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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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Sounds like a revolution
"Your job as artists is to be honest and sincere and make the kind of music that inspires you now, irrespective of whatever made you successful in the first place."- Brad Delson
By Jay Cridlin
Published August 10, 2007
Linkin Park's Projekt Revolution
The festival returns to the Ford Amphitheater Saturday with a stable full of mostly modern rock artists: My Chemical Romance, Taking Back Sunday, Placebo, HIM, Julien-K, Mindless Self Indulgence, Saosin, The Bled and Styles of Beyond. Doors open at noon; tickets range from $24.50 to $70. (813) 740-2446
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August nights in Houston are hot, sweaty and sticky.
Unfortunately, the A/C in Linkin Park's dressing room is so cold, guitarist Brad Delson has to scramble for a sweatshirt.
"I'm spoiled," the L.A. native says, 20 minutes before the band hops on stage. "Anything other than perfect is, like, unbearable to me."
Never mind the temperature - Delson just offered up a pretty good summary of Linkin Park's exacting approach to music.
After selling more than 40-million albums, the Grammy-winning sextet holed up for months in the studio with uber-producer Rick Rubin, churning out 150 tracks for their third studio album. Twelve of those songs became Minutes to Midnight, a melodic departure from the angsty adolescence on previous records Hybrid Theory and Meteora, and this year's fastest-selling album to date.
But Linkin Park has more going for it than jaw-dropping sales. After tackling heady projects like global warming and the environment - the band recently headlined Live Earth Tokyo, and founded a group called Music For Relief to aid tsunami victims in South Asia - Linkin Park is now getting mentioned in the same breath as big-picture bands such as U2 and Green Day.
On Saturday, Linkin Park's summer festival tour, Projekt Revolution, returns to the Ford Amphitheater for the first time in three years. Delson called tbt* to discuss life at the top of the alt-metal universe.
This is your first Projekt Revolution tour since 2004. Is it just like riding a bike, or were you guys a little rusty starting out?
I think it's better than riding a bike, because every time we've done this tour, we've learned from our mistakes. This incarnation has been - knock on wood - the smoothest one so far. We go out of our way to make sure not only that our show goes off well, but that all the other bands are able to play great shows, because it really is a festival experience for the fans that pay to come out and see it.
This tour doesn't have as much of a focus on hip-hop as in years past. Is there a reason for that?
The idea of Projekt Revolution is to bring diverse talent onto one stage. Even though this is probably the most rock-leaning tour, within that, it's maybe our most diverse tour. Really, each band is unique in the style of music that they play.
How are fans reacting to some of the more downtempo stuff from Minutes to Midnight?
I think it creates a nice balance to some of the heavier stuff. I try to have our set be really dynamic, and I think things are only as heavy as you can contrast them with elements that are more ethereal, beautiful or melodic. Songs like The Little Things Give You Away or Shadow of the Day serve as a nice contrast to the part of our set which is really aggressive.
Do you worry you're taking some of the energy out of the crowd by going from a heavy song like Faint to a song like Little Things?
That's a good question. We think really conscientiously about the ebb and flow of a set. You don't do a fast song, a slow song, a fast song, a slow song. That would destroy any momentum you could potentially build. We like to build the energy of the set and then bring it back down for a section, then we'll build it back up again. It's worked really well so far.
Are you guys playing Hands Held High?
We are on certain nights.
How's that going over? It's a very political song, really melodic, but also a very intense attack on the war.
(Singer) Chester (Bennington) said onstage the other night that he thinks those are the best words (rapper) Mike (Shinoda) has ever written. They're clearly very powerful and honest, and it's cool to be able to share that kind of song with the audience. I wouldn't say it's a political song, but I would say it's socially conscious. It clearly deals with feelings Mike has about the things going on in the world.
That's one thing we realized after we were done making this record - whereas Hybrid Theory and Meteora were fundamentally introspective records, Minutes to Midnight is unique in that Chester and Mike began to look outward. I think that's a function of a slightly more mature band. (laughs) The operative word being "slightly."
You guys have been involved the past few years with a lot of activism and charity work. Forget the music for a minute - how do the six of you get on the same page politically?
Well, we don't. There's Republicans and Democrats in the band. That's why we're not a political band. But we have been able to get on the same page on universal issues that there's really no counter-argument to. We started Music For Relief as an organization that focuses on helping the victims of natural disasters, and with climate change, we were thinking that warming temperatures can exacerbate these natural disasters.
So we now try to do things in a proactive way. On this tour, we're making sure there's recycling in all the venues, and we're using biodiesel in most of our trucks and buses. And Music For Relief is donating one dollar from every ticket that's sold on the tour, because you can plant a tree for a dollar. We hope by the end of this touring cycle to plant a million trees. That's something we can really hang our hat on, you know?
What would you say was the single biggest risk you took in recording Minutes to Midnight?
Discarding every single convention that we had of making a song. If something had worked in the past, we just let it go. It was years since Meteora had come out, and Rick (Rubin) told us that the mistake a lot of successful groups make is that they assume their fans want the same music that made them successful. And that's just not true. Because just as our tastes had changed, our fans' tastes had probably changed as well. Your job as artists is to be honest and sincere and make the kind of music that inspires you now, irrespective of whatever made you successful in the first place.
Did you get much alone time, one on one, with Rick Rubin?
Sure. He really makes you feel comfortable, and he's really intelligent and inspirational. It's not some kind of magic, intangible thing - he'll tell you very specific feedback on your songs to make them better. I realized that right away, and it got me stoked about the whole process, because we knew we had a producer who we could trust not to steer us in the wrong direction.
Did he regale you with stories about Johnny Cash or the Red Hot Chili Peppers?
No. He doesn't work that way. I mean, if you asked him about something, he'd tell you. But no. He's one humble, awesome dude. He's able to hone in on the soul or heart of each group that he works with, and bring it out and magnify it. That's what he did with us. He's as successful as he is for a reason.