Conspiracy Theory

03.05.2008
Two attractive female fans clad in identical Linkin Park T-shirts-and little else-were doing thier best to "talk" thier way past an elderly area security guard to get themselves backstage at one of the band's recent Projekt Revolution tour stops. Despite the guard's best efforts to ignore them, the pair continued to cajole and canoodle, using every ounce of thier feminine charm in thier attemps to convince the stoic guard that they "deserved" a place in the band's private pantheon.

"C'mon let us in," one moaned, "we're thier biggest fans." Her sentiments were soon echoed by her friend who added "We have all of thier albums." Slowly but surely the verbal and physical barrage began to wear the guard down though he remained vigilant in his efforts to limit the backstage entrance only to those who wore a specific "All Access" pass. Finally after an half an hour as the guard turned around to check the credentials of a group of local radio contest winners, the pair bolted through the closed security door and headed for the supposed shelter of Linkin Park's dressing area. When he realized what happened the exasperated guard could only offer a shrug and a small smile. "Oh well, I'm not gonna chase after them," he said. "They don't exactly look like terrorists to me. I only hope they find who they're looking for; these guys much be really special."

There can now be little doubt that Linkin Park do represent something very special in the rock and roll world. What they've achieved over the last two years goes well beyond the fact that this California based unit has sold more then seven million copies of thier debut album, Hybrid Theory. It goes beyond the immediate accliam afforded thier new remix disc, Reanimation. The notion that vocalist, Chester Bennington, vocalist Mike Shinoda, guitarist Brad Delson, bassit Pheonix, keyboardist Joseph Hahn and drummer Rob Bourdon have reinvented the "rock star" image for the 21st Century. And it goes beyond the thought that in thier bold synthesis of metal, rock and rap elements this unit has succesfully reinvented the rock and roll "wheel." Indeed, despite all that they've accomplished during thier brief time in the spotlight, the impact that Linkin Park has had upon the contemporary music scene has yet to be fully comprehended.

"Don't ask us to explain it," said a smiling Shinoda, "Our job is to make the music, not to analyze why it was successful. We hope the reason is that people liked what they heard and were able to relate to the lyrics presented in our songs. Maybe there's something deeper to it, but that's not really for us to say."

Whatever the true reason is for Linkin Park's incredible success might be, the simple fact is that this band now stands at the very pinnacle of rock and roll acclaim. Not only did thier debut disc earn the honor being the biggest-selling album of 2001, but the group's rich blend of hip-hop and hard rock ingredients helped to resuscitate a form that has fallen into a state of commercial disarray due to the simplistic, fun-loving approach utilized by the likes of Limp Bizkit. With thier Grammy nominations, thier award-winning videos, and thier industry-wide acclaim as the "saviors" of the rap/metal style, it does indeed seem like Linkin Park have quickly emerged as one of the most significant bands of thier era.

"It's hard for us to explain what's happened, Delson said, "We're just a band that made music that we believed in our heart and evidently it touched alot of people the right way. There's really nothing more to it. We didn't set out to sell millions of albums. We were thrilled when Hybrid Theory went gold. Everything else has been a little beyond our comprehension."

While the members of Linkin Park may yet not fully comprehend all that they've accomplished, countless media types with too-much-time-on-thier-hands have already taken a shot at trying to explain the unprecendented "Park Phenomenon." Depending on whom you listen to, the band's success stems from either the accessibility of their sound, or the accessibility of thier image. Come to think of it, it's probably a lethal combination of both that has led them so swiftly down rock and roll's primose path! After all, when you can write and record such songs as Crawling and One Step Closer while maintaining a guys-next-door image you certainly have pulled off the rock and roll equivalent of a royal flush. In an era dominated by shock rockers like Marilyn Manson and Slipknot, Linkin Park have come along to drastically-and perhaps permanently-alter the way in which we look at contemporary music performers. With this unit, everyone's focus has clearly remained on thier music, rather than on thier appearance or off-stage attitude.

"When Linkin Park's album was first released, nobody knew what to expect from it," said a band confidant, "They weren't one of those super-hyped bands that everyone was talking about. Fans in California knew who they were, but that's about as far as it went. I know the label was psyched, but I imagine they always get excited about a new band that just got signed. But once the album came out, there was an almost-immediate 'buzz' created by thier music. Radio got behind them, and so did the print media and MTV. I remember them getting a Hiy Parader cover about two months after the album came out, and alot of people we're still asking me who Linkin Park was. They sure found out in a hurry!"

Indeed they did. Hybrid Theory went platinum six months after it's release...double platinium a month after that...quadruple platinum in mid-2001...sextuple platinum by year's end. Even now in middle 2002, the disc continues to sell an astounding 100,000 copies a week. In fact, the album's ongoing success has made it somewhat difficult for the Linkin Park patrol to begin focusing on the writing and recording of thier second album. Originally it was hoped that thier sophmore disc would be out by year's end, but a variety of success-generated delays have now apparently pushed that release schedule back until early 2003. Somehow, we have a distinct feeling that the guys in the band will find a way of putting that extra time to very good use.

"One of the best things about having a big album is that it allows you total freedom with what you want to do next," Shinoda said. "I know we're going to try some very interesting things on the next album-so get ready."

Hit Parader - September 2002


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