Brad Delson sat down with Rolling Stone for an interview in which he discusses Linkin Park’s Concert for the Philippines at Club Nokia on January 11 with Bad Religion and The Offspring, the much anticipated Download Festival show in which they’ll perform Hybrid Theory in its entirety and the band’s 6th studio album release in 2014.
Linkin Park will headline a benefit January 11th at Los Angeles’ Club Nokia to raise money for victims of the recent typhoon in the Philippines. LP, who’ve become leading philanthropists in the music world with their Music for Relief organization, will be joined by the Offspring and Bad Religion, as well as special guests, guitarist Brad Delson tells us.
Tickets for the intimate show are being given to those who raise funds for the victims, with 500 tickets earmarked for those who raise a minimun of $250 (with all proceeds going to the charity). VIP packages are also available for those that raise more.
Linkin Park are currently in the studio working on the follow-up to 2012’s Living Things. But as Delson explained, having just been to the Philippines to play a show a few months ago, the sextet had to find a way to help. Delson talked to us about his experience there, playing with both Offspring and Bad Religion and the group’s festival plans in 2014, including playing their breakthrough debut, Hybrid Theory, in its entirety.
What made you put this show together?
For starters, we were just in the Philippines. I extended my stay there and it was one of the highlights of my trip to Asia mainly because the people of the Philippines are so warm and generous of spirit and I just loved it. And when the guys saw what happened, we just felt such a need to want to help and certainly Music for Relief’s mission is to raise awareness and resources to respond on behalf of victims of natural disasters.
How will the proceeds from this show be distributed?
We’re so pleased that all of the money raised from the show, all of it, will be going to Music for Relief’s partner in this case, International Medical Core. We vetted all the potential partners and determined they were the best first responders if you will, they are already there on the ground delivering emergency medical response and they do long-term disease prevention.
How did you put together the lineup?
Our band responded immediately and we just started making phone calls. We got a lot of responses from groups that couldn’t do it for a lot of reasons, like someone might be on tour. A lot of those groups have donated items and experiences to an auction we’re gonna do, so beyond the Offspring and special guests we have committed for the show there are a lot of groups, like Dave Grohl was super generous in donating something, Thirty Seconds To Mars as well, Green Day, Chili Peppers were really helpful, Rick Rubin was helpful, there are a ton of people to make this thing work. That’s why it’s called Music for Relief, because it’s really a response for the entire music community for this important cause.
Have you ever played a show with the Offspring before?
We’ve been on festival bills with them and Mike [Shinoda] and I were just talking about it yesterday. When you see their show it’s incredible the depth of their catalog. They’re one of the few bands where when they play a show you truly know every song they play. We’ve always enjoyed watching them and listening to their shows on festivals, but I don’t believe we’ve ever organized a show with them and for them to step up and want to lead the charge on this speaks to their character and how sweet those guys are. We’re really grateful to them for being an integral part of this and we just got a confirmation from Bad Religion, so they’re gonna be on the bill as well. I’m really excited to have those guys on the bill.
Have you ever played with them before?
We played like festival-style shows, I believe we’ve been on an Acoustic Xmas or something and again we haven’t really had the opportunity to organize something together as bands and as friends. So to have them on this is just incredible. Both of these bands are bands that we have looked up to growing up and love their music and respect them as men.
You guys are also doing the Rock Am Ring festival in Germany with Metallica, Kings of Leon and Iron Maiden.
I grew up listening to mostly heavy music for a long amount of my formative years and to be able to share the stage with some of these bands it’s just epic. And we always appreciate the opportunity.
You are playing Hybrid Theory in its entirety at the Download Festival. Will you be doing that anyplace else?
Right now that’s the only place we’ve announced we’re gonna do that. Since 2000 we’ve never played Hybrid Theory in its entirety. And even then I don’t know if we played the whole album as an album and this is gonna be quite a special experience for fans who are in the U.K. for the Download Festival.
Are there songs from the album you are excited to play again after a long absence?
It’s funny, we were joking, because there are a few songs we do incorporate in our set so we probably have half the boxes checked and the other half will definitely require some revisiting in rehearsal to sharpen the tools. There are a couple in there that are like, “I think I remember how to play that, but I shouldn’t be overconfident about it.”
With all these tour dates announced in summer does this mean the album will be done by then?
We’re in the studio almost every day working on our album for next year, so it’s a very fun time for us and very creative. It’ll be out when it’s ready, we’re working very hard toward that end and it’s been a really fun process so far. Right now we’re still in the early phases of everything so everything’s really nebulous, we’re just trying to capture an initial inspiration and see where it leads us.
