being in any other bands, a little bit, but probably the most being Chester. But in our experience with each other, we've tried jamming out parts and songs. We've tried working in larger groups. We tried working with six and five and writing music that way for us just doesn't really work. It doesn't do much. I mean, you write more interesting stuff when it's in smaller groups and what's really fun is that the music that you make sounds different depending on who writes with whom and where you write. Joe and I working together at Joe's house is different than Joe and I working together at NRG. So, it's a lot of fun to play around with the dynamic and it keeps us interested, it keeps us excited, and at this point, I feel like we've got a lot of momentum. The last record, "Minute to Midnight" was the record where we were trying to understand, if we can take the analogy of being in a box, probably would take it way too far, but if on the first two records we were defining that box and everybody understood what that box was, then on the next record we were venturing outside of the box and understanding what else is out there and then on the new record, I feel like we got comfortable being outside. So, moving forward, I don't know where we're going to go, but I know that we're not scared to go into the studio and make any kind of noise. We'll just make whatever feels good to us, whatever feels interesting at the moment, and that will define what the new songs, the new records sound like.

Q: Do you guys even think at all about how these songs are going to translate to live performances? They're getting put together; you think of that, but you've not played them at all until they're actually songs and you're getting ready to tour and I've got to believe that that's something that's pretty unique for any band out there trying to take a song that was put together who knows how many different ways and then turn it into something for live performance.

Chester Bennington: One of the things that works well with the way that we work is we don't waste a lot of time jamming and learning parts. So, I probably do have the most experience, me and Dave, have the most experience kind of being in other bands and you go to band practice, you try to learn parts, by the time you learn parts, you don't even know if the song is good or not, and it's such a monumental waste of time for us. And so working in our fashion, we work in smaller focused groups. If a guy isn't there, you don't have to be wasting their time. The song can take on 50, 60 different variations and, by the time that we have the version that we all like and that we're all high-fiving each other on, that's when we go and we learn it and that's when we worry about who's playing what and how we're going to make these parts work in a live sense. We're not trying to iron all that stuff out through the writing process and thank God for that, because we have technology that allows us to work in this way and it's, like, everything's about timing. This is a time where being in a band like us works really well. It just seems to be the way that we enjoy working. I can get together with the band and jam out all day and I guarantee we're not going to write the kind of stuff that happens with Linkin Park

Q: Wanted to have you expand a little bit on the production for the tour here. I'm just curious: What went into doing this, because it sounds like there is just a whole lot going on visually with the show, making it a real multimedia kind of thing and I know you talked a little bit about it but it really sounds like it's one of the more expensive planning things that I've heard of for a tour.

Mike Shinoda: The nice thing about the tour technology that went into the visuals, the technology behind the visuals that you'll see at the show, is that a lot of the stuff was designed with the cost of carrying it around the world in mind. And to me, I went to school for illustration and design and that is a part of it, to me. Like, good design includes all of the hurdles of communicating it to people and how you use it. It's not just making something that looks cool on stage; it's from concept to completion. So, in other words, part of good design is making sure it's affordable to carry when we go to the Middle East and it's been great. I mean, we've taken this same show all around the world. I think the idea has less impact on the States, because when we do shows in the States, our production is always at 100 percent, but when we do shows in Europe, generally we have to scale it down a little bit because it's more expensive to get over there and this design is one that our team came up that has actually been able to travel pretty much to its full extent everywhere we go, and it's really nice. It's allowed us, first and foremost, to kind of get the kinks out and play it overseas and get it feeling really good and then we get to bring it home and it's a well-oiled machine and the fans are going to be seeing something special.

Q: What advice would you give kids that look up to you as far as pursuing music and/or work in the music industry?

