Miles more of Meteora

04.05.2008
Linkin Park is set to wrap up its world tour behind 2003’s Meteora album this month with a set of climatic South-East Asian dates, one of these being Singapore. IZUAN SHAH talks to bass player Phoenix Farrell about the band’s next album and where Linkin Park is headed.

I’M a big Radiohead fan, we all listen to them, but I don’t know if we’d ever go into that kind of stage that is so distant. But you never know,” admits Linkin Park bassist Phoenix Farrell over the phone from Glasgow, Scotland, last week.

“We’re constantly trying to come up with new ideas and trying to make things happen with our songs that will prick people’s ears and make them pay attention to what you’re doing.”

Even if Linkin Park is on the tail-end of its Meteora touring commitments, there’s just so much the masses need to know about the band’s future steps. Will Linkin Park do a complete creative left-turn like Kid A (from Radiohead) or will it settle for subtle progress?
Phoenix speaks with the crisp conviction of someone who could probably function just as well in a professional line (like engineering, architecture, etc).

“Our goal since the inception of the band has always been to write great songs. As silly or elementary as that may sound, it has been what we’ve wanted to do,” Phoenix adds.

At this point, it remains to be seen where the group (which also includes guitarist Brad Delson, turntablist Joe Hahn, drummer Rob Bourdon and co-vocalists Mike Shinoda and Chester Bennington) takes its winning blend of modern rock, hip-hop and electronica.

Contrary to popular belief, Linkin Park knows its music. The band was recently added to US music magazine Alternative Press’ “cred page”, a column recognising bands’ credibility in today’s music business. As Meteora has shown as well, Linkin Park’s sound does carry enough of what it takes to inhabit both worlds – commercial and critical.

Now album number three looms. Phoenix takes up the task to explain Linkin Park’s new quest of ensuring its place in music for the next several years, in spite of the album-tour-album cycle, which has been known to take considerable toll on even the most hard-touring workaholics. Temporary reprieve will arrive after the band finishes a few South-East Asian Meteora dates, including a show in Singapore on June 22. The band was preparing for a sell-out show in Glasgow when the bass player calls in.

On behalf of the band, the bassist doesn’t disappoint, waxing lyrical about Radiohead’s “Kid A years” and the prevalent producer-driven sound of modern day hip-hop, and filling us in on the Singapore date later this month.

“I think we’re all really excited to begin work on the next album. We’re ready to be off the road for a while and just shift gears into the creative process.”

As far as the Singapore show is concerned, Phoenix says the band will be going on the good vibes they received from fans in these parts (after a Kuala Lumpur date back in October last year), when they touch down in the Lion City for a return trip. As big as this Meteora tour has been, the band insists it’s still a privilege to perform in South-East Asia.

“We’re definitely excited about some of these shows that we’re able to play in South-East Asia. Playing shows is still one of our favourite things that we get to do, but playing new places is probably the best part of that. Singapore will be great – it’s the first time we play there. We know we have fans there, we’ve just never had the opportunity to come and play, so we’re excited to get that chance,” says Phoenix, who still keeps video footage of Linkin Park’s memorable first KL visit last year.
“I’ve got footage of the KL Tower, and I still think it’s one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen. I was really surprised when we got to go to Kuala Lumpur last year, because it’s just one of those places that I’d never thought I’d be able to go to. Having the opportunity to go there and seeing how excited the people were about us being there was really a special trip for me. I’d love to come back – it was a great trip.”

Concert dates in Bangkok, Jakarta and Manila have reportedly sold out. So Singapore is the likeliest destination for Linkin Park fans to catch the band before the impending hiatus.
Meteora doesn’t end after Singapore and the South-East Asian shows. Next month, the band will hop on to its American summer tour Projekt Revolution. The headlining jaunt will require extra heft from the boys, considering they will be sharing the stage with heavyweights Korn and Snoop Dogg and young alt-rockers the Used and punk act Less Than Jake. This tour sees the band handpicking the acts slated for the bill; also including underground names Welsh rock sensations Funeral for a Friend to renowned hip-hop pioneers like Wu Tang Clan rapper Ghostface.

To cap it all, Linkin Park has also got a coffee table book documenting the band’s touring life to come out by year-end. Don’t they ever stop? Where do they find time? Then again, Linkin Park is not known for being a partying band.
“Everybody’s doing really well. We had about two and a half months of being at home and that was really nice. We just recuperated and spend some time not travelling for a bit (laughs). That was a really nice break and it also helped us to re-energise and get excited again to tour and play our songs. Right now, we’re in a really positive stage of our touring,” relates Phoenix, talking about the blissful recent months off recovering from tour syndrome in Los Angeles, where all six members still live.

New music, then? With the largely unwritten follow-up to Meteora beckoning, the next hurdle might prove to be Linkin Park’s greatest task yet.

For an outfit that has come to embody modern musicians’ dependence on technology, it’s worth pondering what Linkin Park would sound like if suddenly the world were stripped of all Pro Tools music software, synthesisers and turntables. How would the band fare if it was left to just the bare essence of rock guitars and drums?
“People have asked us that before and actually I don’t think we’d really be able to exist, not only because of the importance of technology in our writing process, but also because of our attention spans. We don’t have the attention span to sit in a room and jam, in the traditional way that a band would write a song,” Phoenix responds knowingly.

“For us to sit in a room and work on a part for an hour-and-a-half just to get it down, only to decide later that we don’t like it, we’d just start going nuts. Everybody gets upset, people are arguing and it’s over. There are obviously a lot of electronic components involved and intricate stuff happening with the beats, and for Rob and Joe to play these textures live takes a lot of time for us to work out. Having said that, I don’t think we could even function properly or work together if it wasn’t for Pro Tools.”

Phoenix acknowledges that the band has always “spent way too much time on our creative process” and that its “unconventional song writing process” will now see the band taking it even slower to produce new material.

In about a week, the Singapore show might prove a blast for Linkin Park fans here, but will the next album be the one to test the ever-loyal fans?
“I think everything we do in some sense is a test to the loyal fans. We were under a lot of pressure when we were working on Meteora, not only to live up to what Hybrid Theory achieved but also just to see if we were a band that could be around for a while. With us having pushed through and survived that now, we’re grateful to have the chance to move on to album three.”
The band’s third effort is due sometime in 2005.

Linkin Park will wind up its South-East Asian leg of the Meteora tour down at The Padang in Singapore on June 22. The two-hour concert, presented by Lushington Entertainments Pte Ltd, starts at 8pm. South Korean modern rock act Pia is slated to open the show. Tickets for the outdoor gig: S$150 (RM330) and S$85 (RM187, standing). SISTIC concert hotline is 02-6348 5555 or browse the website (www.sistic.com.sg).

The Star - June 14, 2004


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