Rip It Up had an interview with Brad where he discusses the differences and similarities of “A Thousand Suns” and LIVING THINGS as well as hope for a tour in Australia sometime “early next year”.
They made their fortune on the back of punchy hit singles such as What I’ve Done, In The End and Numb tapping into a 21st century angst, but Linkin Park’s last album A Thousand Suns left a vocal contingent of their fanbase perplexed and angry. Guitarist Brad Delson can laugh about it now, but admits that the online attacks on their 2010 album were scathing.
“Yeah, they were!” Delson says. “A Thousand Suns was unique – we’ve had a lot of commercial success, but with A Thousand Suns not only was the fan reaction somewhat polarised, the critical reaction followed suit.
“If you look at reviews of the album they were almost exclusively one star or five stars,” he continues with a chuckle. “It was really kind of shocking to us at first, but we then took a step back and realised that it was really resonating with people for them to have such strong reactions to it. Some of the people loved it, some had a strong reaction the other way. We’d been living with those songs for two years, so they didn’t sound strange or radical to us. They sounded really comfortable and familiar, but to expect someone to hear it that way after one or two listens isn’t likely. With that album we encouraged people to live with it and listen to it. Some of my favourite albums of all time – probably all my favourite albums – are the ones that I didn’t get at first and grew on me over time in a really powerful way.”
Delson says tearing up the rulebook on A Thousand Suns and creating such division ultimately strengthened rather than weakened Linkin Park going into the recording of new album Living Things.
“This is just my perspective, but I would say it made us stronger. That was the album we wanted to make and all of us in the band love that album. It ultimately led us toLiving Things, which we are also proud of for different reasons. They are certainly different sounding records but if you’ve been following the band since our inception you’ll notice the through-lines. People have been saying that Living Things has the spirit of our earlier records, but I would also argue at the same time that the more progressive and experimental elements have come out of A Thousand Suns’ radical experimentation.”
Although Living Things tracks such as the purposeful and atmospheric Roads Untraveled and Powerless share DNA with their album predecessor, Delson suggests Living Things also sought out moments of forceful, breathless brevity.
“On A Thousand Suns we emphasised the journey – some of the songs lacked a traditional structure and it was more of a psychedelic trip – whereas with this record one of the creative goals was to return to a much more succinct storytelling and songwriting style. So there’s a real contrast on Living Things which ultimately pays respect to the listener – we never want to rest on our laurels and always want to take people on a ride they don’t necessarily expect.”
Having always engaged with their fanbase like few other acts of their scale, the release of Living Things saw Linkin Park unveil a global scavenger hunt to drip-feed fans details of the new songs. Delson sees this sort of connection as a pivotal factor in preserving Linkin Park’s dedicated army of fans across the globe.
“I feel like, from early on, one thing that gave us a unique edge was a determination to connect with our fans in new ways. Sometimes it was via new technology such as the internet, other times it was simply sitting out at our merch booth talking to fans after the show signing their flyers or CDs. We’ve kept that ethos until this day and the scavenger hunt you mentioned was wild and fun. We’re always looking for ways to include our fans in the journey of what we’re doing, novel ways that reward their dedication. It sounds like a cliché but it’s totally 100 percent true – without that dedication we wouldn’t be able to do any of this stuff.”
Ever since their first Australian tour in 2001, when their vigorous performance at Melbourne’s Festival Hall saw the venue’s balcony shuddering from the moshing and ceiling plaster falling like snow, Linkin Park’s sold-out tours of Australia have marked the six-piece as a potent live act. In 2007, frontman Chester Bennington put in a high-octane performance at Adelaide Entertainment Centre just 24 hours after breaking his wrist during a mammoth stage fall in Melbourne.
“I do remember that,” Delson recalls, “but just so you’re clear that’s not out of the norm for him – he really sacrifices his body every night on stage. If someone told him that he needed to slow down or jump off the speakers, he would still do it – he never holds back.”
So when will Linkin Park once again grace Australian stages? The rumours persist that the Californians are heading to Australia over summer as part of a major festival – and Delson isn’t interested in playing down these reports.
“Those are the rumours I’m hearing too, and although I can’t confirm anything I can say that we’re very eager to get back to your part of the world as soon as possible because we love it. That’s not really newsworthy to say I love Australia though, is it? I can’t imagine someone who wouldn’t… I hope to see you sometime early next year.”