Mike Shinoda: I always tell young people that they have a lot of opportunities these days that are the first of their kind and that in the old days it used to be that a record deal was the end all/be all and, surprisingly now, the power is really in the hands of the artist. And I believe that the labels themselves respect and understand that to some degree or another, and they know that when an artist blows up on their own, that artist is powerful and they demand more from the labels in terms of their contracts or their money or whatever, but the most important thing for young artists to know is that they can make amazing music at home without going to a studio. They can promote that amazing music on their computer. They can get a worldwide fan base without even leaving their living room and then if they decide, if and when they decide to go out and play some shows, they can have the kind of head start on putting together something incredible that it just gets better as time goes on because of the advantages that they have with technology. I personally just downloaded the new Pro Tools 9, which just came out, and I am blown away that I can work on, I mean, nearly a full blown studio recording on my laptop with no strings attached. This is something that, like, even five years ago I would have had to have a set-up that was four times that size, that I would have to be doing it on a large desk with all this other gear and now I can sit at my laptop, put it on my laptop and use it on a flight. It's incredible. So, I mean, young artists have that advantage and I hope they take advantage of it.

Q: I wanted to actually go back to Music for Relief and benefits and non-profits. Have you guys had the opportunity to go anywhere else in the world? Like, for example, we had the tsunami a couple years ago in Asia and an earthquake in China. Have you ever been able to personally go there and see firsthand the disasters that have struck that you've benefited?

Mike Shinoda: Well, we went, one of the reasons why Music for Relief was started was that we began, we were touring in Asia right before the tsunami hit and it was, I mean, that's why, when we turned on the news and saw the footage, it struck us in a way that was more powerful than, I guess, something like that wouldn't have normally hit us, because we were seeing places that we had just visited on the news and they were just destroyed. So, that hit home and I think it still resonates today.

Chester Bennington: Yeah. And I actually did go back, I went out to Thailand and went and saw where, some of the areas that had been devastated by the tsunami and kind of talked to some people and we got John [PH] Cunelands and me, we helped build a house down there. I went with Mike and I and some of our friends went down with one of our truck organizations and helped clean up a school and take some debris and processed school supplies for the kids and we have had a couple of opportunities to go out and kind of see what things needed to be done, trying to get a feeling of the area and the people in the area and came to see that firsthand. Dave is actually going out before we start our first day, our first show on this tour. He's going down to Haiti with some other members of Music for Relief to kind of see what's going on down there and how we can be more efficient or helpful. And so we each make an effort when we can get out and see things firsthand, for sure.

Q: As far as making music in general, what's the biggest reward for you guys as far as creating the music itself?

Chester Bennington: Well, I think we probably all view things in completely different ways. I think that for me personally, as Mike said, we do what we love. I mean, this is something that, like, I know most of us would be playing music or creating music as a hobby in one way or another, whether we were assigned to a record contract or not. This isn't like a job you go apply for and, hopefully, you get a position. And so we really are very, kind of, we're all very grateful that we get to do what we love doing and we get to travel around the world and experience and become citizens of Earth, so to speak, and raise our kids and enjoy; I mean, we have an enjoyable life and that's a result of making the music that we make and that's really what most people strive for in life, is to do something they enjoy doing and have a good life from it. So, that's something we're all very grateful for. We try not to take that for granted.

Q: I'm coming to your show in Philadelphia. Is there anything that you, either of you particularly enjoy about playing shows within Philly?

Mike Shinoda: I remember playing; is that called, "Theatre of the Living Arts?" Is that the name, TLA? Yeah, I'm thinking of the right place, right? That was one of our first, if not our first show in Philly and I don't know. I remember, it's tough to remember every place you play. You know what I mean?

Chester Bennington: I don't know where I am right now.

Mike Shinoda: Yeah, it's, like, but certain places do stick out for various reasons and I remember that show really well. It's actually, partially because I remember driving the RV; we were in an RV at the time and I was driving it and our trailer down the street there and the streets are so narrow, I almost hit, like, 10 cars. I literally almost hit a parked police car, not because I was driving, like, crazy or anything. I was driving as slowly as possible just trying to get the stupid truck up the street and the streets are so small. We had every guy in the band leaning out the window to make sure that we could squeeze around this corner to get to the show. I mean, that kind of stuff sticks with you.

Q: Well, going off of that, I mean, the TLA is basically a very small venue. This time around you're playing the Wells Fargo Center, which is a huge arena. What are some pros and cons as far as playing a tiny venue like that and now playing in front of thousands and thousands of people?

