Linkin Park take a take a dive into pop with eclectic new LP ‘One More Light’
Linkin Park (James Minchin photo)
Meet the new Linkin Park – not the same as the old Linkin Park.
At least that’s what some fans thought after hearing the rap-metal-electro-rock band’s new single, the power ballad Heavy, featuring Kiiara, from the group’s new album, One More Light, out Friday.
Not only is it the first time the L.A. six-piece have used a female singer on one of their songs on a studio disc but it also indicated a move into a more pop direction with claims the group had “sold out.”
Lead singer Chester Bennington’s colourful response in an interview with musicweek.com?
“Why are we still talking about [our 2000 debut] Hybrid Theory? Like, move the f--- on.”
In Toronto, in an exclusive Canadian print interview with Postmedia Network, Bennington is a bit more diplomatic.
“I wouldn’t want to say that there’s a change in the band’s direction,” he said. “I think there’s some obvious creative decisions that we made on this record that it make it different from previous records. And, really, we’ve have always kind of been all over the place a little bit in terms of our style.”
Added co-singer, rhythm guitarist-keyboardist Mike Shinoda: “I think whenever we put out new music, we’re kind of used to the idea that people will be like, ‘WHY IS IT SO DIFFERENT?!’ Like it’s pretty much every album that happens.”
We caught up with Bennington and Shinoda recently in T.O. before the group plays a trio of Canadian dates including Aug. 8 at Toronto’s Budweiser Stage.
So what determined One More Light’s sound this time?
Bennington: A lot of these songs started out as conversations about our lives, about what was going on in our lives with respect to the relationships, within ourselves and then these chord progressions would come on like the piano or guitar, and then melodies and lyrics, and then all of the sudden by the end of the day, we had a song that we would be singing over piano and acoustic guitar that was like a beautiful melodic song.
And the appearance of American electro-pop artist Kiiara on Heavy?
Shinoda: I had met Kiiara through (influential DJ) Zane Lowe. He had interviewed her and he asked her who her favourite group was, like favourite band or favourite artist and she said, ‘Linkin Park.’ And he texted me and said, ‘Have you heard of this girl?’ I said, ‘Yeah.’ And this was before anybody really knew who she was.’ So we got to talking and eventually she ended up on the song ‘cause she has such an unique voice.
So her presence wasn’t calculated to appeal to new listeners?
Shinoda: Some artists make music like it’s a marketing project and I’m not knocking that. Like a friend of ours wrote on a Flo Rida project and he was telling us like, ‘Dude, Flo Rida’s a genius ‘cause he’s such a good marketing machine. He knows what’s hot. He knows what’s going to get him the commercial spot, whatever, and that’s how he makes music.’ And I’m like, ‘That’s great. Like if that’s how your brain works and that’s what you’re good at, fantastic.’ My brain doesn’t work very well like that. I wouldn’t be good at doing this. Beside the fact that our albums take 12 to 18 months to make, by the time we make a decision, and then actually put the album out, that thing won’t be hot anymore. (Laughs).
Chester, did your time as the lead singer of Stone Temple Pilots between 2013-2015 have any effect on the making of One More Light?
They couldn’t be more opposite in terms of the experience. It’s unusual for me to show up on time and know the lyrics and be prepared at a Linkin Park rehearsal and everyone be so gracious for that, that they’re in tears and going, ‘Thank you for knowing the music, and thank for being on time.’ It’s because the experience in Linkin Park is everybody shows up prepared, and we all know what we’re doing. Whereas in STP, [the late lead singer] Scott [Weiland who died of an overdose at the end of 2015] – and I love Scott – wasn’t always present and there was a lot of bitterness sometimes that got built up with that.
Did it give you greater appreciation to be in Linkin Park?
It’s not usual for a group of guys to be in a creative endeavour, especially six people, for almost 20 years and at the end of each year grow closer, as friends, as partners in our situation and have an even deeper understanding of how to work with each other. As opposed to even with marriages and stuff, as time goes on, things kind of diminish and things kind of get a little bit reckless or something. I found myself going, ‘Man, we really have something special.’
WE ARE FAMILY
Linkin Park’s band members aren’t holding back in the procreation department.
“I’ve got seven [kids],” said lead singer Chester Bennington, 41.
“I just kind of claimed one of them. I have six proper children. I’ve adopted two, one of them would make the seven. Brad [Delson’s] got four. Mike [Shinoda]’s got three. Dave [Farrell’s] got three. Joe [Hahn’s] got one. So that’s like a whole s--- ton of kids.
So what do they all think of their dads’ music?
“They’re little and they don’t really care,” said Shinoda, 40.
“You know what music they care about? Our play list right now is mostly Disney movies and Monster High and for some reason eight video game themes (laughs) made its way into the mix. So our drives to school are basically like, it’s chaos, it’s a circus. (Makes weird electronic noises.) And then like a vampire trying to be Nicki Minaj, that’s the other thing that gets played. That’s Monster High.”
Added Bennington: “It’s really funny ‘cause that is so my life as well. In terms of our music like my kids, when I sing in the house or play music that I like typically it’s like, ‘Daddy, stop making noise.’ Or ‘Turn it off!’ Until, crazy enough, this [new] record. Because now all the sudden, my girls in particular, they went from, ‘Daddy, shut up,’ to ‘Daddy, you’re my favourite singer.’”