Always looking for innovative collaborators, in the lead-up to the release of Living Things Linkin Park hooked up with the Lotus Formula One team for a special iPad app, Linkin Park GP. Guitarist Brad Delson says it’s a dream come true for the rev-heads in the band.
“There was a game designed in conjunction with the Lotus Formula One Racing Team and the coolest thing about that was someone sent me a picture of a Formula One car with our logo on the car. Those cars are the most expensive, bad-ass specimens, so to have any association with that was really neat. Some of the guys are big fans of Formula One so it was a very exciting collaboration. Me? I just have a Prius which I’m very proud of, since I only put gas in it about once a month…”
Brad has talked to musicradar.com about Linkin Park’s 5th studio album LIVING THINGS. He talks about what kind of amps were used during the recording process, his singing part on UNTIL IT BREAKS and other things. Read the whole interview below.
The problem with most albums is that the songs are dead before they’re even recorded. Endless demoing and jamming embalms the hot blood of ideas. And should a still-smoldering tune manage to survive long enough to make it to the tracking stage, the repetition of takes – a cinch now that digital has all but replaced tape – is sure to finish the job.
Songs that spring forth like inspired improvisation abound on Linkin Park’s punchy and to-the-point fifth album, LIVING THINGS, a raucous 10-song collection that dials back the experimental moodiness of 2010′s A Thousand Suns and reintroduces the guitar grit and propulsive force of the band’s earliest works.
The six-member ensemble (vocalist Chester Bennington, guitarist Brad Delson, drummer Rob Bourdon, bassist Dave “Phoenix” Farrell, DJ/keyboardist Joe Hahn and guitarist-vocalist Mike Shinoda) resumed the pattern they established with producer Rick Rubin following 2007′s Minutes To Midnight: musical bits and pieces are born in the studio, seized upon and turned into songs before the juice can be beaten out of them.
LIVING THINGS is the perfect kind of knockout album – lyrically rich, sonically scalding and full of sharp left turns (a trio of folk-inspired cuts) that pay off in dramatic and surprising ways.
Brad Delson sat down with MusicRadar to talk how the band captured “moments of inspiration” on the new set, when guitars should sound like guitars (and when they shouldn’t) and how he rates himself as a lead singer.
The album is fairly short. As they say, it’s “all killer, no filler.” [Delson laughs] Is that what you guys had in mind?
“Yeah, in fact, I went back and took a look at Hybrid Theory and Meteora because I remember those albums were to the point. I remember they were succinct, but I didn’t remember how it all broke down. It surprised me how short they were. I think the records were 35 and 36 minutes long. We were kind of looking at the body of work we had cued up, and with some rough sequences and segues, I think it was somewhere in that range. I thought, Oh, maybe that’s a good sign.”
Because bands can fit so much information on CDs, do you think they sometimes tend to wear out the welcome?
“Yeah, for sure. I mean, it depends on what kind of album it is. With our last album, A Thousand Suns, which is much more experimental and psychedelic, part of the spirit of that record was expansive. We called some of those songs ‘journeys’ – you know, where there’s, like, three suites. That made for a longer record, so there was purpose to it.
“Now it’s more digital, so I guess you can have as many tracks as you want. You see the spirit of ‘more is more,’ and I don’t think that’s the case. My favorite albums, I can listen to them from beginning to end. Some of the best ones are over before you know it, and then you just start over again.”
With LIVING THINGS, it’s been said that the band felt more comfortable revisiting their past, embracing the earlier sound. What led to that?
“It’s definitely true that we started making our third record, Minutes To Midnight, before we knew it was going to be called Minutes To Midnight. We wanted to break out of that primary sound or mode that people associated with the band, because part of the inherent identity of the band is to be able to play in different spaces and mix different genres. That doesn’t always mean you’re mixing the same three ingredients; it means any of the ingredients that you want to use and are comfortable using. On Minutes To Midnight, we used different ingredients.
“On that record and on A Thousand Suns, which was that to the enth, pushing what we could do with a song – you know, a song didn’t have to be two and a half or three minutes; the structures could be different; the interludes played a more important part – ultimately we found, with this record, that we didn’t need to move away from anything. It was actually more of a synergy, like, ‘OK, cool, we want to keep pushing the envelope with progressive sounds and ideas.’ And at the same time, things that sounded like the first two records weren’t turning us off. It was like, ‘Oh yeah, those things feel good again.’”
The guitars are a lot heavier on the new album.
