As a band whose music shows no reverence for the lines dividing genres, Linkin Park have not just blurred those lines, but have mercilessly annihilated them by merging rock, rap, alternative and metal and by incorporating industrial and classical sounds in their songs. They’ve been in the mainstream spotlight since the 2000 debut of Hybrid Theory and whether you like them or not, you know the name and you’ve heard the songs. Hell, my mom even knows their music if that’s any indication of their pervasive reach.
Now, after more than two years of laying low in the US, and a handful of side projects (guitarist Brad Delson’s apparently been growing out his hair and beard for a year and a half, of which he says the band was very supportive), Linkin Park have reemerged with a new album, Minutes To Midnight, due out in May, and a score of performances scheduled after Bamboozle. Known for remixing their songs, the band has overhauled and revamped their entire approach.
I spoke with Delson about the band’s upcoming performance, new sound and new look.
The Bamboozle festival is Linkin Park’s first confirmed show in the US in over two years. What are your expectations for it?
That we don’t suck.
[Laughs] Always a good one.
Yeah, we haven’t played in the States in a long time, really any shows in a long time so I’m particularly looking forward to this festival. Also, we’ve never played this festival before and I know it’s grown over the years to become a really important festival on the East Coast. To be able to jump in and headline it is a huge honor for us.
Well, since you guys play such large venues all the time anyway, do you find that there’s really much of a difference playing in the festival atmosphere?
Yeah, a festival, you’ve got to work for it. I mean, if you’re headlining, it’s a little different because people buy tickets and they expect to see you. But it’s different from a headlining show in that if you’re headlining, everyone’s there to see you so the audience is 100 percent receptive and, you know, if things go awry, they’re forgiving. At a festival environment, you really have to work to capture everyone’s attention. Oftentimes at festivals, there are bands playing on multiple stages at the same time so you really want to be the band that everyone walks away with saying, ‘Wow, that was fantastic.’
I was wondering if you noticed any anxiety from fans about whether Linkin Park were staying together or breaking up once all these side projects started popping up.
No, I think that the biggest kind of patience test for our fans is just that we made a commitment to take as much time with this album as it took. Really, for the last year and a half, we’ve all been working, the six of us, on this record. Some people may have not known what we were doing, but we made a commitment to spend as long as it took to do it right. In the process of making Minutes To Midnight, we really attempted to and I believe succeeded in reinventing the band from the ground up, and that was no easy process, but it was a really rewarding one.
Yeah, well, everyone’s been talking about how you’re straying from nu metal and rap/rock.
Have you heard the whole record?
I haven’t actually.
I can’t wait for you to hear it.
I can’t wait either.
It’s really, I think, going to surprise you. There are definitely elements to the record that you can identify as Linkin Park, probably the best of which would be our first single, ‘What I’ve Done.’ It’s really in a sense a bridge from where we were to kind of where this record wound up. But each one of the songs that made the album was recorded in a totally different environment, has a totally unique sound, and beyond just the style of the songs we really focused through and through on the content of this record—the lyrics, the melodies. We didn’t work on the style of many of the songs in terms of the arrangements or polishing the context until we knew that the basic ideas in each case were really, really strong. Did that make sense or does that need clarification?
No, no, that made sense.
Okay, because I tend to talk in riddles sometimes so just stop me.