American rock outfit Linkin Park has illustrated its growth yet again through its seventh studio album, One More Light, set for release on May 19.
After all, it has been 17 years since the rock group released its mega-popular debut album Hybrid Theory, which spawned chart-topping singles such as Crawling, One Step Closer, Papercut and In The End, to become one of the best-selling albums in the US.
The Grammy-winning band has dropped five more albums since with each release showcasing an inevitable shift in its music style.
In spite of that, fans still expected to hear the same type of music from its early days. The six band members, however, felt that Linkin Park doesn’t need to conform to any particular sound.
Bassist Dave Farrell said in an exclusive interview: “Even early on with Hybrid Theory, we knew that we like different genres. We want to present different elements, styles and ways that we’re not hearing anybody else do.
“But it wasn’t until we were writing Minutes To Midnight that I felt like Linkin Park’s sound is whatever the six of us are gravitating towards.
“Whatever grabs our ear or makes the hair on our arms stand, that’s going to be Linkin Park.”
On Feb 16, the Los Angeles band dropped the first single off the record, Heavy, which features American singer and songwriter Kiiara. It marked the first time the band has featured a female vocalist on an original song for a studio album.
“The original only featured (frontman Chester Bennington’s) vocals,” the band’s turntablist Joe Hahn revealed.
“We were discussing how the song had a missing element.
“I think the idea of having a female voice adds a counterpoint to the song’s perspective. The song was just asking for it, so it was the obvious next step to go to.”
He added that in trying to offer something new with every record, the band looks for a natural freshness when collaborating with artistes.
Linkin Park, which also includes Mike Shinoda (keyboard, piano), Brad Delson (guitars) and Rob Bourdon (drums), talked more about their career experiences:
On the band’s musical direction:
Delson: From early on, there was effortlessness to the songwriting, but at the same time we wrestled with the material in order to find our way.
I think by the very end of the process, when we had all the songs laid out in sequence, Joe and I had a conversation about how they really do tell a story.
That wasn’t our intention. We wrote each song to be a standalone track with individual ideas. Since it was all written from an emotional place, there’s some kind of narrative that unfolded in a very organic way.
On how their albums are snapshots in time:
Bennington: In terms of maturity, it is. When I look at pictures of myself during the Hybrid Theory era, I was like “Man, I was so confused.”
I had no idea who I actually was, let alone who I wanted to be. There’s honesty and aggression that were very true to who we were at that time, in what was going on and how we viewed the world.
Each album is a different place and represents a slightly different and mature version of ourselves, who have grown with more experiences.
I don’t think we could’ve written any one of those records at any other moment. That was exactly what we’re supposed to be at that time.
I feel confident in saying that this record is exactly who we are now, what we’re interested in now, how we feel now and what’s getting us out of bed creatively.
On having an open relationship with fans:
Shinoda: Making music is a weird amorphous, wandering process. The reality of being an artiste is that you make stuff that in one minute is the greatest thing in the world, but in the next, it’s garbage.
For me, showing people the humanity of that and some of the struggles (is important).
The release of an album for us is a really big deal, but our relationship with our fans is not event-based. It’s an on-going, communal relationship. Whether we have an album out or not, we’re still tied in with the fans.
Bourdon: Yeah, Linkin Park is a global band. We travel around the world and we have fans all over the world. We want to be as connected as we can to our fans. We actually have fans in specific regions help us translate our music so that language is never a barrier.
From the very beginning, during the first shows we played, somebody told us about (the importance of communicating with fans). I’m glad they did because it’s something we got a lot of satisfaction from.
The fans give us the opportunity to do what we do. If no one’s listening to our music, there would be no Linkin Park or world tours. We’ve had so many opportunities because of this relationship.
As a band, we had a really tough time getting signed to a record label but it was our fans who kept telling us that we were doing something incredible.
Without them, there was no way we could’ve kept going. They gave us all the life and energy we needed to push forward. That’s always been part of the fabric of what makes Linkin Park.
The conversation is always alive when we’re talking about how we can give back to our fans or listen to what they want from our world.
Influencing other artistes
Shinoda: The most entertaining thing to me is the cool variety of artistes who have said that Linkin Park played some role in their musical development. Oliver Sykes from (British rock band) Bring Me the Horizon said in a magazine that the first ever concert he attended was a Linkin Park show. He was in the front row and said the experience was the reason he wanted to be in a band.
A story like that makes us feel so grateful for the opportunity to do what we do, but these people are also clearly talented on their own. We were in their shoes. We passed it on to them and they will do the same. That’s how it works.
For example, I got to work with (music producer) Rick Ruben, who made most of the Top 10 records and my favourites of all time. I got to tell him that and this is how (the influence) gets passed on.
— Courtesy of Warner Music Malaysia