“Yeah, there’s a lot more guitar work. Some of the heavier guitar energy has a more prominent role. I think some people got thrown when we name checked Hybrid Theory and Meteora – it’s not like we’re using sounds from those albums; it’s like the 2012 version of whatever that was for us when we were starting out.”
How do you go about crafting what you feel is the perfect Linkin Park wall of guitar sound?
“I think, on this record, it’s something we did on New Divide – that’s a heavy song, a high-energy song, and you don’t know what’s a keyboard and what’s a guitar. That appearance versus reality is interesting to me sonically, where things you think are one thing are actually handcrafted, and it’s something completely different. It’s that ‘I don’t know what I’m listening to.’
“Whether Mike’s doing a guitar part or I am, we always want to do what’s best for the song. A lot of times it’s finding that interplay between an actual guitar and a sound that we’ve handcrafted, whether it’s a sampled sound or an electronic sound. If you listen to Victimized, there’s that [Electro-Harmonix] HOG octave-oscillating sound.
“There’s also guitar-sample sounds that were made on machines that weren’t physically played, but you don’t know what’s what. Even when I was at the mix with [mixer] Manny [Marroquin], you’re not sure some of the time – ‘Oh, maybe that’s a distorted bass’ or ‘Maybe that’s a guitar sample.’”
Are you using a lot of amp modeling software, or do you tend to stick with traditional amps?
“I think we’re using a lot of physical amp heads, and we’ll kind of switch back and forth between different heads and we’ll blend them together. What I was saying earlier about the nature of the songs being kind of an amalgam of the past – the more distant past, the recent past and some present future in there, too – the same thing goes with the gear.
“Whereas we were using a lot of Strats and more vintage guitars in the Minutes To Midnight era, I think we’ve just kind of liked the gear we’ve used over time, and the best, the all-stars, they kind of keep their spot in the guitar boat.
“So I’ve got my PRS, my Custom 24. Usually, we won’t start with that guitar because we know it works; we’ll challenge ourselves to do something more unexpected. And if we can’t beat what’s in our head, then we know we have a reliable tone with that guitar, and we’re always going to get it to sound great. We’re probably always going to sound like Linkin Park in a good way.”
“At the same time, there’s vintage Gibsons and Fenders that we’ll play around with, and we’ll blend stuff together. Sometimes we’ll process real guitar in ways that makes it not even sound like a guitar. For us in the studio, it’s about creating handcrafted sounds that you haven’t necessarily heard before.” [See the end of this article for a complete list of the guitars and gear Delson used on LIVING THINGS.]
“Fortunately, because of where we are at this stage in our career, we do all of our writing and recording simultaneously. So we can actually be in a great studio – we did this record at NRG, and we’d be in Studio A, and different people would be in Studio B. Ostensibly, they’re doing it more traditionally, where they’ve written the songs, demoed them and now they’re going to track them. And they’ll assume we’re doing the same thing. Earlier in the process, we’d be in there writing or just making music. People would look at me and say, ‘Oh, so you’re recording, what are you tracking?’ And I’d be like, ‘No… not really.’ [laughs]
“This happened with Minutes To Midnight, where we did have that mentality: ‘The thing that we write can’t be the thing that people hear. We have to perfect the engineering of it by redoing it.’ Rick was really instrumental in A/B-ing stuff. I think it was The Little Things Give You Away, like, he listened to something Rob had in quotes ‘recorded’ over four days, and he did a blind A/B, and he said, ‘I like this one better,’ and it was the demo. Rob was like, ‘Ahhh, what do you mean? I just spent four days creating that!’ But Rick’s ear said that the magic was in the original thing.
“That gave us the confidence to just write in the studio and make music, and preserve those moments of inspiration on the album. Ninety percent of the time, I’d say what you’re hearing on the album is the initial spark of inspiration presented to the listener.”
There’s no one way songs get written, but is there something close to a pattern with Linkin Park – who starts something, who leaps on it?
“In our process, there are throughlines, because any one of the six of us can bring something in, and we’ll always listen to everything together, physically in a room, once a week. There’s no constrained way how it has to go, and so every song has a unique journey.
“I would say that Mike brings in the most ideas – he’s the most self-assured in terms of the creation of sounds. He produced the record along with Rick. And then it’s an open process for anyone to work on the songs and refine them. We tend to work a lot individually or in pairs within the Pro Tools sessions themselves, and we’ll always discuss everything openly together at least once a week to make sure that if there’s two versions of a song or if there’s a ‘newer version’ – Rick has made us very aware that newer doesn’t necessarily mean better.”
