When TeamRock were invited down to an exclusive unplugged session and Q&A with Linkin Park at Warner Bros’ London HQ, we jumped at the chance to find out more about their controversial new album One More Light.
Below, a concise account of everything we learnt from frontmen Chester Bennington and Mike Shinoda.
For a song called Heavy, new single Heavy really isn’t very heavy.
Forget everything you thought you knew about Linkin Park: new album One More Light is Billboard 100 pop, pure and simple. The band teamed up with songwriters Justin Tranter and Julia Michaels to write Heavy, who between them have been responsible for hit singles for the likes of Demi Lovato, Selena Gomez and Jason Derulo. So, Hybrid Theory mark two it ain’t. Single Heavy is a prime example of this, featuring as it does 2017’s Next Big Thing Kiiara. At least your mum will finally approve of what’s blasting out of your bedroom.
If One More Light is too poppy for you, you can blame Mike Shinoda.
“A misconception about our process,” Mike Shinoda told us, “is that actually Justin and Julia’s contribution with us was only melodic and verbal. A lot of people say ‘Oh, the song Heavy sounds like a pop song – it must be because of Justin and Julia’. We worked the chords and the melodies and the vocal melodies with them, but I did the production. So, if it’s too poppy for you, that’s my fault.”
The band couldn’t care less if you like their new sound or not.
When grilled on whether they were worried their fans might disapprove of them teaming up with the writers responsible for Justin Bieber, Chester Bennington’s response was frank. “Honestly, no. That’s the last thing we were thinking of, at all. When we make music, we write it for ourselves and it’s a totally selfish endeavour. We just want to write the best songs we can possibly write.”
Chester Bennington likes to listen to Belinda Carlisle when he flies.
Ever wondered what our metal-turned-pop superstar listens to in his time off? Wonder no longer. In explaining his ever-diversifying taste in music, Bennington confided in the crowd that his most recent travel playlist consisted of everything from Tex Williams to Belinda Carlisle, Mastodon, Kendrick Lamar and The Misfits. The more you know.
Though the album is lighter than anything that’s come before, Chester Bennington was in a very dark place when he wrote it.
“When I started this record, I literally had a song in my phone that I wrote at the beginning of this process called I Hate The World Right Now”, Bennington told us. “I was pretty suicidal; I hated my life. I told a therapist at one point, ‘I don’t want to have any feelings at all’. And she said, ‘You don’t want to be a human being?’ And I’m like, ‘Yep, I don’t want to be a human being, because fuck, that sucks.’ And so, through this whole process, that was the beginning point. You talk about it, and I worked on this stuff and started changing my perspective, and started reaching out and talking about stuff. Next thing you know, I wasn’t alone in the conversation. And at the end of the process, I’m surprised I was ever in that space.”
UK grime artist and social media star Stormzy features on album track Good Goodbye.
“When it comes to grime, I’m familiar with stuff, like Skepta, Giggs, obviously Stormzy among other people,” Mike Shinoda tells us. “Our manager ran into Stormzy’s manager, and mentioned we had a couple of songs that Stormzy would sound great on. He came through right at the last moment, understandably, since he’s [busy] dropping the biggest record you’ve ever heard. We didn’t know how crazy it was [for Stormzy] over here, by the way, we just liked him from afar.”
Linkin Park are only called Linkin Park because the LincolnPark.com domain name was already taken.
“We chose the spelling ‘Linkin Park’ because we couldn’t get the presidential spelling dot-com,” Mike Shinoda tells us. “We literally spelt the name of the band this way so we could get dot-com. The reason we did that is because this was at a time when there was no Google. So that’s how long we’ve been doing this – fucking forever, right?”
They’ve just announced three UK summer dates.
The band will be playing London, Birmingham and Manchester in July. Click here for full details.
Chester and Mike both have a real grasp on the proper pronunciation of British place names.
Mike Shinoda can even say Birmingham properly. Seriously impressive stuff.
One More Light will be released on May 19th via Warner Bros Records.