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Linkin Park
Linkin Park has the world’s undue attention. No other act has ever embraced rock, heavy metal and hip-hop all at once and introduced it, full throttle, to a legion of fans as this band has. Worldwide sales exceed a couple of gazillion, an indication of their immense crossover appeal; while stars like Ozzy Osbourne, Gwen Stefani and even ex-Beatle Paul McCartney are already among the card-carrying members of this band’s fan legion. They make music with an insistent passion, refuse to be laughed off or slapped down, and play on whether anybody else cares or not. Their last release remained on the charts for almost three years, a lifetime by rock music standards. But as new album Minutes To Midnight demonstrates, that was only the beginning of this rock band about to go supernova.

Why they rock
Where to begin? They are one of the world’s few bands whose name has entered the English lexicon as both a noun and a verb. According to music industry insiders, ‘Doing a Linkin Park’ refers to the act of releasing a debut album that is so phenomenally successful it becomes impossible to follow. That was certainly the case for these talented Californian rockers; their 2000 debut Hybrid Theory sold a cool 20 million copies worldwide, netted the band two Grammys Awards (for Best Hard Rock Performance and for Best Rock Album) and established the Nu-Metal genre. The band could have fallen off the face of the earth after their stint with that record, and they would still have a loyal following today.

Proving their success wasn’t a fluke, 2003’s Meteora topped the charts in both the UK and the US on release, got certified platinum in over 20 countries, and became the biggest selling rock album of year. And they’ve also had a measure of success on the small and big screen. Apart from their songs turning up in hit TV shows like ER, the band’s music has been featured in a number of Hollywood blockbusters like The Matrix Reloaded ~ single Numb/Encore made it onto the soundtrack for last year’s Miami Vice. If that’s not enough, they’ve also been immortalised in video games, comic books and cartoon shows; it’s fair to say you couldn’t go anywhere in the last few years without seeing their mugs or hearing their music blaring on the TV or radio. The music they make appeals to millions of teens and has captured the spirit of their coolness the way no one has since.

Their Musical Ingenuity:
Unlike the prepackaged alternative boy bands that plagued the 90s, these boys can flat-out rock. Chester Bennington (vocals), Mike Shinoda (vocals and guitar), Rob Bourdon (drums) Brad Delson (lead guitarist), Dave "Phoenix" Farrell (bass guitarist) and Joe Hahn (Turntables, Samples, Beats) are all lifelong musicians who began playing as soon as they could hold their instruments. Of course, skill is only one part of the equation. Looking to set themselves apart from other acts on the alternative scene, they rely on edgy tunefulness and are busy taking their nurtured angst and churning it into a unique sonic storm. Because of its sheer raw edge, devoid of the excessive production polish, their sound is an easy sell for young people everywhere. Hit singles such as Crawling, One Step Closer and Somewhere I Belong are catchy without being predictable, and the spirit is hard rock without being grating.

But what truly makes them stand out from every other Nu-Metal act is that they have two lead vocalists, in the form of Bennington and Shinoda, who love to duel it out with each other. Their ability to assemble diverse musical styles and fuse them into a great song or album is second to none; it’s easy to see why the band consistently tops the charts. The album Hybrid Theory solidified their place in the high order of the new metal icons: Meteora flung them into Soundgarden’s domain, while 2004’s Collision Course, the mash-up with rap icon Jay Z pretty much forged a new category of music altogether. Each one of their albums is a creative masterpiece, capable of being played from beginning to end without skipping a track. They’ve got the soul of Ozzy Osbourne, the sex appeal of Nirvana and the ironclad riffs of Metallica ~ and that’s just three solid reasons why we like them. It’s little wonder they’ve inspired a host of copycats.

The New Album: Minutes to Midnight
After Mike Shinoda’s side project Fort Minor released The Rising Tied in 2005, Bennington made his presence felt outside of the band too, putting in guest vocals on a number of tracks for other artists and bands and began working on his own solo album as well. It was speculated in the press that the band had disbanded and gone their separate ways, but we now know better. After being delayed multiple times, the new album is finally here. Minutes To Midnight finds the band back at doing what they know best, and is one of the most highly anticipated releases of the year. A chart-topping run is assured, as first single What I’ve Done is already at #1 on the charts, and the video recently beat Evanescence on MTV’s Battle Of The Videos to be voted best music video on MTV. Working with legendary producer Rick Rubin, it’s obvious that they’re no longer just some nu-metal band of yore, for the new CD is a mix of punk, classic rock, and hip-hop beats, and promises to be their biggest yet. We caught up with the band recently, and asked the boys to cue us in on what the new album’s all about.

Minutes To Midnight is a catchy title. What’s that all about?
Shinoda: The album title came at the very end of the whole process. We had worked on the album for I’d say for probably 14 to 17 months and at the end of the project we were all so involved with the project that it was hard to name. (Laughs) Then Chester comes in with something from the Doomsday clock…
Bennington: Yeah…that term comes from the Doomsday clock, which is supposed to countdown the minutes to the human race blowing itself up basically…
Shinoda: But that’s not what we’re about...obviously our band is not about all that. (Laughs again) There’s a lot of different meanings to the title and I think everybody interprets it a different way. It’s kind of an interesting idea…

There are claims that you deliberately developed the sound on this new one to distance yourself from the rap/rock genre. Is that true?
Shinoda: First of all, we’ve never really felt that we belonged to any genre. People have always tried to lump us in with the whole rap/rock stereotype, but we don’t intentionally want to be part of that scene…
Bennington: I don’t want to sound arrogant, but I personally don’t like about 98% of the bands that are lumped into the category with us.
Shinoda: You know Hybrid theory and Meteora did really well and the fans were very responsive to it. But basically we felt we had exhausted that sound .We just wanted to start over…which in theory is simple to say, but once you get into it, it’s actually difficult. (Laughs) For our purpose it’s whatever you want to read into…it kinda like a death and rebirth thing.

…So this is completely different from the last two albums?
Shinoda: That’s definitely why I see a more death and rebirth thing. The things we had done in the past, it was easy for us to replicate…it was easy for other bands to replicate and we just needed to move on. We’ve always had our own personality and I think it really shows on this record. It’s an almost a schizophrenic record…from song to song, it totally changes personalities on you. (Laughs)
Bennington: We didn’t want to lose anything that people might enjoy about the band…but we also didn’t want to make a trilogy. We didn’t want to make another album that sounded, you know…like what people would expect.
Bourdon: We made two records in the past and done some projects on the side and they’ve all been unique in a certain way. This [is] completely different from anything we’ve done before. We went about the process completely backwards…for instance in the past we never went into the studio till we were about 80% done with the songs. For this record we actually went into the studio a year before the completion date.

You can read the rest of our cover story on Linkin Park in the May 2007 issue of The Record Music Magazine available at your local newsagent.


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