You’re featured as a vocalist on the song Until It Breaks. Very nice!
“Oh, thank you. That’s kind of a coincidence that I’m on there vocally, in the sense that it wasn’t intentional. That’s one of the songs on the record that isn’t so traditional in terms of the structure. It kind of has different suites, you might say. I think the inspiration was… is it Abbey Road where it has different movements?”
Yes, exactly. There’s the extended medley on Side Two.
“OK, cool, so that was our inspiration. We actually had a bunch of ideas that, for whatever reason, didn’t want to be full songs. But we loved the music that was there. So we built that around some of the songs that we had worked on earlier in the process that we wanted to put on the record, and we wanted to find a way to craft that all together.
“The first part where Chester is singing, the first refrain, that was an early demo that I just did in a day – it just was what it was, but it was a cool part for that section. Similarly, the end section was something I’d done up and everyone liked it, and I’d sung on it but it didn’t feel like it belonged in the same breath as some of the real songs on the album, like Lost In The Echo or Burn It Down or In My Remains. Mike had the idea to just glue it onto the end of that piece. I had sung the vocals originally, and I think I re-sang them, but the spirit was definitely ‘keep the vibe of the demo.’
“I don’t consider myself a singer by any stretch, but I am comfortable, as all the guys are, singing harmonies and backing group vocals, and we’ll do vocals on demos. It’s just unusual to have something that’s front and center.”
The song Roads Untraveled has a bit of a folk vibe coming through.
“One of the dominant musical inspirations early on in the process was a folk influence. We had The Anthology Of American Folk Music, and we listened to a lot of that.”
Skin To Bone has that feel, too.
“Skin To Bone has it and Castle Of Glass has it. I listened to a lot of those old folk songs for song structure, and I found that the A sections have the meat, and B is like a bridge or a departure and then you come back to the A; whereas in pop radio or hip-hop or rock for the most part these days, it’s like the verse is always serving the chorus – the second thing is the hook. The songs you identified are structurally and inherently more of a folk form.
“We just loved that. A lot of it’s major tonalities, built around the major root, but when you can do a major progression and still have it be sad or longing, I love how that sounds.
“I should also mention with the folk songs, one of our goals as Linkin Park was, ‘What can we do to make it relevant?’ Rick really challenged us: ‘Well, if it has a folk DNA and you just present it as a folk song, that’s not adding anything to the conversation.’ So with Skin To Bone, for example, none of those sounds are folk sounds, and what makes it interesting to me is the juxtaposition of the arrangement versus the identity of what that song is. I think that’s what makes it unique.”
According to engineer Ethan Mates, who has worked with Linkin Park since 2006, Delson used a variety of guitars on LIVING THINGS. In addition to his Paul Reed Smith Custom 24, he also played a Fender Rory Gallagher Stratocaster, a Gibson ES-335, a mid-’70s Gibson Les Paul Junior, a mid-’70s Les Paul, and a couple of guitars belonging to Mates – a 1964 Stratocaster and a 1977 Gibson SG.
Amp-wise, Delson played through a Hiwatt Custom 100, an Orange Tiny Terror (with Holy Terror modification), a Fender Blues Junior and a Marshall Plexi.
For effects, Delson used, in Mates’ words, “pretty much all of the Electro-Harmonix pedals at one place or another,” although he cites the Memory Man, Holy Grail and the Hog as workhorse boxes. In addition, Delson employed three Devi Etter fuzz pedals, the Truly Beautiful Disaster, Torn’s Speaker and the Shoegazer. Z.Vex pedals included the Super Hard-On, Whoolly Mammoth and the Mastotron. Rounding out the effects arsenal was a Fulltone Tape Echo.
MediaGlobal caught up with Mike and Brad about PowerTheWorld campaign. It’s not an interview or anything just a few words from each one of them. Read below.
Welcomed by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who thanked the band for using their music to help those displaced victims of the Indian Ocean Tsunami. Since 2005, the Music for Relief campaign has planted over 955,000 trees and raised upwards of $4 million to help victims of natural disasters around the world. Most recently their efforts have helped those displaced by the earthquake in Haiti.
“We’re partnering up with designers to bring affordable lighting to these people,” said Mike Shinoda, co-lead vocalist of the band to MediaGlobal. “The prices start at about $5 each – I think that’s very cost effective,” lead guitarist Brad Delson quipped. “And they look cool!”
