Blockbuster band builds on its rap-metal Revolution

03.05.2008
Back in the summer of 2001, Linkin Park added a hint of hip-hop and a sliver of light to one dark day of Ozzfest. Linkin Park's rap-rock debut, "Hybrid Theory," was double-platinum and on its way to becoming the biggest selling record of the year.

With 15 million copies sold worldwide, Linkin Park wasn't long for Ozzfest. Rather, the band had the moxie to launch its own package tour, one that departed from Ozzy's by melding metal and hip-hop, black skin and white. Projekt Revolution kicked off in 2002 with Cypress Hill, Adema and DJ Z-Trip and returned last year with Xzibit, Mudvayne and Blindside.

The 2004 summer edition, which hits the Post-Gazette Pavilion Monday, ups the ante considerably with Linkin Park joined by Korn, Snoop Dogg and The Used, plus Less Than Jake, Ghostface (from Wu Tang), Downset and Funeral for a Friend.

Turntablist Joseph Hahn, one of Linkin Park's links between metal and hip-hop, says, "Ozzfest is more of a straight-up rock and heavy metal vibe, which was a lot of fun for us to play. Our tour has that element but also stretches to a more eclectic audience that enjoys other types of music."
Despite some heavy crunch, Hahn says that Projekt Revolution amounts to a less aggressive day than Ozzfest.

"The crowd has been cool so far. People are just music lovers, whether they're into hard-core or hip-hop or all of it. I think it's good because you can watch one act that's pretty intense and heavy and get a break and check out some hip-hop, get a break from that and check out something a little more mellow. It's got its fluctuations through the day."

An avowed "hip-hop head," Hahn is getting a kick out of seeing the guy who played Huggy Bear in the "Starsky & Hutch" movie.

"Snoop is running things. He's playing the hits and he's got so much charisma on stage. Until you see that you don't realize it. He's an entertainer in the truest sense of the word."

Linkin Park, still touring on its second album, "Meteora," which included the monster hit "Numb," is diversifying its own set with breakdancers and a visit by DJ Z-Trip. "Out of respect, we're trying to represent everything," Hahn says.

The turntablist, an art school friend of MC/vocalist Mike Shinoda's in Pasadena, Calif., was on the ground floor of Linkin Park in both mid-'90s precursors, Xero and Hybrid Theory. Linkin Park took its current shape as an angst-ridden rap-metal hybrid with the addition of singer Chester Bennington in 1999.

Asked whom he turned to for his own inspiration, Hahn says, "I didn't have any models in heavy bands. When I started I looked to turntablists like the X-ecutioners, Scratch Pickles, Beat Junkies, those kind of people. It's pretty cool with all these different DJs out now, because every one of them does different things. It's not like a guitar player playing on the pentatonic scale. With DJs, the concept is that you're rubbing records and the sounds that you're playing are way different and require a lot of research and creativity to come up with that identity."

It's rare that a band has its own in-house video director, but Hahn, a former film student, wears that hat as well, having directed the videos for "Somewhere I Belong," "Point of Authority" and "Numb" and conceived the one for the VMA-nominated anime "Breaking the Habit."

He says of his approach, "It's different every time. The main goal is to do something that is visually entertaining in a way that's going to enhance the song. Sometimes I'll go off the emotion of the song, sometimes I'll go off the words, sometimes I'll create a visual parallel universe to what's going on."
After the Projekt Revolution tour, Hahn plans to turn his attention to his filmmaking. Last fall, he bought the movie rights to China Mieville's 1998 novel, "King Rat," and he hopes to direct it as a live-action horror thriller.

As for Linkin Park, "this tour is the last chance for people to see us for a long time," he says. "We're going to try to go home and sleep. We've toured way too much."

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - August 6, 2004


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