During the last few years of the millennium, rap-rock replaced grunge as the rock flavor of the moment.
Gradually, rap-rock was replaced by other groundswells, including indie rock, nu metal, post-Britpop, emo, garage rock, metalcore and digital rock.
Somehow, some way, though, one of the most popular bands of the rap-rock era not only is still around but has sold more than 50 million records.
For the uninitiated, Linkin Park is a Southern California band whose major-label debut, 2000’s “Hybrid Theory,” charted at No. 2 on the Billboard albums chart. The band has had three successive albums to debut at No. 1, including last year’s “A Thousand Suns.”
One concrete reason the band is still around: The six original band members have stayed together.
Linkin Park’s two leaders, rapper Mike Shinoda and singer Chester Bennington, talked to The Tribune on a conference call of music writers about the band’s stage show, the relationship among musicians, and success.
Bennington and Shinoda on the band’s stage show:
Shinoda • A lot of the themes that are going on the new record take a central role in the visuals of the show. Our art team developed technology that’s new, specific to this show. We play different set lists and then within those set lists we improvise, so we wanted a way for the look of the show to kind of ebb and flow with whatever we do with the music. So, from night to night, the music will be different and the visuals will be different as well. No two shows will be the same. It’s about taking you on this journey from beginning to end.
Bennington • Playing in an arena is probably the best possible scenario for a band. You get everything. There’s an intimacy that you can still have with fans. There’s the sides, so a lot of people can be there, as well as just the way that the sound and everything works: the lights, the production. The energy in an arena is so great when there’s a good show going that it kind of makes the experience extra, like, almost, like, supernatural.
On the band’s dynamic:
Shinoda • 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. I think that’s one thing that makes our band work. We respect each other’s ideas and we’re also not afraid to speak our minds.
Bennington • I don’t feel like I have something that … I couldn’t present to the band. We kind of, when I started writing the music for [my solo project] Dead by Sunrise, I felt like they were stylistically outside of our box. At that point, we hadn’t worked with [producer Rick Rubin] and we hadn’t really examined what the future was going to be. We hadn’t gotten into those kinds of talks yet and so I used to say that. I don’t have that problem anymore. I don’t have that feeling of, “Is this right or is this wrong for LP?” Because, honestly, anything goes. I mean, what we’re doing now in the studio over the last two records is completely fulfilling in every way.
Shinoda • There are clearly people that if we’re walking down the street they have no idea who we are. I mean, like, if you showed them a picture of me or Chester and it doesn’t register at all. We are all very grateful that the band has been so successful, I think we’re also very grateful that we’ve been able to retain a certain level of anonymity and keep our wits about us. So, when we go out on stage, we don’t feel that pressure of people looking at us like we’re some untouchable rock icons. They’re coming to our show because they love the music, and we definitely want to make every effort to make them the best interpretation of our albums live that we can give them.