"You can hear Aphex Twin homages all over Hybrid Theory." Mike Shinoda: 10 songs that changed my life

Mike Shinoda
(Image credit: Mike Miller)

Linkin Park might have been late to the nu metal party, but with their debut album Hybrid Theory they quickly became its biggest breakout success, co-vocalists Mike Shinoda and Chester Bennington making the band one of the biggest metal acts of the 21st Century. 

Though Linkin Park are currently inactive - for obvious reasons - Shinoda has remained a creative force as a solo artist, most recently releasing The Crimson Chapter in 2023. Hammer caught up with Mike to find out what songs make him tick and while there's the expected mix of metal and hip hop, we weren't banking on his love of 80s new wave and 90s British electronica. These are the 10 songs that changed his life... 

Metal Hammer line break

1. Public Enemy - Rebel Without A Pause (It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back, 1988)

“Everybody knows that I love Public Enemy. The first show I ever went to was Anthrax with Public Enemy, a rap-rock show, which is kinda funny considering that rap-rock is what I ended up doing. A cool first show to go to, right? Less cool that I went with my dad as my chaperone! It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back is an amazing album – so aggressive and abrasive and political, but also funny, and Rebel Without A Pause was a great intro point. 

2. Nine Inch Nails - The Perfect Drug (Lost Highway OST, 1997)

“I collected everything Nine Inch Nails put out – all the CDs, all the singles, all the remixes, but The Perfect Drug from the Lost Highway soundtrack felt like this wild leap forward for Trent Reznor, or at least it broke my expectations about what Nine Inch Nails were doing. It has this drum’n’bass/ jungle kind of beat, but then that hypnotic, almost psychedelic outro, and it was really influential in encouraging some of the experimentation we tried in Linkin Park."

3. Beastie Boys - So What'cha Want (Check Your Head, 1992)

Beastie Boys’ Check Your Head was so shocking when it came out, because they brought their punk rock roots into hip hop in a way that was so unexpected and irreverent and exciting. I’d loved Licensed To Ill, but then kinda drifted away when they put out Paul’s Boutique because there was so much other cool stuff going on in hip hop at the time, but So What’cha Want pulled me right back in." 

4. Dr. Dre - Deep Cover (Deep Cover OST, 1992)

“Dr. Dre is another artist where I collected everything he was doing. Deep Cover was the first time I heard Snoop Dogg, this new superstar, and it felt like horror movie music, so dark and aggressive and dangerous."

5. Rage Against The Machine - Killing In The Name (Rage Against The Machine, 1992)

 “Speaking of aggressive, let’s have Killing In The Name, by Rage Against The Machine. I didn’t like much rock at the time – grunge didn’t speak to me like hip hop did – but Killing In The Name changed my mind. The things Tom Morello was doing with his guitar were amazing – taking influences from funk and hip hop and making them super-heavy – and Zack [de la Rocha] was a phenomenon. I couldn’t even process what was happening with that group, it was just so good." 

6. Tears For Fears - Everybody Wants To Rule The World (Songs From The Big Chair, 1985)

“OK, let’s switch it up: my favourite song from the 80s is Tears For Fears’ Everybody Wants To Rule The World. I love that song. Anytime someone references it you can tell instantly, because it’s such a unique song that you can’t get close to it without giving away that’s what you’re doing."

7. Depeche Mode - Enjoy The Silence (Violator, 1990)

"I also love Enjoy The Silence by Depeche Mode. I used to drive my brother and our neighbour to school, and they both loved Depeche Mode – they’d always try to play it in my car, and I’d be saying, ‘Turn that shit off, put on A Tribe Called Quest!’ 

Then later I got a chance to remix Depeche Mode, and my brother was like, ‘How dare you? That was my favourite band, and now you’re a big fan? You’re an asshole!’ But Depeche Mode are great, and the way they arranged this song was very unique. A lot of their songs unfold in a way that’s unconventional and unexpected." 

8. Aphex Twin - Come To Daddy (Come To Daddy, 1997)

“Also, if we’re talking unexpected… Come To Daddy by Aphex Twin. Such a good song, it’s crazy. The idea of using a computer to rip apart sounds and make a song? Wow. It completely revolutionised the way that I approached making music, and you can hear my Apex Twin homages - all the glitchy, stuttering audio - all over Hybrid Theory."

9. Portishead - Biscuit (Dummy, 1994)

“Staying in England, Biscuit by Portishead. It’s one of the coolest tracks I’ve ever heard, like how do you even make a track that sounds like this? When I hear this song I just go, ‘Yeah, it’s just magic.’ I fucking love that beat, and the vocals… wow, just so great."

10. Unkle - Guns Blazing (Drums Of Death Part 1) (Psyence Fiction, 1998)

“Let’s end with a really weird one: Guns Blazing (Drums Of Death Part 1) by UNKLE. This is the opening track on Psyence Fiction, and it’s DJ Shadow and James Lavelle, with Kool G Rap, a rapper who’s been around since the 80s. This track is awesome, it’s effectively like a rap song, but really dark, and there’s something very alternative about how they approached it.”

Mike Shinoda's The Crimson Chapter is out now via Fort Minor

Paul Brannigan
Contributing Editor, Louder

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Born in the North of Ireland, Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.