Staying loose, having fun
For being in a band that exudes moodiness, Linkin Park turntablist Joe Hahn sure is lighthearted.
Hahn chuckled through a chat about life on tour for Linkin Park's most recent and most melodic album, "Minutes to Midnight" – minutes before playing for a full arena in Baltimore. The new record is all about texture, and Hahn continues to demonstrate the importance of atmosphere for the band with his stellar use of sound effects and MIDI boards.
And it's the same backstage. Hahn mimics his quick hands with his words, wittily poking fun at himself and the band. Lesson learned: Even at the height of a double-platinum music career, it's important not to take yourself too seriously.
Q: What is everyone doing right now? What are some of your backstage routines before playing a gig?
A: We do interviews and stretch out. We play backgammon, and I've been known to win a few times. We throw salami and bologna at each other.
Q: Any other crazy things happen backstage on tour?
A: There are crazy things going on every night, like I'll order a meal – tonight's was pork chops with a honey glaze – and tonight I actually ate it, but occasionally I don't eat it and that's pretty wild. Last night, a doctor came to the show and he brought B-12 shots, and he injected one in my arm, and that was insane. The other day, I had a headache and I took one aspirin instead of two. That kind of stuff usually doesn't happen at home.
Q: Are there any records that you all have been listening to while on tour?
A: We've been listening to Coheed and Cambria every night, because they open for us. I know Rob (drummer Rob Bourdon) listens to a lot of Frank Sinatra and Dave (bassist Dave Farrell) – or should I say "The Phoenix" – listens to a band called Tasty Snax (Farrell's old Christian ska-punk band). Mike (rapper-keyboardist- guitarist Mike Shinoda) listens to a band called Northern State.
Q: What song do you most like to play live?
A: "Row, Row, Row Your Boat." We recorded it, and we tried to create a world record. It turned out that there is no record. It was 30 seconds until someone broke it.
Q: What was one of your favorite memories in Linkin Park from 2007?
A: One big highlight was when we played Asia. We got to play Shanghai, and we were the first big group to play a stadium. We had the biggest draw of any rock band to ever play China. For every person who bought a Big Mac in China, at least 10 percent of them came to our concert. (Laughs) I actually don't know if that is an accurate statistic.
Q: And what about 2008? What do you look forward to the most?
A: Burning love handles. (Laughs.) No, this tour we're definitely excited, because we've toured the United States before, but we haven't hit some of the cities we're hitting now. This summer we're going to follow up with Projekt Revolution.
Q: Is there anything that you really miss from home (Los Angeles) while on tour?
A: I miss my dogs, Pikachu and Dongatsu.
Q: How has Los Angeles and Glendale, where you grew up, shaped your musical stylings?
A: Where I grew up there was a lot of fighting and a lot of bad driving. I'm not sure if any of that has influenced us, but there's this really cool mall called the Glendale Galleria. We haven't written a song about it yet, but one day we will. I know what Mike would say, too – "I don't know why … It doesn't matter in the end." (Laughter in the background.) I like to tickle (my band mates) with my mind and my words.