Linkin Park has led the charge of multi-genre music for well over a decade, combining elements of rock, hip-hop and everything in between into their sound. While their past few albums have diverted from the sonic fusing found on their debut Hybrid Theory, they still re-invented the wheel in their own right with every album to date. The Cali crew returned this past summer with their fifth studio album Living Things – a project that re-introduced the signature Linkin Park sound coupled with an updated formula that only LP could create. It doesn’t hurt that the band has been working with production legend Rick Rubin, a move that felt necessary for the band. In speaking with Mike Shinoda, Life+Times gets the scoop on their new venture with Dell, the Linkin Park legacy, and how a tropical environment backstage can turn almost any down day into a vacation.
Life+Times: Living Things debuted at Number One this past Summer, which was amazing. What do you think it is about Linkin Park that keeps the people coming back? Especially in a time when buying music is rare and you’re still moving numbers and sitting at the top of the charts?
Mike Shinoda: I mean you know, a lot of the focus for us happens in the studio. It’s more about creatively putting ourselves together and putting a record together that we feel is the best thing we can do at the moment – that we feel really good about. After that, I think if you love what you’re doing and you work hard at it as far as the albums we make, that at least gets us pretty far. With the trajectory of the band, we started with a couple of records that we were basically trying to just get our name known, establish our sound and get our name out there. Then after that, we realized if we kept doing the same thing over and over again, that we’d be stuck doing that forever. So for us, it was really important at that moment, on Minutes To Midnight, to step outside the box and kind of leave a lot of that behind. We’ve been doing that ever since, but with the new record, I know that it’s a moment where people… We’ve been intentionally avoiding getting back to that signature sound that people think of when they think of the band, and this is the first time in a long time that we actually went back and put some of that into the record. So, I think we felt like, “Hopefully the fans are going to be excited to hear this type of thing again,” and we clearly did it. We wanted to do it at least in a way that feels cutting edge. It feels current. It’s not just a rehash of where we’ve been, but rather it just refers back to that stuff and then takes it into the future.
L+T: It felt like it was perfect timing. During the period of time where you kind of changed up your sound, music wasn’t ready or at a point again where the various influences were all coming together. And at this point in time, it was almost perfect timing to re-introduce that. The fact that you guys did that so long ago, bringing it back and updating it…it just seemed like it was perfect timing.
MS: Well that’s what we built our… I mean, that is the philosophy of the band, you know? That’s what we built our band on. The name of the band was Hybrid Theory before it was Linkin Park.