Sounding different

Sounding different

Still going strong after 17 years, American band Linkin Park returns to Hong Kong on August 15 for their 'Living Things' world tour


Linkin Park (from left) Dave Farrell, Brad Delson, Chester Bennington, Mike Shinoda, Rob Bourdon and Joe Hahn.
Linkin Park (from left) Dave Farrell, Brad Delson, Chester Bennington, Mike Shinoda, Rob Bourdon and Joe Hahn.
Photo: Warner Music
Mike Shinoda started what would eventually become the massively popular, award-winning rock band Linkin Park 17 years ago in his house in California with his high school friend Mark Wakefield. Back then, they had no intention of forming a band; it was just something to do on the weekends. Flash forward to 2013: the group will play in Hong Kong for the fourth time on August 15 as part of their Living Things world tour.

Shinoda and Wakefield began to take their weekend project more seriously after receiving positive feedback on their music. However, things didn't go so smoothly, and Wakefield left the group after two years. Shinoda stayed and recruited drummer Rob Bourdon, guitarist Brad Delson, bassist Dave Farrell, DJ Joe Hahn and lastly vocalist Chester Bennington. The six-member group features two lead singers, Bennington doing most of the singing and Shinoda rapping over heavy guitar riffs and hip-hop beats.

When Linkin Park released their debut album, Hybrid Theory, in 2000, they were part of the growing nu-metal music genre, which blended elements of rock and rap. The record was a huge success and today has sold more than 24 million copies worldwide. Meteora followed three years later, featuring a similar sound and a similar result, cementing the band's place as a big draw. But after that, they knew they needed a change.

"We put out the first album, then we put out the second one to prove we could do it again, so those two were like brothers," Shinoda told Young Post in a phone interview. "After that, we found that if we did the same sound one more time, we were committing to doing it forever. And that was not something we were interested in doing."

They sought different producers to work with and found a kindred spirit in respected producer Rick Rubin. With Rubin, they produced 2007's Minutes to Midnight and 2010's A Thousand Suns. Shinoda described the former as "a 12-track album that features 12 different approaches" and the latter as "a concept record that ... took you on a path."

After experimenting, the group knew exactly what they wanted when it came time to make Living Things, which was released last year in June and ended up being a bit of a hybrid.

"It was a fine time to get back to some of the things that people consider to be more Linkin Park's signature sound. So that's how you end up with some other songs on that record while still maintaining quite a bit of experimentation," Shinoda says. "Like, it's funny that on the same record, you can have a song like In My Remains, which is a very signature Linkin Park song. But then you've got a song like Until It Breaks, which is craziness."

The band's musical tastes aren't the only things that have matured after all these years. Shinoda describes their songwriting in the beginning as "a little more formulaic". They would have an idea of who should do what parts and when a song needed rapping to balance it out. However, nowadays the process has become much more fluid. "These days, we don't even think about it. I don't know if that's because it's like second nature, but when we end up making a song, we just do what's best for the song ... If the song doesn't sound good just on piano and vocal, then we kind of know we need to either scrap it or work that out before we start putting everything together."

Also in this visit will be the band's ninth international fan summit before the concert. Shinoda called it "the most amazing event we do", as fans from round the world gather to meet them, take a backstage tour and even get a chance to play their instruments.

"We wanted to do a convention where people can come and geek out and be nerds, just like us," he says. "Because at heart, that's who we are."

You might also like:

- Acclaimed British indie band The xx comes to Hong Kong more relaxed as performers

- Bridgit Mendler from Disney Channel's hit show Good Luck Charlie chases her musical dreams with her debut album.

- Living Things signals a return of the hardcore rockers



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