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Linkin Park Rage Again on New LP

How Rick Rubin helped the band return to its rap-rock roots

Matt Diehl Jun 19, 2012
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Mike Shinoda

Last fall, LinkinParkmet up with producer Rick Rubin at North Hollywood’s NRG Recording Studios on an urgent mission: After four huge LPs, the band wanted to recapture the energy of its earliest hits on its fifth full-length. “This is where we’ve recorded all our albums, except one,” says rapper- producer Mike Shinoda, sitting at the massive mixing console the group used for Living Things, due out June 26th, 2012. “There’s a sense of comfort here.”

Linkin Park’s last album, 2010’s experimental, U2-ish A Thousand Suns, sold an impressive 840,000 copies, but it proved divisive. “We wanted to find a new voice, but we alienated some die-hard fans,” says singer Chester Bennington. So this time, the six-member band – Shinoda, Bennington, guitarist Brad Delson, bassist Dave Farrell, drummer Rob Bourdon and DJ Joe Hahn – went back to the sounds that first defined it.

‘Living Things’ cover

The thunderous “Burn It Down” highlights the chemistry between Shinoda’s intense rap verses and Bennington’s emotional howling, while the brutal headbanger “Victimized” is the band’s most aggressive track in years. “In the past, we’ve consciously steered away from what we’d done before, but here, the energy is clearly similar to Hybrid Theory,”Bennington says, referring to the group’s smash 2000 debut.

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The recording process wasn’t always easy. “I remember one meeting where we listened to everything we had,” Rubin says. “Most of the band was critical, and there was lots of disagreement. For the next few days, Mike and Brad went into overdrive – and all of a sudden, the songs sounded great! I’m not sure what exactly happened, but whatever it was worked.”

In the end, Living Things incorporated some unexpected influences: the campfirestyle vocals of “Skin to Bone” and the sea-chantey rhythms of “Roads Untraveled” reflect the band’s new interest in folk. “We looked not just to Bob Dylan, but the music that inspired Dylan,” says the singer. “Having a driving beat with this country-folk melody is weird – but it’s totally Linkin Park.”

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