Coming to the Twin Cities Friday, the rap-rock kingpins talk about sonic experimentation and music activism.
Korn didn't do it. Neither did Limp Bizkit or Creed or even Nickelback. But Linkin Park has scored three consecutive No. 1 albums.
That's after the Los Angeles rap-rock band's biggest album, the 10-million-selling "Hybrid Theory," peaked at No. 2 in 2000. Linkin Park's sound has continued to evolve: 2003's "Meteora" got heavier, 2007's "Minutes to Midnight" delved into brooding electronica and 2010's "A Thousand Suns" sounds even more moody and experimental.
With Linkin Park headed to Xcel Energy Center on Friday, its frontmen -- singer Chester Bennington and rapper Mike Shinoda -- talked about their new album and tour.
Q Why did you decide to give ticket buyers a free download recording of the concert they see?
Shinoda: We actually have been doing the mp3's of the shows as a souvenir for a while. In the past we've charged for it, but on this run we are giving it away, included in the ticket price. It's not what they call a "line mix" or a "board mix," which is the cheapest and easiest way to do it. Most artists do it that way. We just think that sounds terrible and it's kind of sloppy, so what happens in our show is the guy who mixes the show live for you records the show as it's going on and then he takes that backstage and we do a special mix for your iPod and something that will sound good on your stereo. So, it gets remixed and then put up online for all the fans of that show to download. It can take anywhere from a day to a week.
Q You have two frontmen and four other guys in the band. Explain your working relationship.
Shinoda: I think when it comes to the stuff behind the scenes, the whole band sees itself as a collective of equals, and Chester and I only play frontmen when it's time to take photos or stand onstage. We're not trying to grab the reins and tell everybody what to do. We respect each other's ideas and we're also not afraid to speak our minds.
Q "A Thousand Suns" seems quite experimental, which possibly turned off some fans. What was your thinking?
Bennington: This is the first time we really have gotten into the idea of what we would like the entire album to feel like. Usually we work on songs individually, and we do what's best for the song. We wanted to have a vibe, we wanted the album to be presented as a piece of art as a whole rather than a collection of songs. I never really thought about what people would think of a track or how they would feel about the new direction. I know the die-hard fans of Linkin Park are really open-minded to what we do and sometimes it takes people a while to digest the new music.
Q A dollar from each ticket goes to Music for Relief, which you co-founded in 2005 after the tsunami hit Asia. Now the organization is doing work in Haiti, as well. How involved do you get with this?
Shinoda: We were touring in Asia right before the tsunami hit. When we turned on the news and saw the footage, it struck us in a way that was more powerful than [it] would have normally.
Bennington: I actually did go back; I went out to Thailand and saw some of the areas that had been devastated by the tsunami and talked to some people and we helped build a house down there. Before our first show of this tour, Phoenix, our bass player, is going down to Haiti with some other members of Music for Relief to kind of see what's going on down there and how we can be more efficient or helpful. And so we each make an effort when we can get out and see things firsthand, for sure.
Q What's the future of Mike's side project, Fort Minor?
Shinoda: The reason I did the Fort Minor record was because, at that time, I felt like there were songs that were not going to work on a Linkin Park record. Since then, the band has really broadened its horizons, and the ideas that may have ended up on a Fort Minor record back in the past now can be a Linkin Park song. That's why you get songs like "When They Come for Me" or "Wretches and Kings." Those songs off the new record started as demos that sounded more like a Fort Minor demo, and then once we all kind of get together and work them out, they grow and they change and they end up on a Linkin Park record.
Jon Bream • 612-673-1719