Shinoda stressed the importance of bringing lights to the victims, saying that many were using kerosene and dung to light up their houses, both of which emit toxins that ultimately lead to preventable deaths. This is the first project for the band on behalf of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s“Sustainable Energy for All” project. They will be partnering with the Haiti Regeneration Initiative (HRI) and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).
The video, with footage filmed by the United Nations depicting images of victims of the earthquake in Haiti, is a way to create awareness. As Shinoda and his fellow band members continue to work with the UN, they are calling on their legions of fans to come together and help them to help those in need.
The Jakarta Globe recently phoned Brad and had an interview with him in honor of Linkin Park’s show in Jakarta. Read below.
Grammy Award-winning band Linkin Park is set to rock Jakarta on Wednesday, much to the excitement of thousands of Indonesian fans.
The show will be the band’s first performance in Asia in support of its new album, “A Thousand Suns,” lead guitarist Brad Delson told the Jakarta Globe in a telephone interview.
“I’m very excited to come to Jakarta,” Delson said. “This is our first Asian tour for ‘ A Thousand Suns ,’ and we’re really excited to play the new music to our fans all over Asia.”
The band, which will perform at Bung Karno Stadium, last played in Indonesia seven years ago at Carnaval Beach in Ancol, where it entertained more than 30,000 fans who sang along to hits such as “Numb” and “Crawling” from the award-winning albums “Meteora” and “Hybrid Theory.”
Since then, the band has released two more well-received studio albums, “Minutes to Midnight” in 2007 and “A Thousand Suns” in September of last year.
Linkin Park’s musical style and catchy anthems also caught the attention of movie director Michael Bay, who used some of the band’s songs in his box-office hits “Transformers,” “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” and “Transformers: Dark of the Moon.”
Dedicated fans such as Primanitya Swastiyastu, 31, and Dika Toolkit, 27, are anxiously awaiting the band’s upcoming performance here.
“I’ve been a fan since their first album,” Primanitya said. “But I had to miss their last show [in Jakarta] since I had an exam the next day.”
Dika, who was able to attend the concert in 2004, said he was looking forward to hearing songs from the band’s new album played live.
“It’s been seven years and in between they have released two albums,” he said. “I’ve got to see them, to see if they’ve improved.”
The band, Delson said, will take its tour to six of Asia’s major cities, including Hong Kong, Seoul, Tokyo, Taipei and Bangkok. Linkin Park is also scheduled to play on Sept. 24 in Singapore’s F1 Grand Prix, where it will share the stage with Shakira, Shaggy and Boy George.
Linkin Park, which was formed in 1996, is composed of vocalists Chester Bennington and Mike Shinoda, guitarist Delson, drummer Rob Bourdon, bassist Dave Farrell and DJ Joe Hahn.
The following are excerpts of the interview with Delson.
Your last show in Jakarta was seven years ago. Do you have a good excuse for not playing in this part of the world sooner?
The only excuse I have is being in the studio, making music and playing in cities in other parts of the world where they are also very eager to have us. But you know, that’s probably a not very good excuse [laughs].
After the launch of the new album, have you been fully occupied with touring, or have you also been preparing new material for your next album?
We’re always writing. Definitely everybody has ideas all the time, although the focus of our energy has been on supporting the records and performing the songs in many parts of the world.
Is there any chance you’re going to give a sample of your new material at one of your concerts?
There’s always a chance, but it’s a very slim chance. Count all the songs on ‘A Thousand Suns’ — that’s a lot of new music to play on our Asia tour.
So what else can we expect from your upcoming show?
We will be playing songs from ‘Midnight,’ ‘Hybrid Theory,’ ‘Meteora,’ most likely. It’s something for all ages. We always play what is exciting for us and also for anyone who comes to multiple nights. They usually tend to get a little bit of a different experience each time. You can follow us all around Asia like we’re the Grateful Dead [laughs].
So is that your inspiration?
[The Grateful Dead] is the most famous band that made every show different, and people would follow them around. They would be the best example of improvisation, changing the show each night. We definitely love playing live and we take [it] seriously. When we’re done making records, we really put all our energy into being the best live band.
Who calls the shots on which songs to play?
We are definitely an artistic democracy. The best idea is usually the winner.
How do you come up with new music?
What’s fun about being in the band is that we’ve taken the creative path to really evolve our sound every time we go into the studio. We’ve been encouraged to do that in particular by [producer] Rick Rubin in the past two albums. That brings a sense of excitement and surprise in terms of what the music is going to sound like.
