Mike talks new Linkin Park album and what fans should expect

: KenjiMS   : 13:30 05.04.2012
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Mike talks to Co.Create about his experience scoring a film and what fans should expect from Linkin Parks next album.

Linkin Parks Mike Shinoda talks about his first experience scoring a film, how his band became the biggest on Facebook (with 40 million likes), and what online innovations fans should expect from their next album.

Not only is Mike Shinoda the principal songwriter, keyboardist, and sometime vocalist for Linkin Park, he also oversees the alt-rock/rap/metal outfits studio production, merchandising artwork, and online presencean effort that has made the band one of the most popular on Facebook. Now, as Linkin Park is at work on its fifth studio album (expected later this year), Shinoda talks to Co.Create about composing the scorehis firstfor The Raid: Redemption. The Indonesian fight flick opened in select cities recently to mostly positive reviews and strong box office and marks another side project for Shinoda (see Fort Minor), one that he says taught him plenty of things to bring back to the band.

Less Second-Guessing, More Working

Shinoda was surprised that Raid director Gareth Evans was so hands-off; he left Shinoda and his composing partner Joe Trapanese alone for a month at a time without checking in. Its crazy to think about it, says Shinoda. You do all this work and if we had played it for him and he said he really didnt like a lot of it we would have wasted a whole monthand we only had three months to do it. But the songwriter was surprisingly happy with this way of working. I was finding that we get further faster, we get better results faster. So he has now applied that to his process with Linkin Park: I went back in the studio with the guys a few months ago and I said, This is what I want to doI want to apply this. We usually get together once a week to criticize stuff. Instead of getting together to do that, we got together to just work. There was no I dont like this.

And he really liked that. I enjoyed being able to get further on something before second-guessing it or before questioning where we were. I feel like sometimes with [only] a few days work on something you dont realize how good its going to get in a few more days.

Picking The Right Project

Hed been asked to work on films before (Linkin Park contributed some songs to the Transformers movies) but usually the approach hadnt worked for him. They would come to me and say, Hey, we would like to have Linkin Park in our movie and well make your name really big on it! Thats the opposite of what I want to do. Usually when they are saying that [they mean], Hey we are going to have someone else score the movie and then youre going to throw some guitars on it and Linkin Park fans will be all into it. But Linkin Park fans will [actually] say, Thats lame, thats not what we came to hear.

This one felt different from the start. These guys called me and said, We really love Linkin Park, and we love Fort Minor, and we love the remixes youve done. They got a lot of the stuff I do for fun.

And it was an environment in which he could learn and grow. This is the directors second movie ever, and I figured I could kind of work through some mistakes and it would be okay. Hes growing, Im growing, Im figuring it out. To that end, Shinoda hired Trapanese, who had worked with Daft Punk on scoring Tron, to be his composing partner. He was honestly the guy with [the most] classical background, in composition, arranging, and stuff like that that could get me through the work flow, Shinoda explains.

This is a score, he says. Its not like beats and tracks that just matched up with the movie. I really wanted to approach it from a more traditional way even though the music is very nontraditional, so adding vocals and stuff like that over the top of some of this stuff would be really distracting. And its nothing like what he normally does. Im used to writing like stuff that I would want to hear when it comes on the radio. I want it to grab you and pull you into the song and pay attention. But in scoring The Raid, he let that come from the script, the actors, the director. Ive got a supporting role, so as soon as I started doing stuff that I would normally do on a song, its very distracting. So I had to turn that down a lot in making this.

Unlike an American movie, which would start off with an over-the-top action sequence and then spend two hours trying to top it, The Raida brutal, intricately choreographed fight filmhas a slow build. That let Shinoda slowly build his musical arsenal. Its like a video game, where he starts at the lowest level and as he goes up, its tougher and tougher, and ultimately what happens they run out at first with guns. It definitely gets more chaotic as it goes. At the beginning the earliest cues are more rigid, and as soon as theyre in SWAT team mode, everything is very digital and rigid and precise, because thats how theyre operating. As soon as they start to get picked off and its chaos, you get a lot more big drum instruments. But its not like you put it straight on the beat, like you can do with all your hits, but we left a feel in there so you can hear the drums kind of collapsing on themselves. It just seemed like that was what they were going through. Rather than assigning a theme to each character, as John Williams did in Star Wars, Shinoda decided that some characters would have a particular sound. Every time you see this one character or somebody is thinking about a character, its like a subliminal thing that we give you a hint of that sound and then you feel them.

Linkin Park And Social Media

Early on, Shinoda and his friends decided to spell the bands name as they did in order to be able to secure their URLand that was back in the mid-1990s. So it only follows that Linkin Park would have a strong presence online. Shinoda is proud to have the biggest fanbase of any band on Facebook, but he claims to not know how they did it. If I knew exactly what it was, I definitely wouldnt tell anybody about it, he says, smiling. Still, he acknowledges many of the things that he and his bandmates Brad Delson and Rob Bourdon do right. We interact frequently with the fans, he says. And its really coming from useither its something I wrote in an email to someone who posted it, or I logged in and posted it myself, and fans know it. A lot of artists are too busy to do it themselves.

On the last record, A Thousand Suns, we teamed up with MySpace, we teamed up with a company called Indaba, and we released some of the portions of the stems to our single before the single had ever come out, Shinoda explains. So the first thing that our fansand theres a lot of them, and they are rabidgot wasnt the single, they got little stems of a drum track and a vocal. They were isolated and they didnt add up to the song. So we told them, now you take those, remix them, make them into something by adding your own stuff and doing whatever, and submit them to us and whoever wins is going to win something great. The guy that won is a kid from Poland, who even though he had not heard any of our record, his sound, what he put together, just clicked, it made sense. And the prize: We invited him to basically be an artist on the record. We put him on the record, worldwide, every copy of A Thousands Suns everywhere in the world, the end of the song When They Come for Me, is done by Linkin Park and this kid who goes by the name No Brain. Our feeling was like, for a fan, what could be a better prize? And although they had thousands of participants, Shinoda thinks it wasnt big enough. Heres why: The description I just gave you is very wordy and long, and in order to communicate that story, I have to tell the story, but it doesnt fit into 140 characters. And thats what we learned. We learned that in this day and age, its got to be a great experience and a great story in the long form, but its also got to be able to fit into the short form, too, which that particular contest didnt.

Whats Next

Im really excited for people to see what the online component of the release of this next record is going to be. Its not fully formulated yet, but its going to be great. I think the art is just going to blow them away, because there is a tech aspect to the actual art of the album that is very cutting edge and to me its mind-blowing. This is stuff that without giving it away at this point, I know I have not ever seen this done anywhere and maybe its too subtle for most people to get. So theres going to be that. In addition to that, we hope that the roll out of the record has something that can excite the fan base in the way active.

But he will say this: Its more than making a viral video. I mean, anyone can make a viral video.

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