Linkin Park - Sudden Superstars

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Perhaps the oldest saying in the book is that when an opportunity knocks, you better be ready to answer the damned door! And none of us can deny that over the past two years opportunity has knocked time and time again on the door of Linkin Park. And you know what? This California-based rap/metal unit has not only answered that call, but they've responded to it like few "rookie" bands have ever done before. With sales of their debut album, Hybrid Theory, well past the quadruple-platinum level, their recent DVD, Frat Party at the Pancake Festival, is a bonafide best-seller and response to their recent headlining Projekt Revolution tour rating as an overwhelming success, there's no denying the impact that Chester Bennington (vocals), Mike Shinoda (vocals), Brad Delson (guitar), Joseph Hahn (turntables), Rob Bourdon (drums) and Phoenix (bass) have had on the contemporary music scene.

But all that they've accomplished so far seems to have only further whetted the collective appetite of this ever-ambitious unit. Not only have their tours, their DVDs and such MTV-friendly songs as Crawling and One Step Closer further solidified the often tenuous relationship between metal, hip-hop and electronic forces, but the future plans- which include the imminent release of a remix disc featuring contributions from everyone from Marilyn Manson to Crystal Method- seem determined to push the boundaries of contemporary music to even greater extreme. But according to the ever-informative Mr. Delson, all of this just seems to be part of Linkin Park's still-evolving creative process.

"It's always been the primary goal of this band to not recognize any particular musical boundaries," the guitarist said. "I can remember a bunch of us hangin' out in Mike's bedroom just playing around with the idea of mixing together every kind of music we could think of. We didn't care if it was metal, hardcore, techno or hip-hop, we wanted to find a way to use it and make it work. That's still out mission- to take diverse sounds and make them our own."

Linkin Park's unique ability to turn conventional contemporary music sounds on their ear has been one of the key qualities in this band's rapid ascension up the rock and roll ladder of success. But perhaps even more important than their ability to take so many seemingly divergent musical reactants and create their own music "hybrid" is their ability to make it all sound so natural and so "real." In sharp contrast to too many other rap/metal bands who cloak their ham-fisted attempts of sounding "cool" under a "we'll-so-real" halo, for Linkin Park the successful amalgam of these potentially combustible rock and roll elements stands as one of their greatest achievements. Perhaps, as Bennington explains, is the LP brigade's unique chemistry and special "team spirit" that has allowed the group to accomplish so much, so fast.

"The one quality that always shines through with this band is our willingness to do everything we possibly can to make an idea work," the vocalist said. "We don't like to hear why something can't work or shouldn't work. To our way of thinking, it's our job to do our best to make it work. It's really amazing that after practically living together non-stop for the last two years, we still get along great and never really have any problems. That's why we can always work together, it's that 'team' mentality that has really made so much of this special for all of us."

It's hard to believe that prior to the release of Hybrid Theory in the fall of 2000, there were many who doubted whether the rap/metal form could ever truly make an artistic impact on the contemporary music world. While clownish bands like Limp Bizkit had long since proven the commercial appeal of this mismatched musical marriage- at least in its most blatant form- there had yet to be a band that had utilized the varied formats of hip-hop and hard rock with true йlan and style. Then along came Linkin Park with an electric, powerful and eminently compelling approach that immediately signaled that the rap/metal union had finally come of age. But somewhat surprisingly, instead of opening the floodgates for the expected avalanche of Linkin Park imitators seemingly destined to emerge in the wake of the bands groundbreaking success, it now appears as if the LP boys have virtually scared off much of their competition.

"I think that a lot of young bands here a band like Limp Bizkit, and their first reaction is 'hey, I can do that,'" said an influential music industry insider. "But when they here the music created by Linkin Park, their reaction is one of awe and respect. There's so much going on in their music, and so much complexity and power contained within their format, that they may well have intimidated some young bands. They've certainly raised the bar as far as how a band can utilize both hip-hop and metal influences. In that regard, they've done both themselves and the entire rock industry a great service."

While it's highly likely that the members of Linkin Park ever set out with the express intent of intimidating any new pretenders to their rap/metal throne, that is unquestionably the net result of their efforts. It is amazing to consider all that this So Cal-based unit has accomplished in so short time, but it seems quite apparent that heir on-going successes has only served to further inspire this group's creative juices. In fact, Delson can barely contain his enthusiasm as he begins to think ahead to what this ever-unpredictable unit may have in store for us in the weeks, months and years to come.

"I know we've already got some ideas floating around for the next album," he said. "To be honest with you, I think they're surprising us as much as anyone. That's the way we like it. We're not going to try and duplicate anything that we did on Hybrid Theory. There may be a number of things that the fans can relate to, because that's just the way we write and play. But we're not letting anything limit us or hold us back. If we hear something new that motivates us, you can bet we're going to try and find a way of incorporating an element of it into what we do."

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