Teleconference Interview with Chester Bennington and Mike Shinoda
Editor's note: This interview with the band members of Linkin Park, Chester Bennington and Mike Shinoda, was conducted by a teleconference call with numerous members of media outlets including The Battalion. The content was compiled and condensed by Aggielife editor Chelsea Lankes.
Q: Could you talk a little bit about the digital souvenir package that fans are going to have an opportunity to get on the tour?
Bennington: We would love to. The digital souvenir package is a brand new product; a brand new thing that we're offering on this tour. I don't think anybody else has offered it or at least offered this type of thing in this way. You can basically opt in when you buy your tickets online for the digital souvenir package. What will happen after that is you go to the show, you watch your show, enjoy that, come home, and in your e-mail inbox you'll have a link to the show, to the MP3s of our set from the show you went to. In other words, you get to take home the hopefully memorable concert that you went to.
Q: You had a very public contract battle with Warner Brothers a couple years ago, and of course now people are wondering all the more if record companies are athing of the past. Why did you stick with Warner Brothers, and how do you look back on all that now?
Shinoda: I think the second half of your question is - are labels a thing of the past? There are a lot of positive things that labels provide artists. I do believe, though, that it's very important for the old model of the record industry to be - there's going to be times to work it out of the future, the future of the music business. It's that the business model is dying. I don't think that the label side of things is dying. It's just going to be rejuvenated with a new plan of action.
We're in this new frontier where it's throwing ideas at the dartboard and seeing which ones stick. That's a really exciting place to be because the people who figure out the model that works the best, whether it's a band or whether it's a management group or whether it's a record company, is really going to forge the future of how this business is run. When that happens, a lot of the issues that have been argued back and forth from the band to a label and vice versa could be put to rest or at least improved upon. We're in a very interesting and really special time in the music business right now. People are used to focusing on the negative aspects of what's going on and not looking at how amazing the potential is for the future of this business.
Q: You spent so much time on the road and people have so many opportunities to see you. How is this tour going to differ? How do you keep it different and keep it exciting for the fans?
Shinoda: We actually put a lot of attention on our live show this time around - ever since we came out of the studio, we were really excited about different ways we could keep the show fresh. Having so many songs now, we're definitely no longer in the position that we used to be in with "Hybrid Theory" where we had virtually 40 minutes of material, and we were asked to play headline sets, and we didn't even have enough songs to fill one out.
Now we have all these songs, and we can pick and choose and fans want to hear different things at different times. It's a pleasure to be able to get onstage and switch up the set every night. Not only that, but for the U.S. tour, and this goes out to the people that have come and seen us play on Projekt Revolution, the production will be different. The set will look different.
Q: A number of shows are being sold to 360 degrees. That means that the stage is obviously set up for a 360-degree show. A number of venues such as Staples Center, Madison Square Garden, sold out to 270 degrees. It was 270, right, Chester?
Bennington: Something like that.
Shinoda: It was like 270, and then that sold out. Now we opened it up to 360, so it's a great thing that the shows are selling out, and we're able to open them up and play in the round.
Bennington: What's great about that is the fact that one of the bonuses is people will actually get to see what Joe Hahn (drummer) is wearing onstage.
Shinoda: You usually can't see him from the waist down.
Bennington: It's been great to see the kind of things that Joe wears on stage from our perspective because you might actually get to watch him take a nap onstage sometimes. He [lies] down and takes a nap.
Shinoda: He'll go on in little, colorful shorts.
Bennington: He's got a cool shirt on, and then he's got workout shorts and flip-flops on. It's one of those things where the news anchor isn't wearing any pants under the desk kind-of thing. That could be pretty special for some really lucky people.
Shinoda: Hopefully we can talk him into a thong or just talk him out of his shorts.
Q: You have really been involved in promoting awareness of climate change, especially in the last couple of tours. What are you doing on this tour in terms of extending what you've done before or maybe some new initiatives? Since this is an election year, is this something that you might get involved with more politically, especially since the two sides have such different views on this issue?
Shinoda: As far as the "Music For Relief" stuff, we will be announcing hopefully more of our ideas for efforts that we can make on the tour. I know the Music For Relief booth will be up, as usual. The easiest way that fans can help out - we offer information there at the booth. Please, if you come to the show, go check that out. Buy a bandana. They're only a couple bucks, and that goes towards the charity organization.
We then realized, as we were in the studio with "Minutes to Midnight," that we could do things not just on the backend - the cleanup relief end, but hopefully be proactive and combat global warming on other fronts, so we that we wouldn't have to have as many, hopefully, catastrophes and be doing the cleanup that we were already involved in.
We recently joined with Unite the United to assist in the recovery and reforesting of devastated areas in Southern California after the wild fires. That was the most recent thing we did. We talked just yesterday on a conference call to figure out what we're going to do on this tour; so more information will come on that.
As far as the other part of your question about the election, we try and stay out of that. I think that our fans don't need us preaching politics to them. They're intelligent. They've got their own opinions, and they can make their own decisions. Obviously we encourage everybody to vote. We encourage everybody to go out and do their research on the candidates that interest them and make thoughtful, informed decisions.
Q: How was working with other artists such as DJ Lethal, Jay-Z or Depeche Mode? How did that aid you in your creative process in making "Minutes to Midnight?"
Bennington: It's important, especially when you work with guys like Jay-Z. Musically it was like, okay, this is awesome. But then you get to see how a different creative person works, and when you see someone like Jay-Z, for example, who has this really unearthly talent that defies logic, it doesn't make any sense. It's fun to watch that stuff, and it's inspiring to see someone go, roll a beat, and come up with lyrics off the top of their head for five minutes that make sense, that are cohesive, that are enlightening or just really funny all at the same time. Then have us all in shock and then say, now delete it - that was my little gift for you guys.
Hopefully other artists feel the same thing when they're working with us, that we have those kinds of talents too. Hopefully we inspire them as well.
Shinoda: Each time I get in the studio with somebody, they've got a different MO. They've got a different style and different little tricks and techniques and maybe equipment, gear that they use that I haven't tried out before. All that stuff keeps it fresh. At this point in the game, for us, having been a band and been playing and writing music together for ten years, a large part of the puzzle at this point is finding ways to make it new and interesting.
Q: Being that you've been together for ten years as a band, I was wondering about the songwriting process - how you put songs together. Has it changed much in terms of weight? You both take care of the lyrics, but has it changed much in terms of how things come together?
Shinoda: On this record, we made a huge effort to really involve everybody, and it was six votes. For any part of any song, you had six guys writing. You had six guys voting, and every vote counted. If one person said, I really don't like that part, then that part was in question. It didn't matter if it was five to one. That part was in question. That's just how we learned to do things on this record, and for better or worse, it made us - I think we enjoyed it much more.
We got demos that sounded like anything, everything. There was stuff that sounded like Public Enemy. There was stuff that sounded like '80s R&B songs. There was stuff that sounded like Johnny Cash. There was stuff that sounded like old Anthrax. I'm not - this isn't - it's not an exaggeration at all.
Bennington: We even had some stuff that was considered by some of the other members in the band as it sounds like it could have been on The Little Mermaid soundtrack.
Shinoda: No. It wasn't mermaid, it was Mulan. Two of the guys were like, this song sounds like it's from the movie Mulan. I hate it. But the other four of us loved it. But I mean, you know, I think that part of the chemistry and part of the magic for us in our band is the combination of the opinions and the stylistic - just the likes and dislikes of each of the six members and how different those can be. But when they overlap, when all six members' likes overlap, that's when something belongs on the record.
Bennington: We call it magic sauce.