Linkin Park talks touring, evolution, and charity

In 2010, a nu-metal act from California did a complete 180 in style, presence, and depth, bringing us the very definition of “metamorphosis” (no, not Papa Roach). This act has plotted a gargantuan world tour in support of its latest full-length effort, integrating phenomenal stage electronics and a fan-ready setlist of epic proportions (no, not Nine Inch Nails). This act has the minerals to stand up and not only work toward philanthropy, but check its end results with fervor and intricacy.

This band is Linkin Park, and with its musical evolution finally taking on a corporeal state, finally taking some recognition beyond the high schoolers of their heyday, it’s time for some open-ended questions. With the recent LP Underground Summit in Chicago, and a tour underway in support of the critically-acclaimed A Thousand Suns, the California rap-rockers-turned-unique-entity share some insight into their projects, both ongoing and previous.

Across the nation, word has spread of the concert spectacle Linkin Park has become, bridging a gap in the community of post-nu-metal children who have grown up on themes of alienation, and the latest trend in hipster regimes. It’s hard to get personal in this digital environment we have built for ourselves in the age of downloads, but here at this line of questioning, Linkin Park proves that music still transcends, and they can be just as much a vessel as your average hype band of the 2000s.

“The difference in the band’s 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,” vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Mike Shinoda digresses. Immediately, he discusses the culmination of A Thousand Suns, and the processes behind deciding where to go from the demos. “At the beginning of a record, 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.”

It comes as no surprise, with the surrealism of A Thousand Suns, the affirmations of abstraction, that stage shows in this era would try to translate the messages therein as practically and as tangibly as possible. In keeping with the themes of advancing forward, as also seen present during Linkin Park’s February 5th SNL performance, we can all rest firmly in knowing that this isn’t just a band for the kiddies anymore, but an exhibition for all to enjoy.

That being said, an upcoming tour stop in downtown DC seems pretty well-suited, eh? (We’ll find out later this week.) So, what does one expect to walk away with after such an experience? According to Shinoda, no two shows will be alike, and thanks to LP’s in-house art team, the action onstage should “ebb and flow with whatever [they] do with the music.” He insists, “from night to night, the music will be different, and the visuals will be different as well.”

Could this mean a retelling of what we witnessed with Nine Inch Nails on 2008’s Lights Over North America tour? Another take on full-immersion stage performances? It seems that in the interim, Linkin Park, following in Pearl Jam’s footsteps somewhat, have decided to cooperate with Base Camp Productions for a better-quality means of MP3s as souvenirs.

“We want the fans to be able to take that special event of the Linkin Park show home with them,” Shinoda says. “In the past, we’ve charged for it, but on this run we are actually giving it away included in the ticket price.” This isn’t a standard recording, either. Instead of a traditional “line mix”, which Shinoda insists “sounds terrible” and “kind of sloppy,” the band will have their sound engineer – the same person who mixes the show, that is – mix the show following the performance. “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.”

Dedication to audio sensitivity and quality is not the only thing Linkin Park seems to be focused on lately, donating $1 of every ticket sold to Music For Relief. Tacking the cliche of celebrity philanthropy, vocalist Chester Bennington delves into some activity involving checks and balances, assuring a curious public that fellow bandmate and bassist David “Phoenix” Farrell, along with others on the LP payroll, are “all going down to Port au Prince and they’re going to see it in person and see how things are going.” He understands how things can get lost in the muck, but assures that “the money is being handled respectively and handled in the right way, to get the people who need help some help, and it is [their] responsibility to get down there and make sure that that stuff is happening.”

Shinoda explains further on the work behind Music For Relief itself, how they have tried to research and determine what areas need what kind of assistance, i.e. blankets, food, shelter, as opposed to simply throwing money at the obstacle. Mother Nature does not respond to simple currency, and nor should we.

But at the end of the day, it comes back to the music and especially the performance. However, if you want to see a visceral visual experience in the coming months — you know, in between your contributions to Haiti or your pouting over recent festival lineups (we’ll pray for the former) — you can scope out Linkin Park’s current tour, featuring none other than Does It Offend You, Yeah?, Pendulum, and The Prodigy. Bottom line: Prepare to be annihilated.

We’ll see you Thursday, when the whole thing drops in Washington, DC.


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