After each of us works on our music, sometimes individually, we always get together and listen to everything, giving feedback and then deciding who has to go work on something. So we’re always collaborating. It’s a very open process, where anyone can bring any kind of song idea and then we focus on whichever we’re feeling the most.
What do you do when you’re not with the band? Any ongoing individual projects?
Professionally, I like to focus on Linkin Park because I feel that even if I’m interested in a wide range of activities, I feel like I could find all those within the context of the band. I of course have time outside of the band, but most of it involves sitting on the couch and watching television [laughs]. I’ve been playing a lot of Scrabble. It’s a little presumptuous and haughty to admit, but I’ve beat the computer a dozen times. I don’t play [the video game] Angry Birds. I actually don’t play a lot of video games.
What’s your secret to performing live?
I sometimes feel like I know what I’m doing. I think what’s nice is that after you’ve played on stage a lot, like every night, then there’s a certain kind of unconscious zone that happens, when you don’t have to think about it and it just happens. I think I play the best when I don’t have to think of what I’m doing.
PhilStar.com talked to Brad over the phone and conducted this thorough interview on “A Thousand Suns”.
MANILA, Philippines – If Linkin Park sounds nothing like the rock/rap-metal band of a decade ago in its latest record A Thousand Suns, the departure from the earlier sounds that earmarked the band to fans worldwide has been intentional.
In an exclusive phone interview with Brad Delson, one of Linkin Park’s founding members, he expressed his gratefulness at the support generated for the group’s new direction.
“I’m very proud of the album A Thousand Sounds. It was really a labor of love. And I’m appreciative of all the amazing support we received because it definitely was a departure from our earlier records,” the 33-year-old lead guitarist said of the fourth record of the Los Angeles-based, Grammy-winning band.
Linkin Park, whose other members are Chester Bennington (vocals), Rob Bourdon (drums), Dave Farrell (bass guitar), Joe Hahn (turntables and keyboard) and Mike Shinoda (vocals), hit it big in the mainstream music scene in 2000 with the first album Hybrid Theory. The band sustained its hot streak with the subsequent release of Meteora and Minutes To Midnight in 2003 and 2007, respectively.
After working on the album every day for two years, A Thousand Suns was released in September of last year. Brad defined the album as a “leap of faith,” emboldened by the highest hopes that it would connect with fans the way it connected with them. And A Thousand Suns has proved to be a commercial success, debuting at No. 1 in US and European charts. Its hits include The Catalyst and Iridescent, which was used in the Transformers: Dark of the Moon soundtrack.
“It’s inspiring to be able to go to the studio, and make the most honest and inspired music (that is) different each time. And to have fans come along the ride, that’s just been the most exceptional blessing,” Brad said.
The album’s title takes inspiration from the Hindu Sanskrit scripture, the Bhagavad Gita: “If the radiance of a thousand suns were to burst at once into the sky, that would be like the splendor of the mighty one” — a quote immortalized by the scientist J. Robert Oppenheimer in reference to the atomic bomb.
The album is made up of 15 tracks that also incorporate instrumental interludes and sample famous speeches of American political activists Martin Luther King Jr. and Mario Savio. All these go beyond the layers of “organic” and technology-driven sounds and for that,A Thousand Suns has had merited critical praise for breaking ground and defying convention.
“It’s a concept album in the sense that it’s a cohesive narrative — a creative journey that we set the listener on. It’s not conceptual in the literal sense, but it’s conceptual because it’s a cohesive album as opposed to a collection of songs,” Brad said.
Indeed, one can look it as an album of interrelated sounds and ideas. While Linkin Park’s lyrical quality has been described as intense and deep, it seems that it has gone a lot deeper, not to mention more universal in A Thousand Suns. It may even come across like a commentary as you hear the band talking about the scare of nuclear warfare.
“It’s definitely, you can say, political and global-themed, but on a personal level, like the unconscious level, I wouldn’t say that there’s really an overt message… it’s more of an emotional or subconscious exploration of fears that we confront on a daily basis,” Brad said. “The emotional substance in the album is something that resonates with most of us in the band.”
This complements what critics have pointed out as the core elements that make this album rock hard — the throbbing bass lines, pounding guitars, acoustic doses, raw rap verses and tribal beats.
Brad also said that the song arrangements have taken a notch higher in terms of difficulty. “We have very eclectic arrangements that it’s almost impossible how to figure playing them live. It requires a lot of flexibility and ingenuity. A favorite track would have to be When They Come From Me because here I get to do drums, guitars and sing a little bit. It definitely is a challenge performing the songs every time.”