Chester Bennington: Well, I think, for me, I definitely think that playing in an arena is probably the best possible scenario for a band. You get everything in that kind of environment. There's an intimacy that you can still have with fans. There's the sides, so a lot of people can be there, as well as just the way that the sound and everything works; the lights, the production. You really get engrossed in the performance of a band and that, to me, is the ideal scenario. The energy in an arena is so great when there's a good show going that it kind of makes the experience extra, like, almost, like, supernatural; whereas, when you get down to the smaller venues, you run into a lot of problems, like sound, just the capability of the room; like, the restrictions of that alone, especially when you have, like, six guys in the band and all the crap we had to carry around. There's an intimacy to that, too, but you definitely have to work; there's definitely a lot more that you have to work around and kind of work in spite of yourself. But there's something to be said; we all love playing smaller places and having people right up in your face. There's nothing quite like that experience, too. And so I think they're both really, really great, but it depends on, I think that you can have a better show in an arena, even if it's a bad band. It's just kind of a better experience to be able to do that. It's pretty amazing.

Q: How do you feel having such an influence over this generation? The teenagers? The University? They are living and breathing your music.

Chester Bennington: Well, it's definitely something that I think it's hard to see what kind of impact you have. I mean, we know that we play, we go and play our shows for quite a few people and we do meet a lot of people, like , difficult to see how deeply people react to our music and every once in awhile we come across a fan who or somebody who relates to a song in a particular way or had an experience at one of the shows that kind of, you can see it in their eyes, that they kind of, that we've touched them in a very special way. We've interacted with their life in a way that kind, our music becomes, the soundtrack is a portion of their life, their life story. And that's like, as a songwriter, that's, like, the ultimate goal. That's like the big wet dream, to write something that really means and that really matters to somebody. And we're fortunate that we are open enough to write a very diverse style of music and that we kind of think that we expect that from ourselves to really kind of have an open mind in terms of the kinds of songs that we write and the variety of the songs that we write and stylistically we have a chance to reach to, I think, a lot more people that maybe some other bands do.

Q: As you're getting ready to embark on this huge tour, I'm just wondering, when you know that the audience is filled with people who are hanging on your every word, what are you the most looking forward to to get out of this tour?

Mike Shinoda: It's funny, just like we've been talking so much about the variety of experiences we all have and the ways of people, the diversity in the crowd, and all these different things. There's also a diversity in the impression that people get about the band and I think, on one hand, you've got, I think that a lot of different people think a lot of different things about the band and they think it's what the band is about, that differs from person to person; whereas, you, the way you frame it is kind of that how there's this awe and there's this importance in the show and how important it is to the fans and everything and then there are clearly people that if we're walking down the street they have no idea who we are. I mean, like, if you showed them a picture of me or Chester and it doesn't register at all. Of course, you show them a picture of Charlie Sheen and they know who that it. The point is there's, there are actually, in spite of the fact I think I'm very, we are all very grateful that the band has been so successful, I think we're also very grateful that we've been able to retain a certain level of anonymity and keep our wits about us and keep things kind of more, I don't know, understated in our personal lives to some degree. So, when we go out on stage we don't feel that pressure of people looking at us like we're some untouchable rock icons. They're coming to our show because they love the music and because they want what they can get out of the show and we definitely want to make every effort to make them the best interpretation of our albums live that we can give them.

Q: You guys were on the forefront of technology when you guys released "Reanimation" in 2002 in multi-channel, surround sound DVD audio. Any plans for 3D?

Mike Shinoda: Yeah, we do have some 3D plans. Those will be released when they're ready on linkinpark.com.

Chester Bennington: Don't spoil the surprise. We're totally looking into that technology. It's exciting and it's so accessible and it's good. It's not "Jaws 3D," like when I was a teenager, which was absolutely sucky and stupid. So, yeah, there's so much good stuff that can come out of that. So, yeah, we're looking into that. Sure.

Q: When I listen to a song like, "The Catalyst," it's kind of this epic song, but even at it's most emotional it has this kind of robotic feel to it. How difficult was it to blend human and machinery when you were writing this song? Or did it come naturally?

