Linkin Park is dedicated to the music they make and the listeners who support them. Blending hardcore rock, hip-hop, and electronic music, Linkin Park has established a sound that is difficult to classify, but easy to identify. The LA-based band combines provoking rhymes and melodic vocals with neck-snapping beats, vicious guitar riffs, and dizzying scratches.
Formerly named Hybrid Theory, the band describes their music as "a constantly evolving experiment." "Our goal is to bring seemingly distant elements together," says emcee Mike Shinoda, describing Linkin Park?s sound and its fan base.
Since its inception in 1996, the band has attracted a diverse and dedicated following. Its grassroots fan base has grown rapidly, fueled by the efforts of hundreds of street teamers across the country, hardcore listeners committed to building Linkin Park. Friends since school, Linkin Park is Rob Bourdon (drums), Brad Delson (guitar), Joe Hahn (turntables), Mike Shinoda (vocals), and Chester Bennington (vocals).
Contributed by Linkin Park's Official Site
That album-which Rolling Stone called "twelve songs of compact fire indivisibly blending alternative metal, hip-hop, and turntable art"--has shipped 14 million units worldwide to date. It was the Number One selling album of 2001. It launched three chart-topping singles including "In The End." And in 2002 it received a Grammy® for Best Hard Rock Performance for "Crawling," as well as nominations for Best Rock Album and Best New Artist. After diligently pursuing their craft since the band's humble origins in Southern California circa the mid-'90s, Linkin Park now had the world's ear.
To those outside the band, the pressure to follow up that success might have seemed insurmountable. But within Linkin Park, vocalists Chester Bennington and Mike Shinoda, guitarist Brad Delson, turntablist Joseph Hahn, drummer Rob Bourdon, and bassist Phoenix weren't sweating it in ways you might expect. Instead of dwelling on outside expectations, they set to work, meticulously crafting each moment of each song to their own exacting standards. The bigger picture developed accordingly.
"We don't ever want to have the mindset where we need to sell 10 million albums each time out. That's ridiculous," says Bennington. "It's a blessing to sell that many albums; it doesn't happen very often in this business--even once in your career is an achievement. Our obligation is to our fans. We're not going to get too comfortable and say it's a given that people will run out and buy our albums." "And if you know us, you know the biggest pressure came from within the band," says Shinoda.
"We just wanted to make another great album that we're proud of," says Bourdon. "We focused on that, and worked hard to create songs we love. We're our own harshest critics." If you doubt that, consider this: Shinoda and Bennington wrote 40 unique choruses for Meteora's poignant first single, "Somewhere I Belong," before arriving at the best possible version.
"We knew we needed to fix a couple things on that song," says Shinoda with a shrug. "So we'd write a new chorus, record it, mix it. Then we'd listen to it the next day, and Chester and I would look at each other and say, 'I don't know... I think it could be better.' And then we'd start again from scratch. It was a lot of work. We probably wrote and scrapped our sophomore jinx album somewhere in the mix. But we took our time, remained critical, and wrote songs we knew were good. Some people might have expected us to write a weaker version of Hybrid Theory--water it down, stagnate. But that's not what we're about."
The winning results of that painstaking approach are instantly apparent on Meteora. The twelve lean tracks display immense growth from the road-honed band, while still showcasing the rare chemistry that's been in place since Bennington completed the line-up in 1999. Working once again with Hybrid Theory co-producer Don Gilmore, the album came to life in a variety of studios, including the band's beloved tour-bus facility and each member's respective home set-up. This time Linkin Park had the opportunity to experiment with a wider palette sound, and an even more diverse array of styles.
They married wildly distressed samples to heavy guitars on songs such as "Somewhere I Belong." They arranged live strings and piano for "Breaking The Habit" and "Faint." They experimented with complex beats on songs such as "Easier To Run." They even added a Japanese flute called a shakuhachi to the hip-hop-driven "Nobody's Listening." Throughout, the rich textures and dynamic arrangements serve to enhance the moods created by Bennington's and Shinoda's powerful vocals--and vice versa. The synergy invites repeat listens.
The guiding vision for the 18-month recording process was evoked by the album's title, Meteora. During a European tour in 2002, the band stumbled upon a travel magazine featuring destinations in Greece. On the cover, the word "Meteora " and the accompanying photo caught their eye, and subsequently fired their imaginations.
Meteora is a group of six monasteries perched atop rock pinnacles rising 1500 feet above the plains of central Greece. As Bennington puts it, "they don't seem of this planet." And it's true. (To see for yourself, rent the Bond flick For Your Eyes Only, in which Roger Moore kicks ass at one of the mountain fortresses.) The Greek word literally translates as "hovering in the air." It's a fitting term for the otherworldly region, as well as for the album Linkin Park created with the image in mind. "We wanted to write songs that lived up to the energy that name exudes," says Bennington.
"It's really epic and beautiful. It totally embodies the sense of timelessness and expansiveness we wanted the album to have," says Shinoda. "We've since met people who've visited Meteora," adds Hahn. "People go there for solitude now--to find themselves. And that's what the album is about--finding yourself. Each song is about looking within and letting out emotions."
This time out, Bennington and Shinoda expanded the emotional range heard on Hybrid Theory. That album dealt with frustration, anger, fear and confusion from a younger person's perspective, according to Shinoda. The goal: catharsis. By contrast, Meteora reflects the accelerated lives the band members have led since recording their debut. "We toured the world for two years. That alone makes you step back and take a look at the bigger picture," says Shinoda. "We've always been interested in universal feelings, and that's what we focused on with this album. But Meteora is different in the sense that we're dealing with more facets of the human condition." "It's still a very dark album, but there's definitely more optimism," says Bennington. "We're still the same people, but now there's a light at the end of the tunnel."
On "Somewhere I Belong," for example, the verses describe fear and confusion, but the chorus takes that crucial first step toward arriving at a solution. Bennington sings, "I want to heal. I want to feel like I'm close to something real. I want to find something I've wanted all along, somewhere I belong."
And on "Breaking The Habit," he sings, "I don't know what's worth fighting for. Or why I have to scream. I don't know why I instigate and say what I don't mean. I don't know how I got this way. I know it's not alright. So I'm breaking the habit tonight."
Once again, the vocalists worked closely together to deliver a broad spectrum of emotions as a unified front. Now, however, Bennington and Shinoda draw upon a longer shared history. Their voices and sentiments are practically indivisible. "Mike is a computer whiz, and a formally trained musician," says Hahn, distinguishing the difference between the two vocalists. "Chester brings the rawness--the emotion that needs to come out. They complement each other that way. It's a true yin-yang thing."
The entire band, in fact, sounds more fully realized on Meteora. It's a rare achievement: A full integration of six members that still retains the unique qualities of each individual. The end result is the thumbprint style known as Linkin Park. "We don't really analyze the chemistry," says Bourdon. "We're just lucky and grateful that we found each other and that we work so well together."
"The collaborations are more seamless now," agrees Bennington. "Mike, for instance, knows more about me as a person, and I know more about him, so it's easier to write lyrics together. It's not possible to have secrecy in our relationship. You have to open up, because you want the other person to be on the same page. We're all that way with each other."
And with collaborators like these, who needs a therapist?
"Exactly," says Bennington with a laugh.
"That's why I joined a band in the first place."