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Metal was too white until nu metal came along, says Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda

Linkin Park press shot
(Image credit: Warner Bros)

Linkin Park’s debut album, Hybrid Theory, turns 20 on October 24, and in recent weeks the Los Angeles band have been looking back at the creation of the album and sharing their memories of the time. In a new, exclusive interview with Metal Hammer, to be published in full online later this week, Mike Shinoda reflects back on a hugely significant year in his band’s career, and he recalls how the blend of musical genres on Hybrid Theory, and in the nu metal scene as a whole, helped diversify metal’s appeal beyond its core audience.

“At the time,” Shinoda says, “if you asked somebody what they were listening to they’d say... ‘Rock. I listen to hip hop. I listen to jazz.’ It wasn’t until five years later they’d say, ‘Everything’. Hybrid Theory did some of that work. It was part of the progression towards breaking down boundaries between styles of music.”

“I listened to 90% rap music,” he notes, “then I’d look at a lot of rock bands and I’d be like, ‘There’s something too white’ [about it]. That was one of the things that turned me off, especially hair metal. Hair metal felt like very white music and I was growing up in a very diverse city so I didn’t gravitate to it. That didn’t resonate with me. And it wasn’t just about race. I don’t mean the colour of skin. I just mean the culture of it. When nu metal started at the very beginning, it was a very diverse place.”

“There was a moment when that term, nu metal, and what it meant, was actually pretty cool. It’s almost impossible to imagine! I remember when Korn first came out and when Deftones’ first couple of albums came out, and whatever you think about a group like Limp Bizkit, their first album was really raw. There were all these groups like Snot and Hed PE, and it wasn’t smart music, but there was something really visceral and culture blending that was important.”

For more of Mike Shinoda’s thoughts on Hybrid Theory and its impact, check back with Metal Hammer ahead of the album’s 20th birthday.

Linkin Park released a Super Deluxe box set edition of Hybrid Theory on October 9 via Warners. The box featured five CDs containing the original album, the Reanimation remix album, B-Side Rarities containing 12 tracks from the album era, LPU Rarities with 18 tracks that were only previously available through the Linkin Park Underground fan club, and Forgotten Demos, featuring 12 previously unreleased tracks.