Mike Shinoda: It was, I mean, Chester, do you want to dip in on this? I feel like it's definitely something that, if you want to jump in, just cut me off; how about that? The human and machine element was happening before the lyrics were doing that, before the lyrics were as aware, before there was, like, a focus on that theme in the sense of the whole record. The music was already there, so it was kind of like the music informed the lyrics, the lyrics informed the music and it was back and forth, but it was already happening from the beginning of the whole thing, the first demos. I mean, at this moment in time, it's like how many things, we were feeling like how many things can you do with drums and guitars; I mean, unless there's something really exciting about that, it felt like there are so many ways to blend the organic and the digital sounds that it feels really fresh right now, just in the world of music, I think, there's just some sounds that we're trying to find that we could kind of stake claim to and make our own.

Chester Bennington: I also think that with "Catalyst," like it's a good example. That song has this kind of like these nine little robotic features, like just kind of agitating through the entire song and there's a point where even the vocals are agitated and it's very intense and very static and the point of the song where all that stuff kind of drops off the background, the piano comes out, and you hear us singing with me, "Let me go." There is that moment where all of a sudden you're like, "Oh, there it is." Like, that's the moment where the humanity comes into play. Emotionally through the lyrics there's that part of it, it's that cry for help. That's that thing, but you definitely get that more organic feel in that part of the song and I think that was necessary to that song. It kind of gave it a lot of balance. So, we use that kind of stuff, those are little tricks that you use, that we use throughout the album.

Q: The new album has deservedly received some excellent Reviews, but one of the biggest criticisms of "1000 Suns" has been that there are too many small tracks. Like, I think one Reviewer even called them, like, fragments of noise, small parts, but in your own words, why were those short instrumental parts so important to that album?

Mike Shinoda: , I mean, the pacing of this album is more, it's meant to hearken back to the records of likeness, probably more the '70s than the '60s or '80s, but that kind of pacing, that kind of feel. It's almost more cinematic in my opinion, not necessarily to say that our record is so moody. But the approach is to try and make it almost more visual, to really pace it in a way that it paints a picture and it's not about, like, hitting your with pop songs. It's about taking you on this journey from beginning to end on a record and, as we started doing it, it became obvious to us that the whole direction of, like, the entire music industry is going against that. Everything is being broken down into smaller and smaller parts; nobody wants to download a whole album. They want to just pick up little songs here and there, like singles. And so we had to look at ourselves in the mirror and say, "Are we comfortable with the possibility that this will work against us in the long term here?" Obviously we decided to go through with it and go against the grain and I feel like, creatively, artistically, it was a choice that we needed to make. It worked out well in a lot of ways because it did set the record apart from the sound of other things that are going on and it also, I think more importantly, it made the right record. It sounds, to me, it sounds like it was an ambitious project and I feel like it kind of came to fruition at the end of it all. It didn't fall on it's face and it felt like it felt the way it was supposed to feel.

Q: What inspired "The Messenger," because the stripped down acoustic track, Chester, I think you really knocked it out of the park vocally, and it's just like nothing I've ever heard from Linkin Park before.

Chester Bennington: Yeah, it was one of those tracks that kind of came at me all at one time and I was sitting at home and I got the core progression in my head and I had this line that came to my head; the original language isn't in the song now, was "You were a child with so many choices, the hardest always make us cry." And that line just kept going over and over again and I was, like, and "When life leaves us blind, love keeps us timed." And those were the kinds of things and I was, like, "Okay. This feels like," I felt like I was being told to write my kids, like, you're venturing off into the world on your own kind of letter. Like, when the world doesn't care if you're down or up, it kind of can kick you around a little bit and it's important to know that there are people who will always love you no matter what, and that kind of unconditional part of life is what makes life great. And that was the inspiration behind the song. My son is now a freshman in high school, my oldest child, and we have a niece that lives with us and she's a sophomore and, like, they're, like, getting ready to leave and go become, like, their own people and I think that that was a kind of a subconscious inspiration for where this song came from. And then we were in the studio working on it and kind of had this idea of it being more of, like, an up tempo alternative rock song and Brad started playing on acoustic, the chord progression, and I sang it and we all kind of looked at each other and, like, "That's it. Like, it's that simple." And I think at that point, too, even Rick, I think it was Rick or maybe Mike, had said, "I want it to sound like that." And whatever the vocal sound that was coming across my iPhone, because I do a lot of demos into my iPhone, that was the vibe; that was the intention that we needed to capture and so we kind of went for that and it was great. That is a great way to kind of end this digital assault that we kind of laid out before it.