For the past six months, Linkin Park has been on the road promoting A Thousand Suns, and this month, the group takes on Asia. On top of the Asian gigs is the performance on the Race Day (Sept. 25) of the 2011 Formula One: Singapore Grand Prix. This is their second time to headline the F1 event; the first one was last year in Abu Dhabi.
The group will also be performing in Bangkok, Hong Kong and Japan. Too bad, they aren’t coming to the Philippines. “But we hope some of our fans in the Philippines can make it to any of our shows in Asia, particularly in Singapore,” Brad said.
Last month, the band held a “secret show” in the US that served as a fundraiser for the tsunami victims in Japan. It was one of the band’s philanthropic efforts under its foundation Music for Relief, which provides aid to disaster victims across the globe.
“What’s really cool about being in this group is that there are so many diverse opportunities not just for creative expression or for business. But it has also put us in a position to help people. I am personally interested in it, and it’s something I enjoy doing,” Brad said.
Brad, who graduated summa cum laude from UCLA with a degree in communication studies, has actually set up with his wife a scholarship fund that annually awards four-year scholarships at the UCLA. He also sits on the board of directors of a nonprofit org named Little Kids Rock, which gives out free musical instruments and instruction to children in underserved public schools throughout the US.
Interestingly, 2011 is a milestone year for the band as it has been 15 years since it was formed in 1996.
“That makes me feel very old,” Brad laughed. “But it’s been fantastic because when we started playing music together, we just did it for fun. We certainly never thought that we’d get paid to do it, that we’d get to travel the world, including the Philippines, and perform before many great people. So, it’s really a blessing and I try not to take it for granted.”
What’s the band like off-stage and more importantly, what holds them together? “Everyone’s real cool, goofy and fun. When we’re not on stage, the energy is very light, there’s a lot of amateur comedy going on. The operative word is ‘amateur’,” he said. “Before the band started, we were friends. Through the years, we’ve worked really hard to be respectful of each other. As we grow older and hopefully wiser, the level of friendship has also grown.”
Asked for the secret of Linkin Park’s staying power, he pondered, “I think the fundamental tenets for the building blocks of longevity have been creative honesty, openness to risk and integrity. By the latter, we mean we’re not thinking of how we can make this or that song make people feel (a certain way) about it. We create music that inspiring to us.”
And there’s no stopping the band from keeping the integrity and staying true to themselves, as it currently works on its fifth album said to feature lesser “noise” and more serious and controversial subjects.
Brad said, “In terms of work, the stage the band is at… it’s always a moving target. I can speak for myself that I’m very appreciative of the opportunities that we have artistically. I’m very proud of the music we’re continuing to make. I love how things keep on changing and evolving.”
Brad spoken to PhilStar.com due to the scheduled Linkin Park’s performance in Singapore and remembers the best food he had in the Philippines back in 2004.
“I tasted the best chicken (barbeque) in the Philippines. It was served during the concert. We could not forget that,” Brad Delson told The STAR in an exclusive phone interview.
Linkin Park is headlining the 2011 Formula 1 Grand prix’s Race Day on Spetember 25.
They’re not coming to the Philippines but he’s inviting Linkin Park’s Pinoy fans to watch them at Singapore.
The band’s latest work “A Thousand Suns” was released late last year, and has produced two No. 1 singles to date.
Westword has an interview of Brad posted on its site, check it out as he talks about what kind of advice he’d give to his younger self.
Linkin Park does not need an introduction. From Hybrid Theory to their newest album, A Thousand Suns, LP has continued to progress and grow as a band, giving its eager fan-base something to look forward to with every new release. In advance of the band’s show this Saturday, February 26 at the Pepsi Center, We snagged a few minutes with guitarist Brad Delson recently for a quick chat about the current tour, the impact of the new album and just what he would tell circa 1999 Brad Delson, if given the opportunity.
Westword: Where are you right now?
Brad Delson: I am in New York. We just did some shows here on the East Coast and now just waiting for the next one.
I read that a couple shows out there had to get cancelled? Is Chester doing alright now?
He got really sick, but I think he’s doing better today. He was severely under the weather, and because of that, we had to cancel some shows. We hate cancelling shows, and it’s a rare thing, but hopefully, we are on track now.
WFXN Radio did a Podcast with Brad on Wednesday. You can listen and download it here.