Goals achieved, Grammy winner Linkin Park crawling to maturity
03.05.2008Before Linkin Park was Linkin Park -- when they were looking for a demo deal and scraping up money to buy a slice of pizza -- guitarist Brad Delson asked each member to write down his ultimate goal for the band.
Sitting in a cramped, musty rehearsal space in Los Angeles, lead singer Chester Bennington wrote that he wanted a gold album. Delson wanted to sell out a show in his backyard, and vocalist-songwriter Mike Shinoda wanted to win a Grammy.
Drummer Rob Bourdon just wanted a record deal.
''At that point, it seemed like it was a possibility, [but] it seemed like it was a long way away,'' Bourdon says. ``We were showcasing for labels at that time and getting rejected by every label.''
The rap-rock band's debut album, Hybrid Theory, released on the Warner Bros. label, was 2001's top-selling disc, with 4.8 million copies sold. Their performances attract thousands of fans, and last year, they won their first Grammy -- best hard rock vocal -- for their hit Crawling.
''I think everybody's achieved their goal so far,'' says Bennington, sitting in an upscale hotel suite with his bandmates. ``It's been a pretty amazing ride.''
Though their lyrics have dealt with themes of betrayal, frustration and fury, you won't find the stereotype of angry, sullen rockers when talking to Linkin Park, whose lineup also includes DJ Joseph Hahn and the group's bassist who goes by the name Phoenix.
The bandmates, who range in age from 24 to 27, are humorous, polite and eager to talk -- except Hahn, who spent most of his time checking his PDA-cell phone.
Their sophomore disc, Meteora, will be released Tuesday. Shinoda says the album's lyrics reflect the band's maturity.
''The first album has feelings of confusion and anger and paranoia . . . There were really aggressive elements and really introverted elements,'' he says. ``We were writing about those from the perspective of young 20-year-old guys and stuff . . . and now, they're still scary, but we have a little bit more experience with them.''
In several of the songs, ''especially in the first single, you'll hear like a hint of optimism or hopefulness, which is kind of new ground for us,'' he says.
The band worked for 18 months, exploring new areas musically, adding live strings and piano on one tune, revving up the beats per minute on others and experimenting with different styles.
The members of Linkin Park don't pepper their songs with curses -- and they make it a point to avoid alcohol and drugs. (Bennington has talked about beating drugs in his past.)
Still, it rankles when they're described as ''the band that doesn't curse,'' or when their relatively clean-living ways are played up by the media.
''The great thing is that none of [our goals] were celebrity-driven or like, the typical kind of cliché . . . fast cars, a big house, a helicopter and [stuff] like that,'' Bennington says with a laugh. ``What we wanted to do was to make music that was gonna be good enough that we could do this for the rest of our lives.''
The Miami Herald - March 23, 2003