Q: Part of the reason I'm excited for the tour is that Pendulum will be coming with you guys. They haven't exactly performed in the States a lot. Why were they chosen as an opening act?

Mike Shinoda: From my perspective, I'm really, as Chester is, I'm, like, super picky about, actually I shouldn't say I am, I've just gotten to be very picky about who we play with and over the years I get worse and worse to the point where now I just need to step out of the picture and, like, I'm not really going to be involved too much in the future, and all of that said, I'm, like, crazy about who we play with and Pendulum is definitely one of those bands that was kind of, for me, like a no-brainer. Like, that was the kind of band that I had already heard. I had actually asked people when we were on tour in Europe; I said to a couple people who I think have great taste and whose taste I respect and I said, "If you were going to pick an opener for us, who would it be?" And that band was the first thing that came to their mind. They're good. And one thing that was really funny is after it all went down, I don't even know if they were signed on for this tour yet. They did a cover; they played the BBC and they did a cover of the "Catalyst," like I think it was the same month the song came out. They worked out this crazy drum and bass version of it and did a cover of it at BBC, which was just awesome. If our fans haven't heard that yet, then I would definitely they go check that out

Q: Both of you, well, Mike, you've been in the band right from the beginning and, Chester, you were there for the first record. At this time, coming off the European tour, did you ever think this would ever get to this point?

Chester Bennington: I think, like, there's always that kind of when you're young and you start a band and you kind of get to that point where you think this is something you can do and, of course, you to, the dream is, like, to be huge and successful and have songs people love, but how realistic is that goal in the real world? And so, being in a band, I think Linkin Park has been able to, it always kind of, work together and we're, like, this isn't happening.

Q: I see that it looks like the tour ends in February and it looks like the next thing doesn't really come up until July or so, so what kind of lies for you guys on this cycle in between February and July and the future?

Mike Shinoda: We'll be writing. We'll be doing a lot of writing during that time trying to get a head start on the next record.

Q: What is the future of Project Revolution?

Mike Shinoda: Yeah, we don't have immediate plans on Project Revolution. That doesn't mean it went away, but we are really trying to get focused on getting in the studio as often as possible and that's kind of taken a little bit of, maybe not, it's not taken the front seat, but it's definitely on our minds that we want to be trying to write as much as we can, so that means that our touring isn't as, it's not like 12 months straight touring like it used to be and are now, like, write and tour and write and then tour.

Q: You mentioned that since "Hybrid Theory" you've learned a lot of things. What was the most important thing you think you learned?

Mike Shinoda: Oh, wow! Well, I mean, one of the things that I think we gained along the way was a sense of what it feels like to be creatively, like true to yourself. I mean, that might sound kind of cheesy, but I'll put in context and then it will help you understand. It'll be less cheesy if I put it in context. When we are writing, we've got six guys in the band who are really smart and really clever and, whereas, we might write a song, we might write something a certain way and somebody will say, "I want the song to go this way because it sounds best to me." Or they might say, "I want it to go this way, I want it to be short, shorter because I don't have much of an attention span and that feels good to me." But really what might be going on is, in the back of their head, they're saying, "Oh, like, I think it'll work better on the radio if it's this." Or, "I think the fans will like it more if it's that way." And that's not, you've got to weed through that stuff an be really true and honest, you've got to be honest with yourself regarding where are these ideas and this feedback, where is it coming from? Is it coming from what you really want or is it coming from what you think somebody else will want. And for us, as soon as we stopped really relying on what other people want, I think we just felt a lot better about the music we were making and that, we had, it's been with us for a long time. We've been doing it on every record, but I think as we've gotten older, we've done it more and more often, which is really nice.

 

 

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